Iraqi Children are Dying – Confidently

Iraqi Children

The American government is intent on justifying America's war against children terror by any possible means, but this 'research' funded by the US Military is a sad joke. It claims that the invasion boosted the self-esteem of Iraqi teenagers. Ofcourse, they are still dying, but at least they are dying honorably. As we have been American allies for all these years, so perhaps the US Army can come and raise our self-esteem too, we need it and our overlords owe us that much! 'Redacted', by the way, was a thought-provoking movie that should be required watching for all American allies.

How to Bring Peace to Pakistan

The Pakistani Flag is Unislamic!

Before I can explain why, I must mention that our Government of Pakistan thinks that the flag was designed by Jinnah, while other sources say it was Syed Amir-uddin Kedwaii. We need to get our facts right so that we can blame whoever designed it.

According to Wikipedia:

In the centre is a white crescent moon, representing progress, and a white five-pointed star, representing light and knowledge. The flag symbolizes Pakistan’s commitment to Islam, the Islamic world and the rights of religious minorities.

But, it looks like the flag of our “Islamic Republic of Pakistan” is not really Islamic! The star and crescent symbols that are normally associated with Islam are really the remnants of sun/moon/sky worshippers, as this page explains (and I completely agree with it). They say:

The crescent moon and star symbol actually pre-dates Islam by several thousand years. Information on the origins of the symbol are difficult to ascertain, but most sources agree that these ancient celestial symbols were in use by the peoples of Central Asia and Siberia in their worship of sun, moon, and sky gods. There are also reports that the crescent moon and star were used to represent the Carthaginian goddess Tanit or the Greek goddess Diana.

So even though a lot of Muslims worshipped Diana too (and a couple of them wanted to create demi-gods with her), that is no excuse to adopt this symbol to represent Islam. So how did it begin? The page explains:

It wasn’t until the Ottoman Empire that the crescent moon and star became affiliated with the Muslim world. When the Turks conquered Constantinople (Istanbul) in 1453, they adopted the city’s existing flag and symbol. Legend holds that the founder of the Ottoman Empire, Osman, had a dream in which the crescent moon stretched from one end of the earth to the other. Taking this as a good omen, he chose to keep the crescent and make it the symbol of his dynasty.

So not only are we using unislamic symbols that used to represent false gods, we adopted this symbol on the whim of an emperor who took a dream as a good omen. I think our flag was copied from Turkey too, and even though the Turks are ‘recovering’ from Islam and are embracing ‘enlightenment’ in the form of skirts, bars and other hedonistic pursuits, we are still stuck with the legacy of the Ottoman Empire. Its time we changed that. In fact, a lot of Muslims reject this pagan icon on this very basis. I never knew that!

Based on this history, many Muslims reject using the crescent moon as a symbol of Islam. The faith of Islam has historically had no symbol, and many refuse to accept what is essentially an ancient pagan icon. It is certainly not in uniform use among Muslims.

So what can we do about it? Let us go back to basics like the true ‘fundamentalists’ we really are. Here’s the Sunnah:

The early Muslim community did not really have a symbol. During the time of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), Islamic armies and caravans flew simple solid-colored flags (generally black, green, or white) for identification purposes. In later generations, the Muslim leaders continued to use a simple black, white, or green flag with no markings, writing, or symbolism on it.

So before we use this new-found knowledge to fix a few flags, here is the link to the original page that I have stolen the quotes from [link].

Redesigning the Flag of Pakistan

We all know that the “progress, light and knowledge” talk is BS, so, let us attempt to fix the blunder made by our ancestors, and see what our flag should have looked like. Here is the flag as we have right now:


Let us remove these pagan symbols from the flag first of all:


This already looks much better. Now if we decide to go one step further, we can also try to see if separating religion from state can really bring peace. Green is universally though of as the color of Islam. Since we don’t really follow Islam as we should (or at least, I don’t), so like our hearts, let us remove that symbol from our flag too. This is what we end up with:


Instant peace!!

This is not just the universally accepted flag of peace, it is also one of the original flags of the Prophet. Islam, as we know, is supposed to be the religion of peace, so the white flag (derived above) is a better option for Pakistan on more than one levels.

In the next section, we will help out our other Muslim brothers.

Removing Pagan Icons

Here are a few ‘before and after’ flags of the Muslim(ish) nations – namely Algeria, Azerbaijan, Comoros, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Pakistan (already done), Tunisia, Turkey, Turkemenistan and Uzbekistan, minus the star and crescent:


A few countries end up with identical flags, and will probably need to redesign them, but that is somebody else’s problem, not mine.

Credits: for this invaluable information, and my neighbor’s wireless signal that allowed me to spend “the dark hour” on this ‘research’.

Bomb Blast in Islamabad Today

An italian restaurant in Islamabad that had the misfortune to be a popular foreigner hangout was blown up by a planted bomb a few hours ago. You can read all about it on google [link] so I won't regurgitate the facts here, but I just need to get a few thoughts off my chest, that came to my mind after hearing the news.

Firstly, the terrorists are finally getting some common sense and not blowing themselves up – which is bad new for us. Secondly, how come nobody has taken the responsibility for the last few bomb blasts?! Normally, Taleban/Al Quaida etc. rush forward and tell why they did it, but unless I have missed some important news, these attacks are the work of an anonymous peace-hating terrorist entity. Why aren't Al-Quaida/Taleban etc. being blamed explicitly this time? I thought their sole purpose of existence was to take the blame for terrorist attacks, bombings, floods and earthquakes etc. Thirdly, can we please stop "strongly condemn"ing these attacks please, its getting irritating now.

