Pakistan Energy “Con”servation Policy 2010

The summer is now in full swing in Pakistan and April, May and June are the hottest months in Pakistan with the temperatures ranging from 40C to 52C and sometimes even more. With the heat picking up people switch to fans, A/C’s, etc. as it becomes unbearable. However Pakistan, being a resource short country, is not able to cater for such high demand and the electricity power distribution companies resort to “load shedding” in order to maintain the supply equally among the demand.

This load shedding is nothing new. This has been happening for a long time however this time the situation has gone out of control. Electricity is not available for 6 to 10 hours a day and in some places over 12 hours a day.

So, our “high-ups” in Islamabad held an energy conservation meeting and decided on the following points

1. Traders are to close their businesses by 8pm every night
For a country where the daily retail business starts at 12 in the afternoon and then goes on till midnight, this will surely frustrate the shop owners who say that they are not provided electricity during the day time and there may be cases of non-compliance.

Government offices and all affiliated organizations would observe a 5 day working week and observe a 2 day holiday.
People already complain that the staff in the government offices work at a snail’s pace and with 5 days work schedule the speed will surely slow down further and not pick up as thought by the government.

Marriage halls will have to wind up wedding ceremonies by 12am
This has been already enforced all around the country due to the law and order situation.

Air conditioners in government offices would be switched on after 11am.
Government offices start at 9am but 80% staff does not turn up at that time. They usually come around at a later hour. So, whether this will have an effect remains to be seen.

If all the above points are viewed and studied they will not have a big impact on the current energy crisis. The crisis will continue on a year by year basis till the government takes serious steps to generate cheap and economical energy using water, wind and coal.

Should they go for thermal (as our power minister seems to be very much inclined towards it) the people should say good bye to power and prepare for tough conditions in the near future.

Nigeria is one country where they say electricity comes for 4-5 hours a day and the rest of the time people use generators to fulfil their needs. Hope that we don’t come to that.

The story of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

With the passage of the 18th amendment in the Senate yesterday the name of “Khyber PakhtunKhwa” has now been recognized as the official name for the North West Frontier Province (aka N.W.F.P.). The President will now need to sign the bill into law and with that comes to end the work of the constitutional committee which had been working on it for the past year or so.

For those of you who do not know, Pakistan is a federation which comprises of 4 provinces. The names of the provinces are Punjab, Sind, Baluchistan and N.W.F.P. The issue regarding the name of N.W.F.P. had been going on for the past 50 years or so with the Awami National Party (ANP) being its most vocal supporter. They have always claimed that the names of other provinces indicated the majority population in those provinces for e.g. the majority population in Punjab were Punjabis, Sindhis in Sind and Balochis in Baluchistan. N.W.F.P. has been the home of Pathans (or Pakhtuns as per ANP definition) and the party has been demanding based on this fact that the name be changed to PakhtunKhwa.

The other political parties have never supported their bid for the change in name due to which this issue has lingered on for so long. Now that all the political parties have come together for the passage of the 18th amendment the ANP has conveniently included this law in the constitution package.

There were still some hurdles in the way as the name had to be changed from PakhtunKwa to Khyber PakhtunKhwa to accommodate every one in the final package but the party and its workers are delighted with the final verdict.

I personally feel that changing the name will not solve the every day problems of the common man in the street but this does show us the beauty of democracy working to resolve the thorniest of issues.

Shenaigans of Pakistani banks and their “requirements”

I had the misfortune of needing a pay order today for a personal matter. I drove to the Silkbank branch nearest to my home and after the security guard checked me from “top to bottom” with his metal scanner I proceeded inside. The lady at the counter was very obliging and handed me the pay order form which I duly filled out. I stood in front of the counter to hand over my form and cash to the girl inside when she politely asked me to step back and get a counter slip from the contraption behind me. Now, I looked around and saw that there was no living soul besides me at that counter and asked her to take the money but she was adamant that I take the slip and wait till my number comes on the screen. I did as she told and waited patiently for my number to come onto the screen which by the way took 3 minutes as some how the machine showed two numbers before mine.

