Light Within

Making sense of Social Media

Garam Chashma

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Some places are so idyllic and unspoiled that it is almost unbelievable. One such place is picturesque, tranquil and pollution free town Garam Chashma (meaning hot spring) in at the edge district Chitral. The very sound of it is (sort of) strategic - the role Garam Chashma played during Russian occupation in Afghanistan not very long ago. The town is located on the bank of a turbulent torrent known as Luthko Gol that is full of trout; about two hours drive from Chitral City.


As the Fokker Friendship hovers over Chitral before committing to landing, one can see the beautiful sights through window of small aircraft: red roof houses dotted on the hill contours, alpine trees, and fruit orchards. Chitral airport is built in one of the serene gorges of the River Kunar. I stayed at the deepest place in district Chitral known as Mir Khanni - over seventy kilometers from Chitral. As per the plans that I had made to see different sights in Chitral valley during free brakes in the schedule of my assignment, I boarded a passenger Mazda that was ready to go to Garam Chashma right from the airport early one April morning.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Tuesday, October 12, 2021, ,

Mir Chakar Rind

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An old, sleepy and tranquil village Satghara lies about 80 kilometers from Lahore (20 minutes drive away from Okara) in the quiet backwaters of the Punjab. The coins found at Satghara prove that the place was inhabited at the time of the Kushan dynasty. The rule of Kushans was one of the most decisive periods in the history of the Subcontinent. At the height in the second century (A.D.), Kushans ruled from Oxus to Ganges and yet their influence spread beyond even these frontiers. On the southern bank of the Ravi, it is a typical Pakistani village where farmers live like rustics in the face of urban attractions. Though off the beaten track, it has never been out of limelight. Besides heritage conscious travelers from all over the world, Baloch leaders and contemporary historians visit the hamlet. Reasons: it is a "Tukia Nawab Chakar Ki" - last resting-place of Mir Chakar Rind. I see part of our history buried here whenever I have a look at it. And when I was stationed at Okara Cantt, I did it often.

As per one account, Mir Chakar Rind came to this village with seven families, hence the name. Another legend has it that the village was named Satghara because it was destroyed seven times by floods. Shah Abul Mo'ali, descendant of sixteenth century saint Muhammad Ibrahim Daud-e-Sani Bandgi in his book 'Maqamat-e-Daudi' maintains that Satghara was known by the same name even before the arrival of Mir Chakar Rind. In Baloch history, the sixteenth century was a very eventful period. Baloch fought series of wars amongst themselves. The result of these tribal conflicts not only caused large-scale bloodshed but also resulted in their mass migrations to the Punjab, Sindh and Gujrat (India).
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Monday, September 27, 2021, ,

Digital Greetings

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I miss letters and greeting cards. A letter delivered by a postman, with its lines of handwriting, loops and angles that give a reflection of personality and, perhaps, secrets tucked inside the letters. Waiting for the postman to find a letter is old fashioned but many cherish still. Then opening letters, reading, and reading them again. There is a romance in writing and receiving letters that seems almost entirely lost to people particularly those who inhabit the cyberspace in this information era.

The switch to email and instant messaging has created an entirely new kind of language - of shorthand, emoticons (term coined by joining two words emotions and icons), graphics, and poor or nonexistent grammar, and missing punctuation, computer slang. It has also given birth to another kind of greetings: cyber greetings. This is about that.

Emails, instant messaging and text messaging (through cell phones) are quick and easy. Even person like me writes more of shorthand letters now than I ever did on paper. Granted, that they have increased contact with family, friends and colleagues than ever before. They provide eases and convenience. What would any day be like without a message window popping up mid-afternoon with a little emoticon sent by a dear and near one? Indeed, online communication is doing wonders for human relationship. A little goes a long way.

