Muslim denominations: Are you Shia or Sunni?

A must read.

chaaidaani

Published: November 4, 2014

At that age, it didn’t seem like a big issue. But as I grew, I realised that it was indeed a big issue. PHOTO: FILE

It started quite early. I was seven-years-old. That’s when I first realised that there was something called a “Shia”, and people thought I was one; because in Pakistan, certain surnames are associated with being a Shia. ‘Zaidi’, one of them, sounds similar to the surname ‘Zahidi’, so I was and am often asked this question – “are you a Shia?”.

So I came home and asked my father, to which Abba replied in a very matter-of-factly that by faith, Shias and Sunnis are both Muslims. He explained to me that it’s like two brothers from the same family, we all love Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and his family, and are still very…

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Subjugation of Thoughts & Talent

Never subjugate your thoughts and talent. The brain has a limitless cycle of innovation, which should never be suppressed or otherwise you will be made dormant of one thing that differentiates us from animals. The talent and abilities gifted to us by God vary from person to person. Not everybody is a born genius for example? Channelizing our thoughts and harnessing our talents are solely dependent in the way it is applied. ‘Mere’ realization is not enough to progress in life. When we are aware of the fact that we have been endowed with such a wealth of talent, why do such individuals refuse to utilize it? Why do gifted individuals like these end up harming their prospects and being useless? Why are they happy in being portrayed as those who had the promise? What is the reason for their culpable failure in achieving of what they were capable off? Why is ‘self-pity’ their desired goal? What makes them embrace gloominess where light & hope exist? What is the reason for them finding solace in being alone? What is the reason for this strange behavior? Is it something that comes naturally to these kind of people or are they mired in a conflict of their very own existence?

Some people cherish being loners and damaging their credentials. Self-implosion is their goal and don’t want to prove anything to anybody. Some individuals desire a lot of things in their lives, but deliberately stop themselves from achieving happiness. It’s a cliché for them, they fear their happiness will be short-lived and turn abject. These kind of individuals fail to find people who understand their mindset and thought framework. They are confused, talented yet mercurial, unpredictable but capable of being geniuses in their own strand. Their minds are always on a thinking spree, probably over stretching the limits. Their brains are predominantly active all the time, open to taking stress easily and emotionally very frail. They can be recluse from society, intermingling is not their strong point. Characters like these tend to open up with people of a similar intellectual mindset and who have a similar wavelength. They house knowledge, but refuse to emanate and share it in the fear of being judged wrongly. They have apprehensions, afflicted with self-doubt and self-denial of their talents. They are angry from within, obsessed with doing things in a perfect manner. The anger turns into an insidious form of hatred for everyone, are rigidity and irritant in every given manner. These individuals lack patience, are open to bouts of having altercations and are devoid of any self-control mechanism. At heart, they may be good and even merciful. They are hampered by a negative thought framework, they harbor doubts and have severe trust issues.  Individuals like these will always tend to keep a low profile, have self-belief issues and are downright lazy. One quality that these kind of people possess is; they will go out of the way for those who are genuine to them in every given way.

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Individuals like these are very oblivious, house uncertain beliefs. But within them, the illumination of hope to contribute must still exist. They are victims of their own uncertainties, refuse to garner the strength to cultivate their talents. They will deliberately undermine themselves, pretend as if they do not know anything. Problem with them is, they are never satisfied. They will go on a quest to earn knowledge and do anything within their power crossing limitations to garner it. It is important for them to realize that they have to rekindle the hope of contributing to the well-being of society, inter-mingle and come back to the fold. Their value is of immense significance to society and engaging, encouraging them is the process that needs initiation. They have to be coerced into making a comeback, backing them up is of critical importance even if they are prone to committing mistakes. Rejuvenating their spirits, taking one small step at a time to make them believe in themselves is where the miracle can happen. Of course, all the effort has to come from within the person, irrespective of how much bolstering and encouragement they are provided with. Point is, hope with these kind of individuals should and never be lost at any cost. We have to keep on egging on these kind of talented individuals, motivate and cultivate their self-belief. You have to provoke their inner conscience, bring out their real talent and interests out in the open and lighten them up. In most cases like these, they become a victim of their own self-created conflicts if not understood and take care of properly. It is our duty to society to earmark, find such brilliant individuals and bring them out of their shells. In doing this, we can probably help in broadening their horizons, enlightening their lives with hope and a new purpose in life. The journey is always endless and the pursuit for people like these should never cease.

