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What I Love Most About Pakistan

Now that honestly isn't a very easy question to answer. The reason isn't that its very hard to think of anything admirable about Pakistan, but rather its about choosing the best out of it.

When I saw the teabreaks's campaign regarding 14th August, in which you have to share something you love about Pakistan, I started wondering what could it be. Several thoughts crossed my mind, and I thought of making a top ten or twenty list, but guess I'll stick to one and most favorite reason in my eyes for loving Pakistan.

Before stating it, I'd like to add a small personal thing about me first that by the Grace of God, I had the opportunity to visit many developed countries since my childhood, so I'm not a kind of person who hasn't seen World, or who would be fascinated by observing something ordinary, so when I mean that this thing about Pakistan is out of the box, it means that its something that I'm proud of when I go abroad.

And that thing is none other than the Natural Green Beauty of Pakistan, its forests, rivers, mountains.. you name it. I've seen Canada, US, few European places who were renowned because of their gifts from nature, but none was even close to our Northern areas when it comes to the Natural Beauty. Our forests in the mountains of NWFP, the chill refreshing water of Lake Saif-ul-Malook, ice covered peaks of Himaliya series and K2, and I don't know what else. All I know is that when I watched the scenaries while going uphill to Nathia Gali, or saw several small villages while visiting Tarbela Dam, I observed the stuff, so beautiful, charming and attractive which I haven't witnessed in other parts of the World. I saw few tourists there too, who were surprised to see how beautiful Pakistan really is, and how opposite is the image of Pakistan in the eyes of World.

A relative of mine who used to live in Switzerland and now in Saudia Arabia visited those places. She said that a major amount of revenue that is generated by that country is in term of tourism, the government promotes it worldwide, and manages to attract several thousands of people each year who love to see the nature in its full bloom, but places like those in Pakistan were nothing in comparison, according to her. She said I'm surprised why Pakistan isn't earning much from tourism.

And yet thats a point our government should ponder about. Nepal survives because of Mount Everest only, they haven't got any other source of income, so the several other countries. Our Government has made progress in this regard though, the roads and highways from Islamabad to these places is pretty smooth, facilitated by several hotels and restaurants, but still a need of proper campaign should be felt to advertise these places. This could become a bigger part of our GDP.

I read somewhere that a German tourist said that its really surprising how Pakistan is a poor country despite of owning K2.

Whenever I visit Nathia Gali or Abottabad or Kaghan or any other areas in their vicinity, and when I look at all the massive natural beauty they have got, I really feel proud as a Pakistani, as I feel that all that stuff down there, all the greenery and blue water, I share some pride in it because I was born on this land, in that very country which has been gifted with what others don't have.

And thats all I wanted to say. I'm sharing some photos (Album 1 , 2) too which I took at those places and would love to share with the readers. Hope you'll enjoy it. :)

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The Chronology of Communication

First of all, thats not exactly the chronology, thats a kind of my experience, things which I have seen and observed in the last few years in terms of how we communicate, how we do some chit-chat with our loved ones who are living abroad.
Its not a very huge surprise but I thought that it would be interesting to share it here with everyone.

It all started when my Uncle moved to America in 1996, moved there permanently with his family. Since we had almost no means of communication back then, as there was no concept of calling cards, and per minute charges of calling USA from Pakistan was around $5, we barely used to call him. I even remember those days when we used to go to a PCO with a paper, on which everything was written which we had to say under a minute :) because the other minute could have produced a dent on our pocket.

So for casual talks, we used to write letters. I remember writing some too when I was nine years old. We usually got a reply from them within a month or two, and the conversation was kind of weird, to me atleast. It was like you are talking and talking to someone, and getting no response, so you never know what to say next. But that writing letter thing continued, and for a long time.

After that, my dad's office got an Internet connection, so we switched to E-Mail. E-Mail was fun, we were getting replies within a day, and it really seemed to work out. My mother used to write during those days too which were either faxed to him, or scanned and then E-Mailed by my dad. Both seemed instant and it felt like something really advance or state of art.

We also tried Voice chatting on MSN from our home. I remember buying dial-up scratch cards, up to Rs. 25/hour for a speed of 3-4 KBps with frequent disconnections from their server, but still we enjoyed it :) , as we were talking for Rs. 25 per hour only. There were a lot of issues, we had to adjust timings to come online, sometime there was a connection problem at either one of the end, a lot of echo and distortion in the voice, etc etc. But still we were glad that we could atleast hear their voices.

