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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Earthquakes – through science and religion

An earthquake is ground shaking caused by a sudden movement of rock in the earth’s crust. Such movements occur along faults, which are thin zones of crushed rock separating blocks of crust.

When one block suddenly slips and moves relative to the other along a fault, the energy released creates vibrations called seismic waves that radiate up through the crust to the earth’s surface, causing the ground to shake.

Related: Google launches ‘Person Finder’ to help locate missing persons in Pakistan, Afghanistan earthquake

Plate Tectonics

Earthquakes may last only a few seconds or may continue for up to several minutes. They can occur at any time of the day or night and at any time of the year. They are caused by stress that builds up over time as blocks of crust attempt to move but are held in place by friction along a fault. (The earth’s crust is divided into large plates that continually move over, under, alongside or apart from one another atop the partly molten outer layer of the earth’s core)

When the pressure to move becomes stronger than the friction holding them together, adjoining blocks of crust can suddenly slip, rupturing the fault and creating an earthquake.

Religious Belief

According to Islamic scholars, earthquakes are one of the great signs of Allah in this universe, with which He tests His slaves as a reminder or to instill fear of Him or as a punishment.

When Our Torment reached them, why then did they not humble themselves (believe with humility)? But their hearts became hardened, and Shaytaan (Satan) made fair‑seeming to them that which they used to do.
So, when they forgot (the warning) with which they had been reminded, We opened for them the gates of every (pleasant) thing, until in the midst of their enjoyment in that which they were given, all of a sudden, We took them (in punishment), and lo! They were plunged into destruction with deep regrets and sorrows” [al-An’aam 6:42-44]
DUA: It is better for everyone to beseech Allah in supplication and so on when earthquakes and similar events, such as thunderbolts and strong winds, happen, and to offer prayers on his own in his house lest he be negligent, because the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said, when the wind blew strongly: “O Allaah, I ask You for its good and the good of what is in it and the good of what it is sent with, and I seek refuge in You from its evil and the evil of what is in it and the evil of what it is sent with.” Narrated by Muslim.

Also recite the Kalima and Astagfirullah alternately because the one who dies with Kalima on lips will go to paradise and the one who repents Allah loves them

Hadith: “Whosever last word is lailahaillaAllah will enter Jannah”

“…And beg Allah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful.”

Quran (Surah An-Noor, Verse 31)

A WAKE UP CALL: “And if the people of the towns had believed and had the Taqwaa (piety), certainly, We should have opened for them blessings from the heaven and the earth, but they belied (the Messengers). So We took them (with punishment) for what they used to earn (polytheism and crimes).” [al-A’raaf 7:96]

CHARITY: It is also mustahabb (recommended, encouraged) to show compassion to the poor and needy, and to give charity to them, because the Prophet (PBUH) said: “Show mercy, you will be shown mercy.” (Narrated by Imaam Ahmad, 2/165)

FEAR ALLAH: “And whosoever fears Allah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty). And He will provide him from (sources) he never could imagine. And whosoever puts his trust in Allah, then He will suffice him.” [al-Talaaq 65:2-3]

How Do Earthquakes Affect People?

Although thousands of earthquakes occur in the world each year, most are too small to affect us. Earthquakes of larger magnitude, however, which release more energy during fault ruptures, can be hazardous, exposing us to the risk of harm or loss.

The stronger ground shaking generated in such events is unlikely to affect people directly (other than by startling or frightening them). It is what these ground motions can do to the natural and man-made environments around us that can significantly affect us by endangering our lives, property and livelihoods.
Earthquakes – through science and religion; by Khawaja Daud, en.dailypakistan.com.pk


Sunday, October 25, 2015

How Churchill Fought The Pashtuns in Pakistan

“Horrible and revolting” – that’s how 22-year-old British cavalry officer turned war correspondent for The Daily Telegraphnd Pioneer newspapers, Winston Churchill, described in a dispatch what he saw when entering the ruins of the village of Desemdullah in the Mohmand Valley in British India’s Northwest Frontier (today’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province  in northwestern Pakistan) on the morning of September 22, 1897.

Pashtun tribesmen had unearthed the 36 bodies of fallen British and Indian soldiers, hastily buried a few days earlier in unmarked graves, and mutilated them beyond recognition. “The tribesmen are among the most miserable and brutal creatures on earth. Their intelligence only enables them to be more cruel, more dangerous, more destructible than the wild beasts. (…) I find it impossible to come to any other conclusion than that, in proportion that these valleys are purged form the pernicious vermin that infest them, so will the happiness of humanity be increased, and the progress of mankind accelerated,” a shaken and sulfurous Churchill jotted down in his notebook that day.

The Pashtun tribesmen, the forebears to today’s Pashtun insurgents in Afghanistan and Pakistan, had risen against the British in 1897 due to the division of their tribal territory by the Durand line in 1893, as well as the gradual British occupation of Pashtun lands. They rallied under the leadership of the Pashtun fakir Saidullah, nicknamed “Mad Mullah,” by the British, who declared a “jihad” against British India and rallied more than 10,000 warriors to his cause.

Pashtun warriors under Saidullah attacked forts and camps guarding the Malakand Pass and by doing so threatened British control of the entire Northwest Frontier. ”The British held the summit of the Malakand Pass and thus had maintained the road from the Swat Valley and across the Swat River by many other valleys to Chitral,” Winston Churchill summarized the strategic importance of the pass in his autobiography My Early Life.

The British reacted quickly and assembled  a punitive expedition, the so-called Malakand Field Force, to pacify the Pashtun tribes along the Afghan-Indian (today’s Afghanistan-Pakistan) border. The force included young Churchill, who for around $420 (in today’s value) per piece, wrote a number of dispatches under the heading of “The War in the Indian Highlands,” which were signed—much to Churchill’s consternation, since he wanted to become famous through his writing—“By a Young Officer.”

Yet, finding the mutilated corpses on that September morning put a slight temper on the “medal hunter” as he was sometimes dismissively called. Some of the desecrated dead he found in Desemdullah were young British soldiers of his age, perhaps bringing home for the first time the realities of war to Churchill, who joined hoping “like most young fools” that “something exciting would happen” while he was with the troops.

Churchill would later on sardonically boast in My Early Life that luckily for those, like himself, who were fond of war “there were still savages and barbarous peoples. There were Zulus and Afghans, also the Dervishes of the Soudan. Some of them might, if they were well-disposed, ‘put up a show’ someday.”

And a show the Pashtun tribesmen in the ten-mile long Mohmand Valley, located in the mountains to the northwest of Peshawar, did put up. In fact, they had beaten back the British-Indian force sent against them, under British Brigadier-General P.D. Jeffreys, which sustained 149 casualties. Churchill saw some of the British wounded himself with “their faces drawn by pain and anxiety, looked ghastly in the pale light of the early morning.” Even the general had received a head wound and wore a uniform covered in his own blood. “It was not apparently all a gay adventure,” Churchill would later write.

The battle was a setback, but the British—“the dominant race” in Churchill’s words—would wreak terrible retribution on the “the savages” and step up their even campaign of burning villages and killing everyone in their path who resisted. “After today we begin to burn villages. Every one. And all who resist will be killed without quarter,” Churchill wrote to a friend that September. “The Mohmands need a lesson, and there is no doubt we are a very cruel people.” In his autobiography he matter-of-factly noted how the British went about their business:

We proceeded systematically, village by village, and we destroyed the houses, filled up the wells, blew down the towers, cut down the great shady trees, burned the crops and broke the reservoirs in punitive devastation.

He goes on to note that whenever the Pashtun tribesmen would put up resistance the British would lose two to three officers and 15 to 20 Indian soldiers.  However, “no quarter was asked or given,” Churchill noted, “and every tribesman caught was speared or cut down at once.”

Time and again he praised the endurance of the British soldier in his dispatches and compared them—true to his imperialist credo-favorably to their Indian comrades-in-arms. “The soldiers of India naturally feel the effects of the climate less than those from cooler lands. This, of course, the British infantryman will not admit. The dominant race resent the slightest suggestion of inferiority. (…) This is the material for empire‑building.”

The young war correspondent was also apparently not a fan of what today would be called a “hearts and mind approach” in dealing with insurgents, at least so he claims in My Early Life.  He dismissively talks about political officers, who “parleyed all the time with the chiefs, the priests and other local notables,” which made them very unpopular among fellow army officers.