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City Wars

 

 

Using Twitter yesterday, I came across a trend that enraged me, City Wars in Pakistan. This topic needs to be put under the scanner in the context of national interest. As we persist with this attitude of melancholy in terms of city wars, we do not realize the forces of self-immolation being unleashed. No stone has been left unturned in us mobilizing against each other, passing racist remarks, showing dis-contempt and a complete lack of tolerance. It may sound obnoxious, but this is something I intend to discuss in the next few paragraphs.

The animosities between the different cities in Pakistan, has existed since time immemorial. Whether we reside in Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar or Quetta for that matter, some kind of resentment has always existed in the hearts of the native residents living in these cities towards each other. There is a tendency for us to forget that we all at the end of the day, are Pakistani’s. Collectively all these cities in their own respective way form the core and heart of the Pakistani economy, history and culture etc. Karachi’s significance economically is so great, it has a deep sea port, a trading hub locally and internationally. It is an industrial might, cosmopolitan in nature much akin to Mumbai. Its contribution revenue wise to the national exchequer is unrivalled. As Karachi remains engulfed in violence, innocents being butchered and so many 100 of families losing their loved ones, the resilience of its citizens is still very much there. Irrespective of the insecurities, Karachi thrives under the shadow of preemptive strikes, violence and so much more. It is a testimony to its nature as a cosmopolitan city, that it still stands still even amidst the backdrop of the mafia and elements trying to destroy it. Those who live there, swear by its uniqueness, way of life and the pleasures it gives them. Karachi is the heartbeat of Pakistan!

Now coming to Peshawar, a city of immense importance in every context of the word. It is considered to be the earliest living city of South Asia. It has said to have preserved the remnants of Greek, Persian, Buddhist, Sikhism, Muslim and British Civilizations. A city with such a rich history and cultural heritage is something to be proud off. Peshawar has borne the brunt of violence in this War against Terror waged by the Americans since the aftermath of 9/11. It has been ravaged by deadly bomb blasts, sporadic rocket and mortar attacks in the last decade or so. All this bloodshed and the massacres of innocents has left the city in a state of mourning but even then the resilience of the people of Peshawar is absolutely mesmerizing. Same is the case of Quetta, the capital city of Balochistan province, and mired in conflict and violence since the last so many years. Peace and tranquility is something both these cities Peshawar and Quetta are bereft off. The element of fear and insecurity exists, but even the aftermath of it, all the citizens go about their lives resiliently hoping for something better. They have never ever given up hope.

Among all this despondency, bloodshed should we indulge in ridiculing these cities? Do our shoddy mindsets, who bring up these city wars, even realize what are our brother and sisters in these cities are going through? Do we even realize, the seeds of discontentment being sowed by us. Mocking each other on Twitter or Facebook, for that matter is a very easy thing to do. We are already so divided and intolerant, this kind of hatred for each other will only fuel the flames of further discontentment. In these difficult times, especially for all those families in Karachi, Quetta and Peshawar who have gone through the pain of losing their loved ones what impact can these city wars have on them? Instead of joining forces to ridicule this silly campaign, we are hell bent to ensure that we end up in self-destructing ourselves.

Divisions among the populace, lacking a coherent policy of reconciliation will only broaden it further. The practice of hatred and racism in the context of cities is downright disgusting. This does not denote our sense of patriotism in flaming this hatred against each other. Harbouring of these negative thoughts has to be shed and a pro-nationalistic agenda needs to be adopted. And here I remember the old classic saying: “United we stand, Divided we fall”.

