Ramz رمز – an enigma 

Ramz ۔ رمز yeah right, that’s her name. Ramz is a Public Policy expert. She writes on topics pertaining to health and education policy.

She is the beauty personified; pretty eyes, pointed nose, and chubby cheeks. But that’s not what she is popular in her circle for.

She inspires people with her unique intellect, soft and composed tone, and sophisticated demeanour. Her impressive mannerism makes her a model of magnanimity and grace.

Ramz has been waiting for her date over that table.

The love of her life who she has been dating for three years. She plans to have babies with him. A girl and two boys. Girl first, of course.

Wedding date is being fixed. October 13th this month.

Soon after the wedding, the newly-wed couple leaves for their honeymoon to Maldives. For four nights and five days. With two days transit stay in Dubai.

She has bought her wedding dress. A golden colour costume with silver-studded beads over the red dupatta.

While taking yet another sip of her tea, she turns to look at her watch to see it’s 5.30 and realises he is late. The date was at 5.00.

He is late. That’s totally unlike him. He hates people who get late for no reason.

She gets worried. Takes her cellphone and makes a call. He doesn’t respond. She wonders, it must have been traffic. For, he makes sure every time they meet each other, that he is there to welcome her. Well before time.

She gets nervous. Takes her cellphone again and calls him. He doesn’t respond, again. 

To cope up with her rising worry and anxiety, Ramz opens an app and starts scrolling down her timeline.

Ramz has no idea. She is totally unaware.

Ramz is oblivious of the fact while glaring at the entrance and waiting for him, that on route from his office to the restaurant, a car met a deadly accident.

A racing bus hit the car. And boom. The young man inside the car bled, lost consciousness and was rushed to the nearby hospital.

The man succumbed to the wounds he never wanted and declared dead. An unforeseen and sudden death that he never deserved. Destiny wanted him dead.

And the poor girl Ramz, there she is… sitting lonely at the goddamn unfortunate table at one end of the restaurant.

Still scrolling through her timeline. Anticipating his arrival. Waiting for him. In vain. Unaware. 

Taking her last sip of the tea that is no longer hot. Oblivious of the fact that she has been waiting a never-ending wait. She hasn’t had even the slightest idea that he drove from his office to never finish his journey. 

He left to see her but she would never see him again. Until eternity. He shall never come.

Fate never favoured his return. Fate never wanted her to see him again.

Ramz waits anyway…

  1. **inspired by a sketch/doodle made by a friend.
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Idea of impermanence 

Thousands of years ago, somebody came up with the idea of impermanence of the beauty and inevitability of change.

I’m pretty sure they had just been dumped.

I had a long time to consider the value of memory, and the idea that just because something doesn’t last forever doesn’t mean its worth is diminished.

Maybe it was just a rationalization – easier on the soul than mourning what might have been – the life unlived. I honestly don’t know, but I chose to believe in memory. 

I chose to believe in her. I chose to believe that the bond was never broken and that we carried each other in our hearts.

As a secret singularity. She made me a writer. She made me a man. 

There would be other loves. Even great loves. But she was right, only one remained perfect.

And as a result, it never quite left me alone. I wondered if it remained perfect for her as well. Or if I was just holding onto an idea.

Some questions have to go unanswered. But you are never more than 20 ft away from someone you know. Or someone you were meant to know.

I don’t know if I will ever see her again. I don’t know if that’s a good thing. Or a bad one.

But I will promise you this. Your favourite story, whatever it might be, was written for one reader. 
— via 5 to 7


Claim to Life and Destiny

It is a message. In a world where humans control nothing; it, sure, is a message that somehow we will claim our share in this life.

Humans, bereft of control over their destinies and life events , have nothing but a tenuous chance to pursue happiness. Ephemeral in nature, our desires often turn out to be the farthest realities one could fancy. In such scenarios, we find recourse no where. It seems that there is no abode to seek refuge.

And do You know how it feels when one has no where to go?

7.2 billion people, zillion houses, in numerous cafes, bars and hotels, millions of taxi stands, uncountable bridges and, yet, not a single door to bang! To seek help!

Unfathomable sufferings endured under those bridges, while travelling via taxis, in hotels and bars, in houses among those billions of people, connect us all. But still we have no one to turn to!

Have You ever let it disturb Your stream of thought or pattern of consciousness; how does it feel when one has no where to go?