I then handed the amount and the pay order form to her. She asked for my NIC. Even though that was out of the norm I thanked God that I had my NIC and promptly handed over to her. After viewing it she asked me to provide her a copy of it. I didn’t have one and told her so. She said that she wanted a copy of that card otherwise she could not help me. I told her that the bank had a photocopy machine and she could make a copy from it. At that she told me that is was broken.

There was an eerie silence after that last line as I looked at her and she looked back. When she didn’t budge from her seat I told her that I was in a hurry and needed this done quickly at which she returned the card to me and said sorry. I inquired whether this was a State Bank of Pakistan requirement. She replied in the negative and said that this was the bank’s rule.

That was a rubbish reason and I told her that as well and stormed out of the bank. The type of rules they have would make it more difficult for a person to get his job done rather than the other way around.

I then drove to the Soneri bank which was opposite to the Silkbank. he security guard checked me there as well. I went inside. There was no customer service lady there to guide me and after looking around I found where the pay order forms were placed. I took one and filled it. I then went to the counter and provided the form to the lady at the counter. She looked at it and said that the pay order limit on cash was only Rs.25000 and as my amount was a bit higher she could not proceed with my request. I asked her whether this was a requirement from the State Bank of Pakistan and she replied in the negative and said that this was “our bank’s requirement”.

This had become very frustrating and I some how managed to control myself at that time and come back home. I didn’t have the time and courage to go to another bank and listen to the requirements of another bank.

I had wasted nearly 90 minutes in all of this and I gained nothing.

What gives?

Are people becoming too intimate in the public parks of Karachi?

I had the fancy of visiting the Bagh-e-Jinnah Park last Saturday Feb 27 2010 with a friend of mine. We had taken a quick lunch at McDonald’s sea view branch and decided to go for a stroll in the Bagh-e-Jinnah Park to lower the excess calories we had just taken.

If you have ever been to this park then you will know that it can be termed as one of the biggest parks in Karachi. It’s very picturesque and the way it has been developed is really a treat for any visitor. You can enter the park from two places. One way to enter the park is opposite of Park Towers though there is no place to park your car and most of the times the traffic police tow away vehicles should they find anyone breaking the law. The other way to enter the park is from the Bagh Ibn-e-Qasim road which runs parallel to the sea front.

As there is some space for parking on the Ibn-e-Qasim road we parked our car, paid the Rs.20 parking tax and went inside the park. As we entered it was saw families who had come to have an outing in the park. Children were playing about and having fun.

After passing those families and moving forward we started to see couples (I doubt they were married) sitting on benches chatting with each other. However, the more we walked further from the families we had just passed the more intimacy we saw. It was like they wanted to hide from public eyes and just do what they want. Some of them were holding hands, some were sitting awfully close to each other, some were talking face to face and boy were those faces near, some guys had put their arms across the gals, some were semi-lying on the benches, some guys were snapping photos of their gals in different positions and some were looking at video clips on their cell phones. Even when we passed their benches they made no attempt to change their posture. They didn’t give a damn to what others saw.

We went from one side of the park to the other and the scene we saw was the same everywhere. There was one other thing we noticed and that was the hedge just behind the benches had been cut in a way to allow any one to look from behind thereby forcing couples to remain within limits (which some were still trying to cross).

We did a quick calculation and were really surprised by the numbers. If there are over 300 benches in the park then you would have that much number of couples sitting in the park at one time and if an average couple sits in the park for 30 minutes then the number of couples coming there for this purpose from 2PM – 7PM (NOTE: Park is open till 11PM however I doubt if they would stay that long as most of them come from their jobs or colleges) would be around 3000 for a day. Even if we halve it, it is still a big number.

