Light Within

Making sense of Social Media

Would It Kill Ya To Comment

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One feature that distinguishes blogs from static websites, making them more interactive, is that blogs offer readers an option to participate through comments. Allowing comments is a matter of choice for bloggers, though. Bloggers can disallow other visitors to comment on weblogs, single entries or can authorize comments for all internet users, for members only, or make their blogs as read-only. Generally speaking, blog comments are what most keep most bloggers (including me) going.

Which is why, walking around the blogspshere reveals that most blogs have their comments option turned on, which permits users to interact with the bloggers and each other at their own pace. Some go a long way to engage others and solicit comments. I have seen permanent banners on many blogs that read, "would it kill ya to comment" or don’t "de-lurk" (meaning you must comment and not just visit the blog). In fact, a few famous bloggers celebrate De-lurking Days and Weeks to urge readers to comment.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Monday, November 30, 2020, ,

E-commerce

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E-commerce is global in nature. Connected users from all over the world will resort to online shopping if businesses can offer safe, user-friendly online shopping experience. A recent international ecommerce survey conducted by Pitney Bowes has crossed my desktop that points out major preferences that can be mirrored anywhere in the world. As per the findings, “71 per cent international internet users look for competitive prices, 42 per cent want a broad selection of products and services online and some 35 per cent opt online-shopping for an easy checkout and other savings; deals, free shipping and taxing costs”.

In any market based economy, prices convey all of the information that consumers require to make learned decisions. On both the production and consumption sides, market prices act as coordinating signals. In order to make informed decisions about what to offer and how, businesses need to know the prices of inputs. Similarly, consumers need to know the prices of the goods and services they might buy so that they can make appropriate decisions. The internet offers a very advanced means to communicate prices that were never possible before.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Saturday, November 28, 2020, ,

New domains

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Penetrating new IT domains appeared in Profit, Pakistan Today.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is about to expand general Top Level Domaown names (gTLDs). The applications have already been invited from January 11, 2012 through April 11, 2012. During the first round, ICANN will accept only 500 applications, while the subsequent rounds will be limited to 400 applications. The gTLDs expansion program has the potential to add countless new names to the existing twenty one available top-level domains (.com, .net, .edu, .biz, .org) and over 100 suffices (.pk - Pakistan, .ly - Libya) by permitting brands, businesses, geographical regions and even individuals to apply for a virtually unlimited list of new gTLDs in different scripts including Arabic. It is expected that the first gTLDs will come online by 2013.

This news has initiated a debate amongst the various stakeholders since May 2008, when ICANN first came up with the idea of expanding gTLDs “to unleash the global human imagination. The decision to expand respects the rights of groups to create new Top Level Domains in any language or script. We hope this allows the domain name system to better serve all of mankind,” says Rod Beckstrom, the CEO ICANN.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Friday, November 27, 2020, ,

Pakistan Army should blog as a policy

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I remember the days when army soldiers were told not to disclose their locations where they happened to be serving. I also remember seeing those signs on bridges saying ‘photography is prohibited’. No more. Things have changed now. Advent of technologies like GPS or cellular phones has changed the way we work and also our priorities. It is in this milieu that I say blogger outreach and social media influence can be of great advantage to any organization including Pakistan Army. Why else other armies have dedicated army blog networks where soldiers, family members, friends and supporters can post video, images and written stories?

By getting into blogging and other social media channels, army can pick up useful insights to successfully and directly connect with people. Blogging can encourage authenticity and transparency to build credibility. Social influence is very much relevant to any army today, more so to Pakistan Army that derives its strength from masses. This may also help army to actively listen to those strong opinionated advocates and those “realist, liberals, progressive, revolutionaries” that are present out there in blogosphere.

It is about time that Pakistan Army should include blogging in its communication strategy and fill the huge void that exists. Army need to update policies and encourage solders to engage meaningfully. And I know soldiers are good at it (I still remember those public speaking lessons that I had during my training in Pakistan Military Academy – one of the best training institution anywhere in the world – and later those Method of Instructions tutorials I had to attend).