Manto: A Realist par Excellence

Saadat Hassan Manto (1912-1955) is a name synonymous in the annals of Urdu Literature. Considered among the greatest contemporary Urdu short story writers of the 20th century, he has left a legacy which is far and wide. Manto’s greatest gift was his ability to depict the reality of society with such ease that he would leave the reader mesmerized and in utter awe. His attention to minor details and his signature style of description was second to none. Manto was a realist and puritan who hated hypocrisy in every given way.

    Manto attacked a society which was mired in social ills and living in a state of self-denial. The breadth of topics that he covered in his short stories were a testimony to the versatility he displayed. Reality in any given era is never acceptable by any norms or standards in any society at any given period of time. The relevance that his writings resonate today will never cease to lose importance. His stories never distorted the truth, they were always challenging the perceptions of society and the people living in it. His short stories echo a grim picture of the evils of society where hypocrisy rules the roost and dominates proceedings. Manto by nature was a very sensitive person and his writings of the violence that engulfed partition had hurt him greatly.

Manto’s observation skills and directness of his language, while writing were arguably second to none. A humanist par excellence barring his alcoholism, he was proud and arrogant in nature virtue of his talent. He never augured faith and beliefs into his friendships. Manto forged bonds with people from all walks of life irrespective of faith example Ashok Kumar, Shayaam and Pran. Manto’s uniqueness lay in calling a spade a spade, and would not budge one bit from what he had written. Outspoken and brash in nature, this made him susceptible to attack from all quarters which as a result led him into trouble amongst the literary elite of that time. He was a rebel, who had formed his own niche of writing, and was unique in every given sense of the word. Manto’s writings were influenced by the happenings in society, not by the people that surrounded him. Once he finished writing a story, it was final and no editing of any sort was possible. He is supposed to have told his wife Safia Manto that he was capable of narrating four stories at any given time such was the ability he possessed. His literary genius has never ever been in doubt such was the prowess of the man.

Manto’s simple paradigm was, he wrote what he saw which was then depicted then in his short stories to telling effect. His ability to observe the present and decipher the future was on display in his famous Letters to Uncle Sam. Incisive, eye opening and jaw dropping in nature were his stories which left an undeniable impact on the reader. His stories removed the veil from those practices in society which were filthy and disgusting in nature. He raised those issues which were considered a taboo in society and abhorred. His writings were termed as ‘pornographic’ in nature and were condemned by most segments in society during that time. A firm proponent of openness in society, his rebellious nature would mean that he will never be owned up by anyone in society.  His uniqueness and the ability to depict reality was, will always be a part of his legacy.

Water Scarcity and Wastage in Pakistan

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 Pakistan is among the most distressed category of water scarce countries in the world.The per capita availability of water has reduced to an alarming level of less than 1,000 cubic feet. Water is the vehicle that powers our agriculture sector it contributes about 21.4% of the GDP to our economy and hires almost 40% of the workforce in it. Have we ever imagined the spectre of a looming water shortage and crisis being predicted in a decade’s time by experts? Has our government ever realized what it would mean for our economy; for our very livelihood and what catastrophe can it have? I doubt any kind of policy has been worked out by our present government or the ones gone previously. A campaign is being run by the Pakistan Tehreek-E-Insaaf (PTI) and seminars being held in different cities to highlight this issue.

Water should be treated as an economic good which should be taxed. Its price linked to amount of usage and consumption. According to the report released by the Asian Development Bank in 2013; Pakistan’s storage capacity in case of an emergency is limited to a 30 day supply far below the recommended 1,000 days for countries with similar climates. With a massive increase in population; the usage of water is also exponentially increasing but nothing is being done to address the chronic shortage of water that is supposed to hit us in the next decade or so.  It is a dwindling resource; population growth is exacerbating the issue of water shortage in the country. Global warming is causing a change in climate patterns ; which has resulted in a lessening of melting of glaciers; reducing water flow as a result; lack of dams for storing rain water, boring and drilling of land for irrigation purposes. The discharge of water from untreated industrial and domestic waste is the cause of the supplies getting contaminated and the mixing of sewerage and water pipelines worsens it.

