Tag Archives: My Life

Sooper Hai Azadi … but what is Azadi?

14th August is around the corner (literally gali kay nukkar par – the silencer bagair ki motorbikes are already out) and we see the surge of Independence Day fervor all around. I have always been a true patriot but as I have mused in the past, celebrating Independence must also be coupled with positive action.

So I was pleasantly surprised when Peek Freans Sooper, the largest selling biscuit in Pakistan, invited a few bloggers over for a discussion panel. What was enticing were the names of Jehangir Khan, Jibran Nasir, Shehzad Roy, and Saba Gul as the participants. The mix promised to bring several diverse thoughts to the panel and the presence of Umair Jaliawala as the moderator intrigued me further.

I had notified ahead of time that I may be joining in late due to some professional commitments and so I was surprised when I walked in just as the event had really kicked off. Umair was quick to quip in his banter that Pakistanis ko time par na aanay ki bhi azadi hai. And that sadly is seen the truth.

IMG_0504(Saadia Naveed – Deputy MD, EBM)

We heard a few brief words from Saadia Naveed, the Deputy Managing Director, of English Biscuit Manufacturers on Sooper and just how it has become The Brand of EBM in effect becoming the identity of EBM even eclipsing the actual Peek Freans brand (of which it is a subset). The advertising campaigns of Sooper have always been very catchy and sticky. Even as I write this the words ‘Sab say aagay, sab say oopar’ echo in my head.

Adnan Ali Bajwa, the Brand Manager of Sooper, then led us through the thought process for the new Sooper Hai Azadi campaign that Sooper was to launch that night on all Media. He spoke of how how Sooper is a biscuit that binds the various elements of Pakistani society, bringing them together in unity through its taste. You will find the laborer in the street enjoying the egg and milk taste just as you will find it being served with tea in the top corporate offices. Thus, they wished to incorporate all the sounds of the Paksitani society in a jingle that linked to the Independence Day. So the evergreen “Mein Bhi Pakistan Hoon, Tu Bhi Pakistan Hai” was chosen but the various sounds of daily life were incorporated (rather beautifully I may add) in the tune. Whether it is the sound of pots clanking, or the sound of a golawala crushing ice, or the sound of rice as it is being cleaned, the tune beautifully brings to life the essence of Pakistani society accompanied with the bright colors of our vibrant country. Indeed as the ad says, Azadi naam hai aik khoobsurat ihsaas ka.

Panel-768x356(L to R: Umair Jaliawala, Jehangir Khan, Shehzad Roy, Jibran Nasir, Saba Gul)

The Panel discussion was kicked off with Jibran Nasir speaking first (he apologized he had a commitment with his mother that took priority to all). And Jibran is one passionate man when it comes to this country and fixing the broken society. While we may not see eye to eye on certain issues, there is no doubt he is a man of action. Each panelist was asked what Azadi meant to him. Bringing up the Quetta blast and the wiping out of an entire generation of lawyers in Balochistan, he didn’t mince any words to what Azadi meant to him. The freedom to have your rights, the right to education, the right to clean water and the right to speak your mind.

(Found a recording of Jibran’s words thanks to Hiba Moeen)

We then turned to Jehangir Khan, the Squash legend as he spoke about the freedom his squash career brought to him. How as a sickly child he was not allowed to play despite being from a family of professional Squash players. How, when his father found him in the courts one day and saw the talent his son had. He spoke of the passing away of his elder brother, a promising squash player due to a heart attack on the court at the young age of 28 and how for a while Jehangir stopped playing because if a fit man like his brother died, what would he a sickly kid be able to do. However, his family convinced him and he went after the championship with a passion to realize his brother’s dreams. And he did so, with 551 unbeaten games. A true behemoth in the world of Squash. His azadi was the ability to achieve something in memory of his brother.

Shehzad Roy, singer and musician turned Social Activist, termed Azadi as the freedom to love his country despite everything. When you fall in love with someone you don’t leave them because they have flaws. Despite majority of his family being abroad and asking him to leave, he still is a Pakistani citizen and lives here because he loves this nation.

Saba Gul, CEO of Popinjay, a high street accessories brand in the US which combines a for-profit model with social entrepreneurship and skill development in villages in Pakistan. Saba described her moment of Azadi when she quit a custom-designed tech job which utilized her two MIT degrees, and decided to move back to Pakistan and start the project that eventually became Popinjay. While I had met Saba several years before when Popinjay was known as Bags for Bliss, I never really had a chance to talk to her about how it is structured. I am hoping to get a chance to communicate more with her so I can understand and also maybe get some ideas for Ihsaas Trust, a microfinance and social uplift organization I happen to be a Trustee of. Unfortunately, Saba left the venue right after the panel and I was unable to talk to her. So that goes on my things to do I guess.