Bell Canada was researching a possible outsourcing setup (which would have turned into a big thing eventually, them being Ma Bell and all) a couple of months ago, but they dropped the idea right after the GPO blast happened. I know of two small software shops whose investors have lost their confidence in Pakistan and are pulling out of here next month – and the security situation played a significant part in driving them out. The last time I saw a similar mass exodus was post-9/11, when Align Technology pulled out of Lahore and left 1000 or so odd people jobless in Lahore, with an expertise that had no other potential employers (virtual orthodontics treatment).

With this latest attack aimed at the foreigners, we won't exactly be attracting more international business, which is a real pity. Perhaps the indian IT industry has hired this new generation of freelance terrorists to push the tiny share of business that comes to Pakistan back into India. Yep, that's one good scapegoat.

We don't need to be bombed back to the stone ages by the US of A, they can save their bombs for Iraq and Afghanistan. We are a self-sufficient nation and will gladly do the job ourselves TYVM.

Over-Promised and Under-Delivered

It is better to promise little and deliver more, instead of the other way round – this is a valuable lesson that we shouldn't have to learn – it should be painfully obvious. And yet, when we enter the 'real world' with infinite energy and little experience but enough ambition to conquer the world, we hastily agree to overly optimistic deadlines. Most often, we end up revising the same deadlines that seemed easily manageable a month ago, apologizing to the boss/client all the time, and putting in all-nighters and watching in desperation as two new bugs surface after one is fixed. Then we grow up, and learn to multiply both time and cost by a number much greater than 1.0 before estimating anything. We still miss deadlines… but we feel less stupid about them, and can charge more in some cases… but I digress…

What I wanted to say is, PTCL botched it.

PTCL announced that they will double the bandwidth on the 1st of March. They failed to deliver on that promise, the reason: "it's a weekend, our staff is not available, we will do it on monday".

The bandwidth was still not upgraded the next week – the reason: "We need to upgrade the ports from Islamabad, so it will happen in a single transaction for ALL the Pakistani users".

Yesterday (14th of March, half the month gone), I got an SMS from PTCL when I woke up at noon, telling me that my package has been upgraded to 512kbps 'according to my request' – so I turned on my machine, but the router was still showing 256kbps. After 4 hours, I called their helpline and asked them why had they sent me the SMS when I was still getting the same old speed? The lady (who sounded overwhelmed) asked me for my phone number, and then told me that my upgrade was in its final stage, I asked her how many stages do they have, she said "four". She said it should be complete "any time now", so I said thank you and hung up.

24 hours later (almost 9AM, 15th of March, 2008), I still have the same speed. After looking at the time and realizing that it is morning already, I just called their helpline again (yes, you can call this live blogging too) and told the PTCL rep that I was getting the same old speed despite their SMS – the girl at the other end took my number, checked her system and told me "Sir, our systems are still showing 256kbps". I swallowed the compulsory "No shit!" retort (I am beginning to understand why they prefer female customer relations employees), and asked her why, with their promise of 1st March, have they been unable to upgrade the bandwidth after two weeks. Her response: "Sir, we had till the 15th of March to upgrade. You can call in one hour and check again".

Now this is not right! I can see that they had to rush their price-cuts to meet the competition, and I realize that the 1st of the month is when most of the customers would consider switching, so PTCL had to try to retain that segment of their customer base by promising them the shiny new deal – but why did they have to promise the exact date if they were unsure that they could handle the upgrade workload, why the hell are they still considering 15th of March as their deadline (which is from PTA), and more importantly, why can't they apologize about it, as they have basically swindled me out of 653.50 Rs.

After the prescribed one hour wait, I called 1236 again – this time their support gal simplified it for me and told me in no uncertain terms that "Many customers have already had their account upgraded, yours will be done soon too, perhaps in a day or two. PTCL has promised the upgrades so you will get the upgrade soon". I asked the same 'why promise…' question, and she gave me the same 'please wait for a couple of days…' response.

I would have been perfectly okay with waiting for a few weeks while PTCL upgraded, but the above situation has converted me into an irked customer (note: not a completely 'unsatisfied' customer, their actual wares are good, even though their customer 'service' is lacking) when they could have used the chance to convert me into a super-satisfied customer. I can survive with my current 256kbps, but I hate being manipulated like this. PTCL should fire its marketing department and hire a few more techs – to get things done.

Time to sleep.

LESCO Please Give Me My Life Back


You knew about the (then) impending power crisis of 2007 way back in 2004 and I was glad you didn’t do a thing about it, besides blaming rains, coal shortages and the crumbling infrastructure in the four years that followed. Not many people see the wisdom in that , but I am not one of those people. I realize very clearly that the 5 hours without power daily were just the training we Pakistani needed to evolve to a higher level – a person who can survive without electricity and gas for that much time can do pretty much anything, and feel superior when his (weak) American friends ask “How can you live like that?!” in awe and inspiration. Those load-shedding spells were just the thing I needed to learn get my work done in the 4 hours of continuous internet that you gave me, thereby increasing my productivity, and giving me the time to read a few hundred pages of a book daily by laptop-light, thereby increasing my quality of life. The one hour discharge and recharges increased my laptop’s battery life by 50%, and forced my RSI-prone wrists to get the much-needed rest that I would have ignored otherwise. We didn’t really need running steel mills either, all they give us is global warming and pollution, so I was happy when they were shut down. Your tag-teaming with the Gas company also allowed me to eat out every other day due to lack of any other options. Life was wonderful, I was constantly looking at the bright side of life in the daily darkness spells, and had become a fan of your greater wisdom.

Why, then, did you have to promise an end to load shedding by February 2008, and actually deliver on that promise?! I have been waiting for a power outage for two days straight now, please give me back my 5 hours of load-shedding per day. I miss them. 🙁