Tag Archives: Pakistan

6 Surprises for a Pakistani at Istanbul

Hagia Sophia - Istanbul

Traveling teaches lessons that cannot be learned through books or teachers. Back in October 2013, I stepped out of Pakistan, all alone, for the first time and the feeling was quite similar to that of a young adult asked to find his/her own ways in an unknown maze. It was a journey undertaken to cover the second Turk-Arab Youth Congress at Istanbul, Turkey as a student journalist and to draft reports of the sessions conducted over there. Unlike exchange programs and other international fellowships, during which students travel in a group, I happened to be the only Pakistani leaving for the congress. It was excitingly scary to give myself a chance for self-exploration. At the same time it was a comforting thought that Pakistan has brotherly relations with Turkey. As soon as I landed at Istanbul Atatürk Airport, surprises started to embrace me one by one.

1-Green Passport received with a warm smile
I was amazed to encounter a pleasant smile at the airport as the officer stamped my passport and found out that I was coming from Pakistan. Our passport is stigmatized (usually) and doesn’t receive a positive glare in many parts of the world. A welcoming gesture wasn’t expected, but I was fortunate to find friendly signs right from the beginning of my adventure to explore Istanbul within a week.

2-Turks won’t let you drag your luggage for yourself
Yes! They simply won’t- no matter how much you assure them that you can easily drag your luggage. Even upon my insistence the logistical team of the congress and even the students who were a part of the administration asked me to let them drag my luggage. They go an extra mile to make sure that their scale of hospitality doesn’t get disturbed.

3-They are good at speaking German and Arabic
They are not well-versed in English and other than the native Turkish language they are more eloquent in German and can comprehend Arabic better off. Even at the airport, people find it difficult to speak English. This gave me an idea that shopping wouldn’t be an easy task due to the language barrier.

4-They don’t let you get bored
They accompany you and talk to you while you are waiting for either a vehicle or a person. Turks are curious to know about Pakistanis and Pakistan. The sad part is that most of them don’t know that Islamabad is in Pakistan, but they do know a lot about Islamabad (at least).

5-The traffic – it’s awful
The first thing that came across my mind while sitting in the van and traveling for good 2 hours to reach the hotel from the airport was that – why does the Chief Minister of Punjab want to make Lahore look like Istanbul? In my opinion, Lahore already looks like Istanbul when it comes to traffic jams during inter-city traveling.

6-While shopping it’s a must to visit everyone’s shop if you are a Pakistani (even window shopping)
The interestingly hilarious surprises came my way during shopping. While I was out in the city with one of my friends from Lithuania, I forgot to take off the name identity tag provided by the congress which included my name on it. Shopkeepers started calling out my name to invite me in their shops and that is the perfect pronunciation of my name, I’ve heard from any stranger so for! (Maybe because my name is an Arabic word, they were quite familiar with it) Anyhow, upon knowing that I am a Pakistani they started offering discounts and gave additional nuts along with Turkish tea at a cafe. Almost all the shopkeepers wanted me to visit their shops as soon as they knew about my nationality.

Above all, there was a thumbs up each time I said: “I am from Pakistan!” Istanbul startled me with its unprecedented hospitality along with the amazing feeling generated through the authentic smiles that brightened their faces upon hearing the name of ‘Pakistan’.


Posted by on October 29, 2014 in Random Scape


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Pakistani youth’s ‘decision making’ in the 2013 elections

Fakiha Hassan Rizvi is a student of B.Sc (Hons) Communication Studies at the Institute of Communication Studies, University of the Punjab, Pakistan. She is an avid reader, likes writing on socio-political issues and is a campaigner on education with Ilmpossible. Fakiha serves as a freelance contributor for theDaily Times Pakistan and runs her own blog. You can follow her at @Fakiha_Rizvi.

Pakistan is a young and resilient nation. Ridden with terror, extremism and struggling due to a faltering economy, the people are despondent about the overall situation that their country is facing.