I reckon it never happened. Why would it? You have this earth and sky, sun and moon, 7.2 billion people, and everything they claim to be theirs, at your disposal. Waiting, cajoling and lingering for Your decree, kindness or fate.

But some of us are now ready to defy the odds.

This lady who once paid her electricity bill by letting her master violate her body and spirit, is not willing to endure it again.

You have made Your choice. Her fate is evident. There is another extravagant electricity bill lying in her courtyard.

However, just like You, she has made her choice too. No matter how hard Your fate tries and how strict the order of divinity is, she has decided for herself this time.

In the face of Your plan,
she committed suicide.

And there is this bulb, which she lighted after Crucifixion of her soul, to send You the message that somehow we would claim our share in our own lives, let alone at the cost of death!

–By a Friend**


Damsel in distress

Serene environs.

Silence broken by the gushing water

falling down the rocks…

amidst green, secluded space,

stands the damsel in distress…

Unperturbed by the chaos in the vicinity,

un-amused by all the beauty at her doorsteps.

Fighting some futile tireless mind-battles,

over-stressed. Ungrateful.

Oblivious of all the gifts.


I want you in your entirety

OF RANDOM THOUGHTS STORIFIED

“Love has nothing to do with keeping those you love around”, they say. Dare I disagree?

It has a lot to do with that I swear. For, the moments spent with the loved one around are magical. The delightful company is beyond paranormal, mystic.

You wish you lose sense of all. And flow with the stream, getting carried away in your emotions losing all control, driven away with the wind to no man’s land where there is no one to judge and no one to grudge. And all that is left and all that matters is all of them in their entirety.

Where consequences become inconsequential and the sense no longer makes any sense and what you end up attaining is insane level ecstasy.

Notwithstanding you’re not a moth meant to burn and blaze, still after all this, all you crave is getting completely consumed into the flame, and cease…

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Amidst gender disparity, these women are re-defining Pakistan’s entrepreneurial landscape

women-in-tech.jpgWomen in South Asia face societal constraints and discrimination based on deeply entrenched values and perceptions about women’s role in the society which in turn significantly impacts their entry into businesses. Women still own less than 10 percent of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in South Asia. Unfortunately, Pakistan is no exception in this regard.

Study conducted by the United Nations indicates that one third of the over 30 million working aged women in Pakistan are deemed economically active. Out of them, almost 80 percent of working women in the region are in vulnerable employment. Owing to deep-rooted gender disparities pertaining to availability of opportunities and resources, only a small number of women in Pakistan are able to start and sustain an entrepreneurial venture.

The alarming state of affairs definitely calls for a strong and vibrant entrepreneurship ecosystem in the country.

However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Over the past few years, a significant increase in the entrepreneurial activity has been observed. The entrepreneurship ecosystem is thriving in Pakistan relatively, which could have been next to impossible without the contribution of women who comprise of a larger chunk of the country’s population. Gender inclusiveness without doubt influences the entrepreneurial landscape positively.

As we end 2015, we celebrate some of the most extraordinary, successful and inspiring women tech-entrepreneurs who, despite all odds, proved their mettle and continue to contribute to flourishing entrepreneurial ecosystem in Pakistan. They stand as inspiration and strong role models for every aspiring entrepreneur and constitute a healthy and innovative business community in Pakistan.

It is undeniably true that, without successful women entrepreneurs, vibrant ecosystems cannot exist and flourish. Here is a list of some of the most dynamic women entrepreneurs who rocked the tech scene in Pakistan in 2015.

1. Nighat Daad – Founder, Digital Rights Foundation

Nighat-Daad

Nighat Daad was always sensitive and heedful to the vulnerability of young girls and women in the online space. This is why Nighat founded the Digital Rights Foundation (DRF) in Pakistan realizing the need to prevent the increasing instances of cyber violence against women.

Through her non-profit platform, she conducts awareness sessions for women to educate and train them about privacy and online security. Her endeavors to raise awareness about global rights and online privacy and thereby protecting women from online harassment have been widely appreciated and acknowledged.
For her remarkable work, she also received global recognition and thus was deservingly added to the list of Time’s Next Generation Leaders.

She is also very vocal against the laws that allow government to check the right to freedom of expression and privacy of an ordinary internet surfer. Not just that, she is simultaneously been partaking in extensive campaigns against the internet surveillance of intrusive nature and dissemination of personal information to state agencies and businesses without individual prior approval. She believes, “As a leader, you have to envision a future you believe in, and that is what I am doing.”

