The Satan and the Coca Cola, 1953 Mecca (Saudi Arabia), originally published in National Geographic.
Students carrying an injured policeman to safety during today’s protest in Islamabad.
Finally a thing which tries to restore your faith in the people. Majority of the protests today were peaceful, but one which turned violent just made the whole atmosphere so sad and depressing. I wish there were actually protests in front of Saudi, Qatari and Kuwaiti embassies urging them to use their influence in getting laws similar to “the Global Anti-Semitism Awareness Act” enacted worldwide. That would have made more sense in every possible way!
When Zardari made the dramatic statement and attributed it to his dead wife (Benazir Bhutto), I never realised that he actually really means it! 4 years on, Pakistan has defaulted for the first time ever on Sovereign Guarantee towards Independent Power Production companies (Power sector dues: Govt defaults on sovereign guarantees). What it means is that Pakistan will get a lower credit rating (if had one to begin with), any new loans from outside world will be at higher interest rate and stricter terms, our Banking sector which has been quite safe till now will lose a lot of money (they have approximately 120 billion Rupees at stake here), and of course if Sovereigns of the country cannot make a payment how will you convince any new International Investor?
At the moment Pakistan has over 400 billion Rupees of circular debt in the power sector which if gets resolved can resolve Pakistani energy crisis in matter of days. But interestingly Pakistani Government is interested in getting in new companies to invest and build power plants but not resolve the issues with the previous ones. I somehow see it as an attempt by this present Pakistani Government to sabotage the power operators from 1992-94, given how they put up a stiff resistance against their planned Rental Power plants (SC scraps deals on rental power plants).
That said, Pakistan is already digging deeper into the curse of her “important geo-strategic placement”. With the present Pakistani Government continuously pushing for more expensive Iran-Pakistan pipeline out of which India has already pulled out (Pakistan and Iran: Pipelines or pipe dreams?) for the reasons including but not limited to an expensive source and Indian Security pundits not wanting to be reliant on Pakistan for an important source of energy like they might just do with TAPI (‘India may pull out of multi-billion dollar TAPI gas pipeline project’). India was however very smart, it landed herself a very lucrative Civilian Nuclear energy deal from USA in return who was just hell bent on putting extra pressure on Iran.
Problem however for Pakistan is that, it is not making any deals - just blind marches. Iranians are very happy to sell Pakistan natural gas at a dearer price, that too in the times when they are stuck with serious amount of International sanctions. Pakistan trading with them is not only jeopardising Pakistan’s relationships (of whatever nature they were) with world community but is also turning out to be an expensive trick. Pakistan has already alienated Saudi Arabia (not that they care for Pakistan) when their Ambassador allegedly called present Pakistani Government essentially a Shia’t Government (Pakistan, Iran become ‘natural allies’). If Pakistani leadership had any brains and was not just bent on taking some sort of revenge with the country, we could have exploited this situation easily to get Saudi and Americans and invest in Shale Gas exploration in Pakistan. This would have brought jobs, resources and above all Energy Security in the country.
But well once again, Zardari Government is bent on taking revenge from the country which imprisoned him for nearly a decade in corruption charges and in the streets has replaced common slang with his name. After all which other country in the world had a Prime Minister serving while being convicted by a court (Supreme Court issues detailed judgment in contempt case)?
(my notes for detailed article)
Presently reading, “a princess’s pilgrimage: Nawab Sikandar Begum’s A Pilgrimage to Mecca” edited by Siobhan Lambert-Hurley.
My views are quite scattered on the whole book and I’m only half way through. Probably I should get to the end before I form a definitive opinion. (mobile)
Death threats for bin Laden demolition man (AFP)
Shakeel Ahmad Yusufzai cuts a defiant figure in the genteel Pakistani town of Abbottabad. He is the man who demolished Osama bin Laden’s house and despite Taliban death threats, says he is proud of what he did.
Yusufzai paid the government around 400,000 rupees ($4,500) for the contract to demolish the compound where the Al-Qaeda chief hid for around six years and to salvage building materials from it.
The high-walled three-storey house was flattened in February and now Yusufzai gives away bricks to curious souvenir-hunters from all over Pakistan.
