Category Archives: From Work…

India’s Pakistan obsession, after pigeon BSF catches deranged-spy

The spy-pigeon and the deranged-spy

For India it seems bashing Pakistan isn’t just kosher, it fans the flame of loyalty to burn brighter and stronger. Under such circumstances, it is not surprising that Pakistan is blamed for sending spy-pigeons, mentally unstable spies and plotting conspiracies against its neighbour by the media.

The most recent allegation comes after the arrest of a man they claim attacked an Indian Border Security Force (BSF) convoy. The claim is one we have heard before, this time however it isn’t a pigeon but a deranged man identified as Usman Khan aka Qasim aka Navaid who claims he travelled for 12 days through the jungle with an accomplice and had been in India for two days to do ‘Gods work’.

While Pakistan’s National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) dismissed Indian allegations stating on Thursday that Usman Khan is not Pakistani, the mainstream Indian media – excited like a child learning how to whistle – continues to blow hard drawing parallels between Usman Khan and Ajmal Kasab hoping to create the same piercing noise associated with a clean-whistle.

Towing the same line mainstream journalists have chosen, one Indian journalist pointed out reasons why Khan is most likely mentally unstable; but even in trying to prove his argument (that all is not well upstairs with Khan) the journalist still maintained the argument that Khan is a terrorist.

The Indian Express also tows the same line but does mention the conflicting claims the deranged-Khan ahs made. Khan allegedly told his captors he arrived with one accomplice 12 days ago but to the police he said he arrived in the first week of June.

Another Indian Express story plays on Pakistani media’s silence on the issue; pointing towards the backlash media outlets faced when they identified Kasab as Pakistani. It quotes a retired Pakistani Brigadier terming the accusations impossible because of heavy military presence on the Indian side of the border, terming the allegations an excuse to discontinue peace talks.

It is a sad day for those hoping for better India-Pakistan relations; when Pakistani Bajrangi Bhaijaans are standing up to help Geeta find her home, Indian media and even politicians are keen to jam the cog-wheels of anything that may warm hearts and pave the path for peace.

For those carrying the batons and those holding torches along the path, the Indian media is proving to be a storm determined to blow out the flames and disorient the relay runner.

It is not difficult to understand why the Indian media overdoses itself at times like this; it brings in ratings that otherwise require a lot of legwork. For the men and women in the Indian media getting ahead of themselves becomes excusable when cashing in on a story like Khan’s.

However, when the Home Minister of India tells the parliament that Navaid aka Usman aka Qasim – a man who should surely be undergoing mental-evaluation – is a Pakistani terrorist who hails from Faisalabad, one can only wonder if over the course of the next few weeks we will see another video on social media of another Indian official accidentally exposing to the world the reality of the two alleged Pakistani terrorists that felled armed BSF soldiers and injured nearly a dozen more.

Whether his name is Khan and he is a terrorist, or not, time will tell. Until then all those real life Bajrangi Bhaijaans who were trying to get Geeta home, please sit down your moment has come and passed.

This rant originally appeared here

PIA : [Monkey] Business As Usual

PIA 747 & US AIR FORCE ONE

Pakistan International Airlines has been in dire straits for a very long time. The reasons behind it are many, but one thought process that exists amongst the fat men that are running the national airline is the most disturbing. They have this idea that no matter what happens; PIA will not be shut down, will not be privatized, and therefore they can use and abuse PIA like a motel room they have rented for a few hours.

The most interesting monkey business that has come to light is one concerning the 747 fleet. According to PIA’s own website, “The Boeing 747 is often referred to as “Jumbo Jet”, [and] is the world’s most iconic and recognizable jet airplane. This 4 engine long haul wide-body airplane has a two deck configuration. PIA operated two variants of 747 family which includes 747-300 and 747-200 Combi.”

According to Pilots, Aviation Experts, and Airplane fans the world over, the 747 has played a major role in making the air transport industry what it is today. While many world airlines have moved on; inducting the latest model of Boeing or Airbus aircrafts in their fleet, there still remain hundreds in active service.  However as stated on PIA’s website “At present due to its capacity, 747-300 fleet is mostly deployed to cater high density requirements like carrying intending pilgrims to and from Saudi Arabia.”

It is interesting to note, that from PIA’s current fleet comprising of B777 variants, A310’s, ATR’s, and the 747’s; it is the 747 that is the only profitable aircraft.