Army has great opportunities to offer to its people. They need to tell this to people it serves. Internal as well as external army bloggers can do this better than anyone else.

Can influential bloggers (call them Social Media Influencers) help army in present context? Shoot down if you don’t agree.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Thursday, November 26, 2020, ,

Mountain Might

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Pakistan Urdu Science Board textbook defines earth surface “13000 feet above sea level as mountains. Areas that are 9840 feet above their surroundings are also mountainous.” Much more than travel, recreation and adventurous destinations, mountains are natural resource reservoirs that help to sustain life on the planet earth. Nature has blessed our country with rich mountain terrain.


Nowhere in the world is concentration of high mountains, peaks, glaciers, clean water lacks (full of trout and romantic legend attached to them) and passes except in Pakistan. Of the 14 over 8,000 meters high peaks on our earth planet, four occupy an amphitheatre at the head of Baltoro glacier in the Karakorum Range: K-2 (this year Pakistan is celebrating fiftieth anniversary when man first conquered the world’s second highest - 8,611 meters – peak half century ago), Gasherbrum-I (8,068 meters), Broad Peak (8,047 meters) and Gasherbrum-II (8,035 meters). There is yet another great mountain, Nanga Parbat (8,126 meters), located at the western side of the Himalayas. Moreover, there are 68 peaks over 7,000 meters and hundreds others over 6,000 meters in Pakistan.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Wednesday, November 25, 2020, ,

To Carry the Dust to Multan

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Standing in Qila Kohna Qasim Bagh - accumulated debris of ages - one can think of Alexander the Great, Muhammad Bin Qasim, Saints, Mystics, Sultans, Gardezis, Gilanis, Qureshis, and Khawanis. But what you see is the ageing town hall and Ghanta Ghar, Hussain Agahi Chowk - Hide Park of Multan - with the nerve jarring rattle of auto rickshaws, tangle of tonga and donkey carts vying for space with mechanical transport, vendors and shoppers, blaring music of audio video music centers and second hand cloths (landa) hung on the walls.


A city of monuments, Multan has been around for centuries. History of Multan dates back to ancient times. As per the legend, its origin is assigned to the time of Hazrat Noah (A S). Under the various Hellenic forms of ancient designations (Kasyapapura, Kashtpur, Hanspur, Bagpur and Mulasthan) Multan figures into works of Hecataeus, Herodotus and Ptolemy. It has been an empire, a kingdom, a province, a state, a capital and now a divisional headquarters.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Tuesday, November 24, 2020, ,

Harand heritage

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Perched in between legendary Suleman Range on one side and mighty River Indus on the other, ruins of original Harand Fort are situated in the area commonly known as Pachaddh. The Fort has seen a lot in the past and looks as if hiding thousands of secrets besides its historical and archaeological importance.

The Fort was originally built opposite historic Chachar Pass in Suleman Range to guard against the invaders. The fading signs of the edifice are still there in the forms of derbies and bricks scattered around the old site. Sikh Governor Sawan Mall used the material of the old fort rebuilt the Fort on a new location in 1831. Present structure of the Fort - a valuable part of our heritage - is situated about 25 kilometres west of sleepy and rustic town Dajal in district Rajan Pur. The Fort is spread over an area of 50 acres. The outer wall of whatever is left of it is one kilometre long and was made of thin red bricks. There are 16 pillars. Main entrance is in the west and another one is in the east. What ever is left of the fort is a clear evidence of its past, solidity of masonry and quality of construction.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Monday, November 23, 2020, ,

Signs of the past

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Sunday, November 22, 2020, ,

Thatta Kedona

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The cluster of mud and brick houses in the plains of Punjab, Thatta Ghulamka Dheroka (TGD) looks like a typical Pakistani village about 80 kilometres away from Lahore and 40 kilometres from Indus civilization ruins in Harappa. There is no gas or telephone in the village. No asphalt roads lead to it. Yet it is different, the beautiful dolls and other handicrafts made by the village folks are collectors' delight all over the world. Influencers from Indus civilization from nearby Harappa and modern techniques brought by the German volunteers can be seen in the village together.