He singled out one particular efficient British envoy who always “just when we were looking forward to having a splendid fight and all the guns were loaded and everyone keyed up, this Major Deane and why was he a Major anyhow? so we said being in truth nothing better than an ordinary politician would come along and put a stop to it all,” by seeking some sort of diplomatic accommodation between a tribe and the British.

True to his bellicose nature, Churchill conversely rather believed in the power of the dumdum bullet, a soft-point bullet that expands upon impact, and the well-aimed volleys of British and Indian soldiers, who, when they caught them in in the open, killed thousands of Pashtuns, and proved the British poet Hilaire Beloc’s truism right that “whatever happens, we have got The Maxim gun [a type of machine gun], and they have not,” when reminiscing about the uneven clashes between imperialists and natives in the late 19th century.

Indeed, the campaign against the Mohmand tribe would come to a rather swift end in early October 1897, with the tribesmen agreeing to hand over their rifles and promising to live peacefully (at least for a while). Churchill rejoined his regiment, the 4th Hussars, stationed at that time in Bangalore. The punitive expedition had cost the British Raj 282 men killed or wounded out of a force of roughly 1,200. Pashtun casualties are unknown but some estimates are as as high as 10,000. In January 1898, the Malakand Field Force was officially disbanded and the soldiers returned to their garrisons.

While embedded with the troops Churchill saw “more fighting than I expected, and very hard fighting too,” the overall commander of the Malakand Field Force, Major-General Sir Bindon Blood later recalled. More than once, Churchill saw people around him killed (“The British officer was spinning just behind me, his face a mass of blood, his right eye cut out,” as he recounted in one instance.), endured the sight of massacres, the agonizing cries of the wounded, and the psychological toll of fighting, what in Victorian eyes, must have been a merciless enemy encapsulated in Kipling’s The Young British Soldier: “When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains, And the women come out to cut up what remains, Just roll to your rifle and blow out your brains…”

Churchill does recount on a few occasions in letters what today (and back then) without a doubt would be considered war crimes on the British side. For example, he saw how Sikh soldiers of the British-Indian Army torture and slowly kill a wounded Pashtun tribesman by shoving him little by little into an incinerator that slowly melted the skin off the poor man’s bones amidst his agonizing cries. The other side was not much better. “The tribesman,” Churchill wrote in a letter, “torture the wounded & mutilate the dead. The troops never spare a man who falls into their hands – whether he be wounded or not . . . The picture is a terrible one.”

While admitting to acts of barbarism on both sides during the campaign, he never condemned it, although he felt the need to assure his mother in a letter that he himself, during his six week stint as a war-correspondent, did not commit any heinous acts. “I have not soiled my hands with any dirty work,” he wrote to her.

Dismissing the entire region and its inhabitants as uncivilized —“savages impelled by fanaticism”—he did not expect his side or the enemy to follow the rules of gentlemanly (European) warfare he had been taught at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. As a result, it must have been easier for him to shed the horror of war, dismissing it as an abnormality in the conduct of warfare and something that would not occur during the clash of “civilized nations.” For him, a child of the Victorian period, war remained a game, best exemplified by Sir Henry Newbolt’s poem Vitai Lampada, coincidentally first published in 1897, the same year that Churchill was fighting on the Northwest Frontier:

The sand of the desert is sodden red, -
Red with the wreck of a square that broke; -
The Gatling’s jammed and the colonel dead,
And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.
The river of death has brimmed his banks,
And England’s far, and Honour a name,
But the voice of schoolboy rallies the ranks,
“Play up! play up! and play the game!”

That war will be like a game of cricket, of course, turned out to be a fatal miscalculation; one that Churchill was not alone in making around the turn of the last century.

How Churchill Fought The Pashtuns in Pakistan
by Franz-Stefan Gady, thediplomat.com

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Power Politics & Religious Shism - Urdu