2. Hafsa Shorish – Program Manager, PlanX

Hafsa-Shorish

When it comes to entrepreneurship in Pakistan, the nation’s largest technology incubator Plan9 can never be overlooked since it has been contributing immensely to fostering the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country.

Plan9’s offshoot accelerator program PlanX that was established to support the mid-stage startups is another landmark in flourishing the entrepreneurial culture. When we talk about the Plan9 and/or PlanX, it would be unfair not to acknowledge the brains behind its success. When Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) launched the Plan9, Hafsa Shorish was one of its first hire and thus one of its founding members. Since then, she has been playing a crucial role in grooming job creators instead of job seekers initially at Plan9 in capacity of Marketing and PR Manager and afterwards by leading the PlanX as Program Manager.

Coming from a background in media studies, the multi-talented Hafsa Shorish is changing the lives of thousands of techies despite being a non-techie herself. With her exceptional communication skills, she has visited all over Punjab speaking about the mission of her accelerator and incubator while also creating awareness about the importance of entrepreneurship. She believes, “It takes the right mindset and the right team to lead a startup to matchless success.”

3. Meenah Tariq – Accelerator lead at Invest2Innovate

Meenah-Tariq

A Fullbright scholar boasting a degree in strategy and entrepreneurship from Babson College, Meenah Tariq is contributing to building a dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem in Pakistan as Accelerator Lead at Pakistan’s business startups accelerator Invest2Innovate.

Starting her first entrepreneurial venture, at the tender age of eight, of selling hand-made bracelets door-to-door, the young women knew no bounds and went on to claim a diverse portfolio of multiple startups to her name. Meenah Tariq has a vast experience of businesses and startups as a serial entrepreneur. In addition to that, she has also engaged in consultancy, financial analysis and project management.

At invest2innovate, Meenah Tariq has been leading the accelerator and consulting entrepreneurs and not-for-profit startups. With her impressive expertise in the areas of business plan development, she renders consultancy on managerial and strategic skills to young entrepreneurs. Her past experience includes design and execution of the marketing research campaigns for various products and services. Through her work, she has been successfully partaking in the social and economic uplift of the country with special focus on youth empowerment and capacity-building. In addition to that, she is also teaching Entrepreneurship at NUST, Islamabad.

4. Maryam Mohiuddin – Director, Social Innovation Lab

Maryam-Mohiuddin

The strong headed and comfortably selfless, Maryam Mohiyuddin is the founder and director of Social Innovation Lab (SIL) which is a social enterprise incubator housed at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS).

A lawyer with as prestigious alma mater as University of Berkeley, she is of the opinion that she finds more fun and meaning in contributing to social justice and prosperity through working at SIL than she would at a 9 to 5 job that she had to forgo in order to come back to serve Pakistan. The SIL, that houses the social enterprise incubator called ‘The Hatchery’, is a centre for social innovation in Pakistan which has different wings including the Community Engagement Wing in addition to the Consultancy and Research Wing.

Maryam was also the co-founder of a magazine called ‘Literaty Pakistan’ which had a whole section devoted to social entrepreneurship that explored redress of social dilemmas through innovative solutions. Through SIL, Maryam Mohiyuddin provides the socially driven entrepreneurial startups not only mentorship and investment opportunities but also ideas with a testing platform, building connections and a nurturing environment.

5. Sarah Tariq Gillani – Program Manager, Tech Hub Connect

Sarah-Tariq-Gillani

Super passionate about making things happen and the women with the motto, “hard work is never wasted but compensated in ways one cannot even fathom”, Sara Tariq Gillani is the Program Manager of the Tech Hub Connect which is Pakistan’s first ever co-working space designated for freelancers.

Tech Hub Connect is a government of Punjab supported initiative. The platform is continuation of initiatives for boosting up the entrepreneurial culture and supporting the technology ecosystem developed at the Arfa Software Technology. It brings together people from the academia and the IT industry. Sara Tariq Gillani is putting in her endeavors to formulating a mechanism to create successful IT startups in Pakistan.

Before working with the Tech Hub Connect, Sara was responsible for designing and implementing Plan9 Tech Incubator’s core incubation program where she was able to produce almost 85 technology startups through a tailor-made six-month program.

