My attempt at being at being non-political.
By: Uzma Bawany/Thaakat Foundation
If one were to ask what the biggest problems in Pakistan were right now, some people might even say traffic, garbage and bad marriages. For a country which houses the sixth largest population in the world, there are bigger problems to be oriented and once those are taken care of, problems such as overcrowded buses and littered highways will resolve themselves. A good leader understands that a superior macro management campaign will bring resolve to the micro dilemmas. Smart infrastructure for example will tackle traffic, litter, pollution and the economy.
When I heard of Sir Pervez Musharraf’s arrival in New Jersey I felt this was something I needed to hear, it was something that I needed to be a part of. I had tried so hard to not be a part of the political arguments in Pakistan, though when there is turmoil and disrepair as there is today, it is unavoidable to turn the other way. The source of all of the problems come from the leadership and infrastructure you have in place. Unfortunately with Pakistan, there is neither and we can’t deny it any longer.
Many argue that there is no good enough leadership that exists today to fix the problems of the country. Everyone has their arguments for and against Musharraf, so I went in with a completely non- biased view, only knowing that there must have been something he had done right as he held the torch of power for nine years in Pakistan. For me, his strength and cohesiveness in leadership was confirmed by what he had accomplished though the global relationships and bridges he had built.
Some may argue that a bridge is not important, however if that was the case our curiosity may not ever have known what lay on the other side. Bridges, figurative and literal, whether they are in transportation, communication, technology or relationships are all very important, it helps us to grow and expand the fabric of our lives.
To some of the crowd, his speech wasn’t inspiring enough. Others argued that he only embellished all of his accomplishments. I felt he shared just enough of what he needed to share to prove he could handle the state of affairs.
As I sat there, I felt tired of all people had promised to do, I didn’t want him to come in and do the same thing. I needed to hear what was real; I needed his rebuttal on controversial issues in the past so I could make up my mind on whether he would be a good leader for the future. He shared that some people make mistakes and learn from them, for that we must be forgiving. When we think about the leaders that have come and gone in recent years, we are immediately able to devise from them those who learn from precedents and those who continue to challenge them.
Musharraf shared that he wasn’t a philosopher, that he was a regular man who understood all of the tribulations the country faced. He is an average guy, with above average knowledge on the country, it’s international relationships, an insider view on the security threats and a man who could prove he was able to handle the seat.
He explained that stability in the nation comes from securing trustworthy local governments who understand their people. Stability comes from leaders who recognize the importance of empowering the poor and the value of building up the country, one city at a time.
Many can argue that the country needs a fresh palette, a new leader, a changing inspiration. We all also know that the state of Pakistan is in such a condition that a new leader may not have the capacity or network to handle the atrocities. Pakistan is currently dealing with internal and external security threats; grappling title of most dangerous country in the world. Stricken with the destruction of the floods, it is also crouching on an infrastructure that has been washed away. Despite all of this, the country is divided, and the likeliness of civil wars seems all the more forthcoming.
The country is not ready for something new, it needs something familiar. It needs a strong and confident leader. It needs someone who understands its delicate maze. Who you support is up to you, however value that even as a Pakistani in America you have a voice. You have the opportunity to share your opinion with all of your family back home. It’s an opportunity for you to come together to change the face of the nation. Now my fellow Pakistani’s, is not the time to run and hide.
*Thaakat is a non-political, non-religious organization. My opinions are in no way a reflection of the organization. These are purely my lighthearted and harmless thoughts on a future for the country. I am not a professional of any sort, so please do not coin my phrases as facts unless you have done your own research
*Comments are welcome; Thaakat@gmail.com. Please let’s respect each others diverse opinions. All of my rebuttals are in the article. Thanks:)
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So here’s the deal, Global population is growing in multitudes. As the decades wear on we may not see the effects of all of the harmful usage we are doing the environment-but it’s happening faster now than ever before. We hear about the effects of Global Warming all the time. Though we choose to ignore it.
This is not the worst of it: From overflowing landfills to the expiration of natural resources, our citizenship on this Earth is of poor social responsibility and we are soon going to see the effects of it if we don’t pressure government panels and world authorities to change their ways.