The promotion of awareness campaigns to not waste water need to be initiated from the ground up. Efficient usage of water needs to be envisaged; the usage of tube wells all day long needs to be reduced and divided into fixed intervals. Big reservoirs or water tanks need to be installed by WASA , and water appropriately discharged to the localities for usage in their homes. Boring of land in homes needs to be banned altogether; the individual doing it should be heavily penalized and reprimanded. Efficient usage of water needs to be promoted ; filtration plants need to be installed at the premises where water tankers exist to avoid contamination. All localities in the cities should be checked by taking samples of water to test out for contamination purposes every few months. The price of water being used should be exorbitantly increased; to make people realize that water is a national asset. Strict penalties need to be slapped for wasting water example is the watering of roads and gardens in their homes. Inspection teams need to be deployed for this very purpose to check whether water is being stolen or not by any individual or institution.

Pakistan needs to envision a future where water will be in scarce quantity as stated by many experts. Steps need to be initiated at Federal and Provincial level to prevent water wastage and create methods to avert this crisis on a war footing. It threatens our nation’s very existence; its present and future are massively dependent on it.

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More reading resources:

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/business/20-Jan-2014/country-heading-towards-water-shortage

http://spearheadresearch.org/SR_CMS/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Pakistans-_Water_Crisis_part-1.pdf

http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-239995-Water-shortage-to-turn-Pakistan-into-a-failed-state-PEW

http://tribune.com.pk/story/553491/water-sufficiency-pakistan-faces-dire-threat-of-water-scarcity/

http://tribune.com.pk/story/231905/pakistans-water-crisis/

HeartBleed (OpenSSL) Vulnerability and It’s Impact

This vulnerability regarding OpenSSL named ‘Heartbleed’ came into the forefront on the April 8th 2014. It was discovered by a team of Google security researchers and exploited before it was disclosed to the general public. It forms a core part of the cryptographic software library in OpenSSL, and its weakness is in the SSL/TLS encryption used to secure the internet and used by websites like Google, Yahoo, Reddit etc. This vulnerability is open to being stolen by hackers and security agencies like the NSA. OpenSSL is open source and is maintained by a team of development volunteers who rely on donations for support.

  A lot of websites by now, have already fixed this vulnerability, but some still are in the process of fixing it. Google and Yahoo have already fixed it. Other popular websites like Microsoft Hotmail and others remain unaffected because they do not use OpenSSL. In Canada, their tax authority as of last week stopped collecting taxes as a result of this bug. It recently disclosed that social insurance numbers of over 900 customers have been compromised or stolen by hackers. Security experts have said that since this vulnerability had existed in OpenSSL for almost 2 years, so it is possible for the bug to have been exploited by hackers.

 Why is it named ‘Heartbleed’? The reason is; it exploits a built in feature in OpenSSL named Heartbeat. When we access a website like Gmail, it responds back to make us aware that it is active and listening to our requests. This exchange of information is done via the use of data.  Accessing a website would only result in that amount of data being transferred back that was originally sent by us in our initial request. The websites that are vulnerable to ‘Heartbleed’ do not exhibit this behavior described above. The hacker or any individual exploiting this bug on the affected server would be able to gather more data than sent upon the original request up to 65,336 bytes. Due to it,our sensitive data like email, banking, social media, e-commerce, login details are open to being stolen. So are credit card details if stored there.

 In the aftermath of the vulnerability being disclosed, various websites affected have scrambled quickly to apply the fix. Certain websites have been created to check for the ‘Heartbleed’ vulnerability for users. To confirm whether the website being used is still vulnerable or not can be checked here:

                     https://filipo.io/Heartbleed/

                                          The safety precautions given would recommend changing the passwords immediately for all websites affected. Before doing that, it would be beneficial to confirm whether the exploit has already been patched by the relevant website or not. The website URL provided above should be able to reveal that. For example, the famous cloud storage website Box.com has confirmed recently a week after the bug was disclosed to the masses, that it had fixed its website for ‘Heartbleed’. It has recommended all its users to please reset their passwords. Not are only websites affected by it, but also certain networking equipment provided and made by Juniper networks and Cisco Systems. Blackberry has also confirmed, that its popular cross platform messenger service BBM is affected by ‘HeartBleed’. The update has been released on the iOS and Android platform recently. Other Blackberry devices remain unaffected as of now.