Unfortunately, all of the panelists were not there for the refreshments part of the event (though Jehangir Khan sahab did stick around for some photos with us). Thus, unfortunately I was unable to really talk to any of them in detail (guess they were available in the earlier “networking” time slot pre-event which I missed). I did get a chance to talk to Adnan Bajwa, the brand manager, and found him really passionate about the campaign and his brand.

IMG_0745(DiscoMaulvi with Squash Legend Jehangir Khan)

The evening was capped with some scrumptious bun kababs and aaloo cholas. The best refreshment I have seen at a blogger event so far. So kudos to EBM for that🙂.

IMG_0781

(I am missing from this bloggers pic as I was busy eating the yummy bun kababs…. LOL)

Thoughts on the Malaysia Cadbury Dairy Milk Pork DNA controversy [Update-3]

Cadbury Malaysia

 

 

 

 

 

My thoughts on the Malaysia Cadbury Dairy Milk Pork DNA controversy

Statement from Cadbury Malaysia

 

Update: Below is from Cadbury Pakistan on Dairy Milk sold in Pakistan

 

 

And now Malaysia authorities have cleared Cadbury of any traces of Pork DNA. But most consumers will likely remain wary of products for some time until this fades from memory.

TEDxKarachi – Reflections on inspiration

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Also cross posted on Express Tribune Blogs

TEDxKarachi 2011 was an event for the elite. It had a political slant to it. The line to get in was long, the air-conditioning sucked, there were too many technical glitches with the microphones. The snacks were mediocre.There were people there that didn’t deserve to be invited over many others that weren’t there. The talks were not all exactly what we see at TED Global. Yet I returned from the event thinking that making the impossible was possible. I returned with some ideas that inspired.

TEDxKarachiTop1TEDxKarachiTop2TEDxKarachi1TEDxKarachi2TEDxKarachi3

People went to TEDxKarachi with different mindsets. A lot showed up wanting to hear Imran Khan and Mukhtar Mai speak. Others wanted to go meet the right social crowd. Some went because everybody they knew was talking about it. I went to learn.

Having joined the family business after my Bachelors, I never got the chance to do my Masters. I had returned from University thinking I would get the 2-3 years of work experience and then apply to some hotshot MBA program. Now that I look at it, it really wouldn’t have made much difference. Running your own business gives you a better education than any MBA program. It however, has to be coupled with a desire to learn and adopt new ideas and concepts. Visiting TEDxKarachi was part of that learning.

Making the Impossible Possible

Despite the fact that a couple of speakers didn’t really fit in the general mold of making the impossible possible (Noori most definitely should be awarded a special mention of non-compliance), there was an undercurrent of achievement despite the odds. How to do something that others say is not possible, or to sacrifice things to achieve your dreams is what really moved me.

“Education is like tinday. You only eat them when you have to.”

While Fasi Zaka’s engaging and filled with humor talk was more like a presentation designed to evoke thinking, it was definitely not a case of making the impossible possible. It was however a case of the impossible that we really need to make possible. There is a real emergency on our hands. No I am not talking about the fact that our Armed Forces have been caught yet again with their pants down, nor am I talking about an enemy at the border. I am talking about the enemy within. I am talking about the fact that we are a nation of illiterates. I am talking about the fact that 26 countries poorer than us are sending more children to school. I am talking about the fact that we spend more on PIA, Pakistan Steel and PEPCO than we spend on education. I am talking about the fact that somewhere there is a petition signed by 170,000 citizens of Pakistan which was not delivered to the Chief Ministers of our provinces due to their lack of response (with the exception of Shahbaz Sharif). I’m talking about the tinday (a type of pumpkin) that no one wants to eat.

Fashion Models financed my first drone

“I do not support the drone attacks.” This was repeatedly emphasized by Raja Sabri Khan. What does RSK do? He makes drones! In Pakistan! In a factory in Korangi! From the time that he modified some toy planes to be more aerodynamically better, RSK knew he was going to do something with airplanes. He ended up with a degree in Aerospace Engineering “from a small liberal arts college” called MIT and got a job making tractors! What do fashion models have to do with it? RSK apparently did a stint as fashion photographer on the side in order to earn money for his drone making. Luckily SUPARCO came to the rescue and one thing led to another and we now have drones made in Pakistan measuring the weather somewhere over Australia among other things. Non-traditional exports that definitely should be encouraged! And while we are at it, we should spend some money and get RSK to make an anti-drone drone.

“The body adjusts to ambition.”