6. Farieha Aziz – BoloBhi

Farieha-Aziz

One of the most staunch advocates and highly vocal about the right to freedom of expression, Farieha Aziz is Co-Founder and Director of Bolo Bhi (Speak up) and a Karachi-based journalist who writes for one of the leading daily newspapers of Pakistan.

Bolo Bhi is a not-for-profit organization engaging in advocacy, policy and research in the areas of gender rights, government transparency, internet access, digital security and privacy. Before working with Bolo Bhi, she worked at the Newsline as the Assistant Editor from 2007 to 2012. During that period, she also received the APNS award for Best Investigative Report (Business/Economic) for the year 2007-2008.

Fareiha Aziz is a petitioner in a case filed in Islamabad High Court on behalf of the Bolo Bhi against what she believes as the Government’s censorship of Internet and Internet regulation. In past, she has also served as amicus curiae in a case filed in the Lahore High Court that challenged the Youtube ban.

7. Sheba Najmi – Code for Pakistan

Sheba-Najmi

Running Pakistan’s chapter of Code for America. A good chunk of startups have come out of Code for Pakistan hackathons in Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, and Karachi.

One of the most vibrant strategists and mentors, Sheba Najmi is the founder of Code for Pakistan which is non-profit initiative building a non-partisan civic innovation ecosystem to improve quality of life across Pakistan with a vision to increase civic engagement by encouraging the opening of government data, and supporting innovation in the public domain. Starting off her career as a TV Anchor in Pakistan to her eventful journey to the Silicon Valley, the dynamic Sheba Najmi has worked for Code for America as a 2012 fellow and Yahoo as the Lead Designer. She studied Symbolic Systems while investigating Humans and Computer interaction at the University of Stanford.

Sheba Najmi has also the privilege of being in the Board of Advisors of Go-Fig Solutions and a User Experience Design Instructor. In addition to providing consultancy services to the World Bank, she has remained part of several notable projects like “Honolulu Answers” and “Social Media handbook for Cities”.

Under her leadership, a good number of Startups have come out of the Code for Pakistan. A series of events under its ambit called Civic Hackathons have also been arranged in the capital cities including Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar. The Hackathon is a gathering of a cross-functional group of people who come together to brainstorm about city-related problems and try to find tech-based solutions for them.

8. Jehan Ara – The NEST I/O & P@SHA

Jehan-Ara

Jehan Ara is President of all Pakistan Software Houses Association and heading NESTiO an incubator in Karachi.

A seasoned information and communication technology expert, motivator, entrepreneur and a social activist, Jehan Ara is one of the most prominent and widely known names in the tech industry of Pakistan. Starting her career as a journalist over 30 years ago, she holds a diverse experience of working in advertising, marketing, PR and communications before becoming involved in multimedia and interactive media. Since 2001, Jahan Ara is the President of the Pakistan Software Houses Association (P@SHA), the representative trade body of IT and ITES (Information Technology Enabled Services) businesses in Pakistan.

Under her leadership, PASHA’s own technology incubator, The Nest I/O was established with Google and Samsung as its funding partners. The incubator supports in creating a networking, mentorship and investment opportunities for young entrepreneurs by providing an enabling and conducive environment. She is a prominent speaker, writer and a staunch advocate of legislation against cyber crimes, right to privacy and data protection. She is also collaborating with socially cohesive projects like Take Back the Tech and Women’s Virtual Network which are striving to eliminate all forms of violence against women and ensure women empowerment respectively.

This blog originally appeared on here.


An Embrace That Lasts Not

Just like the waves embrace the sea-shore or river-bank but still embrace not. Some people share a similar bond. With its futile attempts, every single wave gets back to where it belongs, in vain. United in one moment and apart… in another.

The waves however never exhaust, or get bored. That’s some real stamina. Or absurd commitment.

In the form of tender and gentle ripples, they extend their arms for the company. Unwelcome always. And the river-bank as usual unmoved, adamant, heedless and callous.

The same waves however have the potential to build a current and with one splash crack riverbank open, and seep deeper into its existence.

The damage that the phenomenon inflicts is unparalleled. The self-inflicted annihilation lets waves lose identity and end up nowhere. And  the bank, cracked and shattered, never becomes the same.

Nobody does nobody any good. The whole fuss and craving and curiosity about everything is insane. Nonsensical.