یومِ عاشور اور وقتِ دعا
آج یومِ عاشور ہے۔خوف میں لپٹاہوا ایک دن‘ جوامن کی دعا کے ساتھ طلوع ہوا اور اسی دعا کے ساتھ ڈھل جائے گا۔
اسلا م کے ساتھ تین حادثے گزر گئے۔ایک یہ کہ اسے تزکیہ نفس کے بجائے،سیاسی عصبیت کی علامت بنا دیا گیا۔دوسرا یہ کہ اس کی باگ ان ہاتھوں میں چلی گئی جو نا اہل تھے،نیم خواندہ۔تیسرا حادثہ یہ ہوا کہ سرمایہ دارانہ نظامِ معیشت کے زیرِ اثر،مذہب جنس ِ بازار بن گیا۔اس کا ایک مظہر یہ ہے کہ میڈیا نے اسے شو بز کا ایک حصہ سمجھ لیا۔ اس کے دو نتائج واضح ہیں:اسلام ، مسلم دنیا میںکسی سنجیدہ تحقیق کا موضوع نہ بن سکا۔دوسرا یہ کہ مذہب اپنے اصل مقصد ،تزکیہ نفس سے لاتعلق ہو گیا۔اب یہ میرے لیے سب کچھ ہے مگر تذکیر اور تزکیہ کا عنوان نہیں ہے۔
شیعہ اور سنی مسلمانوں کے دو گروہ ہیں۔ایک ماخذپر ایمان مگر اِس کی دو مختلف تعبیرات پر یقین ۔یہ ایک سیاسی مسئلے سے پیدا ہو نے والا اختلاف تھا جس نے تاریخی عمل سے گزرتے ہوئے،ایک مذہبی اختلاف کی صورت اختیار کر لی۔رسالت مآبﷺ کے بعد یہ سوال اٹھا کہ آپ کا سیاسی جانشین کون ہوگا؟یہ مذہبی جانشینی کا سوال نہیں تھا۔سب جانتے تھے کہ آپﷺ کی دنیا سے رخصتی کا مطلب یہ ہے کہ نبوت کا باب بند ہو گیا۔سورہ مائدہ کی آیت سب نے سن رکھی تھی کہ دین کی تکمیل ہوچکی۔اب دین میں کچھ داخل کیا جا سکتا ہے نہ خارج۔اس باب میں اختلاف کا تو کوئی سوال نہ تھا کہ اب اس امت کی اجتماعی ذمہ داری صرف حفاظتِ دین ہے۔دین مکمل ہوا ،تاہم اس پرغور وفکر کا دروازہ ہمیشہ کھلا رہے گا کہ یہی فطرت کا تقاضا تھا۔
سقیفہ بنو ساعدہ میں مسلمانوں کے دو بڑے گروہوں کے نمائندے بیٹھے اور اس سوال پر غور کیا کہ آپﷺ کا سیاسی جانشین کون ہوگا۔ استحقاق کی بات ہوئی اور سب نے اپنا مو قف پیش کیا۔سب کے دلائل سیاسی و عقلی تھے۔کسی نے اپنے موقف کی تائید میں کوئی دینی دلیل پیش نہیں کی۔اپنے حق میںکوئی آیت پڑھی نہ حدیث سنائی۔ آپ ﷺ کا ایک ارشادِ گرامی پیش کیا گیا کہ ''آئمہ قریش میں سے ہوں گے۔‘‘یہ ایک سیاسی حقیقت کا بیان تھا۔یہ اس بات کی طرف اشارہ تھا کہ اقتدار سیاسی عصبیت سے باقی رہتا ہے اور اِس وقت عرب میں یہ عصبیت قریش کو حاصل ہے۔آپ کے اس ارشادِ مبارک کا یہی مفہوم اس اُمت نے سمجھا۔اس لیے جب سیاسی عصبیت کا ما خذ تبدیل ہوا توعلما نے بتایا کہ یہ اسلام کا کوئی دائمی حکم نہیں تھا۔جب بر صغیرمیں تحریکِ خلافت برپا ہوئی تو عثمانیوں کے خلاف کچھ لوگوں نے اس حدیث سے استدلال کیا۔مو لا نا ابو الکلام آزاد نے اس کے سیاق و سباق کو واضح کیا اور بعد میں مو لا نا مودودی جیسے اہلِ علم نے بھی اسی تعبیر کواختیار کیا۔
فیصلہ سید نا ابو بکر صدیق ؓ کے حق میں ہوا۔اگر کسی نے ا ختلاف کیا بھی تو مذہبی بنیاد پر نہیں،سیاسی یا سماجی دلیل کی بنیاد پر کیا۔تاہم امت کے اس اجتماعی فیصلے کو سب نے قبول کیا۔سید نا عثمانؓ کے عہد تک اس باب میں کوئی اختلاف نہیں ہوا۔سید نا علی ؓ جن کو بعض لوگوں نے منصبِ خلافت کے لیے فائق سمجھا، وہ خود حضراتِ شیخین کے سب سے معتمد مشیر اور ساتھی رہے۔سید نا عثمان ؓ کے عہد میں دوسرا سیاسی خلفشار پیدا ہوا۔یہ بھی ایک سیاسی مسئلہ تھا، دینی نہیں۔میرے علم میں نہیں کہ جنہوں نے حضرت عثمانؓ کے خلاف شورش برپا کی،انہوں نے کوئی دینی استدلال پیش کیاہو۔ سب الزامات سیاسی تھے۔سید علیؓ نے مخالفینِ عثمان کا ساتھ نہیں دیا۔وہ اس معرکے میں سید نا عثمانؓ کے ساتھ کھڑے تھے۔جب بلوائی خلیفہ راشد کی جان کے درپے ہوئے تو انہوں نے سیدناحسن ؓاور سیدنا حسینؓ کو ان کی حفاظت پر ما مور کیا۔یہ آسان کام نہیں تھا۔یہ دو بیٹوں کی جان کو خطرے میں ڈالنا تھا۔یہ خطرہ سید ناعلیؓ نے اسی لیے مول لیا کہ وہ حضرت عثمانؓ کو ایک جائز حکمران سمجھتے تھے۔اسی طرح جمل اور صفین کے معرکوں کی بنیاد بھی سیاسی اختلاف تھا۔
سانحہ کربلا کے بعدسیاسی اختلافات نے ایک نیا موڑ اختیار کیا۔اس کے بعد جو سیاسی عصبیتیں وجود میں آئیں ،انہوں نے اپنے موقف کے حق میں دینی استدلال پیش کر نا شروع کیا۔مسلمانوں میں اپنی رائے کو قابلِ قبول بنانے کے لیے سب سے آسان طریقہ یہ ہے کہ اسے مذہبی جواز فراہم کر دیا جائے۔یوں دینی نصوص اور اسلام کے صدرِ اوّل کی تاریخ کی ایک نئی تاویل سامنے آئی جو دینی استدلال لیے ہوئے تھی۔یہ میں عرض کر چکا کہ جب ان تاریخی واقعات نے جنم لیا، اس وقت یہ محض سیاسی موقف تھے،ان کی بنیاد کسی دینی استدلال پر نہیں تھی۔اب نصوص کی مختلف تعبیرات رائج ہوگئیں اور سیاسی اختلاف کی بنیاد پر وجود میں آنے والے گروہ ، مذہبی گروہوں میں تبدیل ہوگئے۔آج یہ مسلمہ مذہبی گروہ ہیں، جن کا دینی استدلال ہے۔یہ واقعہ ہو چکا۔اب اسے بطور واقعہ ہی قبول کر نا ہو گا۔
اس قبولیت کا مطلب کیا ہے؟ایک تو اس امرِ واقعہ کااعتراف کہ یہ نصوص اورتاریخ کے باب میں تعبیر اور تاویل کا اختلاف ہے۔یہ تاویلات اورتعبیرات علم کی دنیا میں زیرِ بحث آتی رہی ہیں اورآنی بھی چاہئیں۔شعوری ارتقا کا سفر اسی طرح آگے بڑھتا ہے۔تاہم یہ کام عالمانہ سنجیدگی اور شائستگی کے ساتھ ہو نا چاہیے۔دوسرا یہ کہ اِن کامحل علمی فورمز ہیں ،گلی بازارنہیں۔جب اِن اختلافات کی بنیاد پر گروہ وجود میں آ چکے تواس کا مطلب یہ ہے کہ گروہی تعصبات بھی پیدا ہو چکے۔اگر ہم ان اختلافات کو فتویٰ کی زبان میں بیان کریں گے تو لازماًفرقہ واریت پیدا ہوگی۔اسی طرح جب ہم مسلکی موقف کو دینی موقف کے طور پر پیش کرتے ہوئے،مذہب کی بنیاد مانیں گے اور اسی بنیاد پر دوسروں کی تکفیر کریں گے تو اس کے بعد کسی کو مسلمان ثابت کر نا ممکن نہیں رہے گا۔سب سے اہم یہ کہ سب مسالک کے زعما اپنے پیروکاروں کو سمجھائیں کہ مذہب کا اصل وظیفہ تزکیہ نفس ہے۔وہ عوامی مذہبی مجالس میں اسی پہلو کو نمایاں کریں۔
یہ سب اسی وقت ہوگا جب ہم علمی متانت کے ساتھ مذہبی اختلافات کو زیر بحث لانے کی عادت ڈالیں گے‘جب مسلک ہمارے لیے مذہبی عصبیت کی اساس نہیں ہوگا‘جب اس کے ساتھ ہمارے معاشی اور سیاسی مفادات وابستہ نہیں ہوں گے۔ہمیں تسلیم کر نا چاہیے کہ اب ایسا نہیں ہو رہا۔اب یہ ممکن نہیں رہا کہ ہم دوسرے کے ساتھ کسی آیت یا روایت کی تاویل کے باب میں گفتگو کرسکیں۔ ہر کوئی اپنی تاویل کو واحد مستند تاویل سمجھتے ہوئے،اس کی مخالفت یا تائید کی بنیاد پر دوسرے کے کفر اور ایمان کا فیصلہ کرتاہے۔مذہب ہمارے لیے ایک سیاسی عصبیت ہے،تزکیہ نفس کا موضوع نہیں۔اسی حوالے سے ہم دوسرے مذاہب کے ساتھ معاملات کو زیرِ بحث لاتے ہیں اور اسی بنیاد پر مسالک کے باہمی تعلقات کا فیصلہ کرتے ہیں۔ایک طرف ہم اس بنیاد پر دوسرے مذاہب کے ساتھ جنگ اور معرکہ آرائی کی خبر دیتے ہیں اور دوسری طرف خلیج ممالک کے مابین اختیار اور اقتدار کے جھگڑوں میں کسی فریق کا ساتھ دیتے یا اس کی مخالفت کرتے ہیں۔جب اس سے معاشی مفادات وابستہ ہوجاتے ہیں تو گروہی مفادات جنم لیتے ہیں۔ میڈیا بھی مذہب کو اسی زاویے سے دیکھتاہے۔یوں وہ محرم میں خود کو کسی ایک مسلک کے حوالے کر دیتا ہے اور ربیع الاوّ ل میں کسی دوسرے مسلک کے۔ اسے اس بات سے زیادہ سروکار نہیں کہ وہ اسلام کی بات کر رہے ہیں یا کسی خاص مسلک کی ۔
اس پس منظر میں اگر یومِ عاشور خوف کی فضا میں طلوع ہوتا ہے تو کسی کو حیرت نہیں ہونی چاہیے۔آئیے خیریت کی دعا کریں کہ اس خوف کے ا سباب کا تدارک ہمارے بس میں نہیں۔
By Khursheed Nadeem : Dunya.com.pk
Shia Beliefs & Islam: شیعہ عقائد اور اسلام

Friday, October 23, 2015

5 truths about the unconventional modern career path

Technological advancements and the "digital workplace" affect everything about how young professionals and seasoned job seekers mold their future career paths.

From traditional industries like finance or retail to flexible jobs at startups, today's career landscape looks drastically different than it did even as few as ten years ago. While technology is fundamentally changing the nature of many jobs, it's making others nearly obsolete and, on the other end of the spectrum, creating new and interesting fields that are slowly emerging as highly coveted, lucrative career goldmines.

A number of trends are on the rise, including a focus on STEM and big data, careers that centre around sustainability, and remote work. Below, reed.co.uk share a few truths about the modern career path and how its evolved over the course of the past decade.

1. Flexible/remote work is on the rise — but it's not ubiquitously accepted just yet

Many people consider living "the dream" to involve working remotely from any number of idyllic locations — a hammock on a scenic beach, a boutique coffee shop in a hip neighborhood downtown or even from bed, wearing pyjamas and sipping a cup of home-brewed tea.