Imran KhanBefore I go any further, I must categorically state that I am not a supporter of PTI. In fact I think that Imran Khan is a terrible politician and should quit politics altogether. I must also say that I walked into TEDxKarachi expecting a political speech from Imran Khan. However, to his credit he managed to keep his political rhetoric to the minimum (a total of 4-5 minutes only). Did Imran Khan do something worthy of the impossible becoming possible? Yes. It was his ambition to become a fast bowler, going against the advice of coaches and experts who said that if he changed his action he would kill his bowling and harm his body. It was his ambition to provide a cancer hospital that provided mainly free treatment to cancer patients and it was said it can not be done. However, Shaukat Khanum is undoubtedly one of the premier cancer hospitals in the region and 75% of its patients are treated free of charge.

Bulleh Shah was the Che Guevara of his time?

I walked out of the hall when Noori was introduced. I do not actively listen to music anymore as I believe it is forbidden in Islam. However, I hear that Ali Hamza made this statement that confused many.

BullehShah-Che“Bulleh Shah was the rock star of his time. The Che Guevara of back then”

I have no clue what he meant by that. And if Bulleh Shah had been alive he too, I suspect, would be equally clueless.

“Pain is not a bad thing, it’s OK to be in pain”

Quratulain BakhtiariMy currently stiff neck begs to differ with Dr Quratulain Bakhtiari on this point. Pain is definitely a bad thing! What she meant was that feeling of pain is not a bad thing, if you channel that emotion in doing something creative. Her story of how she had to choose between her social work and her children and she chose her work. Indeed her passion for her work must have been something for her to bear the pain that only a mother can feel when she is cut off from her children. Her work in promotion of sanitation and in bringing education to girls in Balochistan was inspiring. Similarly the story of her childhood when her parents gave up their ancestral wealth to bring up their children in the Drag Colony refugee camp in Karachi. How they put a positive spin on everything unto the point that when her mother burnt her wedding dresses to harvest the silver thread from it, she made it seem a game. The standing ovation that Dr Bakhtiari got was well deserved. Her talk however made the 23 year old next to me totally confused. I guess such things are lost on the youth.

The talk that stole the show

Sarmad Tariq“I will never have enough money for full physiotherapy, because I would much rather spend it on a Ferrari. I’m not one of those people who sit around waiting for a cure. I like the attention I get in a wheelchair too much.”

Imagine that one bad decision could lead to your becoming a quadriplegic (losing function of all four limbs). Would you have the will to wake up each morning and get out of bed? Would you drive a car continuous from Khyber to Karachi? Would you tape your fingers for months to force your fingers into a hook like formation so you could hold objects? Would you enroll in a marathon pushing your own wheelchair? I would not. I would give up, blame life, God, the guy who told me the water was deep where I dove, etc. Sarmad Tariq inspired us in the true TED style. And when the hall jumped to its feet to give him a standing ovation he pointed out the irony: he could neither stand, not clap. If you had a choice of seeing just one talk from TEDxKarachi I am sure every one in the hall would say it would be Sarmad’s talk.

What good is an independent judiciary?

Mukhtar Mai“I believed the Supreme Court would provide me justice. Now I have left my case to Allah.”

The story of Mukhtar Mai, sadly, is the story of many women in our society who are subjected to abuse and treated as commodity in a tribal justice system that is sadly often allowed by our courts. To survive a panchayat sanctioned gang rape, to get the courage to file a case against the perpetrators, and to continue on living even when the “independent judiciary” failed her. She realized that her illiteracy played a major part in her inability to seek justice. Unfortunately, she is often forced to pass by and be subjected to verbal abuse by her, now acquitted, rapists. She however turns the other way and continues to her school. Mukhtar Mai used her ordeal to start an initiative to educate young girls and to educate the community on women’s rights and gender issues. The Mukhtar Mai Women’s Welfare Organization opened a high school in Fall 2007 which was the first school she ever saw in her life.

What is the take home message?

  1. We need to focus on education – Fasi Zaka, Mukhtar Mai
  2. Lack of resources should not be an excuse to do something you believe in – Raja Sabri Khan, Imran Khan
  3. Mind can triumph over body – Imran Khan, Sarmad Tariq
  4. Pain, if channeled in a positive direction, can achieve great things – Dr Quratulain Bakhtiari, Sarmad Tariq, Mukhtar Mai
  5. Don’t blame life, or anyone else. You may be down but success is about getting up that one last time. – Sarmad Tariq
  6. Bulleh Shah was a Commie (oops sorry, a revolutionary) – Noori

I would like to end with the lyrics of the chorus of Noori’s song (which they apparently also ended their ‘talk’ with). It is probably the only thing that ties them to the theme of making the impossible possible.