According to the actual aircraft profitability report for the year 2009 and 2010 the 747 family was the only profitable aircraft contributing 2.08 billion rupees and 2.36 billion rupees respectively to PIA’s receipts.

Going by the recent performance audit report of PIA for the period 2008-2010; it was brought to light that PIA management is in the process of cannibalizing/scrapping these national assets – the 747’s are fully owned by PIA – it was also pointed out that PIA has recently sold as scrap, one its 747’s for a paltry sum of 10.3 million rupees. While the details of the sale were requisitioned by the audit party that same were not furnished even after constant reminders.

The 747 in question was inducted in PIA’s fleet in 1999, after having flown for 12 years by Cathay Pacific.  There was some monkey business that went down in its purchase, but that I shall save for another day. The aircraft flew with PIA from 1999, till 2008 when it was stored at Sialkot, due to high operating and maintenance costs. The “Jumbo” in question was finally parted out in 2011 at Karachi.

In PIA’s performance audit report it is clearly stated that “Audit would like to know why PIAC opted to sell off an airworthy aircraft whose operating cost is the least when compared to other aircrafts in PIAC’s fleet, because it is wholly owned by PIAC.” The same report also states that “comparative statement sheet listing all the bidders who took part in the tender process and the bid price of each participant was requisitioned, but the same was not provided to audit till the close of audit.”

The audit report raises many questions regarding feasibility studies and whether PIA looked at the possibility of converting the aircraft into a freighter (as done by Air China). However none of these questions have been addressed by the management of Pakistan International Airlines.

It seems PIA will in the near future completely phase out its 747 fleet, the only fleet that is owned fully by PIA and therefore is the cheapest to operate. Yet in this year’s Hajj operation PIA did not fly its own 747’s and instead leased older versions of the same that has cost the airline between 5 and 8 million dollars. According to PALPA president Suhail Baloch had the faulty engines been repaired in time PIA could have saved 6.9 million dollars (approximately 600 million rupees).

Whether PIA’s management continues to live in a fool’s paradise and leases newer aircraft under the pretext of them being more fuel efficient, I cannot say for certain. However I would like to end my rant for today, with some facts about another 747, the Air Force One – the designated aircraft of the President of the United States of America.

The US Presidents “Air Force One” is also a Boeing 747.  In fact there are 2 units of the said aircraft bearing tail numbers 28000 (inducted in Aug 1990) and 29000 (inducted in Dec 1990).  While these aircraft have been specially configured to the needs of the President, the choice of the 747 as “Air Force One” in its self says a lot about the aircraft’s standing. It may also be of interest that the 2 Air Force One (tail number 28000 and 29000) will be phased out in 2017, the aircraft would by then be 27 years old.

Just for comparisons sake, the 747 PIA cannibalized and sold for scrap was 23.8 years old when PIA laid it to rest. The US Air Force One is 21 years old and will continue to serve as Air Force one till 2017, and lastly the 747’s I wrote about earlier – are 25 years old.

May Sense Prevail… !!

PIA : All is [NOT] Well !!

PIA Collage

Thank God you fly in a Plane !!

Post Hajj; PIA has started bringing home the Haji’s. Delay’s ranging anywhere between 2 and 10+ hours, it is only understandable why the pilgrims are most unhappy with… the not so “great people to fly with.”

Waiting for PIA’s MD, Nadeem Yusufzai; I asked if I could stroll around the magnificent Head Office. With its fountain aquariums, multiple open plan coffee bays, canvas layered ceilings, I forgot for a moment that I was at the offices of PIA, an airline that is as far from its motto, as I am from the moon.

When I finally met Mr. Yusufzai he was accompanied by the ‘fat men’ from Shakespeare’s Julius Ceaser; one of them fell asleep five minutes into the interview. I could see this was going quite well.

Seated in the MD’s Guest Lounge, I inquired how he saw this year’s Hajj Operation. Not expecting him to admit mistakes, he was first critical of those who had drummed on, that PIA’s Hajj operation would be a complete failure. Then he started to compare PIA to Pakistan Railways… Hello !! Apples & Oranges ?!?

When asked why PIA had to rent the pair of 747-200 series aircraft from Hellenic Imperial Airways, the MD responded that one of PIA’s Aircraft, a 747-200 Combi-Freighter (AP-BAK) had developed corrosion and therefore they had to rent the two aircraft [a story that PIA’s Engineering department rubbished], he then went on to state how lucky PIA was that they got these Aircraft in the first place.