The dolls made in the village are on display in international doll museum in Iceland, prestigious galleries and showrooms in Pakistan and abroad. TGD village doll project was one of the 767 worldwide projects presented in the "Themepark" at expo 2000 in Hannover (Germany) as an example of thinking of twenty first century. Earlier, the dolls from Pakistan participated in international toy fair in Nuremberg. These dolls show how culture goes beyond simple work of art and becomes collaboration among applied and natural sciences as well as other forces that affect our lives.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Saturday, November 21, 2020, ,

Download Free eBook

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Download Dolls, Toys and More (pdf) here

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Friday, November 20, 2020, ,

Where I Get My Supply of Salageet - Shilajit?

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Some places are so peaceful and unspoiled that it is almost unbelievable. One such locality is the picturesque, tranquil and pollution free (and undeveloped) boarder village Arrandu in district Chitral. The very sound of the name is musical. This village is located 'on' the Pakistan Afghanistan boarder. Dir-Chitral Road bifurcates near village Mir Khanni and a jeep able track along Kunar River leads to Arrandu through Domail Nisar and onwards into Afghanistan.


Gateway to the South Asia, the Chitral valley has been center of activity since ancient times. Macedonians advanced through this region in fourth century. In 1338, Timur subdued the area on his way to the plains of Punjab. Mughal King Akbar garrisoned here in 1587 and the British in 1897 in Chakdara on Dir side of Lowari Pass. Among soldiers who served here in Chakdara then was young Winston Churchill who later became Prime Minister of Britain. So far about the past importance of the valley but the little hamlet got the international fame during Soviet occupation in Afghanistan. It remained in the news and was commonly called as 'BBC Baby'.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Friday, November 20, 2020, ,

If only walls spoke

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An important battlefield for centuries, Dipalpur is now a quite and peaceful town. It is situated at the distance of 25 Kilometres from Okara on an old bank of River Beas in Bari Doab. Dipalpur is famous in the history as an outpost that has played a significant part in the defence of Delhi kingdom against Mongol invasions in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.

History of Dipalpur dates back to ancient times. The coins of Sakas (Scythian) period found on the site suggest that the place was inhabited in 100 (BC). After Multan this is probably the oldest living city in the Subcontinent. General Alexander Cunningham writes that the place figures out in works of Ptolemy under different names. As per the tradition, Dipalpur was named after Raja Dipa Chand once he captured it. Dipalpur once used to be the first fortification in the way from Khyber to Delhi. In 1285, Muhammad Tughlaq son of Emperor Balban was killed in a bloody battle with Mongols and the famous poet Amir Khusuro was taken prisoner in Dipalpur. The dilapidated tomb where Muhammad Tughlaq rests stands neglected in a silent corner of the town, for removed from the noisy haunts of men.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Thursday, November 19, 2020, ,

Malka Hans

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Punjab is a gold mine for history seekers and curious travelers. You may find much more than what you hear or read. It pays to get out into the countryside and talk to ordinary people. What is more, people of the area are eager to help – on their own expense - when you ask anybody. One finds volunteer 'guides' who were forth coming with wealth of information. The distances in the hinterland are short but the landscape is so enormous that it had to be studied in parts like a large mural seen by a child.


Given the history and heritage, it is easy to fall in love with ‘out of the way’ town like Malka Hans. Once an abode of Waris Shah, who stayed here and composed universal romance Heer Ranjha, malka hans is still serene, tranquil and pollution free. Legend has it that Malik Muhammad (alia Malka) who was a member of Hans tribe founded the town some 700 years ago. Hans became powerful when Mughal King Alamgir conferred a vast land around Malka Hans on Sheikh Qutab Hans. In 1764, Muhammad Azam who was the descendant of Qutab Hans became head of the clan. Ran Singh Nakka treacherously took Muhammad Azam prisoner where he died in confinement.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Wednesday, November 18, 2020, ,

Calling Abdalians

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Comfortably tucked in green hills north of Islamabad, Hasan Abdal is situated right on the Grand Trunk Road. The town's claims to fame are Cadet College and temple of Panja Sahib. This small and clean historic town neat is sacred for Sikhs.