On May 11th 2013, more people lined up at polling booths than in any of the previous elections. There were a number of factors that pushed people towards the ballot boxes. Pakistanis, in general, have started to understand the significance of voting. Small scale campaigns and those on the media urged the masses to get their votes registered and play their part in ensuring the first civilian-to-civilian transfer of power in the country. It was for the first time in Pakistan that the ‘right to vote’ was viewed as a ‘social obligation’with all parties, including the rightists like Maulana Sami-ul-Haq (a conservative cleric who runs a religious seminary that trained many Afghan and Pakistani Taliban) convincing people to cast their vote. The same cleric referred to voting as a ‘religious obligation.’

In Pakistan, there are three mainstream political parties. They are:

The ‘youth factor’ can’t be ignored and stands out for the simple reason that never before did the country’s younger population take such a keen interest in the political set up that governed it. With large numbers of unemployed youth due to menaces like corruption and nepotism, the general election was seen as a possible turning point in the political sphere of Pakistan.

Imran Khan addresses a rally in October 2011


The younger generation seemed more enthusiastic in the election saga. After the grand rally of Imran Khan in October 2011, the Pakistani youth had mobilised to a great extent. It was being envisioned by some political analysts and media commentators that the young population might play a decisive role in the 2013 general election.

“…Pakistan’s bulging youth population could be influential in the upcoming election. More than 30 per cent of registered voters, or more than 25 million, are between the ages of 18 and 29, and many will be voting for the first time, the report said. Around 60 per cent of young people plan to vote, while another 10 per cent said they could still be persuaded to turn out.” – Dawn (April 4, 2013) [1]

“The addition of nearly 40 million new voters in the electoral roll, mainly comprising the youth, may prove to be a decisive factor…”  – The News (April 5, 2013) [2]

Most people, rather unfoundedly in retrospect, assumed that a substantial number of young people would stand behind the cricketer-turned-politician and PTI chief, Imran Khan.

“Mr. Khan, 60, who retains his youthful swagger and athletic physique, is particularly popular with young Pakistanis who form the core of his support and make up approximately 40 percent of the country’s registered voters. However, it was not clear how much of this adulation — which borders on the cultlike — would translate into electoral success.” – The New York Times [3]

He was equated to a ‘change maker’ who would prove to be a breath of fresh air in the political conundrum of Pakistan. After a huge rally in October 2011 in support of Khan, youth became an electoral target for all parties, particularly the PML-N who used their places in regional governments to introduce new initiatives such as a “laptop scheme, solar lights and foreign tours” (The News).

Post election

Undoubtedly and surprisingly the overwhelming participation of voters in the elections turned the entire electoral process into a moment of celebration for a country that was governed by dictators (time and again) for 30 years since its independence in 1947. The young, old and the middle-aged, all waited under the scorching sun to drop their votes into the ballot boxes. Social media came into play and everyone proudly updated their Facebook status after casting with photographs of stained thumbs covering news feeds all day.

The results made it plain and clear that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had won the most number of seats in the National Assembly. Nawaf Sharif became Prime Minister as head of the majority party, while Imran Khan joined the opposition benches.

The youth vote

It is interesting to note that majority of the youth also voted for the winning party, and not Imran Khan as predicted. According to a Gallup Pakistan survey which on May 11th 2013, among the new voters who took part in the general elections this time, 37% voted in favour of Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) whereas 26% of them voted for PTI [4].  

PK election results

Demographic share of the vote across the three major parties

Though PTI’s support was indeed highest amongst youth, the results and voting behaviour came as a surprise for many who believed that the majority of the youth were blindly following Imran Khan.