With rather longer prelude, the idea of cyber greetings is undeniably relevant to today, and it is intriguing. Information communication technologies provide an anonymity that allows people to reveal more than they ever would face to face. It also allows temptation to overcome good sense, and the results sometime can be overwhelming. Imagine two persons who came across each other after any one of them seeing online profile of the other and finding it "interesting" makes an endeavor and reaches out to the other online. Both are easily drawn to each other in online exchange of messages, too predictably, and without enough explanation as to why. The whole exchange takes in "real time". And before too long, the causal exchange turns into witty flirtation and may be into full-blown romance between those who have yet not met face to face. Clever combinations of e-mails, live chat lines, explicit emoticons and computer shortcuts, give way to the situation where 'the headstrong-girl-meets-self-sufficient-boy' and the urge to meet may becomes very strong.

posted by S A J Shirazi @ Saturday, September 04, 2021, ,

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 @ Wednesday, August 04, 2021, ,

How to stay safe online when everyone is going to have a laptop

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Last evening (Jan 12, 2012), on the invitation of Google Country Representative Badar Khushnood, I was with the army of geeks from Lahore including Chief Minister Punjab Shahbas Sharif,  Jehan Ara (@P@sha), Umar Saif Usman Latif, Memokh, Saad and many more, in the spanking new Software Technology Park (346-B, Ferozpur Road, Lahore) to learn a thing or two about one of the most critical subjects these days: how to stay safe online.


Government of Punjab (PITB), Google Pakistan and P@sha are doing series of sessions about how to make sure that your online data stay safe while moving around in cyber space. Badar Khushnoon is a man in the real know of the matter and talked about hardware and software security, web security and much more. I thought ‘I know it all’ but to my surprise, there is so much more than normal computer users like me think is enough. Thanks Badar for this very interactive and useful session.

Best thing is that governments are now realizing, though a bit late, the importance of IT and the power of blogging and social media. Shahbaz Sharif, the Chief Minister Punjab (who is personally at Facebook now) was there and he also let us in on his IT vision including how he responds to people on facebook in the wee hours of the morning. Shahbaz Sharif also announced that the Government of Punjab is establishing a world-class IT University in Punjab in partnership with top universities in the world, including Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), USA and Middle-east Technical University (METU), Turkey. The university will be initially housed in the newly built Lahore Technology Park and will later move to a purpose-built campus in knowledge city in the heart of Lahore. This will usher in a new era of IT education, research and development and entrepreneurship in Pakistan.


Shahbaz Sharif also told the audience about his vision of laptop his government is offering to students. That reminded me of two initiatives (one laptop per child and $100 Laptop). What happened to those projects? Some geeks questions about the criteria for giving laptops but I personally strongly recommend laptop schemes. Go ahead Mr. CM, this will help in the long as well as short run.

At the end, Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif also presented shields to Pakistan Blog Award 2011 winners.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Wednesday, August 04, 2021, ,

Second Annual Social Media Summit – 2012

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Second Social Media Summit, June 29-30, 2012, Karachi.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Wednesday, August 04, 2021, ,

Challenges; Making Money online in Pakistan

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Blast from the past: Summery of issues discussed on one of the Monetize Social Media Space workshops during Network!: Pakistan’s First International Social Media Summit. They are still the same if not worst. 


Social space has combined some major human activities - communicating, sharing, social networking and ecommerce. Use of newly found social media space where as anyone can shoot out, is a creative activity and fun. Most online users enjoy their online presence. That is why people blog tweet or network in the first place. Along the way, a time comes when online users start thinking to monetize their social space. And then everything starts changing.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Friday, July 30, 2021, ,

Internet is not for everyone

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Two key issues — who will control the internet and how to finance efforts aimed at bridging the digital divide — were frustratingly contentious from the very beginning, as anyone who has followed the story will tell you. However, at the end of phase II of the summit, the main issues remained largely untouched, just as they were at the beginning.

The UN General Assembly had endorsed the proposal forwarded by the International Telecommunications Union in 2001 to hold the WSIS in two phases. The first phase was held in Geneva in 2003, and the second was held in Tunisia. The second phase was attended by leaders from more than 100 countries — including 44 heads of state or of government, mostly from developing countries.

The outcome is that the United States remains in charge of the internet’s addressing system, averting a United States-European Union showdown. Of course, this was notwithstanding a general resentment over perceived American control. The US-based Icann (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) will continue to technically manage the internet. However, a new Internet Governance Forum has been formed to further look into the issue of control.