Hassan Abdal is famous for its cadet college and also serves as the gateway to some most stunning sites in Pakistan. It is from here that Karakoram Highways turns towards Northern Areas. It is a convenient halting point of Grand Trunk Road (G T Road) from where one can go to places like Abbotabad and Northern Areas, Peshawar, Taxila, Wah, Rawalpindi. Coins of the Greco-Bectrians kings discovered from the adjoining tract suggest that the area was inhabited in first century B.C. Accounts of Xuan Zang, a seventh century Chinese Buddhist traveler tells us that the place was also sacred to Buddhists. However, presently the town is associated with Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikh religion and Baba Wali Qandhari, a revered Muslim saint.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Tuesday, November 17, 2020, ,

Tera Dera Ya Mera Dera - D G Khan

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There were many things on my schedule when I travelled from Multan to Quetta by road instead of rail: to see the tomb of Ghazi Khan, to visit famous Fort Monro and familiarize myself with this less travelled rout to Quetta.

For those who take their chance for the first time to the city, it might sound too good to be true but Dera Ghazi Khan (D G Khan) in the past was known as Dera Phullan Da Sehra — ‘land of flowers’. “The canal skirted its eastern side, fringed with luxurious gardens of mango trees, while ghats lined the bank, thronged in summer by numerous bathers.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Monday, November 16, 2020, ,

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"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends" - Dr Martin Luther King Jr

posted by S A J Shirazi @ Saturday, November 14, 2020, ,

Fruit Basket

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Visit Pishin at this time of the year and one finds thousands of acres of fruit orchards. The rich harvest of apples, grapes, plums, peaches and apricots is seen every where. I discovered the area, and the taste of the fruit, during my stay at the School of Infantry and Tactics, Quetta when we used to walk miles and miles for training maneuvers. It is still the same.

Legend attributes the origin of the name Pishin to a son of the Emperor Afrasiab. Until the middle of the 18 th century, when Quetta finally passed into the hands of Brahvi rulers, the history of Pishin is identical with the province of Kandahar. The earliest mention of Pishin is found in the ancient writing in which "Pishinorha" is described as a valley in an elevated part of the country and containing a barren level plain.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Friday, November 13, 2020, ,

Growth as a criteria for future

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Prof Dr Norbert Pintsch, SES, SPARC, FPAC

Is a future with further growth thinkable, plausible, imaginable,- or is it better to restrain oneself , and if yes, at the cost of whom would this happen.

So are approximately the widely-separated opinions about the future.

It is of course good and important to contemplate about the future. But this is quite difficult because there is no space available for understanding of realities. Clearly, the production of academic talent is industrial friendly and growth oriented. The parents desire a rosy future for their children. The magic word Education, as basis for a secured future, appears to be all popular for solution of all current and future problems. If everyone thinks and does in the similar way, it is of course positive, but it indicates how obscure time is. One almost feels like living in middle ages, about which it is claimed that religion replaced thinking at that time. If one could go into the time gone by, one would realize, that life then was quite normal. Analog to the present time is therefore valid: Education is the solution to all problems!
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Thursday, November 12, 2020, ,

Gogera Sadar

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Situated on the bank of river Ravi on Okara Faisalabad Road, Gogera (Sadar) was once an important and dignified town in the plans of Central Punjab. It is reduced to a shabby and sleepy suburb of Okara today. Town still boasts its importance when it was important British power centre and district headquarters from 1852 to 1865 and the part played by the resilient people of the area during War of Independence in 1857. The stories of the war that was fought around Gogera echo in the pages of history books.


The only historic building — a British court — that reminds of the colonial period has been converted into a school. The verandas of the old building with round arches have been clogged to create additional rooms and red thin bricks are covered with coats of whitewash. It was much better if the building could have been conserved in its original shape. That does not seem possible now.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Wednesday, November 11, 2020, ,

Let truth be told

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Philosophy helps us to understand how varying points of view about eternal truths, if there are any, are presented and psychology to know how philosophers come up with those points of view. Widely contradicting philosophies, what one sees happening in life all around and annoying discussions with his friend Mansoor Qureshi put Abbas Khan on a path to discover what is truth? 

