Is MQM working in cahoots with Lyari Gang?

My cousin calls me. I don’t recognize his number on the cellphone so I ask him why has he changed his number. He says he is receiving extortion threats. He runs a School in Federal B Area (an MQM strong hold). He tells me that all other private schools in the area have received a similar threat. I ask him is it MQM? He said MQM are nicer people, they have minimum monthly donation of 20k per month and that is it. So I asked if it is notorious Tehreek Taliban Pakistan (TTP)? He says, “No! it’s Lyari gang.”

Now my cousin lives in a neighborhood that is self contained in terms of his needs i.e. all his near and dear ones live in the same locality and kids study in same school so it’s not like that he is afraid that he or his family will be targeted when he travels out of that MQM stronghold because he rarely has any need to. And a threat is not useful unless TTP can enforce it at short notice.

Now if you have lived in MQM area, you know that MQM has local on the ground intelligence i.e., guy smoking cigarette at the street barricade all day long, Sabzi wala, corner shop wala, hardcore MQM supporters that is your neighbor etc. To send threat and then to enforce it in MQM area, Lyari people need local intelligence to not only to gather info but most importantly to enforce their threat. It is hard to fathom how they would have been able to gather this information without being noticed by local MQM intel.

Anyway my cousin and other private school owners in the area go to meet IG Sind Shahid Hayat but according to him Hayat wasn’t willing to listen and with non-Urdu speaking people around him as officers and advisors kept on saying that it’s the Urdu speaking people who are to be blamed. Where can one go to seek redress if the police keeps on blaming the victim? So my cousin is shifting rather opening a new school in Lahore and starting there from April session.

I live in Korangi_another MQM stronghold. Shopkeepers in our area get MQM “donation” slips every month depending on the size of the business from Rs 1,000 to Rs 5,000. Last month, the meat shop walah refused pony up Rs 5,000 when every one around him did. Following week he, and him alone among 100s of shops, receives an extortion demand from Lyari Gang and he pays up Rs100,000 to get them off his back.

This is all anecdotal. With all the caveats that go along with such statements, my conclusion is bloody MoFos MQM is either in cahoots with Lyari Gang or they pretend to be Lyari Gang when it suits them. Bastards pretend to be the last stand against Lyari gang and Taliban but are not above working with them or pretending to be them when it suits them.

Nothing surprising here because our chowkidaars (the army, police) have already been stealing from the till but it hurts slightly more when your ethnic brother saviors also engage in similar tactics.


Polio leads to infertelity: a myth

Every few weeks, we come across articles in the newspaper that locals or the tribal elders not allowing polio vaccination in their area because people think it will render their kids infertile. Then there are efforts from government side to educate the people that it is just a myth but the myth isn’t getting destroyed. From Guardian

Now religious scholars have joined the campaign to dismantle the myths and battle the resurgence of polio. A campaign led by National Research and Development Foundation (NRDF) in partnership with Unicef has brought together more than 5,000 of them, working on provincial and district levels, to tackle the issue. The group comprises of scholars belonging to the Deobandi sect, a school of thought followed by the majority of population in the tribal belt.

In Fata, clerics helped resolve 8,120 vaccine refusal cases during a week-long campaign in March this year. Another 160 religious scholars from Swat have issued a Fatwa in favour of the vaccinations. A campaign, starting this month, will be led by Shia scholars as it expands to the Parachinar valley, where the majority of the population are Shia Muslims.

Now if “polio drops leads to infertility” was a Taliban ploy, then we would not need to convince Shias as they are arch enemies of Taliban and would not have bought Taliban ploy hook, line and sinker. It doesn’t help the case that CIA used fake polio campaign to hunt for Osama Bin Laden leading to some polio administering NGOs to fly their staff outside Pakistan immediately as they would’ve been threatened.