On the subway the other day, I saw an advertisement showing PSEG (an energy services company on the east coast) was working on installing Wind Turbines on the Jersey Shore. I remember I once did a project on Wind Energy in Elementary school. At the time, I thought it to be a great alternative. I figured a decade from then they’d be all over the place. Though a decade from then is today, and they are about as scarce as socks on a hot summer day.
So really guys, what are Wind Turbines? And What is Renewable Energy?
Wind Turbines- A wind turbine is a rotating machine which converts Kinetic Energy into Mechanical Energy using the power of the wind. The wind huh? How Convenient is right!
Wind Turbines are a source of renewable energy. Renewable energy is that which is generated from natural resources and replenished at the same rate that it is used. Key word: Replenished!
When we use crude oil and coal- there is no cloning process. Once it’s used, it is depleted. The only way for us to get more is to find it. Eventually there will be no more to find.
Recently, the interest in solar energy, wind energy and vegetation has been creating for new found experiments and research but enough isn’t being done to take it from talks to actual process.
Reach out to your government authorities and public officials! Ask questions and demand healthier solutions!
Interview by Uzma Bawany/Thaakat Foundation
Identity Theft, it’s really only funny in the commercials. When you think about the number of people it affects and you see the bona fide statistics, it’s hard to imagine that one day you may not be a victim. Take it from me people! From being pick pocketed to having fake checks on my account used at boutique parlors- the mess is not entertaining to say the least.
Now in past days we would imagine source of identity theft just being mere carelessness. You didn’t shred your bills, you left your wallet in a cab etc etc. Today, theft has become all the more sophisticated. You being a victim could just mean you simply not being aware- enough.
I recently had a talk with Jibran Ilyas- Jibran is currently working as Senior Forensic Investigator at Trustwave (www.trustwave.com), where he has investigated some of the nation’s largest data breaches. This past summer, Jibran presented the field at DEFCON (World’s Largest Hacking/Security Conference) where he showed how hackers steal credit card data from computer systems. Riding on the edge of technology and trying to keep speed with sneaky hacking districts- Jibran has traveled a long journey to join the pack that works to keep us protected in virtual world.
Let us first begin by giving you all a short visionary into Jibran and how he got where he is today. Network security and digital forensics is a popular genre for career goals in current times, though the road to this aspiration isn’t so easy.
Jibran joined Senn High School after arriving here from Pakistan at age 14. There, he worked hard to take advantage of all the educational devices and opportunities he had at his fingertips. During his senior year he was featured on a game show called “Who Wants to Win a Scholarship”, a replica of a popular game show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire”, which awarded him a full four year scholarship to DePaul University. Yes people, we’ve got a celebrity on our hands.
Jibran wanted to stress though that if it weren’t for his work experience in the field and constant thought intrusion of wanting to push ahead he’d never get where he is today. Here was his footwork for those of you who may want to follow:
2001 – Admitted at DePaul for Bachelors in Networks Technology
2002 – Lab Tech at DePaul computer lab and IT Intern at Morgan Stanley
2003 – Onsite Computer Technician at Hometech Computer Solutions
2004 – Full time job at Stratford Advisory Group as Network Administrator
2005 – Graduated from DePaul and started job search for pure computer security job
2006 – After 7 month job search, landed a computer security job at Trustwave as Firewall and Intrusion Detection Systems Admin
2007 (summer) – Got promoted to Computer Forensics at Trustwave
2007 (fall) – Started Masters in Information Technology and Business Management at Northwestern University
2009 – Graduated for Northwestern University
I could give you a list of How To’s and Why Not’s on computer security, but I figured it’d be best if we went straight to our expert. Here are some tidbits of advice that I got from the authority himself.
- Miss. Urdu Times: How do you feel computer security issues have changed in the last five years?
- Jibran: The change is evident; we are going through a shock in time. In the past five years computers have changed, the virtual world has revolutionized and network security issues have definitely become more complex. Previously, security controls were nonexistent. Today, security is no longer an option, it is required and this is for many reasons. Financial companies must have adequate security to be compliant with the Sarbanes Oxley Act, hospitals are required to protect personal health records due to HIPPA laws and all of us mature individuals and organizations must be aware of the threats that lurk our privacy controls today. Previously, hacker tactics were called “smash and grab”, they would take the data they wanted and would depart. Today, the weasels are much more sophisticated. Once you are attacked, your entire network is consumed until it eventually falls to the assassin.