Famous name in Urdu fiction (short story) Abbas Khan has written 13 novels and short story books (Zakham Gawah Hain, Tu Aur Tu and Mein Aur Umrao Jan Ada (novels), Dharti Binam Akash, Tensikh-e-Insan, Qalam, Kursi Aur Wardi, U’s Adalat Men, Jism Ka Johar (short story books) and Reza Reza Keenat and Pal Pal (afsancha -- shortest story books) but this time he presenting his finding not in fiction but in hard truths.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Tuesday, November 10, 2020, ,

Fine Art of Mud Architecture

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The future lies in mud architecture. Though this sweeping statement may sound prehistoric, but it is very relevant to modern times. Building living spaces with mud is a tradition dating as back as the start of civilization. Some excellent examples from the Great Mosque - the world’s largest mud building and UNESCO’s World Heritage site – to the oldest surviving mud specimens found in the Harappa, Pakistan, show the continuous use of mud buildings.


Having grown up in mud house myself (before I moved to urban center), mud buildings have a special place rooted deep in to my cultural consciousness and this personal bond encourages a more intimate relationship between me and the mud as the material transformed from formlessness to form. Hence my interest in mud architecture and how I see its future in Pakistan.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Monday, November 09, 2020, ,

Bloggy fusion

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Monday, November 09, 2020, ,

Bhong Mosque

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Traveling through Pakistan countryside away from the main highways, it is best to keep remember that petrol stations are few and far between on relatively deserted roads. Also the road, drive slowly and keep close to the edge of your road when encountering large trucks. Watch out for animals transport and animals on the road. Be sure your motor vehicle is roadworthy. You do not want to suffer a breakdown anywhere back o’ Bourke, ie, away from civilization. Or else be ready to what happened to us while going to see the mosque in Bhong.

After having famous ‘Doodh Mesu’ from a hotel in Sadiq Abad, we turned off the Road towards village Bhong. In the areas as the harvest approaches, the traveller, especially in the irrigated tracts, ride through endless expanses of waving crops of different shades of colour, out of which the villages seem to rise like islets in an ocean of green. After the harvest all is changed: the dull brown of the fields is relieved by the trees, solitary or in groves and avenues, and by the hamlets and village ponds. Or one sees the haystacks and threshers kicking off dust.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Saturday, November 07, 2020, ,

Youth on the Internet - Urdu blog

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Read the rest of the article here.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Saturday, November 07, 2020, ,

Killer Mountain

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Nanga Parbat – [called killer mountain because more mountaineers have died while climbing it than any other mountain. It is also known as "Killer Mountain" because of the difficulties of reaching the summit] - is the ninth highest peak (8125 meters) in the world and second highest in Pakistan situated on the western tip of great Himalayan. Its face in the south called the Rupal Face rises over 5000 meters from the valley floor to the summit. After a German climber Hurman Bhul scaled it in 1953, many climbers have stepped on the majestic peak including Nazir Sabir of Pakistan. Many have lost their lives in this pursuit too. This is a story of an expedition with which I opted to go as a facilitator.


I have always been eager to visit mountains that lead me to join one expedition to Nanga Parbat as a local facilitator. I met leader of the expedition Adrian Burgees - a blonde foreign national with muscular, lean and tall disposition in the Ministry of Tourism Islamabad and instantly liked him. I was responsible to see that every thing goes smooth. Later, I was introduced to all other members of the expedition and together we tied up details for journey, rations, transportation and purchase of additional climbing gears.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Friday, November 06, 2020, ,

Attitude Tourism

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Attitude tourism - to be distinguished from, say, adventure or seeing the sights - is generally not a particularly satisfying activity. Ideas and those who hatch them tend not to leave behind things large or attractive enough to ogle. So you may go to a place of great historic value but find nothing worth the visit. Lasbela tract is a case in point. Usually, you are left, if you are lucky, with a plaque or just an intrinsic thought. So I expected, more or less, nothing in Lasbela.

