Thursday, September 30, 2010

Data Privacy in Pakistan

Check the following image.



This is a call information of a customer subscribed to one of the leading cellular services of this country. It contains information regarding customer name, the phone number, all the numbers that the customer dialed, when and for how long. I have edited the information of course.

Now. How did I hack into the Mobilink database and got meself all the confidential data? How many people did I connive with to release this information (which could be yours too)? In fact I got this from the local bread-maker (tandoor wala) who had to give me something to wrap the bread in. Well I was not surprized as earlier, once, I got a central bank inspection report of a financial institution from a paan-wala. He had made small paper bags of it.

Startling? Appears so. Your complete calling record is in open - anyone who wants to exploit something - sellers selling you their ware, some nut case compiling a whole CD of contact numbers and then selling it! social engineers and perhaps terrorists? I get all sorts of items for purchase as spam by sms on my cell phone: travel agents, tuition, medicine, plots and homes etc - even get offers to buy the CD that has all sorts of contact numbers to be used for spamming for Rs.1,000 only. So your number, and all the 'genuine' contacts on this piece of paper have a market of their own and people are willing to pay for it.

Why we Pakistanis are so aloof of information privacy? Well frankly our tele-marketing environment is very nascent in Pakistan. We had, and still have, the good old Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) , the state owned telecommunication company to provide us with the voice services. They still send the customer bill printed on paper, not in envelope, for the view of everyone that is interested in knowing about you. Yes private companies are careful but they will show lax controls in other areas. For example how did a whole bunch of documents related to customer calls lands in restaurants which is a mere 4 months old. We have had instances where call center's representatives 'shared' data with each other and you'd be receiving call from someone who wanted you to subscribe to the latest credit card offering of a financial institution. You might think where the hell did this guy/ gal get my number? The answer lies somewhere in the wrapper that you are holding while munching on the popcorns in it.

Some serious attitude change is required by the Pakistanis. God Help.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Beavis &Ijaz Butt

“I hate words.”
“Words suck.”
“If I wanted to read, I’d go to school.”

(with due apologies to Butthead)


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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

No Balls

Q: What does it take to be a Pakistani Cricketer?
A: No Balls.

It has been reported that People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has asked the three Pakistani cricketers currently embroiled in Spot Fixing scandal to represent them in an advertisement that advises cat and dog neutering. According to them

“No-balls may be a bad thing in cricket, but for dogs and cats, ‘no balls’ are a lifesaver,”

“Countless other animals, including many in Pakistan, struggle to survive on the streets — starving and being hit by vehicles and abused by cruel people.

“‘Fixing’ dogs and cats by having them spayed or neutered is the key to ending this suffering.”

(Link)

I totally support this move. I further suggest that the International Cricket Council (ICC), the games governing body, should also make a neutering advertisement for cricketers that are involved in Match or Sport Fixing and these three should be the ones in the first of the planned series of advertisements - after being given the treatment of course. That should do good.

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Thursday, September 09, 2010

Will Mother Teresa Go To Heaven?

Put this question to a muslim then see the reaction. The answer most probably will range from the straight-in-your-face 'No she will not, she was a christian', to 'well she did good deeds but only monotheists will go to heaven.' or to the considerate 'she will go to heaven for her good deeds but after expiating herself.'

Now put the same question to the muslim with he himself being the subject: 'Will you go to heaven?' Whatever the answer - how does he know what will happen to him? How can anyone know what will happen to the other person regarding matters of faith?

Problem with muslims is (and not just muslims) that when they analyze people in term of faith, they tend to downgrade the other. How? Consider the case of Ahmadis. They are the 'scumbags' of this earth for most of the muslims - and why? because they believe in a different person as Prophet. Two things come to my mind. 1) How does another persons faith affect my own faith? and 2) How on earth a certain faith can describe the character of another person? Apparently, every mullah should be an angel. Really? I do not think so.

I know God is very clear in Quran - and Books before it that only thing unpardonable is polytheism. But this is my belief since I am the follower of that Book. This in no way should translate in to downgrading of others peoples belief or being judgmental about their character. As to the question whether muslims will enter heaven - God has answered in Quran that this is not the prerogative of muslims only.

Quran 2:62 -Those who believe (in the Qur'an), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians,- any who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.

Anyone can go to heaven provided they believe in God, do good deeds and know that they will be held accountable for their acts. Yes I know it still is restrictive in nature but that is what I am supposed to believe in. I will explain myself later on this point.

If you would think that only muslims will go to heaven and that would be the end of story - forget it. Muslims today consist of various sects - the umbrella at the top being divided between Shias and Sunnis. Then there are various sub-sects within them and each considers itself the only inheritors of paradise.

