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Archive for the ‘Asif Zardari’ Category

Hoping For Good Luck, On Friday The 13th

Posted by imrananwar on March 23, 2009

This has been quite an eventful week in New York. The previous few weeks of economic decline, bad financial news, increasing unemployment numbers and other news of global distress had been pushing the New York Stock Exchange consistently and constantly lower and lower.

Things were so bad that people would have preferred a return of the stress-filled yo-yo stock market days, where one at least had a 50-50 chance of making or losing money!

From a high of almost 13,000 the NYSE reached 6500 and there was talk of it even heading lower. There were fears that it might even fall below 6000 before all is said and done.

This decline continued while the flood of bad news also continued unabated. The only silver lining one could see around these ominous dark clouds was that most companies were choosing to do greater layoffs than they need and reducing costs as much as they can.

Even though each job lost is something that can mean the destruction of dreams of a family, sadly, for big businesses it is all a numbers game. Companies generally prefer to dish out all their bad news in one lump rather than dish it out piecemeal. It is generally easier to recover from a massive jolt and negative dip in stock prices over a few weeks or months. It is harder to get over the malaise that can cripple a company’s stock price if the bad news, no matter how small, just keeps coming every few weeks.

What’s that suggests to me, and keep in mind that I’m no financial adviser, is that most companies may be gearing up to have better than expected results at the end of the March quarter. Or, at least results that are less terrible than the market anticipates. Either one of these could potentially mean a rise in stock prices in April.

Even before the end of the quarter, a few pieces of good news have come out. One of them was that Citibank has been profitable for the last two months. This is the giant global behemoth that is one of those banks considered too large to be allowed to fail. This news came shortly after the bank’s stock was trading at as low as one Dollar per share, a far cry from nearly $60 per share it used to be.

Anybody who bought those shares at the ridiculously low price of one Dollar literally made a profit of 35% in one day, as investors suddenly found their greed outweighing their fear.

Financial company stocks in general benefited from this uptick in the stock market. Most major stocks have been rising consistently for the last few days, though I expect some drops as profit-taking starts again.

Even though it is far too early to claim that the market will not plumb new lows, but more than likely, one year from now economists and other so-called experts will analyse and say that the recovery had begun at an anaemic but measurable rate in these weeks.

President Barack Obama and his team have had most of their focus on the American economy – as well as the global recession that still imperils the world. But in the meantime other serious matters of the world continue to demand attention.

As is consistent with Pakistan and its self-destructive ways, once again American media and Pakistan bashers have gotten ample opportunity to raise the specter of Pakistani nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists – should the country spill further into anarchy.

The recent blatant and brazen terrorist attacks in the metropolitan city of Lahore, the despicable attempts to kill the Sri Lankan Cricket team and the evil murder of police officers and innocent bystanders there showed how almost no part of Pakistan is safe. This was an attack obviously not carried out by Taleban type thugs but by some well-organised but equally evil professionally trained gang of killers.

The Taleban continue to remain in the news, especially Pakistan ceding control of Swat and other regions to what are perceived as extremist groups. American drone and missile strikes continue to kill Pakistanis, innocent or otherwise, with disturbing regularity. India continues to rattle its sabers in the guise of demanding justice for the Mumbai attacks. In other words, there is no possible threat, internal or external, military, economic, political or social that Pakistan does not face.

Yet our shameless, spineless, gutless, clueless and witless politicians continue to fight over who sits at the head of the table – while this ship of state is rapidly sinking. Unlike even the Titanic, Pakistan is like a ship whose captain has been aiming it at every single iceberg he can see. On top of that, the ship has been torpedoed from behind. Its own crew is setting fire to cabins and furniture while others are busy looting what they can.

It is no wonder therefore that foreign powers, including America, find that the only way to control Pakistan, even to keep it from self-destructing, is to manage it not as friends but as masters. And, Pakistani politicians are quite OK with that.

From politicians, I want to shift to lawyers. Every country in the world has its share of lawyer jokes. For the last one year, and once again this month, it happens to be Pakistan’s lawyers and barristers, who have taken up the challenge to restore democracy and justice.

A profession that relies not on regular salaries but on almost daily work in the courthouse has once again stepped up, at great cost to its self, economically, professionally, personally. Today I must salute the lawyers and other professionals of Pakistan, not just for bringing down one dictator, but for ensuring that Pakistanis as a nation see that they can choose and control what the government can or cannot do when an elected person tries to act as a dictator.