This type of work environment is a possibility for many careers today, even within traditional, surprising industries such as law and even medicine. In 2011, a study conducted by Intuit found that one-tenth of the British workforce was already telecommuting at least some of the time. Remote work in general in the UK has increased by more than 30% over a 10-year period.

However, the trend hasn't fully taken flight quite yet. Despite the promising statistics cited above, the same study found that 62% of UK employees still commute to an office every day. And it seems as if priorities in the UK may differ from other regions around the world: While 59% of workers in Brazil would be willing to accept a lower salary for more flexible work options, only 28% of employees in the UK would make the same sacrifice.

Regardless, with mobile usage in the UK skyrocketing, it's clear that remote job opportunities abound in a wealth of industries, and the trend will likely increase in the coming years.

2. Tech-focused jobs can turn even a traditionally dull industry into a cutting-edge career

Perhaps a career in "data migration analysis" wouldn't have interested much of anyone outside of a very niche, tech-savvy circle ten years ago, but today, data is the name of the game for anyone in fields ranging from computer science to marketing.

Additionally, sustainability is a huge push for many industries, meaning that professionals and graduates with degrees in environmental matters have exponentially more job opportunities than their counterparts from a decade ago. Job titles such as director of energy, sustainability architect or carbon emissions analyst are becoming more and more common, and companies ranging from large corporations to small businesses — in essentially every industry imaginable — are seeking to capitalise on both the positive financial and social implications of an eco-friendly footprint.

If you're on the hunt for a job in such a field or within an energy-related industry, be sure to check out the open listings at reed.co.uk.

3. Productivity is more important than time spent in the office

More frequently than not, today's workplace emphasizes the quality of work produced, as opposed to the number of hours of face-time that employees put in. A recent report by Sodexo found that workers who are judged on output rather than hours worked tend to obtain higher levels of productivity.

This goes hand in hand with the trend of more flexible work options, as well as the tendency for office planners to focus on open floor plans, and the rise of co-working spaces. Many of these updates to the traditional workplace are directed toward millennial employees, who tend to favor collaborative work environments and cite personal learning and development as the number one priority when selecting a career, according to a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers report.

4. Online academics and resources are fundamentally changing advanced education

The trend of lifelong learning is increasingly common in today's digitally driven society. While heading back to school to get an advanced degree after the age of 40 used to mean becoming a social pariah in a traditional university atmosphere, today's online resources have made that mindset a thing of the past. Many online programs stem from extremely reputable universities and organisations and can provide as quality an education as one obtained in a classroom.

Whether you're seeking a mid-life pivot, hoping to pick up a new skill in order to advance to the next pay grade or making a complete about-face in your career, looking into online courses and programs — even free ones such as CodeAcademy — can pay off in spades.

If you're looking for a place to begin, reed.co.uk offers a wide breadth of resources for continuing your education or developing sought-after skills in nearly any industry.

5. STEM and data-driven jobs top the charts for lucrative career paths

Last year, the Office of National Statistics released the list of the highest-paid jobs in the UK. Unsurprisingly, many were tech-focused roles: Information technology directors came in fourth place, with air traffic controllers and rail engineers also making the top 10.

Tech and big data has infiltrated job descriptions from entry-level all the way to senior management in most industries you can name, so it's no secret that having technical skills in programming, data analysis, dev and design, engineering, etc. can pave the way for the career of your dreams — perhaps even that coveted job that you can perform from the comfort of your bed.

Do you have an unconventional career and tips to share for job seekers? Tell us in the comments.

BrandSpeak is a Mashable Studios program that allows advertisers to share their content with our audience. Mashable's news department was not involved in the creation of this content.

5 truths about the unconventional modern career path
by Rachel Johnson, mashable.com