 As per the disclosure, the massive impact that ‘HeartBleed’ vulnerability has had in the past week or so, it is possible to come across another major security threat like this again.

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*Image has been taken from this url :

http://cdn.itproportal.com/big_files/heartbleed-infographic-how-works-large.jpg

Child Labour in Pakistan & Education

As a nation we are afflicted with the notion that the domestic help we hire are our slaves and treat them in any manner we want. Recently; I came across a piece on the Dawn News website mentioning about a 14 year old girl working as a domestic help in Lahore being subjected to torture by her employers. They shaved her head and was burnt alive after being doused with petrol. She was moved to the burns ward of Mayo Hospital where she is undergoing treatment.

   It is one of many sad incidents that occur on a daily basis, and are not a source of much surprise or shock. For me this kind of physical abuse and brutality towards our domestic help is unbelievable. And this problem exists irrespective of age and is rife in our society. Whether it is men, women or children hired as domestic help there is always a tendency to abuse them verbally and physically. These young boys, girls hired as help in our homes, are grossly underpaid. They are in majority cases denied the right to basic necessities of life. It is child labour and a crime in every given way. These children are treated as dirt by the majority of us, abused, seen as downtrodden and looked with contempt. Is there any realization that we could also have landed in their place and be treated in exactly the same way as we are treating them? Just because we are well off doesn’t mean we can use it as a pretext to demean them?  Is this racist outlook towards these children and our dastardly treatment justified?

These young kids are forced to work in our homes due to abject poverty and to support their ailing families. They act as a helping hand so the money they earn can go towards meeting their family expenses. As per my knowledge, a number of laws do prohibit child labour in Pakistan. As in most cases, the law is hardly followed or implemented in any sense of the word. Its mere existence is enough for the government and no outright action has ever been initiated to put these people behind bars. The practice continues unabated in the absence of any stringent checks. These poor kids form the backbone of our nation, they are our future.  The government sits silently, refusing to address this malice in our society and taking stringent steps towards eradicating it. It is the duty of those who are affluent in our society to support these kids education working in our homes and offices.

 All children need encouragement, made to realize and understand the significance of gaining education. The benefit that it offers is; knowledge and learning. Helping them with their education can inspire them into becoming politicians, economists, doctors and engineers. They can be a vehicle for change in our country. If affluent people take out Rs 1,000 a month for causes like The Citizens Foundation (TCF) which amounts to Rs 12,000 a year. It’s equivalent to a year’s education for one child!  For our own children, we would pay a fee of Rs 8,000-12,000 a month to educate them in one of the elite private schools in our city. Can’t we as responsible citizens act collectively and start raising the equivalent amount for causes like the TCF?  Is Rs 12,000 a year not affordable for us? Imagine this scenario, for every kid being supported by our affluent households we could herald an education revolution in our country. It could act as an engine for growth and progress in the future. I know it sounds like an improbable task, but my belief is, with the right initiatives this goal is very much achievable.

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Cyber Child Protection: Dangers And Guidelines

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In this era of the internet; it is imperative that we protect our children online in the same manner as we do in the real world. For parents; it is of great significance to guide children in using the internet, teaching them its merits and demerits. Children should use the internet as a tool to gain positive experiences online, learn and use it safely.

  The internet opens up an exciting world of opportunities for children and the whole family. The internet is a source of entertainment, education and information. Exposure to various cultures and ways of life online, interacting with people from different countries opens up endless possibilities. It expands the horizons of children on a whole. Being online means there are no borders that need to be breached. The use of the internet involves risks and challenges that need to be addressed, particularly in the case of children. Parents have to realize and know about what kind of content their kids view online.