So Angeline Jolie, by todays standards, cannot go to heaven for all her brilliant humanitarian deeds because she is not a muslim. Even if she were a muslim, she had to be a syed, shia or sunni (depending on what your belief is) to be entitled for heaven. Tough luck Jolie!

My argument - why fret with who is going to heaven or not when there is no clear distinction between humans regarding matters of faith and certainly when HE says He will judge ultimately? My God, after all, is a creation of my own beliefs. What if there is no Judgment Day and we all get screwed?

So what message do we muslims get from the Quran on this issue? Interestingly Quran informs
muslims (and which is the 'moral' of my post) to 'maintain' their opinion of faith and let the matter be decided by God Himself on the day of judgment.

42:15 - Now then, for that (reason), call (them to the Faith), and stand steadfast as thou art commanded, nor follow thou their vain desires; but say: "I believe in the Book which Allah has sent down; and I am commanded to judge justly between you. Allah is our Lord and your Lord: for us (is the responsibility for) our deeds, and for you for your deeds. There is no contention between us and you. Allah will bring us together, and to Him is (our) Final Goal.

109:06 - For you is your religion, and for me is mine.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

PostMan's Law of First Interactions

The person will sound very different than what you had imagined the first time you get to hear him/ her.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

This Aint Cricket

Well its a case of cow-dung hitting the fan. Only in this case, one realizes that the instance has happened before couple of times and you have been in the same room all along.

Pakistanis are again in the news regarding Match Fixing allegations. Although, to be more specific, these allegations relate to Spot Fixing rather than Match Fixing but still they ultimately lead to match fixing. I lost my interest in cricket way back in 90s when Wasims and Salim Maliks of this world were accused to various things. It was a mix platter perhaps. Wasim's weird acts on fields like Banglore Quarter final. The damning judicial probe in which our 'stars' did not cooperate at all. The judge in the match fixing probe wrote that things were murkier as Wasim only got the benefit of the doubt because Ata ur Rehman changed his testimony. Some of the cricketers were fined. Perhaps it was Ijaz Ahmad, a lobster with weird human like movements who somehow always managed to get his leg before the wicket. Perhaps the loss to Bangladesh in 1999 World Cup nailed it for me.

Anyways. The pathetic performance in cricket field was stunningly acted out according to the script laid out by a certain Mr. Mazhar Majeed. To be fair, these are just allegations and nothing has been proved yet as investigations are still continuing but you never know. Had the investigation been in Pakistan then you would certainly know that nothing would happen. The report will be hidden somewhere, if there are bans and fines then they will be lowered/ removed for the greater good of Pakistani cricket. And that is where the real problem lies.

Various reasons have been put forward as to why Pakistanis 'would' indulge in match fixing. First one being that Pakistani cricketers are not educated. They have not been instilled with the morals and values of a dignified character. I beg to differ. Check our country from top to bottom - and I will not talk of President here. Our educated elite is the most corrupt whether they are generals, judges, politicians, journalists - all educated supposed to be instilled with all the good qualities - still involved in corruption. So education ranks low when it comes to finding the blame.

You can blame the society. Sure. But saying that since everyone is corrupt so what if the players did this? Saying 'this was just a case of spot-fixing, not match fixing! they did not give away the match! It was just 3 balls and had no impact whatsoever on the result of the match!' It is a down right stupid argument. Saying 'even Mark Waugh and Shane Warne did it' does not make it kosher an act! That was wrong. This is wrong. Sure our young cricketers do not have a role model but that does not mean that a negative role model be followed! If three no balls can be allowed then next time its the whole god damn match that will be on offer.

In this context it is said that our cricketers are paid low by the Board. Well give me a break! they earn too much compared to other sport players, they are even better than professionals working in banks! I do agree that 'black money' in cricket is huge. The betting syndicates in India and Pakistan are very active and have loads and loads of money at their disposal. And cricketers are in the target list.

Then there is thing called conspiracy and we Pakistanis just love it. The conspiracy says that Pakistani cricketers (bowlers) were targeted because they were performing really well. Honestly, this is the case of not focusing on why the cow-dung hit the fan but whether the cow-dung was thrown at the fan to slow it down. Ridiculous!

The Pakistan Cricket Board is in shambles led by a person who does not even know where he himself is going. The guy did not send Younis Khan on this England tour because he had a personal tiff with him. Amazing. The management who should have kept a check on players activities was no where.

For me, No Accountability is the only factor that results in the mess that Pakistani cricket finds itself in. Had we been fair to ourselves after the judicial commission report then many cricket
personalities should have been given the necessary treatment. After the debacle in Australia recently, the investigative report should have been released, why the fines and bans imposed should have been detailed. Why the fines and bans were removed should be explained! This is just a joke. And honestly the joke is on us - poor Pakistani fans.

And this sucks more. Why do I believe we will be taken once more for a ride.

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