I was a little unmoved, considering we had two 747’s sitting in our Hangars (AP-BGG and AP-BFV), and 4 engines from AP-BFX that was scrapped earlier this year. The MD responded that 3 engines had gone for repairs and the aircraft in the Hangar were there for due maintenance; questioning me if it would have been better to fly those aircraft without maintenance, putting passengers at risk. Well obviously not Mr. MD, but don’t you think it would have been smarter to have these repairs done sooner?

Why am I making the engines such a bone of contention? Because had we not leased these 747-200’s from Hellenic, we would have saved 400 million rupees in rent for the 400 hours that PIA MD Nadeem Yusufzai says they (SX-TIC & SX-TIE) have already flown.

It was interesting that on some points I was better versed than the MD, as he put it; my questions were coming across as bouncers he was having difficulty facing.

This comment came, when I asked why AP-BFV, an aircraft that recently went for Section 41 Modification in Garuda Indonesia was inoperable due to missing engine parts. The only Response, “Kabhi Parts nikaal laitay hain”.

A few more questions confirmed, the MD wasn’t on top of his game as far as the 747’s were concerned, and it was probably better to inquire about the problems, the electronic media had been ranting about, and the returning pilgrims had identified. Why were the flights so Late?

I was really thrown off my footing when the MD claimed only 7 flights out of 250 were late. Yes, after hearing this I too, wondered if the Haji’s and the Pakistani Electronic media had been lying.

According to Mr Yusufzai, 4 PIA Aircraft had been standing at the Saudi Airport, and it wasn’t PIA’s fault the Haji’s weren’t on time. He blamed the Muallim, and the Maktabs. Then came the excuse of teething problems, which according to the MD happen every year.

Responding to the delays faced by the Pilgrims, MD PIA Nadeem Yusufzai said; Delay’s happen, sometimes its immigration, sometimes due to flat tires, adding that Pilgrims went on Camelback and on foot before, they should be thankful, now they travel in Airplanes…

At this point I said thank you, because I could take no more.

1st on Site: The Minutes after the Blast

It was a couple of minutes before 7:30AM I was awoken by a severe shock wave that shook my bed. I had returned from the office some 45 minutes earlier and initially thought the blast to be an earthquake.

Just then I received a call informing me off visible smoke rising from the opposite end of saba avenue and Khayban-e-Itehad.

Automatically my first call was to the assignment desk at work. A minute later I was speeding down Saba Avenue which is two streets behind my own house. The road ahead was blocked; from the Khayban-e-Itehad intersection, onwards.

This road serves as the main artery for the hundreds of cars dropping off children to the near dozen high schools, colleges, and primary schools in the area.

The Explosion had taken place on 32nd Street, next to the corner house on 32nd and Khayban-e-Roomi.

The closest to the site, is CAS, a private school on the corner of Saba Avenue and Khayan-e-Roomi. Occupiying the entire block, its back wall faces 31st Street; which houses Darakshan Police Station. There are 2 more schools in a 500 meter Radius from the epicenter of the explosion; Washington International and Beaconhouse.

I could see that almost all visible glass on the exterior windows of the school building was broken. I parked my car between 31st and 32nd Street on Khayaban-e-Roomi, and rushed closer to the blast site.

Cars had been strewn about like match boxes. The remains of a double cabin Toyota Hilux Vigo was lying turtle, blocking the road leading back to Saba Avenue. Itself destroyed beyond recognition, it was partly crushing a Toyota Corolla. It seemed this Vigo had flipped from the blast site on 32nd St to land smack in the middle of the road on Khayban-e-Roomi. Twisted remains of motorcycles lay scattered on the street.
A Hilux Police Mobile, which had been posted outside the targeted house, was partially destroyed from the explosion.

SSP CID Chaudhry Aslam’s house occupies the corner plot on 32nd Street and Khayban-e-Roomi. Its Exterior wall had vanished. The entire outer wall of the first floor, facing 32nd Street had collapsed. Any furniture that might have been present in the rooms was no where to be seen. It had all turned to rubble.

The explosion had left a large crater approximately 12 feet in diameter and atleast 6-8 feet deep at its lowest point.
The road had cracks leading up the pavement lining the empty plots. My first assessment was that an explosive laden vehicle had rammed into the side of Chaudhry Aslam’s residence.

The house right next door to Chaudhry Aslam’s had been severly damaged as well. Crushed remains of a Honda Civic and and a Toyota Corolla could been seen in the carpark. I could not see grills on any windows of either house, which is a norm in almost all houses in the area. I learned later, the shockwave ripped them out and they too had blown inwards like cotton wool.