“The mistake the PTI leadership made was that of a foolish army: it believed its own propaganda. On television, Khan advanced the complacent view that PTI would be swept to power by a wave of new young voters. No supportive data was furnished. Neither the media, nor Khan’s team, scrutinized the claim of a monolithic youth vote. In reality, young voters were divided.” – Dawn (May 28, 2013)

After the election, the rational conclusion that could be drawn was that the young vote bank in Pakistan was as divided as the entire country was. PML-N remained dominant in Punjab, PTI swept in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa (KPK), Sindh remains with PPPP and Balochistan will be ruled by PML-N with the support if its coalition partners. Youth’s inclination towards Imran Khan was over-stated and most of the urban elite favoured his party. Moreover, PML-N also resisted the influence of PTI on the young voters by launching timely e-youth initiatives, which included distribution of laptops to bright students of public sector universities. It must not be forgotten that majority of the Pakistani youth dwells in public sector universities and only a fraction can afford to pursue degrees privately.

A democratic future?

Though much of the debate has focused on where youth political support lies, a larger and more complex issue must be considered. A survey published by the British Council Pakistan [5] before the elections in early 2013 revealed that only 29% of youth even see democracy as the best system of government in Pakistan. This is trumped by 38% who view it as an unacceptable model of governance, with many of those supporting Islamic Shariah law.

Young people’s role in the 2013 election was historic and proved the electoral strength of Pakistan’s increasingly bulging youth demographic and the triumph of democracy over violence, terrorism and intimidation. At the next election, youth will continue to be an electoral battleground and young Pakistanis must be ready for such an opportunity.

But how will young people use their power to ensure the issues they care about are matched with decent policy and action? And how will they mobilise and organise themselves into an effective political force?  

References :

This article was edited by Alex Farrow.

Originally published at


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Pakistan becomes the 27th most Popular Country on Facebook

Illustration of Facebook mobile interface

Illustration of Facebook mobile interface (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to a report of the Third World Strategy website, Pakistan now has 9,000,000 users on Facebook. The demographic profile and other segregated data reveals that 70% of the Facebook users in Pakistan are under the age of 25 and around 44,000 new users join Facebook on weekly basis.

The most interesting slant in the findings is related to the gender. In almost every age group the number of male users outweighed female users. The revelations do not end here as the website also claims that Android is the most popular Smartphone OS in Pakistan. Males prefer to get their hands on Androids while females remain content with iOS. The older individuals also cling to iOS and the youth banks on Android phones.

The analysis of brands in the market depict the ‘lion’s share’ for HTC and Samsung. With regards to the operators, Ufone remains popular among women and Mobilink is being preferred by men. Dell laptops are all scattered among teens (Thanks to the Laptop scheme which made everyone a merit scholar!).

The findings also connect the rise in GPRS supported cellular phones with the penetration of Facebook. Almost 5 million users access Facebook through their cell phones. Ufone is the most widely used network for visiting social networking websites.

The noteworthy fact remains unnoticed in most of the blog posts and news releases regarding the popularity of ‘social media conglomerate’ in Pakistan. Males are taking the leverage of social media more than female members. Can this lead to the conclusion that the male gender is more comfortable in voicing it’s views over social networks?


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Pak-German Economic Diplomacy

VIEW : Pak-German economic diplomacy — Fakiha Hassan Rizvi

Germany has promised to stand by the new government in Pakistan and respects the mandate of the Pakistani people 

Germany and Pakistan have maintained a cordial relationship since the late 1940s. Germany is home to more than 30,000 Pakistani immigrants and more than 1,200 Germans are currently residing in Pakistan (mostly in Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar). Almost 2,000 Pakistani students are currently studying in German institutions to pursue higher education. After the United States, China and Saudi Arabia, Germany also plays an influential role in the domestic politics of Pakistan. The interest of German economists in the South Asian region has engaged the country in economic diplomacy with Pakistan. This is the reason that Germany is the largest trading partner of Pakistan in Europe. It is also the fifth biggest source of foreign investment in the country. Several German multinational companies have been making lucrative businesses in Pakistan for decades. The German Federal Statistical Office shows that Pakistan’s exports to Germany increased by over 76 percent while bilateral trade volume increased by two percent during the past four years. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flowing from Germany into Pakistan has also enhanced. Interestingly, the newly elected government of Pakistan hosted the first foreign leader on June 8, 2013, Germany’s Foreign Minister Mr Guido Westerwelle. He defined his visit as a trigger for “new momentum” in the bilateral relationship between the two countries.