Will democracy rule or will Pakistan sink into the abyss of chaos and anarchy?

The fact that things have come to this stage in itself is a tragedy. For the first time in more than 60 years we had an opportunity to establish state institutions. This was a historic opportunity because so many forces lined up in a once in a century series of events. The sacrifice of Benazir Bhutto, the professionalism of General Kayani, the sensibility of some political leaders and the great courage of Chief Justice Iftikhar Choudhry and fellow judges. Rarely had so many forces lined up to restore true democracy to Pakistan. And, sadly, rarely have historic opportunities of such greatness been grasped in Pakistan.

As I am writing these lines in New York – on this 13th of March – I am hoping for some good luck for Pakistan. The only positive news is that some sort of compromise may be in the works in Islamabad. I, like millions of Pakistanis, can only hope and pray for that miracle and some Good Luck, today, on Friday The 13th.


This article was in client publications on Friday the 13th, 2009.

Imran Anwar is a New York based Pakistani-American entrepreneur, Internet pioneer, inventor, writer and TV personality. He can be reached through his web site http://imran.com and imran@imran.com . You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/imrananwar

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Barafee’s Law: How To Lose Friends & Be Despised By People

Posted by imrananwar on October 6, 2008

Part 1: How To Lose Friends & Be Despised By People

By Imran Anwar

I think it was not too long ago when I had written about the way the American Democratic Party could snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, much like Pakistan could find a way to destroy any opportunity to promote itself.

Quite frankly, I was quite aghast at the prospect of the Pakistan People’s Party, cashing in on the death of late Benazir Bhutto, electing Asif Ali Zardari as President of Pakistan. I am not even sure it could be called electing him, as it was more like confirming instructions given to them by the party, and not their own minds and consciences. (Talk about figments of my imagination).

It was my stubborn belief in thinking “I’d rather have a crooked elected leader than a crooked incompetent dictator,” that I continued to cling to, and, sad to say, still do. But, if events of the last few weeks, and most recent days are any indication, Pakistan has provided, and continues to provide, all kinds of reasons to the world to show how bad Democracy can be, in the hands of the wrong people.

I was in Islamabad for the oath-taking of Mr. Zardari. I will not even bore readers with a rehash of the weirdness of the whole event. It was painful to see a person like him take “oath” of office of President, and that too from a “Chief Justice” that by his own previous policies was considered to be not even legal.

Then to have the repulsive, even despicable, behavior of the PPP workers, who were chanting Bhutto and PPP slogans, during the national anthem on that surreal yet historic moment. I know they have no sense, but have they no shame either, is what I thought?

Then to see more PPP jialas and jialis actually phalang-ing the gates to the supposedly most-secure civilian location in the country was too funny even for words.

I recall some American journalists asking me how could it be possible that some totally unidentified, thuggish people claiming to be PPP workers actually climb over the walls to get into an event unhindered, where almost the entire civilian and military top brass were present? All I could do was give a “What can I tell you,” shrug to hide my embarrassment and amazement. I bet AlQaeda was watching that video clip. (The same pathetic and shameless “Party above Pakistan” mentality was displayed by Zardari supporters, in New York, this week).

Anyway, as if that was not enough, for the Government of Pakistan to actually give a seat and joint press conference opportunity to a puppet from next door, Hamid Karzai, who barely rules over his own palace’s dining room, was just one more moment of amazement.

I did tell my friends and listeners that it was not by accident, but by design, that Zardari had Karzai there. The whole idea was to have a distraction, and to find an additional tool, on top of Mr. Zardari’s obvious deflection of EVERY single important question asked of him.

I was still scratching my head wondering if this whole charade of “elections” was worth the country suffering or Benazir being murdered in very mysterious circumstances, as I flew back to New York. (Don’t even get me started on telling you the stories of having flown PIA, the national flag carrier -, OK, OK, if you insist, maybe in a subsequent article in these pages.)

Being an eternal optimist, I decided to ignore all the above observations and give this new government in my original homeland, Pakistan, a chance, to prove me wrong in thinking I was wrong about democracy in Pakistan.