But resistance to polio has been in the region even before Taliban took over. Where did the myth that it leads to infertility arrive. I came across this passage in the book Poor Economics talking about similar resistance to polio drops in India which gives some background:

India had had a long history with family planning, starting in the mid-1960s. In 1971, the state of Kerala experimented with mobile sterilization services, the “sterilization camps” approach that was to be the cornerstone of Sanjay Gandhi’s plan during the Emergency. Although most politicians before him had identified population control as an important issue, Sanjay Gandhi brought to the problem both an unprecedented level of enthusiasm and the ability (and willingness) to twist as many arms as necessary to implement his chosen policies.

In April 1976, the Indian Cabinet approved a formal statement of national population policy that called for a number of measures to encourage family planning, notably, large financial incentives for those who agreed to be sterilized (such as a month’s wages or priority on a housing list), and more frighteningly, authorization for each state to develop compulsory sterilization laws (for, say, everyone with more than two children). Although only one state proposed such a law (and that law was never approved), states were explicitly pressured to set sterilization quotas and fulfill them, and all but three states “voluntarily” chose targets greater than what was proposed by the central government: The targets totaled 8.6 million sterilizations “for 1976–1977.

Once laid out, the quotas were not taken lightly. The chief of the Uttar Pradesh bureaucracy wrote by telegraph to his principal field subordinates: “Inform everybody that failure to achieve monthly targets will not only result in the stoppage of salaries but also suspension and severest penalties. Galvanise entire administrative machinery forthwith repeat forthwith and continue to report daily progress by crash wireless to me and secretary to Chief Minister.” Every government employee, down to the village level, and not excluding railway inspectors and school teachers, was supposed to know the local target. Parents of schoolchildren were visited by teachers, who told them that in the future, their children may be denied enrollment in school if they did not agree to get sterilized. People traveling by train without a ticket—a widely accepted practice among the poor until then—were handed heavy fines unless they chose sterilization. Not surprisingly, the pressure occasionally went much further. In Uttawar, a Muslim village near the capital city of Delhi, all male villagers were rounded up one night by the police, sent to the police stations on bogus charges, and sent from there to be sterilized.

The policy appears to have achieved its immediate target, although the incentives probably also led to some overreporting in the number of actual sterilizations. In 1976–1977, 8.25 million people were reportedly sterilized, 6.5 million of them during just the period July–December 1976. By the end of 1976, 21 percent of Indian couples were sterilized. But the violations of civil liberties that were an integral part of the implementation of the program were widely resented, and when in 1977, India finally held elections, discussions of the sterilization policy were a key part of the debate, as captured most memorably by the slogan “Indira hatao, indiri bachao (Get rid of Indira and save your penis).” It is widely believed that Indira Gandhi’s defeat in the 1977 elections was in part driven by popular hatred for this program. The new government immediately reversed the policy.

In one of those ironic twists in which historians delight, it is not inconceivable that in the longer term, Sanjay Gandhi actually contributed to the faster growth of India’s population. Tainted by the emergency, family-planning policies in India retreated into the shadows and in the shadows they have remained—some states, such as Rajasthan, do continue to promote sterilization on a voluntary basis, but no one except the health bureaucracy seems to have any interest in it. In the meantime, however, generalized suspicion of the motivations of the state seems to be one of the most durable residues of the Emergency; for example, one still routinely hears of people in slums and villages refusing pulse polio drops because they believe it is a way to secretly sterilize children.


How to build your career? Military edition

As A friend of mine quipped, that Pakistani Generals have well rounded CVs hence suited for any position once they retire such as MDs of public sector utilities like WAPDA, KESC and Pak Steel Mills etc, Vice Chancellor of Universities, Ambassadors etc whereas Indian Generals are one trick pony.