Germany has promised to stand by the new government in Pakistan and respects the mandate of the Pakistani people. It is worth remembering that during April 1998, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (who was the then Prime Minister as well) went to visit Germany, Poland and Brussels to improve economic ties. He said in Brussels at an official reception, “We [Pakistan] seek understanding and cooperation with Europe.” At that time Mr Sharif was Pakistan’s first ever business leader. Pakistan stitched associations with Germany and the European Community in general to integrate itself with the global economic order. In the 1990s, Pakistan and Germany sought a business alliance in the form of the Pakistan German Business Forum. This forum came into existence in 1997, again during the ‘Nawaz era’. After the country became a nuclear power in May 1998, Germany did not criticise Pakistan nor did it support it. In addition to this, the Germans were critical of India’s role in the Kargil war and remained silent supporters of Pakistan. During the Musharraf regime, Germany became one of Pakistan’s most important allies in the war in northwest Pakistan between Pakistan and the Taliban.

After the democratic transition in Pakistan, the economic condition of the country was abysmal. Bilateral Trade Investment Treaty signed in December 2009 with Germany opened a new chapter in economic ties and helped reinforce business relations. The contribution of the German parliament and people for the flood victims in Pakistan during 2010 was unprecedented. Out of an aid worth $ 300 million, an amount of $ 210 million was donated by ordinary German people. Germany had also been generous enough to support Pakistan in getting a larger share in exports to the European Union. However, the perception of German people about Pakistanis is quite low. According to a 2013 BBC World Service Poll, only five percent of Germans view Pakistan’s influence positively, with 82 percent expressing a negative view. This view should be dispelled by the new government in Pakistan under the leadership of Mr Sharif.

While Germany aspires to see Pakistan as a ‘regional power’ and economic hub of South Asia, Pakistan should strive to maintain a positive image back in Germany. Students, media and young Pakistanis employed in Germany can play a decisive role in this regard. In the recent visit of Mr Westerwelle, an assistance of 93.5 million Euros is promised. Following the historic trend of friendship, Prime Minister Sharif has once again invited German investors to help Pakistan with the ailing energy sector, in particular. The German Foreign Minister has indicated the continuity of support to Pakistan’s request for preferential trade plus (GSP) status in the European Union. The two countries have agreed upon the upgrading of Pak-German forum into a bilateral chamber of commerce. The support from Germany just days after the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has assumed power is a healthy sign. It depicts the resolve of Germany to maintain a smooth and strong bilateral relationship with Pakistan. For the stabilisation of the Pakistani economy, the European trading partner wants democracy to pay its dividends. The economic revival is directly linked with a good perception of Pakistan in countries like Germany that offer financial assistance via development in the sectors of energy and health. The benefit of the doubt is being given to the cabinet by foreign investors, who have been sceptical of Pakistan’s economic transparency. Funds should be used justly and transparently to ensure that economic diplomacy between Pakistan and Germany flourishes. Only then can the new government expect to regain the confidence of other countries willing to invest in Pakistan, but reluctant due to bad governance and corruption. 

The writer is a student of BS Communication Studies at University of the Punjab and blogs at She Tweets at @Fakiha_Rizvi

Originally published in Daily Times


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Will Nawaz Sharif Mend Pak-US ties?

VIEW : Will Nawaz Sharif mend Pak-US ties? — Fakiha Hassan Rizvi

Dependency on the US is inevitable as this is not 1999, and the post-9/11 scenario has knitted Pakistan in the nexus of the war on terror 

With the electoral results of Pakistan at the international and national display, the triumph of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is prominent. Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif is geared up to take his seat as the premier of the country for the third time now. His victory speech promises the execution of his reasonable and sound manifesto (based on three Es: Energy, Economy and Education). The activities of the party, after its huge success, exhibit the renewed commitment through which Mr Sharif wants to tackle the problems entangling Pakistan. He has received a warm message from arch-rival India, the terror-ridden Afghanistan and the United States has acknowledged his election campaign and the mandate of Pakistanis in his favour. The new government will have to confront multiple challenges ranging from terrorism at home and in the region, to the faltering economy, making the country more dependent on foreign loans. In connection to this, Mr Sharif might be using his induction in the ruling position to amend the oscillating Pak-US ties during the tenure of Zardari-led coalition.