One of the original objectives of the WSIS was to raise consciousness about the divide between the haves and have-nots, and to raise money for projects aimed at better linking the developing regions, particularly Africa, Asia and South America. Unfortunately, the event was overshadowed by a persistent antipathy about who should control the internet and technical issues which allow people from Pakistan to Peru to surf the World Wide Web for information, news and various other activities. More promises, further meetings, and partnership programmes materialized on financing the expansion of access around the world so that the digital divide could be narrowed.

In short, the Tunis Commit- ment and a Tunis Agenda for the Information Society was adopted at the end of the second phase of WSIS in order to build a people-centred, inclusive and development-oriented Information Society. This would give people all over the world an opportunity to create access, utilize and share information and knowledge.

The adopted documents stressed that freedom of expression and free flow of information, ideas and knowledge were essential for an Information Society. Given that such issues cannot be solved through alliances alone, results are very positive and balanced.

However, some countries and civil society groups were heard grumbling over the outcome. Under attack is the lack of a new mechanism for financing. Even though, a fund for internet development has been established, it does not seem to be of much consequence since participation has been kept voluntary.

Checks and balances were also demanded. It was suggested that an independent commission should be established in order to review national and international ICT regulations and practices.

The private sector also came under fire. It was generally felt that the sector was spreading its wings beyond the parameters of business. Their presence was greatly felt within the chambers of commerce and their influence was quite visible.

On a brighter note, the summit did bring about a pragmatic solution to one of the many problems facing the have-nots: a $100 laptop, which will be shortly marketed in many Third World countries. The laptop consumes a minimum of energy and is user-friendly. This one step will certainly assist in eradicating IT-ignorance in many developing, and underdeveloped countries. Egypt and Nigeria are candidates to receive the first wave of the laptops, starting in February or March, and each will buy at least 1 million units.

Apart from the fact that there is a consensus on “internet for everyone”, the WSIS, which was called a Summit of Solutions, was declared a success by the United Nations. But many stakeholders refuse to wholeheartedly embrace its outcome. Words like “success” or “failure” are too strong to describe the summit. Let’s just say the summit has been valuable.

The impact is yet to be seen. And remote villages in Punjab have to wait until 2015 to get connected to the internet.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Thursday, July 29, 2021, ,

Mehver is hiring

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Visit Mehver.com here

Mehver is an online business venture powered by MAQSSOFT LTD which provides a single platform for all the fashion and lifestyle enthusiasts. It is an e-commerce platform which empowers consumers to make their own style statement without the hassle of going through various websites.

About the Role

This is a minimum 3 month paid internship role where the candidate is expected to create content for social media & website, liaison with creative agencies, maintain & track performance of social media accounts and assist the Marketing manager in daily tasks.

What You’ll Be Doing

• Write copy for social media, promotional emails, and marketing collateral.

• Participate in marketing brainstorming sessions.

• Measure and report the results of marketing initiatives.

• Liaison with the creatives/PR agencies

• Help maintain the website and add new content as necessary

• Follow industry-related news and generate ideas around trending topics

• Write blog posts for the website, as necessary

• Schedule social media posts

• Review and update published content as needed

• Maintain corporate LinkedIn profile and post on a regular basis

Skills/abilities/Knowledge

• Applied understanding of basic marketing principles

• Familiarity with major social media platforms

• Creative problem-solving skills

• Self-starter with ability to work independently

• Comfortable with multitasking in a deadline-driven environment

• Excellent written and verbal communication skills

• Understanding of SEO techniques and best practices

• Communication (written, verbal, listening skills)

• Blogging experience (Preferred)

Eligibility

• Bachelor’s degree, working towards a bachelor’s degree

• Introductory courses in marketing, business, or equivalent

• Proficient with the use of Microsoft Office (Excel, Outlook)

• Be flexible with respect to the Employer requirements of work timings

• Lahore based (Office located in DHA Lahore near Lalik Chowk)

Please send your resumes at bd@mehver.com

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Wednesday, July 28, 2021, ,

Annual Get Together Mangla (September 29-30, 2012)

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Jalal Hameed Bhatti


The Course Get Together for year 2012 was held on September 29-30, 2012 at Mangla Cantt.



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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Monday, July 19, 2021, ,


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