We left the park at 5:30PM thinking that the repercussions of the media and cell phone revolution is showing with full force now and young people in their teens and early twenties have become hostage to emotions which they should not have been exposed to at this point of time.

Let’s hope for everyone’s sake that some sanity prevails otherwise the type of scenes I witnessed with my eyes on that day should be an eye opener for those who cry for more “enlightened moderation” and “tolerance”.

Our young generation are at a stage where they may lose everything and gain nothing.

Click to find out the location of Bagh Ibn-e-Qasim

Terrorism in Karachi on Kashmir Day

I had gone to the office today to work on an urgent project which needed to be completed this week so it could be launched and marketed in the next week to prospective customers in a trade fair. February 5 is Kashmir day in Pakistan and it is public holiday. I decided to go by public transport to the office.

We then went for Juma prayers to a masjid near the office. We continued with our work. Then our lunch from Karachi Food arrived. We sat down to take lunch when all of a sudden we started to hear sirens of ambulances. We first thought that they were heading towards the procession which was passing through MA Jinnah road. However, when the frequency of those sirens start to increase we felt that there may be some problem in the city.

Sure enough one of the guys received a call from his friend and told him of the explosion which happened on Nursery. Now Nursery is 1km away from our office so you could understand that we were a bit apprehensive as we knew from past happenings in the city that these sort of things invite miscreants who go on a rampage burning cars and shops.

So, after discussions with management we set off for home. Now I hadn’t brought my car and I started looking for a taxi. As luck would have it, I got a coach on my route and was home by 5pm.

By that time the details had started coming through on TV. The explosion happened near the Tariq Road flyover. Over 12 people were killed and the injured were taken to JPMC.

A sad day for Karachiites.

Another bomb explosion occurred at the JPMC. Stretchers flew in the air and people were really thrown around. 10 people killed and 40 people injured.

Pakistan’s nightmare tour of Australia 2009-2010

Pakistan’s tour to Australia 2009-2010 has been one of the worst nightmares for a Pakistan cricket fan. Australian teams and pitches have never been kind to Pakistani teams before and Pakistani teams have lost with brilliant players in their line-up however this team takes the cake. They have accomplished what no team has done before and that is a white wash. If the score line reads 3-0 at the end of the test series and 5-0 at the end of the ODI series then you know that some thing is terribly wrong as this Australian side does not have the services of its core genius (Gilchrist, Waugh brothers, McGrath, Warne, Hayden, Langer, and Martyn) which has devastated teams all over the world.

Losing a won test in Sydney and the way the batsmen capitulated on not so quick and bouncy wickets is a sign that either batsmen don’t have the guts to play at this level or they have some psychological fear of Aussie bowlers. Whatever it is I hope that we get rid of this syndrome and plan for the future as these players don’t have the mental strength to win against good teams.

What I have seen on this tour is

1. Muhammed Yousuf is a very defensive captain however I think he must be given a second chance and see how he performs in England. He is a good player and I know he can bounce back.

2. Fahad Iqbal should be dropped altogether from the team. I don’t know why he is picked at all. He does not have any footwork at all. Most of all he is never set even after spending time on the wicket.

3. Misbah ul Haq should take retirement and be thankful for the opportunity to play for Pakistan at his age for the time he has been able to represent Pakistan. A brilliant T20 World Cup in 2007 however it has all fallen apart after that.

4. Muhammed Sami should be part of the team. He was only allowed one test in Sydney and then he was sent back which is very unfair. He looks quite a changed player and more mature. He is captaining a domestic team in Pakistan and he is also performing with the ball. He should be part of the team for the next 2-3 years.

5. We must groom Sarfraz Ahmed and other wicket keepers along with Kamran Akmal as he has become a nuisance now. I remember India dropped Parthiv Patel from the side when he missed a stumping and a catch against Australia four years back. He has still not made it back to the Indian team and here we cope with Kamran Akmal’s antics for reason only God and the PCB know.

