Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Our anniversary is a time to look back at the good times and a time to look ahead to live our dreams together.

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May we always be each other's best friend,
May our mutual respect continue to be so
May our successful marriage continue to bloom and thrive
And our love to flourish, prosper and grow
Have a wonderful day on 2nd Wedding Anniversary

With the countless blessings of Allah Almighty and myriad prayers of family members, near and dears we (Lalarukh/ Mahtab) have completed two years of our nuptial relationship (on April29, 201
4) and the smooth going is on and on…! I am happy to drop few lines here that during the course of these 730 days our relationship has flourished more as we really have started to know each other. We have had our ups and downs, good times and bad, but ultimately ups and good remained constant feature during the phase. Thanking more to Almighty that since April 29, 2012, my ‘Better Half’ does not become the ‘Bitter Half’ and we believe that things will only get better that we’ll grow closer with time to come. We also make our resolution that our love for each other would not be on the slump with the arrival of a little angel Muhammad Ibrahim (born on April 12, 2014).  

Now marking two years since Lala and I said ‘Kabool hay’ thrice, we are still crying for our focal family members, nature has taken away quickly but I am sure as we are setting for a groove, our bonding relationship would go upto a stage that a great poet someday will pen tribute to our love. HAA (sigh)!!!

To me, marriage- start to finish is a constant struggle. One must learn to compromise. One must learn to apologize and one must learn to grovel. Communication can be the oil that greases the marital gears. It can also be the monkey wrench.

Last but indeed not the least, recapturing the magic of being newlyweds (even after 2 years or rest of life) gives one everlasting soothing feelings!

It would be sheer injustice if I would not acknowledge the role of my beloved wife for standing beside me during this two years life time. She remained along me through thick and thin. With massive thanks for making an impressive start of a long journey I would also like to dedicate a ghazal (to my wife) sung by ghazal maestro Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Here it goes!!!

Aap se milke hum, kuch badal say gaye
(after having met you, I have changed somewhat)
Shair parhnay lagay, gungunay lagay
(I've started reading poetry, humming to myself)

Pehlay mashhoor thi, apni sanjeedgi
(first I was well-known for my seriousness)
Ub to jab daykhiyeah muskuranay lagay
(now everytime I'm seen smiling)

Aap se milke hum, kuch badal say gaye
Shair parhnay lagay, gungunay lagay

Hum ko logo say milnay ka kab shouq tha
(when was I ever interested in socializing?)
Mehfil araii ka, kab hamay zouq tha
(in gatherings, and relish?)
Aap kay wastay hum nay yeah bhi kia
(for you, I even did this)
Milnay julnay lagay, aanay janay lagay
(started mingling, started going out)

Aap se milke hum, kuch badal say gaye
Shair parhnay lagay, gungunay lagay

Hum nay jab aap ki daykhe dilchaspiyaan
(when I came to know your jolly interests)
Aa gaeein hum mein bhi tabdeliyean
(even I changed)

Ik musawwir say bhi ho gaye dosti
(I made friendship with an artist)
Aur ghazalein bhi sun’nay suna’nay lagay
(and started listening and reciting poetry)

Aap ke baray mein pooch baytha koi
(when someone asked about you)
Kia kahein hum say kia badhawasi howi
(what can I say, I become very nervous.. hobble)

Kehnay wali jo thi, baat wo na kahi
(instead of saying what I was suppose to)
Baat jo thi chupani, batanay lagay
(I revealed what I was supposed to hide)

Aap se milke hum, kuch badal say gaye
Shair parhnay lagay, gungunay lagay

Ishq bayghar karay, ishq bayghar karay
(love makes you homeless, love makes you homeless)
Ishq ka such mein koi thikana nahi
(truly there is no home for love)

Hum jo kal tak thikanay kay thay aadmi
(until yesterday, I used to have a place)
Aap se milke kaisay thikanay lagay
(after meeting you, look how I've become homeless) (Irrelevant ;-)

Pehlay mashhoor thi, apni sanjeedgi
Ub to jab daykhiyeah muskuranay lagay
Aap se milke hum, kuch badal say gaye
Shair parhnay lagay, gungunay lagay

Mahtab Bashir is an independent blogger who believes that marriage is a mistake, everyone should make.

Sunday, April 20, 2014


Through a career spanning fifty years and a prodigious literary output ranging from criticism to letters, essays, operas, short stories and novels, the name of Gabriel Garcia Marquez became a byword for literary integrity and compassion, which future generations of writers will struggle to emulate. 

Marquez, who died on Thursday in Mexico City of pneumonia at the age of 87, has left the world without its most revered moral voice in literature, a staunch defender of the downtrodden, a man whose empathy allowed readers to connect with characters in ways previously unimagined. 