During that, my uncle would periodically call us on some occasion for few minutes, and because I was a kid, I was not allowed to talk with him on phone because of the limited call duration :) Only my mother and grand parents used to answer his call and for weeks they would discuss that 5-10 minute call, that he told this, he told that etc

After that, during 2002-03 , we started making calls to them, at the rate of Rs. 50-60/min. That was the special discount rate announced by PTCL on occasions like Eid, New Year, etc. We used to buy a Rs. 250 card of PTCL in those days to hardly get a 5 minute talk time, but we were happy, as the rates seemed quite reasonable.

Then Pakistan took a step further in Telecommunication and several private Call Service Providers jumped into the market. At that time, there was a company called BIG Time. They offered 15 minutes for Rs. 100, and we were like Oh my Gosh! Thats so CHEAP! And not only us, so many other friends and relatives of ours who used to make calls abroad looked extremely surprised and glad. We tried out the service, it was good but with some issues. The calling card number of the company which you were supposed to dial first to enter the card code was always busy. I remember trying it again and again (Once I counted my retries and it was 21!) and then you might get lucky and hear a recorded message. That went on and on for few months. In the mean time, several other companies jumped into the market and the best rate we got at that time was 40 mins for Rs.100. It was 2004-05 I guess.

Then PTCL, the primary Telecom service provider of Pakistan took a step further and dropped the calling rates for USA to Rs.2/min. That was a real blessing for everyone of us here. No more card scratches, or waiting, or re-dialing and stuff. Just pick up the phone, dial the number, and its ringing there, for such low rates. It felt awesome and its still on at the time of writing this post.

Few days ago, I saw an advertising of Ufone, my cellphone carrier, offering 100 minutes for 100 rupees, to make call anywhere in US and Canada. I found that exciting and gave it a shot, but it turned out that package had a 15 day expiry. It was not the best valued package around.

And today one exciting thing happened, which forced me to write this post. I taught my uncle how to use Skype on his iPhone, so that he can take advantage of free skype-to-skype calls. I have an iPhone here too with Skype in it, and we have decided that whenever we'd be willing to call him, I'll send him a SMS (which costs Rs 2 I guess) and he'll come online on Skype, using his cellphone (he has got unlimited data plan from AT & T). I'll meet him on skype too using my iPhone and WiFi Internet, and the reult? Free International mobile-to-mobile calls for unlimited duration :)

I don't what we'll do next. A HD video call, or a hologram chat like it was shown in CNN during American Elections, I don't know. But what I'm sure of, is that whatever it would be, it would be better and awesome!

Update: After reading this post, AT&T has blocked all VoIP calls generating from their customer cellphone, so no more that type of free lunch for me, lol! But still, we have got wifi, don't we? :)

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Lets Support Our Cricket Team

Today is one of the big and memorable day in the history of Pakistani Cricket team. Today they will be facing Sri Lanka in the final match of World Cup t20 Cricket, 2009. Both teams have earned their position into the finale, and no doubts that all players of both teams must be on their toes, practicing hard for the final match.

There are many Pakistani supporters in Pakistan or around the world, who want to support their team in the match, but somehow it doesn't seem possible to do so. They think how can you support the team when you are not even in the stadium. Well, thats not entirely true. Many sports enthusiasts have been supporting their team over Internet and now we are about to do the same by using twitter.

Those of you who are familiar with twitter don't need much explanation. Just keep tweeting your supporting comments with #PakCricket tag in your tweets. Those who don't know how to use it can get the instructions from here.

Online commentary and updates are provided by and are available here. You can join this online party too to show your support.

So lets rock the twitter today with tweets supporting our cricket team. We CAN do this, and we WILL do this, Inshallah.

Best of Luck Pakistani Cricket Team. Long Live Pakistan, Long Live Cricket :)

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Going to Watch Apple WWDC 2009 Live NOW!

The day has finally arrived and top-notch minds of IT Industry are here under one roof of Apple, discussing and deciding the future of Computer Industry. Can't wait to see what they have got for us to announce this year.

I was searching the webosphere to get hold on some good links to get the updates of the event, here is a short list of those site which will be covering the Apple WWDC 2009 Live.

The event is about to start in half an hour... lets see if they have got some new fancy concept or gadget for us, or its just another show to exhibit their new upgraded laptops. Read more ...

Microsoft hatred for Google

Saw this video on facebook, and couldn't believe that there are still some professional people in the industry who don't know how to use google for their queries, or its that which Microsoft wants to point out :)

Microsoft is trying to take over the searching business by launching , don't know whether they have that kind of network architecture which google has got, but I think it would be a fun competition, and thats competition has already started on marketing grounds. Take a look at the video below.

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G.I Joe International New Trailer

Would you look at that? Its simply Aweeesommmeee!

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