The targeted house on one side has Kh-e-Roomi – a two lane main road – and on 32nd street it faces empty plots. The first house, an under construction site helped guage the intensity. Its boundry wall, at a distance of 150-200 feet from the epicenter, had collapsed. I could see two pillars that would have been support beams for the boundary wall lying against the main buildings exterior walls.

The rubble of another Toyota Hilux lay in the empty plot between the uncerconstuction house and 32nd Street. It seems this vehicle had flown from the epicenter of the explosion approximately 150-175 ft to its present location where it too lay, with tyres facing the sky.

Bodies lay strewn all over the place. One on Khayban-e-Roomi, two on the corner of Roomi and 32nd. I could see disfigured remains of another body infront of the house next to Chaudhry Aslam’s on 32nd Street.

Back on Khayaban-e-Roomi, a Toyota Corolla (indus model) lay badly damaged, on the opposite side of the road, on the lane leading away from Saba Avenue. Its drivers side facing the empty plots on the opposite side of the road, in front of the SSP CID’s residence. If anyone had been in the driving seat, survival would be a miracle.

There stood a small Suzuki hatchback, that seemingly had been damaged by the shockwave. Its drivers side showing signs of a sonic blow. Further down Khayaban-e-Roomi stood a Honda City, that too had serious damage. Upon closer inspection there were visible signs of projectiles having pierced the doors on the drivers side.

The houses diagonally opposite Chaudhry Aslam’s residence had visible exterior damage. The gate of one house had been ripped from one side, its steel twisting outwards. Inside, the cars had been wrecked by the shockwave, broken glass, and body damage. The broken glass could be seen on all surrounding buildings.

The first Ambulance finally arrived. Probably having to navigate from the side lanes and residential streets, as the main artery; Saba Avenue had been blocked by the hundreds of cars part of the morning school rush.

This part of defence phase 8 houses three educational institutions, CAS (centre for advanced studies) Beaconhouse and WIS (Washington School). Further down towards the sea there are another 8-10 school, colleges and primary schools. I thought to myself, how many more would have been injured or killed, had the explosion happened a few minutes later, when Khayban-e-Roomi would have been packed with cars returning home after dropping of students.

Police teams had started arriving. I could see senior officials of Clifton Town walking through observing the crime scene. The first responders to the site had been DHA’s security patrol and the Policemen from Darakshan Police Station which is no more than a few hundred yards from the blast site.

I found Rizwan, one of the guards of Chaudhry Aslam who was saved only because he had gone to the washroom. All other Security Personnel part of the Contingent guarding the CID SSP’s residence were no more.

By now the police had started setting up a cordon around Chaudhry Aslam’s residence. At the moment the only thing confirmed was the death toll. 8 dead including a mother who was a teacher at Washington International one of the 3 schools in the immediate vicinity, and her son who was a student there.

Among the 6 others that perished this fateful morning are a Driver, Anwar and his Son, both employed by Chaudhry Aslam’s neighbor. As well as the security personnel on duty at the SSP CID Chaudhry Aslam’s residence.

Now, 12:00AM : I have visited the blast site again – now closed for media personnel – I managed to see that the vehicles damaged in the explosion have remained untouched. The TTP has already claimed responsibility for the attack. The IG Sindh has announced compensation for the martyred law enforcers. Chaudhry Aslam has reaffirmed his resolve on a late night talk show. About an hour ago, I met with the DIG South, who informed me that remains of the Vehicle used in the explosion will be collected from the rooftops of the houses in close proximity in the morning. It has also stated that 4 of the vehicles (2 hilux vigo’s, one toyota corolla (indus) and one current model toyota corolla were Chaudhry Aslam’s, while the white suzuki belonged to the deceased school teacher.

This incident, might have strengthened Chaudhry Aslam’s resolve that he so bravely stated on all channels after the incident, but some residents living within 500 meters of the 32nd street and Khayban-e-roomi intersection, are now considering moving away, to safer pastures.

Aalim se Zaalim tak…

I finally saw the (allegedly) fake Amir Liaquat video yesterday. I didn’t have the patience to digest the full contents of the 2 videos, but…

Anyone with studio time will concur, “You Are Never Alone With A Mic” – plain and simple. Most studio’s have similar lines pasted on the entrance as a warning to Anchor’s & Guest’s (if they choose to pay heed).