What I got was signs in lieu of plaques, hot wind, remnants of crumbling columns, and a long view of the undergrowth of thorny bushes, some wildflowers, functional Persian wells and rocky hilltops covered with camel and sheep droppings. It was all prosaic and quiet and yet real enough to propel me into another fit of wonder: I was driving on the tract where Alexander and Muhammad Bin Qasim had treaded.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Thursday, November 05, 2020, ,

Every thing is in the name

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Pervaiz Munir Alvi

The way a society names its cities and places says a lot about its cultural history and social values. Pakistan is no exception to this either.

The cultural history of Pakistan could be traced from its naming practice. The names of its ancient cities like Peshawar, Lahore and Multan have no resemblance to the names of the newer cities like Islamabad and Faisalabad. Similarly the name of the newer Qasim Port has no resemblance to the name of its sister Karachi Port or for that matter Gwadar Port. In the field of naming names Pakistani society has come a long way since the days of ancient Indus Valley Civilization of Harrapa and Moen-jo-Dero. Even the days of the names like Texila and Ghandara are long gone.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Wednesday, November 04, 2020, ,

Invention of calligraphy script

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To understand the magnitude of the invention of a new calligraphy script it is important to remember that after creation of ‘Nastaleeq’ by Mir Ali Sultan Tabreezi around 1400 in Persia, no script of Urdu, Persian or Arabic, has ever been invented, with the exception of Mirza Muhammad Hussain who developed the running the running hand version of Nastaleeq called Shakistan in 1616 and Mirza Sultan in Heart who came up with a similar style called Shaffiah in the middle of the seventeenth century. Ibn-e-Kaleem stands alone in the feat.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Wednesday, November 04, 2020, ,

Battle within

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There are no chances of this horrible battle coming to an end.
UN will sure manage to end this.
No, no. I am not talking of war that has been imposed upon us.
Which battle are you talking about?
The one waging within!

Translated from Sitaroon Ki Bastiyan by Abbas Khan.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Tuesday, November 03, 2020, ,

Rural Cultural Fusion

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While travelling off the beaten track, not only you travel in soot free and serene environment but you explore new vistas too. Interesting things come in the way, which normally remain hidden from common commuters in the area. The journey on the byways embraces you with lovely colours, atmosphere, people and bits and pieces of history. And, there is no hassle anywhere in the way.

Set up in the foreground of legendary Salt Range on the bank of River Jhelum, Mishri Mor Buss Adda (stop) is a wonderful place with its unique character. The passenger busses and wagons stop here and commuters get down to stretch their legs, have some food, and do some shopping or to take another bus to a different destination.

The Adda has developed into a shopping centre for the passengers and folks from nearby villages. Roads from Mandi Bauhud Din, Kharin, Jhelum and Cheri meet at this junction. Two disused railway track also passes through Mishri Mor: one on which mad driven rail trolley used to play between Mandi Bahaud Din and other that was built to ferry material for the construction of Rasul Barrage. A washed up trail leaves from here for Till Jungian also. Near the bus stop are Rasul Barrage Wildlife Sanctuary, a 'Siphon' where Lower Jhelum Canal passes under the Rasul Qadarabad Link Canal and shrine of Baba Noor Shah. People bring milk offerings to this shrine from far off places and the tradition is to leave the milk pot there on the shrine. The area around Wildlife Sanctuary remains alive with myriad migratory birds - chiefly coots, common teal and ducks.


Standing at Mishri Mor, let your gaze slip and you will find Salt Range hillocks smoking with mist defining the skyline. Across River Jhelum, landscape appears like a shore of another land altogether: green belt dotted with trees and interrupted by the dawn's red and blue brushstrokes.

I have known this place all my adult life and have cluster of memories attached to it. Legand gas it that Mishri Khan of nearby village Kotehra opened up a small tea shop here in early 60, hence the name. The place developed when Kharian Road improved and long route buses started plying. This is my destination stop for going home and this is where I refashion my 'urban' attitudes before walking remaining one and a half kilometre to my home village.