Yes, yes, I know I am using a double negative. But, if I can’t openly disagree with myself, who else can I disagree with! (LOL)

During this time, as you have read my previous columns, my fellow American politicians were not really doing much to make me feel more confident in the kind of democracy that is practiced in my American homeland.

In America I was crying for 8 years at history’s biggest moron, George W. Bush, as President. Pakistan decided to go one up, and elect a President with admitted mental problems.

It was not enough to have to see Bush stealing one election, incompetently watching 9/11 happen, letting Bin Laden continue to roam the wild lands, start a wrong war in Iraq, meltdown the American economy, help oil buddies and Hailburton make Bilion$ in profit with VP Dick Cheney pulling the strings – while melting down America’s global goodwill.

I then had to see Pakistanis elect a man called Mr. Ten Percent to President, riding on the “dupatta­”-tails of his murdered wife, having his shameless supporters dishonor the national anthem at nothing less than the Presidential oath taking.

How much worse could it get, I wondered. After all, Mr. Bush is only in office a few more months. Zardari sahib and his jialas will finally settle down from the indigestion of getting more than they can handle, somewhat like a starving man coming to a dinner buffet at The Village restaurant in Lahore and eating until finally full, or sick.

No, my fellow Americans, especially the Republicans, had to shove the mindless, inane, hypocritical, almost comical, highly-ridiculed Sarah Palin as the VP candidate under 700-year old John McCain. You already read my opinion on her. By the way, I read somewhere that McCain was bottom of his class in his student days (something like #894 out of 899 students) making him even more scarily similar to George Bush.

So, I am thinking, OK, this is not so bad. My Pakistani President only embarrassed me by being elected, actually taking oath, breaking signed agreements he has, going back on his word, mismanaging the relationship with China, and others, and so on. Bush and then McCain-Palin, as candidates, means the Republicans have embarrassed me as an American even more.

Phew, at least things can’t get worse or more embarrassing for Pakistan, I assumed.

I said to myself, “I mean, what else could go wrong?”


Part 2: Welcome To The World Of Barafee’s Law ™

By Imran Anwar

In the previous column, I had been discussing about how my two homelands, America and Pakistan compete to amaze and embarrass me with their politicians. First we had the moronic George W. Bush for President here, TWICE.

Then Pakistanis elected a man called Mr. Ten Percent and having medical records showing mental problems. (Well, at least, as they say, “paagal hai, baywaqoof naheen“, {‘He’s crazy, but he ain’t stupid!’}).

Then the Republicans among my fellow Americans selected John McCain (aged 72 or something) and Sarah Palin (with an IQ of about 72, which is a step up from Bush) as their nominees for elections in 2008. And, I said to myself, “That’s got to be it. How much worse could it get?!”

Darn! Spoke too soon. As if to prove Murphy’s Law applies to politicians and Pakistan’s reputation Mr. Zardari actually showed up in New York.

This led to my version of Murphy’s Law, which I will call Barafee’s Law. This is based on a new recipe for the sweetmeat (Barfee) and ice (Baraf).

My newly announced Barafee’s Law basically states that “If there is any opportunity to embarrass and harm Pakistan’s interests and reputation, our “sweet” politicians (or worse, Presidents), trying to be “cool” will use it to the fullest.”

I had always squirmed seeing how Dictator Musharaff used to “visually undress” well known celebrities, like Angelina Jolie, if they showed up in Islamabad. Mr. Zardari did one better. He made President Dictator Musharaff look like a refined gentleman.

He came to New York, found himself in the same room as the ridiculed and reviled Sarah Palin, and started hitting on her (flirting, pathetically trying to seduce), again, and again, and again.

That is not done, even in a socially liberated (read, very azaad khayal) country like America, where 50% marriages end in divorce, where secret affairs are also common, where dating is a social norm, where the American “conservative” VP candidate Sarah Palin’s own underage daughter is pregnant out of wedlock. There is one thing no one does, at least publicly – and that is to hit on (to try to charm or seduce) a married woman.

Yes, it happens, but it is highly frowned upon.

Doing so publicly is considered nothing less than despicable, and the lowest of lows. It is not to be done, period. It is especially not to be done in public and, especially, especially, especially not as a head of State of an ISLAMIC Republic.

Yes, it is not done especially as a “grieving widower” whose own wife was murdered supposedly by terrorists (or some other conspiracy that can well be imagined after seeing such behavior).