Woh Jo Tareek Rahon Mein Maaray Gaye

[TRANSLATION: Those who died in dark pathways]

In my last post, I mentioned that I had a long discussion with a friend about career choices we make and regrets we have as a result. He was going through a tough patch in his career. Though we had gone over a few opportunities that have come his way, but they were not attractive involved a step down but if everything went well and economy turns around, he might make it back very quickly. But those are a lot of “if”s. So I sent him the following excerpt from The Everything Store:

“When you are in the thick of things, you can get confused by small stuff,” Bezos said a few years later. “I knew when I was eighty that I would never, for example, think about why I walked away from my 1994 Wall Street bonus right in the middle of the year at the worst possible time. That kind of thing just isn’t something you worry about when you’re eighty years old. At the same time, I knew that I might sincerely regret not having participated in this thing called the Internet that I thought was going to be a revolutionizing event. When I thought about it that way… it was incredibly easy to make the decision.”

Just to allay his hesitation, I also shared my personal leap of faith:

[The excerpt] didn’t help me in making the decision to switch but made me feel less bad for switching when bonuses(tiny as they may be) are expected within couple of months after a hiatus of 5 years.

I am not a fan of self-help books or self-help mantra and I know one-size-fits-all solution doesn’t work for everyone but I believed that the book excerpt is something to ponder over. But what I didn’t expect was the response I got. I had touched a nerve. My friend replied:

Statements such as these (coming from successful ones) never impress/motivate me. These people are only a minor %age of all those who dared to switch to do something new but crashed and burned, and both you & I know that nobody knows and gives a shit about “Woh jo tareek rahoN meiN maray gayae” ones, and what they did or say about their fucked up experiences.

I am so confident that when go and ask the losers (majority group I mentioned later) how they feel about their decision, 90% of them would regret taking that daring step that changed their life altogether (of course in a bad way) and the rest of the 10% who answer that they never felt regret and If given chance would like to do it again, are all lying.

I could have let it be but knowing that he is my friend and I want the best for him, I gave it my last shot:

My points always have been:

[Firstly,] Hindsight is 20:20. If you look back considering new developments that happened after you took the decision, it is a wrong way to look at it. One should always look at the decisions he took in light of the information one had available at the time. Moving to (my current employer) was a good decision [for me]. No one knew the future and that [financial] crisis would strike so hard.

Secondly, only Allah knows the future. Every such decision I have taken after doing quite a lot of istikharas. It’s my belief that after that it’s in lords hands. Yes, I complained, I was miserable but not for the decisions I took. Just because of the circumstances I was in. And since its after istikhara, I like to think I would’ve been more miserable if I haven’t moved.

Thirdly, Rizq jitna likha hai Milna hai. Question is whether you got it rightly, wrongly or while you were miserable in a job or if you were happy in your work. And that was the complaint. I was miserable because I wasn’t doing anything. It was never about money or job title. Always about not learning anything.

Fourthly, this is where you piss me off with your constant cribbing about why you went to world renowned education institution. I am extremely grateful to Allah for enabling the realization of my dream to study abroad in one of the best schools of the world. For someone coming from a university which is about to be closed and didn’t know a GMAT score from GRE score, I have come a long way. And wouldn’t have been possible without the right friends (such as yourself) and right circumstances (nothing which I could control).

Fifthly, those who regret their decisions are I believe stupid and ungrateful. Question is did they take a decision blindly without looking at circumstances or did they make the decision soundly after considering all the available information? If it’s the latter, there is nothing to regret. Not everything works out as planned. As barhay boorhays have said, “man proposes, god disposes”. You don’t and can’t know everything. The only question is did you do the right thing.

We can have more discussion whenever we meet but moping about without even making a CV is a shit way to go about it.

The last one was the final nail as he had been crying about his circumstances for over a year and whenever  I ask him if he applied for certain opportunities he came across, he always replied that he has to update his CV.

Again, we all know that what has worked for one person will not necessarily work for the other person because of his unique circumstances, physical attributes, personality traits and luck. Even twins have a totally different life trajectory despite having the same upbringing from the start.

Anyway, what my friend was referring to and what I am myself am wary of is what is described as “undersampling of failure” in the book The Success Equation:

Perhaps the best-known book about this method is Jim Collins’s Good to Great. Collins and his team analyzed thousands of companies and isolated eleven whose performance went from good to great. They then identified the concepts that they believed had caused those companies to improve—these include leadership, people, a fact-based approach, focus, discipline, and the use of technology—and suggested that other companies adopt the same concepts to achieve the same sort of results. This formula is intuitive, includes some great narrative, and has sold millions of books for Collins.