Marquez was born in 1927 in Aracataca, a town near Colombia's Caribbean coast. His childhood in the banana-growing backwater influenced the settings and characters in many of his novels, the most famous of which remains 100 Years of Solitude. Marquez revelled in creating intricately detailed worlds and his ability to create believable and endearing characters within those worlds and lead us into the heart of their dilemmas and decisions remained unrivalled throughout his life. As a journalist Marquez was deeply concerned by the plight of the poor and the effects of colonisation on South America. 

Despite publishing a novella and short stories, it was only after many years into his career that he achieved fame with the publication in 1967 of 100 Years of Solitude, followed by the darkly humorous, Autumn of the Patriarch, the story of a fictional dictator based on the lives of various Latin American dictators, and Chronicle of a Death Foretold, a critique of the apathy in Colombian society after the murder of a young man. 

The criticism of imperialism, particularly his perception of US imperialism in Latin America, remained a consistent theme in his novels and essays. His career as a journalist allowed him to stay in touch with many of the realities of daily life, which informed his political and social views and his literature. He was a vocal supporter of the left-wing Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua and his friendships with some of Latin America’s best known revolutionaries, such as Fidel Castro, were matters of considerable concern to the US, which labelled him as a subversive. Though his friendship with Castro was often criticised, the writer himself simply said, “Ours is an intellectual friendship. It may not be widely known that Fidel is a very cultured man.” Marquez's most important legacy remains literature and the style of magical realism that he popularised. 

He was a man above politics, above accusations of partisanship or dogmatism, who continued to explore moral dilemmas with sensitivity and empathy and give voice to people who never had one. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982 for his work, though as he himself said, “What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.” His memory notwithstanding, the world has lost a unique voice that will be always missed. RIP Gabriel Garcia Marquez. 
Courtesy: Daily Times


Since Finance Minister Ishaq Dar’s declared intention to raise Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves, expected revenue from a 3G and 4G telecom licence auction was part of the government’s calculations. Initially the government expected as much as $ 1.5 billion from the auctio
n. However, recently that amount inflated to $ 2 billion and numbers as high as $ 5 billion were quoted. Simple arithmetic shows that these numbers do not add up; if three licences worth (at base) $ 295 million and three worth $ 210 million were auctioned, the total amount raised would still be $ 1.5 billion. 

Moreover, even achieving that lower figure required auctioning all 3G and 4G spectrums as well as an available 2G spectrum bandwidth in the first round of bidding. Anyone could have told the finance minister that selling six spectrum blocks to five telecom operators favoured the buyers. While spectrum bandwidth is a limited resource, each company also has to take into account its subscriber base and the rate of conversion to 3G it expects, since Pakistan’s smart-phone penetration is still only 15 percent of total cellular use. One company’s withdrawal from the bidding did not surprise industry professionals, since it reportedly faces financial difficulties and was even being considered for sale earlier this year. 

Hence, effectively four operators were in the running. Hopes of foreign players driving up the bidding were always speculative given their non-participation in the market so far. Reports say that two foreign companies that were interested do not maintain existing 2G networks and also wanted monopoly rights to 3G access that would have undermined existing operators. Realistically then, the government should have expected around $ 1.2 billion from the initial auction; still a respectable number. It has now ended up with dashed hopes because of an overly optimistic Ministry of Information Technology (IT) assessment. 
The importance of 3G and 4G technology to the economy should not be underrated. Telecommunications infrastructure is today a vital part of any nation’s development needs. Pakistan has had 3G-capable networks since 2008 and it was only licensing concerns that left operators unable to provide the technology to consumers. Both 3G and 4G technology rely on fibre optic cables that improve data transfer and connectivity between users, which is essential for research institutions, hospitals, and universities looking to share information. Converting copper lines to fibre optic cable is a priority for the Universal Services Fund (USF) to improve internet access, particularly in remote parts of the country. 

The internet itself is a vital educational and informational tool, whose full power has not yet been realised in Pakistan because of data transfer constraints and limited accessibility. As the basis for a knowledge economy, cutting edge data transfer mechanisms are vital if Pakistan is to realise its potential as a financial and information hub. Moving to modern fibre networks will only be possible once telecom operators feel there is enough demand for their services to make it feasible for them to undertake the expenditure. Hence growth in 3G demand will drive data development. Pakistan is also developing indigenous smart-phone technology and a thriving sub-market for refurbished smart-phones that drive small businesses and entrepreneurship.
The initial auction itself should not be viewed as a failure but a slight embarrassment for the government, which should have known better than to make its recent claims. The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the final auction go ahead on April 23, and it may yet prove to be more profitable once bidding ends. One cannot fault the finance minister, who relied on assessments from the IT Ministry that apparently painted a rosier picture than was true. 