6. Umar Akmal is a good find however the behaviour he showed when his brother was dropped from the Hobart test shows that our players are more inclined towards personal gains than team gains. We should look at the Australian side where Mark Waugh was dropped from the side when Steve Waugh was the captain and there was no change in the performance of the Australian side.

7. Umar Gul is an on/off sort of player and he needs to look after himself so he can play more for Pakistan.

8. Selectors must choose between Salman Butt and Imran Farhat. They have been given quite a number of chances and I feel that they don’t have the temperament to stay long on the crease. The PCB must decide which one of the two can serve Pakistan cricket better.

Hope Pakistan cricket takes a positive turn for the future.

Streaming videos on MSN can’t be seen outside the USA :(

You know when ever you login onto the Live Messenger you receive a splash screen outlining the new articles and news on MSN. I sometimes read articles of interest but most of the times I just close them.

Today one particular video about Kim Kardashian sporting new and trendy bikinis caught my eye and I thought of checking it out. Was I in for a surprise!

After the page loaded the screen said that this video can only be seen in the USA and people from other countries can just sulk. What gives!!!

Don’t we have a right to view these videos?

Kim Kardashian new video on trendy bikinis can't be seen in Pakistan

Happy Birthday Pakistan

Pakistan is today 62 years old. The air in Karachi is festive with people outside with their families looking at all the lightings and decorations in the city. Biker boys have removed their silencers and are going at full throttle.

Flags are everywhere on cars, bikes, apartments, houses, buildings. Some people say that such festivities for one night are not right but hey it comes once a year and better to enjoy it than think what should have been.

I bid happy independence day to you from me and all over Pakistan.

Remember Pakistan and me in your prayers.

Pakistan Zindabad

Hey the fireworks have started! Yipee

Stocks ride high at the Karachi Stock Exchange

Friday was a fantastic day at the Karachi Stock Exchange. The result season has already started and some blue chip company is announcing its results every other day for the 4th quarter 2009. Expectations in the market are high right now as the 1st quarter 2010 may not be quite rosy for the investors due to the intense power crisis in the country and high interest rates.

The stocks to look out for seem to be the oil refineries (PRL, ATRL, NRL) and oil marketing companies (PSO, SHELL) with banks having an average quarter due to reports of the Non Performing Loans (NPL) keeping on increasing. Insurance companies and investment companies are also having a very tough time and what to say of the textile sector.

Government of Pakistan is to announce the Textile Policy in the coming days and there are expectations of a turnaround in the sector in the next 1 or 2 years provided the power crisis and law and order situation in the country come under control.

The Government has already announced that 2009-2010 would be the year of the industry and with the industrial policy to be announced in the next month we may see some improvement in the industry’s share in the GDP from the disappointing -7% progress in this year.

The rally at the stock exchange may go on till the result season is over so this seems to be the best time to make some profit.

4th quarter corporate results to be announced at the Karachi Stock Exchange

The fourth quarter ended on June 30 2009 and its that time of the year when corporates announce their financial results and shareholders anxiously wait for the amount of dividend that is going to be paid to them. The Karachi Stock Exchange is fluctuating in a specific range as the market is waiting for the quarterly monetary policy to be announced by the State Bank of Pakistan on July 25 2009 and the Trade Policy to be announced in the next week. More will however depend on how many basis points the State Bank of Pakistan cuts the interest rate. The market is expecting a 100 to 150 basis point cut.

There are strong indications that the interest rate will be cut however the exact number is not clear as Pakistan is bound by the IMF and has to keep its budget deficit and inflation in check. The recent cut in the interest rate of the National Savings Scheme also shows that the SBP will be cutting interest rates.

There is all possibility of a short to mid term rally in August 2009 if the interest rate is cut as per market expectations and there is sure profit to be made if leading shares are purchased at current levels. However, stranger things have happened and not all goes as expected so take a good look around and do your homework before buying any share.