  Children can be exposed to content that is explicitly violent; prohibited or illegal. They are at risk of experiencing cyber bullying or being contacted by strangers. Children can get into serious trouble by revealing a lot about themselves by giving out personal information to strangers online; unknowingly. Two kidnapping cases have come to the forefront in Pakistan in the last year or so. The use of internet is growing among children because of exposure to smartphones and tablets.

Guidelines for parents for keeping their children safe online:

1)     Observe what content is being viewed and watched online by your children.

2)      Learn about the technologies that your children are using, educate yourself well in regards to it.

3)      Talk to your children about using the internet and tell them to share their experiences with you. Be friendly and cooperative while having a discussion to make them feel secure. Explain them, the risks and benefits of the content being viewed online.

4)      Reach to an agreement with your children in regards to internet usage; time limitations can be put in place. Use of internet should not be allowed before going to bed for example?

5)      The computer should be placed in a family area of the home for example the hallway or lounge.

6)      Smartphones, tablet usage should only be allowed in your presence only. Applications and games installed being played on them should be thoroughly checked for any violence or content that is ‘inappropriate’ for your children.

7)      No personal family information or photographs should be shared online without the consent and permission of the parents.

8)      Install an internet filter.

9)      Encrypt your home Wi-fi network with strong passwords and do not share them with your children.

10)  Monitor any explicit changes in behavior of your children after using the internet. Take them into confidence, discuss the issues that are hampering him to help them alleviate their pain.

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Emotions and its Impact

Emotions are meant to be embraced and felt to understand the depths of it. Emotions have a wide array of features, they induce the mind with feelings that can be positively exciting and negatively taxing. Emotions are a part and parcel of our daily lives and it can be very difficult at times to detach from them. They ensure and are a broad indicator of the fact that we are humans and not mechanized robots.

   In times of depravity, darkness and full of sadness; emotions are what that keep us alive and kicking. Emotions vary from person to person, some believe     in showing them outright and others shun from revealing them, a typical human trait. Emotions can be taxing for a human mind, but at the very same time it can be a stress reliever too! At times we hear people saying that those who embrace emotions are nothing but fools. Are we supposedly going to take other people’s views and judgements into account and does it even count? The majority including me, take the judgement of others as a benchmark and give it a lot of significance. Are we in any way, liable to explain the reasons for our emotions and feelings to others, are we being influenced by their take on us? Is it worth our while, to think and stress ourselves over our emotions, where we went wrong etc.

    There is a considerable debate over whether emotions should be controlled in ‘certain’ circumstances or situations or whether should we exercising more restraint in showing them. Does practicality suffice more over emotions when making critical decisions? Should emotions only drive our entire lives? It is a very difficult notion to apprehend about because it entirely depends on each individual’s nature and the circumstances and position they are in and emotions differ at every stage of life. A critical decision made purely based on emotions does backfire mostly, and alternatively a more pragmatic and practical approach would be more suited to the current scenario and eventually prevail.

    Emotions can make us weak and more prone to being misused and end up being disappointed. Emotions can never be measured or benchmarked and its calculated use is nigh impossible. Emotions should never be suppressed entirely, it cannot be sub-planted with something different because it is a part and parcel of human nature. Emotions in relationships can be challenging, whether it is with friends, siblings or cousins. Managing emotions is an uphill task and something which is difficult to control at times. Emotions have their peaks and troughs, they have to be counterbalanced with reality and a more practical approach towards dealing with certain situations. Circumstances can drive our emotions and influence the way we act, behave and conduct ourselves. To sum it up, emotions are a necessity; period!

Net Neutrality in Pakistan

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The guiding principle to the preservation of a free and open internet is “Net Neutrality”. It means that ISP’s may not discriminate between different kinds of content and applications online. It guarantees a level playing field for all websites and internet technologies. The question arises as to how we should apply the concept of “Net Neutrality” in the context of Pakistan. Net Neutrality has primarily garnered a lot of attention in the United States, and has been the subject of intense scrutiny and various lawsuits over the last 4 years or so. My focus is to make it relevant in the context of Pakistan and how can it affect us in the longer scheme of things.