Watching ‘Zaalim Online’ – as it was being referred to on Social Media Networks – the somewhat out of sync video, didn’t surprise me. I saw what I see on a daily basis.

Pakistani’s talk worse than that, given a private setting. I’m sure most of you reading this, use ‘Ma#*#*Ch*) Bh*#n*#) – in some form or the other in your daily lives. Maybe you prefer ‘FU#K’ instead. Whatever your preference, I’m sure you get the point.

Having laughed through as much of ‘Zaalim Online’ as I could, I just had to see the Rebuttal.

I’m not the industry expert on this, but my 7 year experience suggests, it will take 5 mins, and a half decent NLE (non-linear editor) to fix the video and bring the audio back into sync. If it is needed the video and audio can also be slowed down to see if it is actually authentic. (I hope someone’s taking notes for Zaalim Online).

As I watched the Rebuttal, I was shocked, no wait, I was sickened.

After watching Amir Liaquat deny the video’s contents – Quoting Religion, Quoting Hadith, and then those “Top Dollar” equivelant Callers (an overall Stellar Performance) – I’m hoping, that he will for the sake of his Callers, unmask the truth for all to see. I hope he will expose how Real or Fake the contents are.

7 years of experience allows me to say this. Video’s similar to ‘Zaalim Online’ are personal projects of NLE’s working at large media networks. Any half-decent media house has at least a few dozen NLE’s working in a 24 hour cycle (identifying the perpetrator will require nothing less than Sherlock & Watson’s return).

Until Sherlock returns, you can head to Youtube for some entertainment; it is littered with priceless examples, eager to entertain you. I just hope following Amir Liaquat, members of the Anchor & Reporter fraternity don’t come forward, and start denying that it is really them in the uploaded content. Remember Chand Nawab’s Video?

While Chand Nawab’s rebuttal would make for a humorous sequel, and will probably be less detrimental to his fan following than Liaquat’s Rant, Zaalim Online, has exposed the distance people on TV will go to, just to get attention.

I will leave you now, with the same words that slipped out aloud, as I watched Amir Liaquat rebut; “I’d love to see the Outtakes of this show…”.

Parcham-e-Sitara-o-Hilal

I hope you don’t mind a lot of Questions.

How are you celebrating Independence Day? Attending any Independence Day Celebrations? Sang any cheesy ‘mil’lee naghmai’ today? Are you Flying the Flag?

I am flying the ‘Parcham-e-Sitara-o -Hilal’ as it is officially called. I don’t know why you’re flying it though. You don’t know anything about it.

Most of you will be flying an abomination of our 2:3 ratio pride and joy. A large number of you will not be able to answer; “Who designed the symbol you so proudly fly today?”

Don’t bother checking the Government websites. They haven’t got a clue. Neither do our Consulates & Embassies abroad. I don’t think they’ve heard of Wikipedia.

Having robbed one man of credit he deserves, we have changed History. How did we manage this feat? It wasn’t very difficult, given our state of affairs.

A few years ago, Websites of the Government of Pakistan (.gov.pk) replaced the name of the original designer with : Quaid-e-Azam Muhammed Ali Jinnah.

I seriously doubt Jinnah sat there with a pen and paper doodling out what our flag should look like. I don’t think he had the time.

The man who made the flag has been forgotten. His name was Syed Ameerudin Kidwai. Born in 1901, died in 1973. His design was based on the All-India Muslim League’s flag. (The Muslim League flag itself was inspired by those of the Sultanate of Delhi & the Mughal Empire.)

When Pakistan’s Government forgot Ameerudin, so did the World. Following our official pages; many websites around the world changed their Content on the Pakistan Flag. (checkout some of them at the end of this Rant.)

The webmaster, responsible for the URL behind this mess was contacted. He responded at the time, that since it was a government website; whatever was written was Correct.

Till today the websites haven’t bothered correcting their mistake. I’m thinking i should ask Firdous Ashiq Awan, and see whether she knows about Ameerudin.

The last Information Minister to face a camera & the same question, replied with; “I’m not out here to play Neelaam Ghar”. See Video

I know your intentions are pure when you fly an abomination of our national flag, but when you fly it today, think about Ameerudin; Say a little Thank you for this ‘Parcham-e-Sitara-o-Hilal’.

Flags; since the very beginning have been extended respect, equal to what they represent.

If you won’t respect Pakistan, who will respect You?

*Short Links to the websites I mentioned
FlagSpot PKConsulMilan PKEmbNorway