Every time, day and night, the shops play music. At times you even cannot hear your own voice. Each of the shops on the Adda owns a music system. Every one competes with the rest in loudness. Business sense dictates that the music be noisy enough to invite the attention of potential buyers. I do not know what it is about this place but everyone here seems to enjoy the noise. Without it, there would be no Mishri Mor," says Nawaz, a barber and proud owner of 'the Loudest Tape Recorder'. Despite being locally assembled and crude looking, his apparatus can outlast the rest. He has also placed Public Address System with its speakers facing different directions outside the shop. His shop is adorned with the pictures of almost all-famous faces of the Bollywood, lollywood and some from Hollywood.

Though the buses stop here, the music does not. The digital revolution is affecting the way people listen, buy and enjoy music everywhere, but not here. It may look a strange choice but Mishri Mor is one of the best places to study the latest music trends in our rural culture in the Central Punjab. It is no warehouse or studio of some recording company. Rather, it is an open market complex spread over 700 square yards with 60 odd shops from hotel to barbershop to music centre, and vehicle repairing facilities. A vender Khushi sells Bhujiya Channa to passengers and earns anything "between rupees 100/- to rupees 150/- daily," he told happily.

You can hear a mile away: Surayya Multanikar or Hadiqa Kiyani, Atta Ullah Essa Kkelvi or Shezad Roy, folk, classical and even English music and songs. You name it; you will hear it in a boom that you could call the Mishri Mor fusion.

A third of the makeshift shops stock audiocassettes for sale. If the Public Call Office (PCO: equipped with mobile telephone because PTC has yet not made up to that remote location) cannot give you the track from 'Oh Kehndi Ae Sayan Main Teri Aan, hay' the fruit vendor certainly will. "We are generally ahead of anyone in these parts as far as getting the latest albums are concerned," says young Mian Khan, a PCO proprietor. He has the stock of over 500 cassettes and says, "The sale of cassettes is far more than the income from telephone. Acquiring latest music albums is easy. I get them through drivers who ply on these routes and stop here every time."

Hundreds of busses plying on these routes halt at Mishri Mor and the passengers pile out for relaxation, food and drinks. Malik Niaz, owner of an eating joint famous for fresh fish kabab informed, "The drivers and conductors of the buses are served with food, tea and cigarettes free of cost. They not only stop but also prolong their halts that help us sell more." Even shops that do not sell cassettes play music according to the perceived preference of the commuters who stop there. "It is one way to make customers feel comfortable, and it is good for business," added Malik.

With so many shops selling new cassettes, demand still outstrips the supply. That is the reason why ever keen on further innovation, Mian Khan has started retailing cassettes and has switched over to selling them in his cubby-hole PCO. As the profit on a cassette is anything between rupees 10 to rupees 30, Mian Khan feels it is worth investing. However, most of the shopkeepers keep 'Number 2 quality'. "We sell to every body: passengers, village folks, tractor and auto-rickshaw drivers who have installed the music systems in their vehicles. That is what keeps us going," says Mian Khan.

That and the sense of plain good fun. Something that rubs off on anyone who stops here. "People get off here bleary-eyed and exhausted," told a passenger, "but the noise seems to wake everybody up." After stretching their legs and eating at one of the many joints that line Mishri Mor Adda, passengers return to their buses. And they resume their travel; feet tapping to a chaotic but catching beat. May be one of the passenger offers his newly purchased cassette to the buss driver to play instead of one from driver's collection?

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Monday, November 02, 2020, ,

The Great Game

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Husain Qazi

The British Raj was marching forward: Punjab captured after a bloody battle; Manora breached with a burst of cannon; and the impassable Baluchistan chained by steel railings. The narrow defile was troubling the British road engineer. Not that he was short of materials, nor had the men revolted, nor was he lacking in technology. But a dead man had halted him. 

The frontier was in flames; the ferocious fighters were giving stiff resistance to the invaders, who were fewer in number but more in iron, gold, and guile.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Sunday, November 01, 2020, ,


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