Foreign policy, especially the bilateral relations with the US, is going to be a more complex and intricate issue for the third term of Mr Sharif. A bird’s eye view of Pak-US ties since the previous tenure of Mr Sharif reflects that he took credit for the country’s nuclear tests in 1998. Even though the focus of American diplomatic strata remained converged at the objective of dissuading Pakistan from conducting the nuclear tests. At that point, every single dollar being rejected to India could have poured into Pakistan. As expected, the nuclear explosions were followed by heavy economic sanctions from the US. Adding fuel to the fire, the Kargil misadventure deteriorated the image of Pakistan and brought it under international glare. There was a rift in relations with the US.

After General Pervez Musharraf’s coup, Pakistan was stigmatised for three reasons, broadly speaking: nuclear weapons programme for its suspension of democracy, and for its support of the Taliban in Afghanistan. However, the ambiance of alliance and amicability started after 9/11. This did not last long and Pakistan;s democratic transition brought Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) into power. Since then, major developments took place and Pak-US ties wavered.

The diplomatic immunity given to Raymond Davis gave vent to anti-US sentiments in Pakistan. The events following the success of the ‘Abbottabad raid’ never made a smooth road for the allies to tread on. The dwindling relations were further deteriorated by the attack on Salala check post by the NATO forces. The public reacted strongly with protests all over the country. To contain the resentment of the masses, government took measures adversely affecting the US exit strategy from Afghanistan, including the evacuation of Shamsi air base and closure of the NATO supply line. The Zardari-led ruling coalition did not leave a grazed field near the end of its constitutional tenure by initiating the Iran-Pakistan pipeline, which was not viable in the eyes of the US. Moreover, handing over the Gawadar port to China is not a good omen for US hawks.

;Original caption: Secretary of Defense Willia...

;Original caption: Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen (left) welcomes Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, of Pakistan, to the Pentagon, Dec. 3, 1998. Cohen and his senior advisors will meet with Sharif to discuss a range of regional and international issues of interest to both nations (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Senator John Kerry is likely to visit Pakistan as soon as the new government takes up the daunting task of ameliorating the socio-political set up of Pakistan. Mr Sharif has an intention to boost ties with the US. It is noteworthy that throughout the election campaign, the PML-N took a vague stance against drone strikes. Unlike its competing political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), which even planned a long march against drone strikes during electioneering. The PTI has earned the confidence of the people of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. On the contrary, Pentagon has no plans to end drone strikes. US Assistant Defence Secretary Michael Sheehan has explicitly stated recently before the US Senate Committee on Armed Services that drone strikes may continue during the next two decades and war is where enemy exists (from Boston to FATA). Consequently, Americans already expect a lot from the next government of Pakistan.

The public opinion in Pakistan is antagonistic to US aspirations. According to the Pew Research Global attitudes Project, “Only 11 percent of Pakistanis express a positive opinion of the US.” Not only this, but “64 percent of Pakistanis consider the US as an enemy.” The report released on May 7, 2013, further explains that the US is getting extraordinarily negative ratings in Pakistan. Under such circumstances, maintaining a necessity-based friendship would be an arduous task for Mr Sharif and his cabinet. Dependency on the US is inevitable as this is not 1999, and the post-9/11 scenario has knitted Pakistan in the nexus of the war on terror. Islamabad will have to sustain a smooth relationship with Washington by using Mr Sharif’s prudence. This will be the most expeditious diplomatic move that Nawaz Sharif will have to make, while keeping in view the sentiments of the masses that voted for his party.