What the ministry had to gain from this rather than presenting realistic expectations is anyone’s guess. This episode shows that in certain administrative fields, responsibility must be borne by industry professionals with technical experience and in depth industry knowledge, who can accurately assess market sentiments. In the meantime, Pakistan’s 132 million cell-phone subscribers can look forward to improved data services on their phones and broader internet access.

Courtesy: Daily Times

Friday, April 18, 2014


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"When April winds / Grew soft, the maple burst into a flush / Of scarlet flowers. / The tulip tree, high up, / Opened in airs of June her multiple / OF golden chalices to humming birds / And silken-wing'd insects of the sky."
- William Cullen Bryant, "The Fountain"

Started with the April 1st- a day supposedly attributed a Fool’s Day; the month of April has put on a significant influence on my life. According to official documents (CNIC card & Matriculation DMS) I was born on 19th day of this month, I tied the knot with Lalarukh Farooq (on April 28), while my Nikkah (the wedlock) ceremony followed by Walima reception fall in the same month (30th April, 2012). In this very month, I’ve started my two weeks (April 23, 2011) maiden foreign excursion (to Indonesia & Bangkok) and last but surely not the least, Allah Almighty gifted me a little angel (April 12, 2014) in the shape of a baby boy (Muhammad Ibrahim).

Fast forwarding, this auspicious month of April brings a lot good to me as I pray it will continue to shower blessings upon me and my family as the going gets on!!! Having born on 19th and 12th of April, I along my little angel join the ‘Arian Club’ (March 21- April 19).  

According to tarot (horoscope), Aries is the first sign of the zodiac, and that's pretty much how those born under this sign see themselves: first. Aries are the leaders of the pack, first in line to get things going. Whether or not everything gets done is another question altogether, for an Aries prefers to initiate rather than to complete. The leadership displayed by Aries is most impressive, so don't be surprised if they (we) can rally the troops against seemingly insurmountable odds -- they (we) have that kind of personal magnetism. An Aries won't shy away from new ground, either. Those born under this sign are often called the pioneers of the zodiac, and it's their fearless trek into the unknown that often wins the day. Aries is a bundle of energy and dynamism, kind of like a Pied Piper, leading people along with its charm and charisma. The dawning of a new day -- and all of its possibilities -- is pure bliss to an Aries. :-) 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


 "April 1. This is the day upon which we are reminded of what we are on the other three hundred and sixty-four." - Mark Twain


Beware folks today is April Fool's Day. So be on your toes and mentally alert for unforeseen pranks, practical jokes and other forms of mischief. Some people love to spend days thinking up gags to pull on their friends and family, while others love a little impromptu prank here and there. On the day, most people, especially youngsters, make fun of others by telling fake stories and hitting them with practical jokes.

The day has assumed the shape of the 'funniest day' of the year in some countries, as people send greetings, jokes and exchange funny SMSs to their. Unlike most of the other non-foolish holidays, the history of April Fool's Day, sometimes called All Fool's Day, is not totally clear.

The closest point in time that can be identified as the beginning of this tradition was in 1582, in France. Prior to that year, the New Year was celebrated for eight days, beginning on March 25.

However, communications being what they were in the days when news traveled by foot, many people did not receive the news for several years.
Others, the more obstinate crowd, refused to accept the new calendar and continued to celebrate the New Year on April 1.

The general populace labeled these backward folk as "fools". They were subject to some ridicule, and were often sent on "fools errands" or were made the butt of other practical jokes.

This harassment evolved, over time, into a tradition of prank playing on the first day of April. The tradition eventually spread to England and Scotland in the eighteenth century.

April Fool's Day thus developed into an international fun-festival, so to speak, with different nationalities specializing in their own brand of humor at the expense of their friends and families.

In Scotland, for example, April Fool's Day is actually celebrated for two days. The second day is devoted to pranks involving the posterior region of the body. It is called Taily Day. Practical jokes are a common practice on April Fool's Day. Sometimes, elaborate practical jokes are played on friends or relatives that last the entire day.
The news media even gets involved. For instance, a British short film once shown on April Fool's Day was a fairly detailed documentary about "spaghetti farmers" and how they harvest their crop from the spaghetti trees.

April Fool's Day is a "for-fun-only" observance. Nobody is expected to buy gifts or to take their "significant other" out to eat in a fancy restaurant.

Nobody gets off work or school. It's simply a fun little holiday in most part of the world, but a holiday on which one must remain forever vigilant, for he may be the next April Fool. Beware!

Published in Daily Times