Thursday, October 22, 2015

Karachi vice: inside the city torn apart by killings, extortion and terrorism

A shop set alight by rioters in Karachi. The city of close to 20 million people is plagued by ethnic and sectarian killings and kidnappings.
Shortly after 11pm on 8 June 2014, 10 men dressed in military uniforms split into two groups outside the Jinnah International airport in Karachi. Armed with automatic weapons, hand grenades and rocket‑launchers, they entered the complex, one group going over a perimeter wall and the other through an entrance generally reserved for top government officials and foreign dignitaries. The assault was tightly planned, and the men were prepared for a long siege. Some wore suicide vests under their uniforms. A few minutes later, Zille Hyder, a crime reporter for Geo, then Pakistan’s most popular news channel, heard an explosion from his home, around 10km away from the airport. Hyder had recently been told by a police contact that the intelligence services were anticipating an attack on the airport, so he called the Geo office to report the disturbance. His colleagues on the news desk immediately ran a ticker along the bottom of the screen announcing an explosion at the airport. It was Hyder’s evening off, but he got into his car and raced to Jinnah International. After 12 years of reporting, Hyder has become one of Karachi’s most respected TV journalists but the job has swallowed his life whole. He is on a Taliban hitlist; his friends are the police and criminals who feed him his stories; his phone is filled with hastily snapped crime scene photos of dead bodies. When Hyder arrived at the airport, around 20 minutes after he heard the blast, police had yet to cordon off the area and he quickly slipped inside. A violent battle was under way, as troops from the Airport Security Force exchanged fire with the militants. Inside, staff and passengers hid anywhere they could. Outside, on the runway, hundreds of terrified passengers were trapped on grounded planes. By around 1am hundreds more police and soldiers had arrived at the scene and sealed the airport complex, locking Hyder inside and the other journalists out. As the battle continued, television camera crews broadcast footage of smoke plumes rising from what looked like the main runway. Anchors speculated about what was happening inside. Journalists and photographers vied for information, calling police contacts and gleaning what they could about the battle in progress. Hyder, who claims that he was the only reporter inside the airport, used his phone to record videos and to text colleagues with information. This proved useful not just to viewers at home. As the battle was unfolding, Pakistan’s relentlessly competitive media did not hesitate to report everything as it happened. News tickers revealed which gates the army was entering from, where police were situated, and which areas were being cordoned off. Inside the airport, the militants were keeping up with the TV updates and adjusting their positions accordingly. “I accept this is the wrong thing,” Hyder said later, with a guilty laugh. “But what can I do? It’s my work.” Around 4am, an hour before dawn, the fighting stopped. Security forces had shot dead eight of the 10 militants; the last two killed themselves by detonating their suicide vests. Four airline employees had been killed, as well as 14 security forces. The death toll rose a few days later when the corpses of seven people were discovered inside the airport’s cold storage facility, frozen to death while they hid. The Pakistani branch of the Taliban, the Sunni-extremist TTP, claimed responsibility for the attack. The Taliban attack on Jinnah International airport in which more than 30 people died. Photograph: Rizwan Tabassum/AFP/Getty Images In the past decade and a half, terror attacks have become just another element of a crime wave in Karachi that is virtually an insurgency. In May, gunmen entered a bus and shot dead 46 Ismaili Shia Muslims; in 2011, 20 militants stormed a naval base; bombings of religious parades are so frequent that on public holidays the city is placed on high alert and mobile phone networks are shut down. When Pakistan gained independence in 1947, Karachi was a cosmopolitan coastal city of 500,000 people, that carried the hopes of this new nation. Sixty years on, it is one of the most violent places in the world. For the 23 million people who live there, crime has become a central part of life, as commonplace as traffic jams and power cuts. In 2013, at least 2,700 people were murdered, more than in any other city in the world. The wealthy have armed guards at their homes; even bakeries in the elite districts have metal detectors and weary security guards sitting outside, rifles slung across their shoulders. The Express Tribune, an English-language newspaper, publishes a crime map every day in its Karachi edition, under such headlines as “Shootings and raids” or “Mishaps and bodies found”. It is not just the high rate of crime that marks Karachi out, but the entanglement of crime with the very highest echelons of politics: the gangsters who stand for parliament, the politicians who sanction street killings. Karachi’s criminal syndicates do not limit themselves to slums. The bhatta (extortion) economy, is worth billions of rupees. A few years ago, I visited a poor district in the east of the city, and met a local youth leader who told me that most families spent at least a third of their income on water sold from tanks; the “water mafia” siphoned off the mains supply and charged outrageous rates to sell it back to people. The “transport mafia” has repeatedly stymied attempts to build a proper public transportation system. At some point, most citizens have to do business with criminals – to buy a house, start a business, get running water, take a bus. In recent years, militant groups have taken advantage of the city’s lawlessness to establish a foothold, effectively taking control of certain areas. Now, suicide bombings and violent attacks on state targets have been added to the regular gun battles between rival criminal gangs and the steady stream of targeted killings of political party activists. It falls to Hyder and the city’s crime reporters to make sense of the throbbing disorder of Karachi. The fact that crime has infiltrated every aspect of life there puts them in the curious position of being minor celebrities; Hyder regularly receives fan mail and is often recognised in public. The Karachi airport attack shows that reporters can sometimes go overboard – but deciphering the shifts in ethnic conflict and gangland alliances is a vital job. The fate of Pakistan depends on Karachi, the megalopolis that provides a quarter of the nation’s GDP, and the fate of Karachi will be decided by the power struggles between its gangsters, terrorists, police and political groups. Where Hyder’s right forearm meets his wrist, there is a bullet. Within minutes of my first meeting with him this spring, he pointed it out to me. “It’s a very exciting job,” he laughed, as he traced the outline of a small, hard bulge lodged just under the skin. Hyder acquired the bullet three years ago, while filming a night-time shootout between two militant groups in Sohrab Goth, a Taliban stronghold in northern Karachi. He was caught in the crossfire, and was rushed to hospital, where a surgeon managed to remove three of the four bullets lodged in his arm. His TV channel Geo made the event into a cause celebre, putting up huge posters bearing Hyder’s image. “While chaos, bullets, and explosions cause most people to flee, Geo’s field staff is fearless and brave,” read the caption. “Taking their life in their hands, they fulfil their duty.” In recent years, much of Hyder’s reporting has focused on the Karachi police. Overstretched and underfunded, the force has just 30,000 officers. (London’s Metropolitan police employs nearly 50,000 for a population of 8.3 million.) Since 2013, the force has been engaged in an effort to bring the city under control. Announcing the mission, known simply as the Karachi operation, interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan told reporters that the police and the Pakistan Rangers – a paramilitary force under the direct control of the Ministry of the Interior – would focus on the “four heinous crimes of target-killing, kidnapping, extortion and terrorism”. The result has been a dramatic increase in extrajudicial killings or “encounters” as they are euphemistically known. Since the operation began, 800 people have been killed by police. Officers, who generally claim they are acting in self-defence, are rarely held to account. Hyder says that he has covered more than 3,000 police “encounters” over the years. Despite the questionable legality of these raids, police often invite journalists along, eager to show a disillusioned public that they are at least doing something. It is a beat that has made Hyder a target for terrorists. In November 2014, he was told by a police contact that his name was on a hitlist drawn up by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Swat (TTS), an offshoot of the main terror group in the country. The TTS believes that Hyder’s reporting on police killings of militants glorifies the force. It also considers Hyder a heretic: like 20% of Pakistan’s population, he is Shia. Hyder is a small man, very thin, with hooded eyes and a sharp gaze. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the threats to his life, there is something evasive about him. He is always reaching for one of his two phones, lighting a cigarette, surveying his surroundings, leaning sideways as if trying to avoid being seen. If you ask a basic question, like his age, he will give three different answers on three different days. (He told me 32, 33, and 38 – but gave his date of birth as 1974, which would make him 41.) Yet he is obsessed with the idea of reporting the truth, regardless of who it upsets. Despite his cagey manner, his Facebook page is full of selfies; at press conferences, at protests, sitting in his office, out for dinner. “It’s life, not just a job,” he told me one evening, flicking through WhatsApp messages from police officers. Later that night, we went for a drive. A rolled up prayer mat sat under the windscreen of Hyder’s car and black netting blocked out the side windows. Since being placed on the hit-list, Hyder is wary of attracting unwanted attention. As we drove through the city, his phones rang constantly. One police officer texted to say that a big shipment of heroin from Balochistan had been intercepted, another to say that two gangsters had been arrested and a cache of weapons seized in a separate raid. Crime reporter Zille Hyder at the scene of a gun battle between police and militants in Ali Town, Karachi. Photograph: Qaisar Khan/Commissioned for the Guardian Hyder stopped the car at Sea View, one of Karachi’s beaches. A group of teenagers behind us were roasting corn over a barrow. Small children ran up and down the side of the beach. In this anonymous space, Hyder seemed to relax. “You see the lights at sea? It’s ships and boats,” said Hyder. “If you travel six hours from here, you reach Bombay. In 2008, the men who attacked the Taj hotel took the boat from Karachi.” To Hyder, the city is a living tapestry of crime past and present; even a serene ocean view has a thread of violence running through it. On 8 August 1979, a young student activist named Altaf Hussain stood before a rally at the tomb of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, and set fire to the country’s flag. Following decades of ethnic tension, it was an act that marked a new phase in the inter-ethnic violence that would eventually come to define Karachi. The party Hussain went on to form, the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), represented Mohajirs, Urdu-speaking Muslims who came to Pakistan from India during partition. For years, the Mohajirs had clashed with the local Sindhi population, who resented the fact that Mohajirs – who tended to be educated, and already spoke Urdu, the new lingua franca – easily slotted into government jobs. Now, with the creation of the MQM, the violence evolved from spontaneous riots into something altogether more organised. In the 1980s, at the same time that the MQM was emerging as a political force, millions of Pashtun refugees from Soviet-occupied Afghanistan arrived in Karachi. Sindhis, Pashtuns and Mohajirs fought over land, influence, and political power. Street warfare broke out in parts of the city. Combatants were equipped with Kalashnikovs and sometimes rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns. In 1992, the army responded with Operation Clean Up, in which thousands of people were killed or went missing. It is generally regarded as the bloodiest period in the city’s history. Most political parties – including the main parties of national government – maintain an armed wing in Karachi. Often, they operate in conjunction with one of the city’s many criminal syndicates. The MQM has long had a militant wing that is said to torture and assassinate opponents. Its trademark is putting corpses – sometimes those of journalists – in body bags (or bori) and then dumping them in vacant properties or drains, ready to be found by members of the public. In a political meeting in London captured on video in 2009, Hussain – who denies that his party is violent – suggested that his political opponents in Pakistan should get themselves measured for body bags. In order to get closer to the stories he is reporting, Hyder has built close relationships with prominent gangsters. Lyari is Karachi’s biggest slum, a dusty and crime-ridden area that has been the centre of an intermittent gang war for over a decade. Until recently, Lyari’s kingpin was a self-styled gentleman gangster named Uzair Baloch, who regularly hosted international journalists at his Scarface-style villa. Over the last few years, he has sought access to mainstream politics, plastering huge posters of himself around Lyari. Some years ago, Baloch tried to bribe Hyder to abandon a story about one of his associates. Hyder politely refused, and the two soon became friends. Baloch allowed Hyder safe access to Lyari. For reporters unwilling to befriend these criminal elements – and some refuse to, on principle – it was inaccessible. “Lyari is Karachi’s most dangerous place, but it’s my favourite place because Uzair is my very best friend,” Hyder told me. (He is given to superlatives.) In December 2014, the two men went on holiday to Dubai together. It was partly a working trip – Baloch had promised Hyder news – but partly for leisure. Hyder says that during the trip Baloch, aware that his political fortunes were turning, told him that he intended to be arrested in Dubai. “He doesn’t want to be in jail in Pakistan because he will be killed in a fake encounter,” Hyder told me. “In Dubai he can stay alive.” Hyder flew back to Karachi, and within days, Baloch was arrested in Dubai. From jail, a few months later, Baloch reportedly confessed to carrying out assassinations on behalf of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). It was a spectacular turnaround in fortunes for a man who was once untouchable. Now that Baloch is no longer at large, Hyder relies on lower‑ranking gangsters for his stories. Many have gone to ground because of the current police operation in Karachi. Instead of fleeing to other parts of the country, well-connected criminals hide out in the wealthy districts of Defence and Clifton, where high walls and wide avenues provide cover. The city is vast: gun battles might consume one area while life goes on as normal elsewhere. Hyder grew up in the middle-class area of Gulshan-e-Iqbal, where he lived with his parents and four sisters. He studied English at the University of Karachi. After graduating, he had a brief and unsuccessful stint running a hairdressing salon with a friend. Then he dedicated his time to seeking out a media job and, in 2003, was hired by Geo TV to work on the entertainment desk. On the side, he began to work as a researcher on a programme called National Investigation Cell that reconstructed crimes. “I’d go to the locations and follow up thoroughly even in no-go areas,” Hyder said. “I didn’t feel at all afraid of going to dangerous spots to discover more. So my bosses thought, ‘OK, he should be in the news.’ My dreams came true. God always fulfils my dreams.” The Geo TV office is situated in the heart of Karachi’s business district, on Chundrigar Road. It is set back from the street by a series of roadblocks. As is standard at media offices in Pakistan, armed security guards and metal detectors obstruct the entrance. One afternoon, I took a rickety wood-panelled lift to the news desk on the fifth floor. Marooned on an island of empty desks – journalists start work late in Pakistan – was Talha Hashmi, senior reporter at Geo and a long-time colleague of Hyder’s. An amiable man with a neatly trimmed beard, he was busy receiving news updates via WhatsApp or telephone, making calls to check facts, and writing news tickers. Police, terrorists, and even gang leaders are all keen to make it onto the tickers. In 2003, when Lyari was consumed by a brutal turf war, gangsters from each side would call contacts at TV stations to get them to broadcast tickers about the murder of prominent opponents. Senior police officer Rao Anwar, the man in charge of the operation to bring Karachi under control, is also a regular fixture. Every crime reporter I met had a wry laugh about Anwar’s eagerness to be personally credited as the killer of suspected militants. Geo was established in 2002, after the military ruler General Pervez Musharraf allowed the licensing of private broadcasters. Until then, there was only one news channel, the state-run PTV. Now, there are scores. For most of the last decade, Geo has been the most popular. There is no shortage of news in Karachi but, on Geo, any lull is considered unacceptable. Anchors hype up the smallest developments and the screen frenetically cuts to different crime scenes. (When I lived in Karachi in 2012, I once saw a ticker on Geo announcing an explosion near my house. I cancelled my evening plans. Later, it transpired that the “explosion” was a car engine backfiring.) Flick to any of Pakistan’s other news channels, and the experience is much the same. They are competing on the same ground: who can be fastest and most exciting. “It’s a rat-race,” said Hashmi. “Now there are so many channels, and in the craze to be the fastest, you have to compromise.” The lives of Karachi’s journalists have been at risk for years, but terrorist groups – which became much more active in the years following September 11 – added a violent new element. Many reporters avoid the subject of terrorism altogether, while others use neutral terminology: “banned organisations” for groups and “militants” or “activists” for individuals. Hyder reports on terrorism, as his place on the TTS hitlist shows, but tends to use the term “activist” even in private conversation. Journalists also face a threat from the security services and political groups. In 2011, Hyder’s colleague at Geo, Wali Khan Babur, was shot dead by activists from the MQM. “For crime reporters, life is calculated,” Hyder said, as we drove to dinner in Clifton. It was evening and the city was cloaked in humid darkness. Hyder’s mood was morose; a contrast to his usual pronouncements about how lucky he is. Hyder’s parents don’t like his job. Neither does his wife, who works in a bank and cares for their two young daughters, aged one and three. “I cannot move anywhere easily,” he said. “I don’t often sit with friends, I don’t go to parties. I have to be very careful.” A few months ago, when he took his three-year-old daughter to register at school, the head teacher recognised him. “I don’t want to receive threats or cause problems for other children,” she said. She would admit his daughter if he agreed to one condition: never to collect or drop her himself. Hyder had no choice but to agree. Increasingly, old friends are slipping away, afraid to be seen with him in public. “I used to play cricket, but now, people don’t want to play with me. If I try to get a friend to go shopping, he’ll refuse – not outright, but they’ll make excuses: ‘I’m busy today.’ It is very painful.” The police and gangsters to whom he often refers as his “very best friends” are a poor substitute. “That’s just for work,” he said. “It’s part of life and a part of the job. If you’re not friends with any gangsters, how is it possible to get criminal news? If you don’t have friends in the police, who will disclose anything to you? True friendship is a different thing.” He was silent for some time, the background chorus of honking horns and traffic noises filling the gap. “I don’t trust anyone.” One morning I woke up to a WhatsApp message from Hyder asking how I was. A few minutes later, my phone buzzed again. I opened the message to find multiple pictures of corpses, close-ups of the bloodied faces of five bearded men, staring blankly into the camera lens. “Police encounter on TTP militants in Sohrab Goth last night,” he typed. A few minutes later, he sent through some cheerful selfies of himself in his new office. A few weeks earlier, Hyder had quit his job at Geo after 11 years, frustrated by diving ratings and long delays in salary payments. These difficulties began when Geo faced off against Pakistan’s powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency after a senior presenter named Hamid Mir was shot. Geo alleged that the attack was ordered from within the ISI. The agency fiercely denied this claim. Geo’s changing fortunes were a sharp reminder that freedom of speech in Pakistan only goes so far. Like many others, Hyder was tempted to join a new network, called Bol TV. It offered handsome salary packages and plush offices, with an on-site barber and gym. There was serious money behind it, although no one I asked seemed to know exactly where it came from. Vans, auto-rickshaws, and billboards all over Karachi proclaimed it: “Pakistan’s imminent number one media enterprise.” Hyder’s new channel was not yet on air, and its launch date kept being pushed further and further back. During the day, he was at the Bol office, building up a team – cameramen, junior reporters, and drivers – and assembling an archive of stock footage of politicians and key public institutions. But he continued to spend his nights circling the streets in his car, waiting for phone calls from police. A small matter like not having a working channel to air his findings did not stop him covering his beat. “I have to keep up my contacts, I’m always the first,” he said when we met that evening. I asked if he had missed reporting since leaving Geo a fortnight earlier. He nodded, his frustration visible. “Oh, very much.” The current anti-crime initiative seems to be working. According to official statistics, at least, the city-wide murder rate is significantly reduced. (970 murders were reported in the first half of 2015, 57% less than in the same period in 2014.) Of course, this does not include the hundreds of people shot dead by the security forces. Police justify these illegal killings by saying that Karachi is in a state of war and that any deaths are an unfortunate result of armed clashes. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, an NGO, has brought several cases against senior officers. Hyder has a complex relationship with the police. In 2011, he reported on a bungled search operation in the north-western district of Orangi Town, in which innocent people were arrested. Police demanded that Hyder hold the story. When he refused, he was badly beaten by officers. (The camera was still running and footage of the assault was broadcast on Geo.) Hyder and his cameraman were detained for seven hours. Nonetheless, he was affronted when I suggested that police might sometimes kill the wrong people. “If police are involved in wrong things, I report it, but above 90% of encounters are genuine,” he said. Late one cloudy, starless night, I accompanied Hyder to meet a police contact in Sohrab Goth, the “no-go zone” where he was shot in 2012, and the frontline of Karachi law enforcement’s battle with religious militants. As we left the city centre, the lights went out: Pakistan’s energy crisis means that only affluent areas have constant electricity. When we pulled up at the police station, the entrance was cut off by an assault course of sandbags and cement blocks. We parked and walked through a side gate and into a small, badly paved courtyard, past a cell with a stained floor where three prisoners squatted. In a back room with cracked paint and visible wiring, station house officer Shoaib Shaikh sat on a bed, chain-smoking. He was a large unsmiling man in his 40s, with a bushy moustache and huge bags under his eyes. Shaikh has shot dead scores of militants in Karachi, including some TTP leaders, earning him the nickname Shoaib Shooter. In February 2014, a case was registered against him for killing a student leader in an encounter. He was briefly suspended, but the case was dropped and he returned to work. He showed us a picture on his phone of a TTS leader, and I asked if this was someone he had arrested. “Arrested, and killed,” said Shaikh. He said that he had arrested one Afghan Taliban leader who continues to coordinate activities from jail. He believes that his only option is to kill terrorists when he can. Despite the current crackdown, money is tight. “This job is very difficult. We have no support from the government, no facilities. We are fighting hand grenades and rocket launchers with Kalashnikovs.” Police officer Shoaib Sheikh – nicknamed Shoaib Shooter – who admits to killing scores of militants, shows a death threat texted to his mobile. Photograph: Qaisar Khan/Commissioned for The Guardian Since 2013, Shaikh has been a prominent target for the TTP. The threat to his life is so serious that he lives at the police station, leaving once or twice a month to visit his family. He showed me a recent text message from an Afghan phone number. “This is the last warning for you. If you don’t stop killing our workers, you are finished.” He took another drag from his cigarette. The power cut out and we were plunged momentarily into complete darkness. As the generator kicked in and the lights flickered back on, I looked around the room. Among the heaps of papers were small signs of a life lived here: a box of cornflakes, a bottle of Gaviscon. Mounted on the wall was a screen showing CCTV footage from outside, so Shaikh could spot intruders from his bed. Faced with the threat of death at the hands of the Taliban, many people – police officers, journalists, politicians – quietly leave the country. But Shaikh is defiant. When I asked if he would give up, his entire demeanour changed, his eyes flashing, his body tense and combative. “I will fight the war on terrorists, against the criminals. They say they are fighting a jihad, but this is not a jihad. Pakistan has good people, and Islam is a good religion. These people show only the evil face. I’m happy to die, because it is good work.” Another officer ran into the room to say that two criminals had been arrested. Hyder translated for me: “They were snatching phones, and the public beat them.” Minutes later, the two men, small and thin, were marched into the room, eyes blindfolded, bloodied bandages around their heads. The blood-stained collars of their shalwar kameez had been hastily washed. I wondered whether it was the public who beat them. Shaikh reached for a clipboard and began to ask questions. They answered obediently; one was at school, the other a mechanic. They were both 17. They confessed to stealing phones and cash. One admitted to owning a 9mm pistol. They were marched out of the room. Zille Hyder with a suspected robber at a police station in Sohrab Goth, a Taliban stronghold in Karachi. Photograph: Qaisar Khan/Commissioned for the Guardian “Nine millimetre is a very famous pistol. It’s used by target killers,” said Hyder. Shaikh leaned over and reached under his pillow. He pulled out a gun and handed it to me. “Like this.” On the drive home, Hyder was thoughtful. “Everybody wants to enjoy the outside with family and friends, but if you’re on the hitlist, you can’t move.” Sometimes he and Shaikh drive out to the sea for an evening, under cover of darkness, to escape from the limits of their daily lives. Crime in Karachi entangles the most unexpected areas in its web. In late May, the New York Times published an investigation into the Pakistani technology company Axact, which funded Bol TV. (The exact size of its stake is unclear.) The report uncovered evidence that Axact was selling fake university degrees online. Journalists alleged there were more than 370 fake American schools and universities. These institutions had glossy websites offering degrees in dozens of disciplines, video testimonials, and staff lists. But the report alleged that these institutions were completely fictional, existing only as a collection of stock photos on Axact’s websites. The company’s CEO, Shoaib Shaikh (who coincidentally shares a name with the Sohrab Goth police officer), was arrested, and Bol’s broadcasting license revoked. Shaikh and four other Axact officials were charged with fraud, forgery and illegal electronic money transfers. The charges were later expanded to include money laundering and violating Pakistan’s Electronic Crimes Act. Shaikh and those allegedly involved deny any wrongdoing, and the case is yet to go to trial. In an online statement, Shaikh alleged that this was a conspiracy “to break our resolve, to derail Bol, to shut down Axact”. Pakistan’s broadcast media relished the chance to bring this new rival down to size. There were allegations of money laundering, of servers being used to air porn films. Prominent journalists hired by the channel began to jump ship. The brand new media titan was crippled before it had even launched. In some photographs of Shaikh being led away in handcuffs, Hyder, reporting on the case, stands at his side. For Hyder, who has made a career of delicately balancing relationships with law enforcement and criminals, Bol’s fall from grace was devastating. On Facebook, he posted messages and links calling for his followers to stand with Bol. Privately, he felt differently. “I was reporting on the scandal, but working for Bol, so I had to stand with another face,” he told me over the phone in September. “My friends and family members were asking me: what about the porn films? What about the fake degrees? What about the money laundering? My father asked me why I had a job there when they are involved in porn films. I had no answer.” With the criminal charges against Bol in process, the government refused to grant a broadcasting licence. Staff continued to go into the office, even going out to film news items, despite having no channel to air them on. Some videos went online, but in a country where only 10% of the population has internet access, this felt futile. Hyder wrote to me: “These are very difficult days in my life. My news is not going on air. I cannot send tickers. I am disturbed, I am mentally disturbed. My family is facing financial difficulties and for me to not be on air, on screen, it’s very difficult.” In September 2015, as the Karachi operation marked its second anniversary, Hyder left Bol and started a new job as senior crime reporter at another new venture, Channel 24. It was a homecoming – he had an audience and a renewed sense of purpose. He is now turning his attention to the times when the police get it wrong. He spent much of his time off speaking to the families of people wrongfully killed in encounters. As police killings of militants stepped up in mid-2013, many terrorists fled Karachi. Police began to victimise their families, demanding bribes. Some of those who refused to pay were killed. Hyder gathered evidence of 50 such deaths. His “best friends” in the police force are not happy. “I am doing my work,” Hyder said, firmly. “I am not a servant of police officers.” The police claim that they have halted the Talibanisation of Karachi. Bombings have been less frequent in 2015, though targeted killings of police and media workers continue. I asked Hyder if he was still on the Taliban hitlist, or if six quiet months without regular television appearances had reduced the threat to his life. “Yes, I’m still in the fourth position on the hitlist.” He burst out laughing. “I am very proud.” He paused. “When you are on a terrorist hitlist, everybody knows that you’re a real journalist.”
by Samira Shackle, theguardian.com