The writer is a student of BS Communication Studies at University of the Punjab and blogs at She Tweets at @Fakiha_Rizvi

Originally published in Daily Times newspaper


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Punjab Chief Minister is the ‘Youngest’ in all Provinces

By Nauman Tasleem Khan 

English: Shahbaz Sharif

PTI fails to bring any young person for the KPK
CM slot and named a 62-years-old Khattak

The process of electing Chief Ministers (CM) in three provinces including Khyber Pakhtoon Khawa (KPK), Sindh and Punjab has almost completed and only one province Balochistan is yet to choose its CM. In the three provinces, Punjab has the youngest CM Shahbaz Sharif with age of 61 years while the Sindh CM Qaim Ali Shah is the most oldest with age of 80 years. Whereas, KPK CM Pervaiz Khattak is 62 years old.

Interestingly, all the three CMs belong to three different parties with youngest coming from Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and oldest coming from Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPPP). Pakistan Tehreek Insaaf (PTI), which has always talked about empowering youth in the election process, has failed to give a young CM to KPK and come up with name of Pervaiz Khattak. PTI chief Imran Khan has talked a lot about empowering youth in the election process and politics of Pakistan and in his campaign announced proudly of giving maximum tickets to youth has even failed to bring forward any young person for the slot of KPK CM.

Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif would be holding the office for the third time was born on September 23rd, 1951. He is the younger brother of would-be Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is only seven days older to KPK CM Pervaiz Khattak and who was born on January 1, 1950.

Sindh CM Qaim Ali Shah’s exact date of birth is not available but according to his daughter Nafisa Shah, Qaim Ali Shah was born in 1933.


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Gujrat Tragedy: We will Never Learn any Lesson from it

By Nauman Tasleem Khan 

A school teacher and 16 children killed in a van, which got fire due to spark in engine
The fitness certificate of the van was fake and expired in April 2013, says Gujrat DPO

The incident of Gujrat in which 16 children and one school teacher were killed while five injured has moved everyone. The tragic incident took place when the children were going to school in a van, which got fire due to a spark in the engine. The innocent children did not get a few minutes to get out of the van, which was not ‘fit’ to use but even then Punjab Transport Department issued a fake fitness certificate to it. The female teacher, who was also in the same van and tried to rescue the children and managed to save three children in her brave effort, could not survive due to the bruises. The coward driver, who was the major culprit in the tragic deaths escaped as soon the van got fire. However, he was arrested later.

 The police said that the van driver a few minutes before the incident bought petrol in a can from a fuel station and placed it in the van. As soon the van got fire, the petrol caused huge flames.

According to Gujrat District Police Officer (DPO) Dar Ali Khattak the fitness certificate issued to the van too got expired last month. The District Coordination Officer (DCO) Asif Bilal Lodhi said that the fire erupted due to a short circuit in the van.

Whatever the reason is, there is an important question. Will our government and authorities concerned take a lesson from it or they will forget it in a day or two. The track record of our departments show that it is a routine incident for them and within a few days, they will forget it, as a number of such incidents have taken place in the past and no body cared for it. In September 2011, a bus carrying more than children skidded due to brake failure and fell in ravine. Later, it was discovered that the bus was not fit to use. So it is very simple that our government would never learn a lesson from the past and such incidents would take (God forbade) place in the future. The reason is very simple for this hypothesis. The region we are living in is an area where people’s lives are not top priority of the rulers. All they can do is arrest the drivers, transfer the district administration or give financial assistance to the victims but they will never evolve a system, which would guarantee to protect the lives of masses. In the above mentioned incident, I have not heard that the Transport Authority officials would be arrested for issuing fake certificates.

Here I would like to share my personal experience with the readers. In US, whenever a school van stops to dismount the children a ‘stop’ sign comes out automatically from the van and the traffic passing on that road has to stop at every cost. I asked my friend, if the drivers in the vehicles do not stop then what the fine is. “You would loose your driving license for good,” he replied calmly. So here is the difference between the developed and developing countries.

 The writer is Editor Web Daily Pakistan and can be reached at

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Posted by on May 25, 2013 in Guest Posts


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