Hum Duniya Badal dien Ge
Hum Ne Khaayee Hai Dil Ki Qasam
Aasmaan Choo Leingay, Choo Leingay Hum….
Dil Ki Raah Dhoondain Gay!
Kay Dil Ne Jhailay Hain Kitnay Sitam…
Roti Yaadon Ko Bhooleingay Bhooleingay Hum…

I Am My Worst Critic

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perfectionistI am my worst critic. Many a blog post has been scrapped for not being up to par to my standards. Many an idea has been buried for not being worthy of being voiced by me. However, does every post you ink have to be of the utmost quality? Does every idea you build up on need to be well thought out and perfect?

Sometimes I feel that to provide the steam that any blog requires, sometimes you have to settle for not so perfect. I don’t mean that one spews forth junk for the sake of populating the RSS feed! Quality does trump quantity any day. However, sometimes stopping short of pristine is necessary to keep things going. In addition, the higher output, while not perfect, does end up improving the writing quality in the long run. Call it “Practice makes perfect” if you will.

Why am I writing this? Well considering The Pulpit is well my pulpit I should be using it to rant, rave, blow steam, praise, criticize, blah, blah, blah. Well actually I just scrapped yet another post and felt like berating myself for it. Hence, this is the product.

What do you think? “What do I think about what?” I don’t know. Just write whatever comes to mind below.🙂

Aftermath of An Assassination | View from Pakistan | DiscoMaulvi for MuslimMatters.org | Salmaan Taseer

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Having resolved this year to increase focus on my writing, I have decided to not only to increase my writing on From The Pulpit but to also write elsewhere on the internet. Alhamdulillah, the first of these is the MuslimMatters site which just published my first post today. Insha’Allah I hope that this will be the first of many posts there. I am also working on a couple more areas and will keep the readers informed through From The Pulpit on these areas.

The below article, has been delayed a bit due to some reasons as it has been almost a month since the assassination of Salmaan Taseer. However, I hope that it will still serve its purpose. I am very humbled that the preface to this post has been written by Sheikh Yasir Qadhi who is an extremely inspiring personality. I hope my writing at MuslimMatters will give me a chance to interact with him and other scholars and learn from them Insha’Allah.

Below is an excerpt from the post including the preface by Yasir Qadhi. For the full text please visit the original post at MuslimMatters.

DiscoMaulvi

 

Br. Aly is a businessman and blogger based in Karachi, Pakistan. He sends us a brief picture of the scenarios that unfolded in his country in the aftermath of Governor Salmaan Taseer’s assassination by a member of his protective guard. Any views expressed in this article are entirely attributed to the author and may or may not reflect the views held by other writers writing for or affiliated with MuslimMatters.org.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Commentary by Shaykh Yasir Qadhi:

The assassination of the Salmaan Taseer brought to the forefront many different issues regarding the political and religious crises in Pakistan. As with any issue, there are many facets and perspectives to consider, and it is simply not possible for an outsider (as we all are here in the West, even if some of us originate from Pakistan) to fully understand the nuances of the situation. Hence, it is wiser to speak in generalities rather than specifics and to allow people who live in the country to express their points of view.

The following represents one viewpoint from someone residing in the country. Personally, I found the views and opinions expressed in it to be very balanced – the author clearly understands that a simplistic response of which side was right and which wrong is not possible. There are clear elements of truth on both sides and clear elements of exaggeration and extremism on both sides as well.

As Muslims, we stand for truth and justice, and not for political parties and groups. Almost always, the truth is higher than any one party or group.

As a person who is of Pakistani origin, and who truly does feel a connection with and a love for the people of that land, all that I can say is that this chaos and confusion and bloodshed makes me extremely sad at what is happening, and very worried for the future of Pakistan. There is little that I can do sitting here, thousands of miles away, other than to pray to Allah to make the situation of the people of Pakistan easy.

And indeed, it is only Allah from whom help is sought, and to Him we turn for peace and security.

Yasir Qadhi

_____________________________________________________________________

As my first-born completed three years of life, the life of another was marked to end. As Salmaan Taseer, the governor of Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province, walked out of a restaurant after lunch, a member of the elite force assigned to protect him, Malik Mumtaz Hussain Quadri, shot him mercilessly. The post-mortem report later reported 40 wounds on his body and 26 bullets were recovered from his body.