A year after the US special forces raid which found the world’s most wanted man living on the doorstep of the country’s elite military academy, Pakistan is keen to turn the page on one of the most humiliating episodes in its history.
The 47-year-old Yusufzai, tall, mustachioed and confident, told AFP the Pakistani Taliban had sent him threatening letters, but he was pleased to have erased some of the physical traces of his country’s shame.
“I am not scared at all but sometimes I think I have put my family in danger,” said Yusufzai, who has a seven-year-old daughter.
“My wife feels scared and whenever I come home late she thinks that either I have been killed or kidnapped.
“But I believe that whatever I did was in the national interest. We conveyed a message to the world by demolishing this compound that we are against terrorism, which harmed our province and the country.” (complete news)
Whenever I am travelling to or from Pakistan and my flight is over Iraq and Saudi Arabia, I always make a pledge that I will get to Dubai and drive all the way to Makkah and do Umrah. But unfortunately I haven’t been able to do that yet.
I need to make a solid plan for this thing when I get back, better in winter time. Last year I was so close to being able to do that but at the last moment my travel agent messed up my visas.
Deserts of Iraq and Saudi Arabia at least from the sky are one of the best sights I have come across.
A Saudi woman is offering to pay SAR5m (US$1.33m) to find a suitable husband, it was reported in local media.
The marriage announcement, which did not mention the woman’s name, age or residential whereabouts, was published in the Arabic language magazine Roa.
The lady has asked any interested applicants to contact her by fax or email.
“Applicants should provide their contact number so the woman will contact them in case she agrees on the marriage,” the magazine said.
The woman stated she did have certain conditions, such as her potential husband must “appreciate marriage life,” but she declined to go into more detail of the criteria of how she would judge any applicants. (complete news)
First I’d like to have “proof of life” of her last husband!
FAITH | time-lapse from Mecca (by Hosain Hadi)
By Ayesha Ijaz Khan
In light of the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) recent move to bar dual nationals from contesting elections, one must ask whether such a decision would enhance the calibre of our parliament. The ECP has referenced Article 63 of the Constitution. However, it must be remembered that Articles 62 and 63, governing the qualifications and disqualifications for parliamentarians, were inserted into the Constitution under the auspices of a dictator called General Ziaul Haq. In addition, the wording of the articles is both vague and overbroad. For example, few would argue that a convicted felon should not be permitted to contest elections but how would one define something as vague as “good character” or being “sadiq and amen”? Perhaps it is time to revisit Articles 62 and 63 and to debate afresh whether disallowing dual nationals from contesting elections is really good for Pakistan. (complete article)
My add: Not that I entirely agree with this argument and in particular with some of the example Ayesha has put forward, still I found it to be a very interesting point of view.
Saudi police arrest Canadian imam at Hajj | Witnesses say police beat prominent Shia Muslim leader from Edmonton who travelled to the kingdom for annual pilgrimage. (via aljazeera)
the Pakistani army is well regarded by the Pakistani people when not in power, but that it fails when in power.French Diplomatic Adviser Jean-David Levitte as quoted in leaked cables about Pakistan which he calls “an army in search of a country”. (What friends say about Pakistan in private)
US was concerned about Pakistan opposing its interests at the UN, leaked US diplomatic cables acquired by DAWN shows. While also interestingly USA forced Pakistan out of a deal with Iran on gas while pushed Saudis at highest level to defer crude oil payments owed by Pakistan. Which if coupled with older cables shows that Pakistanis are not in that good relationship with Saudis as before.
Bahrain TV anchor cries on air after caller asks for protection
My Add: The caller is talking about people killing each other and having no medical supplies at the hospital in question. The ticker below is showing a news of a Soldier being killed. Woman on phone keeps on stating that Shia’ts and Sunnis are killing each other and it is HARAM to do so (forbidden). Also in it she mentions that Pakistanis and Bangalis are being attacked.
Which brings me to an important thing, people I have on facebook from Bahrain are stating that Shia’ts are attacking Pakistanis in Universities and other public places.
The situation in Libya and now Bahrain is really spoiling the taste of people’s victory in Tunisia and Egypt. This is not even a revolution any more, it is plain mad Civil War! Will try to write more about Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Iran in detail tonight.