Archive for May, 2009

It was summer of 2004 marking the beginning of an end to our university life. At last moments, 9/10 of us in the gang decided about going on Pakistan Tour arranged by our dear alma mater FAST. The itinerary included traveling in train from Karachi to Islamabad and then going up to the northern areas. The highlights consists of

  • A day trip to Muree/Patriata
  • Staying in Balakot and visiting Shogran and Sri/Paye from there. (Sri all covered in clouds and remember what we found there;) )
  • Going to Naran Valley (the nestle coffee rocked, the breakfast was amazing and rooms got unlocked?) for seeing the out of the world spectacular Saif ul Malook, camping at night and Lalazar where the greenery was breathtaking beautiful
  • A trip to Swat Valley included stay at Bahrain (room was too good but remember the food we ordered the first night?), visting Mingora and Kalam and Malamjaaba
  • And going to Thandiani which had all shades of green from Abbotabad

The list is not complete as there were many stopovers on the way. And the beauty witnessed can never be described in words (by yours truly at least). The detail of every place we vacationed at is still imprinted in my mind and the fun we had was priceless.

This post isn’t about our trip but more about what I recall from the Swat Valley. It’s heart wrenching to see people forced to migrating within their own country and the area ravaged by war. I remember Naran and Swat were the most developed places among others, the tourists were welcomed, and there was no forcing of wills on others about dressing and covering up. Except for one girl who observed the full hijab (wearing abaya) and 2-3 of us who used to cover our head, remaining ones weren’t observing any sorts of hijab (but not observing hijab doesn’t mean they were improperly dressed). Also, there was no ban on wearing westernized clothes in any part. None of the local people ever tried to comment on how people were dressed up, who was traveling with whom and the likes. These days, all we get to hear apart from the displaced people and the war in Swat is how females are subjugated and children aren’t allowed to go to school. Back then, there was no trouble in paradise and this is how I want to keep my memories about Swat too!

Just sharing a few awesome pictures of Swat found at flickr

A view of mountains in Swat
A view of mountains in Swat
Mankhial Mountains - Crown of Swat Valley

Mankhial Mountains - Crown of Swat Valley

Malam Jabba Resort covered in snow

Malam Jabba Resort covered in snow. The PTDC hotel which was arson can also be seen in the background

Glacier in Kalam

Glacier in Kalam

Anyways, coming to an important point, this week Em and I were discussing how to help the refugees because I didn’t want to give the money to any political, religious party because I am not sure if the funds do reach the intended. He directed me to Jehanara’s post about P@SHA efforts on raising money for the victims. Donations can be made online so it’ll easier for anyone living abroad who wants to contribute. Also, the software houses in Pakistan can also take it one step further as TPS is doing (thanks to Em and his buddies effortsJ ) by asking their employees to donate (if willing) and giving the money to P@SHA.

I hope our smallest gesture of lending help makes a positive difference in their lives. And the war against the insurgents(?) finish soon and accomplishes a constructive end.

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Last week we started receiving harassing calls on our PTCL number from a warid number. They started from the usual

Mr. X/Ms. Y say baat karadain (I want to talk to Mr. X/Ms. Y)

Progressing towards

Aap sat baat karne hai (I want to talk to you)

To a threatening nature whose details I won’t write here.

Since different people at my place would pick up the phone, and the caller would change the nature of conversation depending upon the gender of the receiver, everyone was putting it down as another bunch of crank calls. Until I noticed all calls were coming from the same number and also they have started to take on threatening tone. And it wasn’t just me; my parents did the maths too. So whenever, we would receive a call from an unknown number, we wouldn’t pick up the phone OR we would disconnect our phone line as soon as the warid caller start calling up. Because the person had so much free time, he would keep calling for hours even when nobody would pick up and the constant ringing would drive us nuts. At the same time, the situation in Karachi had taken a turn for worse and when you add the nature of the harassment calls to it, you get a perfect recipe for my dad’s blood pressure shooting up to new levels.

On Thursday when the caller wouldn’t stop, I enlightened my brother on the whole situation and told him to take the call thinking that a young male voice would maybe put an end to the whole ordeal. But the aggressors have gotten bold and it didn’t stop them. My brother then called up the Warid help line number from our own Warid number and they ask to call them through the PTCL number on which we were receiving the calls. So we did (042-111-111-321) and registered the complaint. However, the Warid call center personnel couldn’t get the details of the number which we provided (some excuse about system upgrade or so!).

Registering the complaint didn’t help as hoped as the calls continued and the next day they started after midnight. Most of the time the phone was disconnected so we have no idea if the person tried again or not. I called the warid help line number again and told the call centre guy about our previous complaint. This time too he couldn’t get the detail of the phone even though I told him exact timings of the calls received. The reason he gave was that the system is being upgraded and the latest call data is available after at least 2-3 hours. I asked him about the name/contact details of the person to whom the SIM was registered (trying my luck!) but he refused to give it to me saying it’s against the company policy. He asked me to call back again after 10-15 minutes.

Which I did and got through to a new guy! It was already late at night and I was irritated to the core so I told him about all the calls, their timings (when the phone was connected), the nature and our attempts at complaint registration which hasn’t put an end to the calls. This guy was a bit helpful and kept saying that the person will be dealt according to the company policy (which he refused to divulge!). Anyways, what they do is call and issue a warning and if that doesn’t work, they block the SIM. I told him I don’t want to receive any more calls because their warning system isn’t working and I want the SIM blocked ASAP. After the call to Warid, I disconnected the phone line so we can have a peaceful sleep at night. (Which we didn’t because daddy was all tense about the whole affair and wouldn’t go back to sleep!) Also, we called our upstairs neighbors who already knew about the calls for warning.

Since then, we haven’t thankfully received any calls. My dad wants to change our phone number saying they now can call from another number and he keeps the phone line disconnected whenever he can. My stance is that why should we change our number and give in to the bullies. However, I am amazed at the boldness of the people who were doing all this. Maybe for them, it was just a way to have fun while Karachi was shut down and a long weekend was coming up. But there’s no relief for psychological trauma it causes that whenever a phone rings, you have to check first who’s calling!

However, now I know two things you can do to stop such harassing calls

  1. Register a complaint with the service provider
  2. Submit the complaint to CPLC Both of the above does the magic!