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Interview: Mahathir Mohamad by Joyce Lee

Mahathir Mohamad is the former prime minister of Malaysia. He began his career as a medical doctor before entering politics, and remains the country’s longest-serving premier. From 1981 to 2003, he held office as prime minister and president of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the leading party of the government coalition still in power today.

The Diplomat met with Mahathir in Putrajaya, the administrative capital created during his tenure, to discuss his legacy and Malaysia’s direction.

I wanted to begin with an issue that bookended your prime ministership: racial tensions in Malaysia. In the late 1970s, you gave a speech at the UN calling Malaysia a “multi-racial time bomb…from the colonial past.” At the end of your tenure, you warned that racial tensions were on the rise. How did your policies shape racial tensions and what is the impact today?

This country has a mixed population, and the people who live in this country are so different from each other. Different ethnically, different in terms of culture, language, and different in terms of economic achievement. The difference is very big, and normally differences cause people to confront each other or dislike each other, to fight against each other. So Malaysia is a country where the possibility of racial fights would be very common.

What I think is my greatest achievement is that during the 22 years I was prime minister there were no racial conflicts so serious that there would be clashes. There were no clashes. I had the support of all communities, which is the reason why I always got a two-thirds majority during election. There were still racial tensions, but I think it was less during the 22 years of my prime ministership.

But after, the others did not handle this problem well. They thought that by being liberal, they would ensure all races would be happy. But they did not. If you are liberal, the extremists take advantage. The extremists in each race took advantage of the liberalism to bring up racial issues. Because now you can discuss and say what you like because of the liberal attitude, freedom of speech. Therefore, they made people conscious of their differences, and they began to fall behind these extreme people. So now racial tension has come up again.

If subduing racial tensions was your greatest achievement, what was your greatest regret?

Now, my one regret is for the economic achievement of each race. I wanted them to achieve equally the same status: There would be, of course, rich Chinese, rich Indian, and rich Malay, and there would be poor Chinese, poor Indian, and poor Malay. So there will not be the impression that in Malaysia the Malays are poor and backward, while the Chinese are rich and advanced and they live in the cities. That is a really bad situation; that will create clashes. But we brought them together all to be in the city, all to be well-educated, all to perform better. And because Malays are rather weak in business, we gave them more opportunities. Affirmative action.

Does this relate to your statement last year that Malays are lazy? This caused some controversy, particularly in reference to the current administration’s decision to abolish English-language teaching of science and mathematics in 2009.

I speak the truth. Malays are lazy. We give them opportunities; they do not seize the opportunities. But what was important about the education was that I wanted to use English for the teaching of science and math. [The current administration] reversed it and went to teaching science and math in Malay. And Malay is not a language of science. Other subjects are static, but science moves.

So it seems that economic development and race relations are intrinsically tied. This brings up the question of Wawasan 2020, the guiding policy to make Malaysia a fully industrialized country by 2020, a part of your legacy.

The country was growing during my time, most of the time. There were downturns. But the country was arrested because of improper handling, because of focus not so much on economic development, but on political survival. Each prime minister wants to survive, and they thought they would survive by playing up other issues instead of concentrating on economic development. And therefore the growth slowed down. And when there was racial tension, bad administration, corruption, et cetera, the economy shrinks. So we will not achieve Vision 2020 to become a fully developed country. We will not now. You can see the currency is depreciated, stock market is in a bad shape, people are generally unhappy.