No one questions that Collins has good intentions. He really is trying to figure out how to help executives. And if causality were clear, this approach would work. The trouble is that the performance of a company always depends on both skill and luck, which means that a given strategy will succeed only part of the time. So attributing success to any strategy may be wrong simply because you’re sampling only the winners. The more important question is: How many of the companies that tried that strategy actually succeeded?

Jerker Denrell, a professor of strategy at Oxford, calls this the undersampling of failure. He argues that one of the main ways that companies learn is by observing the performance and characteristics of successful organizations. The problem is that firms with poor performance are unlikely to survive, so they are inconspicuously absent from the group that any one person observes. Say two companies pursue the same strategy, and one succeeds because of luck while the other fails. Since we draw our sample from the outcome, not the strategy, we observe the successful company and assume that the strategy was good. In other words, we assume that the favorable outcome was the result of a skillful strategy and overlook the influence of luck. We connect cause and effect where there is no connection. We don’t observe the unsuccessful company because it no longer exists. If we had observed it, we would have seen the same strategy failing rather than succeeding and realized that copying the strategy blindly might not work.

The title of this post is a misquote from famous Pakistani poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz. Below it is in full with translation from here:

Tere honton ke phoolon ki chaahat mein hum
Daar ki khushk tahni pe vaare gaye
Tere haathon ki shammom ki hasrat mein hum
Neem-tareek raahon mein maare gaye…
Jab ghuli teri raahon mein shaam-e sitam
Hum chale aaye laaye jahaañ tak qadam
Lab pe harf-e ghazal, dil meiñ qandeel-e-gham
Apna gham tha gavaahi tere husn ki
Dekh khaayam rahe is gavaahi pe hum
Hum jo tareek raahon mein maare gaye

In the desire for the flowers that were your lips
We were sacrificed on the dry branch of the scaffold
In the yearning for the light of your hands
We were killed in the darkening streets…
As the evening of tyranny dissolved in your memory
We walked on as far as our feet could carry us
A song on our lips, a lamp of sadness in our heart
Our grief bore witness to our love for your beauty
Look, we remained true to that love
We, who were executed in the dark lanes.


This is the full poem in Urdu script if anyone is interested

تیرے ہونٹوں کے پھولوں کی چاہت میں ہم
دار کی خشک ٹہنی پہ وارے گئے
تیرے ہاتھوں کی شمعوں کی حسرت میں ہم
نیم تاریک راہوں‌ میں مارے گئے

سولیوں پر ہمارے لبوں سے پرے
تیرے ہونٹوں کی لالی لپکتی رہی
تیری زلفوں کی مستی برستی رہی
تیرے ہاتھوں کی چاندی دمکتی رہی

جب گھلی تیری راہوں میں شامِ ستم
ہم چلے آئے، لائے جہاں تک قدم
لب پہ حرفِ غزل، دل میں قندیل غم
اپنا غم تھا گواہی تیرے حسن کی
دیکھ قائم رہے اس گواہی پہ ہم
ہم جو تاریک راہوں‌ میں‌ مارے گئے

نار سائی اگر اپنی تقدیر تھی
تیری الفت تو اپنی ہی تدبیر تھی
کس کو شکوہ ہے گر شوق کے سلسلے
ہجر کی قتل گاہوں سے سب جا ملے

قتل گاہوں سے چن کر ہمارے عَلم
اور نکلیں گے عشاق کے قافلے
جن کی راہ طلب سے ہمارے قدم
مختصر کر چلے درد کے فاصلے

کر چلے جن کی خاطر جہاں‌گیر ہم
جاں گنوا کر تری دلبری کا بھرم
ہم جو تاریک راہوں‌ میں ‌مارے گئے