      In Pakistan, many would argue the concepts very mention would be nonsensical and idiotic. Our telecom and internet sector is predominantly dominated by PTCL; one of the largest providers of fixed line telephone, broadband and wireless internet services. Besides being in the business of providing the aforementioned services, PTCL is also involved in leasing bandwidth to all major ISP’s operating in Pakistan. Majority of the submarine cables landing in Pakistan, are owned by a consortium of telecom companies including PTCL which is a major stakeholder in it. Besides it, the only company providing bandwidth leasing services to ISP’s is Transworld Alliance ie TWA. This gives PTCL a whopping control over the whole telecom sector.  It stifles competition and gives them absolute price setting power and ability to manipulate the market to their whim. Since the advent of mobile providers like Telenor, Warid and China Mobile, the market opened up to healthy competition bringing down the call rates that were quite exorbitant before the deregulation of the telecom sector in 2004. Before this, Mobilink was the sole provider of GSM services in Pakistan for almost 10 years since 1994/95.  It virtually controlled the Pakistani market in the presence of providers like Paktel and Instaphone.

The critical aspect to understand is the unlimited control that PTCL is exhibiting in the realm of internet services in Pakistan. A key indicator is the growing use of VOIPs and preference of cellphone usage in Pakistan. Due to low calling rates, the use of fixed line telephony services has reduced drastically in comparison to the ease of access offered by cellphones. This has hurt PTCL revenues sharply in the last decade since it was sold to Etisalat in 2005. Due to exploding growth of smartphones and widespread Wi-Fi internet access availability in the urban areas, the use of VOIP services like Skype, Viber has grown tremendously. Due to the ease of convenience that it offers and the biggest thing is, it are free! As per net neutrality, PTCL should be offering a level playing field to all competitors and not prioritize their fixed line services which is in effect; detrimental to the consumer.  Due to exponential growth in VOIP services, PTCL has blocked the ability to make calls over Skype to landline numbers abroad which is a gross violation of the principles of net neutrality. Degradation in services like Skype and Viber which people use to contact their loved ones abroad causes significant hurdles for the consumers. It forces them to use fixed line or wireless telephony services to contact them instead. Alternatives do exist, but the majority using Skype or Viber like applications do not possess the knowledge or are tech savvy enough to determine which other services to use instead.

     Interestingly, another example of net neutrality could be a deal signed by PTCL with the Jang Group of Newspapers, who own the famous television channel Geo, and the English newspaper; The News. This would involve the Jang Group paying PTCL money to offer prioritized internet traffic to its news portals like Geo.tv and TheNews.com.pk during peak hour usage. For example in the evening when people come back home and log onto the web and access news websites. This could happen possibly that competing websites like ARY and Dunya news websites either would be very slow to access due to a deliberate slowdown in internet traffic by PTCL. This would force the consumers frustratingly to switch to websites like Geo which are readily, easily accessible due to the prioritized speeded up traffic being provided by the ISP. This ultimately would work to the benefit of PTCL, which would either hatch up a package offering speeded up internet access in form of a paid upgrade to the consumers, or offer tiered internet services depending on the level of usage of the customer. A customer or even a company in need of speedy internet access would hop onto this bandwagon and save themselves from the misery of slow internet access on websites that they want to access. This would mean more revenue and profits could be generated by PTCL and make it immune to competition. And hence it will not make significant investments in its infrastructure to provide better internet services to the customer. PTCL would know it well when they can rake in significant revenue by just hatching up prices and slowing down internet access deliberately. In a market totally dominated by them who would dare challenge them? Even the government due to the significant market share and fear of investor unrest would not take on the behemoth known as PTCL and would put its hand up.

    The mention about video streaming and IP TV access in respect of net neutrality was purposely ignored. Till now the level of streaming and data consumption in Pakistan is not comparable to the West; due to a lack of high speed internet access. With the advent of 3G and 4G services; whose licenses are being auctioned shortly; Net Neutrality will garner significant importance and the netizens of Pakistan will realize what lies ahead of us as the use of data services would grow exponentially in the coming few years.

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*Net Neutrality definition has been taken from the website www.savetheinternet.com  citation 1st paragraph*