You’ve not been shy about your wish to see Prime Minister Najib Razak go. In August, you wrote on your blog that democracy is dead, a reflection of the cabinet reshuffle in late July, the crippling of the attorney-general’s investigation of missing 1MDB funds, and the co-option of members of the Public Accounts Committee. Just a few weeks later, you appeared at the Bersih 4.0 protests to advocate the prime minister’s removal. Can you expand on your decision to attend in light of your opinion that democracy is dead?

Well, that is a kind of last resort. I feel the need to express my opinion, and since I hold the same view as Bersih, with regard to the removal of the prime minister, I went. It’s not a racial thing. The people at Bersih come from all communities. It’s not a Chinese demonstration against a Malay government. It’s not racist at all. So I went to express my support for what they are demanding.

Does that include Bersih’s other demands, such as electoral reforms, the right to protest, and more transparency?

I’m not against those things, but during my time, there were no protests. There was no Bersih. People were happy to participate in elections. They didn’t dispute the results of elections. It was only after I stepped down that there was Bersih, that [its supporters] demonstrated and made all these demands. These are things that happened after I stepped down. During my time people didn’t complain about elections. There may be extraneous people who will always complain, but to have a general demonstration like that, there was none.

What is your opinion of the counter-demonstration that followed Bersih 4.0, the so-called “red-shirt rally” in September?

That was organized by the government. They turned the Bersih demonstration into a racial thing, Chinese against Malays, which it is not. But they have to divert the attention of the demands of Bersih on 1MDB to something else, and they made race an issue. This is very dangerous, but the government wants to get people to show support for them.

Malaysia’s current credit rating is still A3 at Moody’s. But, as you mentioned, the ringgit has rapidly depreciated, public and household debt are very high, and the 1MDB scandal has cast political uncertainty over the country. Do you see a credit downgrade ahead?

It might happen. The way things are going, it might happen. Because now to pay our debts, which were made in foreign currencies including the U.S. dollar, we need more ringgit. And to make more ringgit, we need to have a good economy. But we are not having a good economy. We are not growing as fast; we are not getting richer, we are actually getting poorer.

How would it be possible to raise investor confidence in Malaysia?

At the moment I think if the prime minister is not there, confidence will return.

Would it be so simple? What about legal redress if he were to step down, or the repairing of supervisory and judiciary powers to check future scandals?

All these things can be done, provided the prime minister is not there.

Do you feel optimistic or pessimistic for such an outcome?

I’m very pessimistic.

It seems that there is a political stalemate, and further public protests are unlikely.

There should be a vote of non-confidence. But that all depends on the members of parliament being conscious about their duties. The members of parliament are indebted or obliged or owe something to the prime minister, so they are not going to do it.

Then what recourse is left to citizens?

The next election. Three years for the next election. Even then there is no certainty because money goes a long way toward changing peoples’ minds. And the people who are close to the prime minister don’t have money; the prime minister has a lot of money. He admitted so.

Do you feel personally invested in the outcome of these events? Tracing your career and your writings, it seems that the progress of the country, the progress of Malays and Malaysia, has been a lifelong project.

Every citizen would like to see his country prosper so that he can enjoy his life. Some are able to do something; some are not able to do anything. But I found myself in a position to do something, so I have become prominent. And since then, people seem to have accepted some of the things that I say. So I have a better chance to do something than most ordinary people. I am an ordinary citizen, but with better possibility of doing something.

Do you have a vision for what sort of leadership you would like to see?

A leader must be concerned about the country, not about himself. You have to, to a certain extent, preserve your position, but the preservation is possibly because it enables you to do things that are good for the country.

Do you have anybody in mind as the next leader?

Well, I think normally it would be the former deputy president of UMNO. But now, of course, things are very free.

So no comment on specific names?

Maybe the former deputy prime minister.

If you were to reprint your 1986 treatise The Challenge this year with a new chapter posing the modern challenge to Malaysia, what would that chapter say?

I have always thought that leadership would be concerned with getting on with the tasks of a leader. But I now find that being a leader alone is not enough. The kind of leadership we have should be one that has the capacity to focus not on himself, but on what is good for the country. Now I find that not anybody can be a leader. You need somebody that is dedicated to the cause of doing something for the country.

I wanted to ask about the major international frameworks facing Malaysia, including the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the China-backed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. What are your thoughts on these agreements, and in particular, Malaysia’s balance between the U.S. and China?

During my time, the concentration in foreign policy was to be friendly with all countries. But in particular we paid attention to the smaller countries, developing countries. We initiated South-South organization. I have always been critical of the U.S. because of U.S. policy. The U.S. tends to have a finger in every country, and when they come in, there will be trouble. You see this in the Middle East and elsewhere. They wanted to come to Malaysia also, but during my time I rejected their approach.

Now they have proposed TPP, as you know. And TPP is a device for them; obviously it is for their own good. And what they want to do is open up markets everywhere so that they can come in. The opposite is that “you can come into our country,” but we don’t have the strength to go there. We don’t have the products to sell there, whereas they have everything. They have the capital, they have the knowhow, they can buyout small or big companies here. And eventually, they will rule all the businesses. And that means also political control.

Many think that Najib’s administration will pass the TPP. Do you agree?

He doesn’t study the implications enough. Even if he does study, his policy is to be friendly with Americans. So he is prepared to disregard the national interest in favor of being friendly with America and complying with American ideas.

Regarding China, what I thought was very interesting was your proposal of the East Asian Economic Caucus in December 1990. This pioneered an identity of East Asia, moving away from the Cold War-era concepts of Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia. Now, ideas of Asia are dominated by China. How should Malaysia posture itself toward China?

Well, the EAEC, or East Asian Economic Caucus or Community, was suggested because of the failure of GATT, General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. Because of that failure, we found ourselves having to confront other countries, economies of the West. But they enhanced their strength by Europe coming together, North America coming together. If Malaysia is to counter their moves, we need to strengthen ourselves. We need a bigger bloc. And that bigger bloc should be East Asia. Not just Southeast Asia because it’s too small, too weak. Southeast Asia plus East Asia will be very powerful. Then we can go to any meeting and speak with a powerful voice, with one voice. But of course the Americans shot down that plan to Japan, Korea, Singapore, and Indonesia – “they must not do this” – because America does not want anybody contesting them. So we couldn’t go ahead with that.

Then China emerged as a very powerful economy. Our policy is to be friendly with all countries, but we think China is the counterbalance to America. So we developed a policy of being friendly to China. China and Malaysia have very good relations.

What about South China Sea issues?

Well, that is a problem, and we will try to deal with that.

Are you worried about competition from other Southeast Asian countries, like Indonesia, Thailand, and now Vietnam as a new “tiger economy”?

No, we had a policy that says “prosper thy neighbor.” We believe that if the neighbors are prosperous, they give you less trouble. If they are poor, they tend to migrate to our country, create a lot of problems and confrontations, et cetera. But if they are prosperous, we can benefit by exporting to them, trading with them. I think we had an edge because we started earlier. Despite everything, we were better industrialized than Indonesia or Philippines or Vietnam.

But now, because the administration does not focus on economic development, we are falling back. We are not growing as fast as Indonesia, as fast as Philippines, as fast as Vietnam. That was the government’s mistake. Because they either don’t know or they don’t care whether the country grows or not. So our neighbors, when they have become prosperous, they will benefit from our lack of ability to compete.

It seems your mood today is overall quite pessimistic on Malaysia’s reputation, its state of democracy, and economic prospects. Is there something to give Malaysians hope?

The people are very good people. Malaysians are very tolerant. In other countries, with the kind of divisions in terms of race and culture and economic wellbeing, there would be confrontations, there would be violence. But here, they may have tensions between races, but it doesn’t escalate to the point of violence.

So you have faith that, even with racial tensions rising, there will not be violence?

Unless of course somebody does something very wrong. One has to remember that, way back, there was a communist uprising in this country to overthrow the government by violence. It has happened before. In 1969, there was race violence. But generally, people in Malaysia here are quite peaceful.

Interview: Mahathir Mohamad
by Joyce Lee, thediplomat.com

Joyce Lee is currently a master’s student at the London School of Economics, completing a dual degree in international affairs between PKU and LSE.