Those shots, while pitilessly shredding Taseer’s body, created aftershocks that split Pakistan along severe ideological fault lines. Suddenly, we had two highly polarized positions coming forth: Taseer the Martyr, the champion of the Liberals, the voice of reason and Quadri, the “Ghazi”, the Protector of Islam. Suddenly, people found themselves being asked, “Whose side are you on? Ours or theirs?” Within hours of the murder, Facebook pages sprang up in support of Quadri, praising him for his actions. On a side note, Facebook raced to shut down these pages immediately on the request of the Government of Pakistan, while they had refused to shut down the pages of “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” and other such anti-Islamic sites on the basis of freedom of speech. Incidentally, a search on Google pulled up a page that still exists on Facebook for the event. Talk about double standards!

 

For the full text please visit the original post at MuslimMatters.

Beards are not just for Terrorists | Express Tribune Blog – Views of DiscoMaulvi

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I came across an interesting blog post today on the Express Tribune web page by Syed Faiq Najeeb and started writing a comment there. It turned out that I wanted to preserve and highlight what I wrote, so I decided to just post it here and post a link there instead.

For years I lived any young adult’s dream; there was music, parties, banter, unorthodox festivities, substance abuse and a fair degree of foul play. Then things changed radically – it was nothing short of a revolution; I grew a beard.

After extensively studying and reading about both Islam and other religions, I started to pray five times a day and even encourage friends and colleagues towards the path of salvation. I have finally chosen spirituality over (supposed) rationality and have given up on worldly desires to pursue those of an eternal life.

Since I can’t post the entire article here, I would suggest you head over to the Express Tribune Blog to read it before reading my comments on it below.


Faiq and I are in the same boat; difference is I’ve been facing this "discrimination" for over 12 years (yes there was discrimination before 9/11 also!).

As I wrote in The Story of DiscoMaulvi, I too turned towards religion after a year of partying and living it up in college. Once I did start that journey, the decision to grow a beard came naturally. As Faiq pointed out in his post, “I no longer wished to be part of activities which I used to indulge in before”. In addition, the beard served as a reminder of my decision to turn towards religion and in times when I was tempted it often served to keep me in check.

The importance of the beard has been intentionally marginalized over the centuries. Whereby once the fact that you shaved meant that your testimony would not be accepted (in fact in the eyes of Imam Abu Hanifa, whose school of thought majority of the muslims in Pakistan claim to follow blindly, keeping a beard was obligatory), now we hear people claiming it is JUST A SUNNAH.

Regarding the issue of the bearded baddies, it is unfair to generalize the entire bearded population on the basis of the actions of some. It is like saying just because some Pakistanis are corrupt, all of them are. Bet that would cause most of the people to throw a hissy fit!

As for the "Dari Islam mein hai, Islam dari mein nahin" statement everyone loves to quote, that statement is ABSOLUTELY RIGHT YET COMPLETELY WRONG! By keeping a beard, you don’t become pious. But by not keeping a beard you can not be pious (if we take the position that the beard is obligatory as was the opinion of the 4 Imams whose schools of thought are widely followed or those of the numerous imams and scholars whose names most people never ever heard of).

May Allah give us the ability to understand Islam as understood by the sahaba (R) and the early generations. And may He make us obedient to His commands. Aameen.

Aly - Clean Shaven in August 1997

Aly B – August 1997, NCSU, Raleigh, North Carolina

  Blaagers - 100528 - Blog Awards 2010 - 002

Aly B – May 2010, Pakistan Blog Awards, Karachi, Pakistan

A new session Of Active Saturdays starts 22 January 2011 | Karachi Pakistan Islam

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In 2002 (or was it 2001? I forget), a group of guys got together and started a small program for young men. The concept was to provide a place to hang out on Saturday afternoons, while learning something about Islam. In addition, it would provide the youngsters some role models who would be from all walks of life and demonstrate that one can be a practicing Muslim while working in a professional capacity or being an entrepreneur (or being a Blogger like DiscoMaulvi).

Forward a few years and Active Saturdays has now become a program that is held on a semester basis, with a special deen-intensive Summer course titled Islamic Fundamentals and a road trip titled Sirat-e-Mustaqim (I was on the 2005 trip and it was great!).

The program is held every Saturday from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm at two locations:

  • Reflections, near CBM, Korangi Creek (with a Pick & Drop option from Sultan Masjid)
  • Role Model Institute, 38-Y, PECHS (Near Union Club)

 

 

Active Saturday

 

The program attempts to provide physical activity, interactive discussions, social as well as informative field trips, and various topics both Islamic and pertaining to self-improvement / leadership. The program places strong emphasis in leadership and many of its students are now “teachers”, serving as a role model for new generations of students enrolling.

For more information on the program, head over to their website, or contact Tayyab at 0321-244-7198 or 0331-227-3427.