It seems like Mr. Zardari would get along just fine with the notorious American ex-movie-actor football-star thug O. J. Simpson, who got away with killing his wife and who still claims to be “searching for her real killers”!

But, I digress.

I am not perfect. Far from it.

Yes, I am “Happily Single” (see http://happilysingle.net ) and will never claim to be “mukkamal kanwara” like a well known Playboy cricketer of the same name as me did many years ago. I am not a paragon of virtue. I am not without sin. I am most definitely no moral authority. So, believe me, I am not thumping some faux morality Bible on Asif Zardari’s head (skull!).

I am human, and I have said words without thinking in meetings or conferences. I am certain I must have made more than my share of inappropriate remarks (Sorry anyone who was hurt!!)

But, I am also not the President of my country. And, even after making some accidental, or shamelessly deliberate inappropriate comment, and realizing my mistake, I (and almost no one) has gone on to keep making the same remarks embarrassing the speaker and recipient of the Barafee (being cool and being extra ‘sweet’) gift.

Mr. Zardari left no doubt in anyone’s mind that while he was making speeches about working to avenge his wife’s killing by improving Pakistan and its future, in fact, he is nothing more than an out of control aging desi-Playboy who does not have any sense of decorum.

By making his comments to Sarah Palin, in full view of cameras, political operatives, Pakistan-haters, he showed he was not using his head for thinking but had something else in mind. He embarrassed Pakistan, Pakistanis, and the memory of the late Benazir Bhutto. Maybe he was missing her too much. (I am reminded of a Country Music song from some years ago. It was titled “Honey, I Miss You {But My Aim’s Getting Better!}”).

We had always been taught to “Win Friends And Influence People”, by our thoughts and actions, as I had been reading since I was a pre-teen going to St. Paul’s English High School in Saddar, Karachi.

It appeared Mr. Zardari was hell-bent on publicly making a fool of himself and doing maximum harm to Pakistani interests just to get a japhee (hug) from a married woman, who could one day (Khuda na Khasta) become VP or President of the USA.

I am serious. Sarah Palin’s candidacy is a joke but it can be a bigger joke for Pakistan.

Do a Google search for “Tina Fey As Sarah Palin On Saturday Night Live” or use http://tinyurl.com/IMRAN-MAG-TinaFey-SarahPalin to see how she is perceived. This woman herself was the biggest laughing stock in the world – until Mr. Zardari showed up in town, and in her tow, and apparently under her ‘sehr‘ (magic).

We have a serious national crisis in Pakistan, with terrorists intent on destroying the country (and killing its leaders). Obama and McCain both now consider Pakistan, not Afghanistan, the new front in their war on terror. They have their eyes on Pakistan’s nuclear assets, and terrorism statistics. President Zardari is more interested in Sarah Palin’s vital statistics.

She is highly unpopular even among educated and sensible women who supported Hilary Clinton, and there is a good likelihood that McCain-Palin will be an election disaster. But, by making comments about her popularity, Zardari has interjected himself, in a manner destructive to Pakistan, as officially supporting Republican candidates.

It was a lose-lose proposition, and Mr. Zardari not only took it, he played his cards on the same bad bet over and over. If Obama is elected President, his handlers may think Pakistan supported Republicans just because of the Pakistani President having several repeated moments of “tharak”. If McCain-Palin are elected by some remote chance, they will surely not have a high opinion of Pakistan.

With what face can a Pakistani President panting to hug a married VP candidate go to her boss and demand that the US administration not shoot missiles into Pakistan?

All Palin has to do is flash her eye-lids and maybe we will exchange giving them access to all Pakistan’s tactical assets in exchange for a glimpse of her strategic assets.

Is that what our nation’s reputation in the world has come to? Mr. Zardari wrote the book on it… “How to lose friends and be despised by people.”

The writer is a New York and Miami based Pakistani-American entrepreneur, Internet pioneer, writer and TV personality. He can be reached through his web site http://imran.com .

Posted in AlQaeda, America, Asif Zardari, Barack Obama, Barafee's Law, Benazir Bhutto, Bhutto, Bin Laden, Democrats, Dick Cheney, Elections, Flirting, George Bush, Joe Biden, Murphy's Law, Pakistan, PIA, Playboy, President, Republicans, Sarah Palin, Seduction, Terrorism | Leave a Comment »

 
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