- Miss Urdu Times: What are three common cautionary rules we can all follow?
- Jibran: For one, you should not allow remote access if it is not absolutely necessary. Many employees work from home and they are offset by the thrill of the flexibility they are being offered. Do not be fooled, anywhere you are allowed access through a remote connection just know that it is also that easy for someone else to gain access.
- Second, make sure you know what your data means to you. What do you want to protect? What records do you want to keep? Do you know where you store your passwords? Make sure that you keep all of this information in secure areas. You must watch what data is going out as well as what data is coming in.
- Third: Watch where you’re going! I cannot stress this enough! If you see anything on the internet entitled FREE, you should not trust that blindly. These networks have hackers waiting at the gates to attack.
- Miss Urdu Times:How many Americans on average are attacked by a virus/hacker?
- Jibran: At least 9 out of 10 computers are attacked on average. Who is really using your computer? What information is protected? These are all questions you should ask yourself on a regular basis. Everyone is a potential victim and everyone should always be prepared to halt and react to serious computer security threats.
- Miss Urdu Times: What programs are available today that are helpful in assisting to secure your PC?
- Jibran: Unfair question and I’ll tell you why. I don’t want everyone to think that there is a program out there that will fully protect you and keep you safe. That my friends, despite any advertisements and promises is a lie. The best program to protect your security is- awareness. There is no antivirus that is perfect. In fact, worms and viruses evolve, many hackers are testing these against antivirus software before launching. Attacks have become so sophisticated that helpful programs become outdated before we even learn of them. Though if you really want a suggestion, you can use Sunbelt Personal Firewall at http://www.sunbeltsoftware.com/home-home-office/sunbelt-personal-firewall/and Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware at http://www.malwarebytes.org/mbam.php. Both have free downloads that I think are at the top of the class as far as those are concerned. Just be AWARE! Do not click on a popup on your computer that says, “your computer is at risk”. Treat that as “your computer will be at risk if you click on it”
- Miss Urdu Times: Do you see the future being more difficult for hackers or for the average person (potential victim)?
- Jibran: For the average person that’s for sure. Security people are also hackers, but we don’t learn it from the angle of attacking people but protecting people. Average people, you must step it up, be aware. Know your data and do not fall victim to programs and advertisements that seem too easy.
As technology becomes more stylish to meet the demands of virtual and functional sophistication, hacker techniques will become more complex, network disasters will become all the more tumultuous and the attackers channel will be hidden so well as if to seem imaginary to the outside world. Take it from Jibran guys, one can never be too safe.
Jibran Ilyas was also PSA President at DePaul University for two years. Under his reign, culture again began to flourish. Today, he has taken his knack for leadership and want to maintain cultural preservation to ABN (Asian Broadcasting Network) where he works with Mujahid Ghazi and a young team to bring you everything Pakistani, every weekend.
Pakistan Hosts First Ever Fashion Week despite tumultuous circumstances
Uzma Bawany/Thaakat Foundation/Exec Director
I was getting ready to write my articles this morning when one of my buddies rushed into the room and said, “Yo, did you know Pakistan held it’s first ever fashion week?”
I wasn’t sure what my reaction should be. I have always known Pakistan to be a very fashion forward country. Yeah some people, when they think Pakistan, they think Taliban, threat, bombs, dangerous. What do I think of Pakistan?
Color, patterns, sugar cane juice, fancy shoes, grand shaadis, seaside..Fashion! I know many of you have heard of HSY and Mehmoona Manan- how about Nomi Ansari? I’m not going to lie, I personally can’t afford many of these decorums and neither can 98% of Pakistan’s public but then again isn’t that what grandiose fashion is about? The type of fashion that you can only touch on magazine paper and whose thrill you can only enjoy if you’re there at PAKISTAN’S FIRST EVER FASHION WEEK!
The majority of the Pakistan public enjoys the browsing of silk markets and clothing bazaars. The fun of taking your masterpiece cloth to your favorite “darzi” and getting it sewn in whatever crazy elegancy you wish upon it. Though we can’t afford the grandiose fashion, I’d say many of us clothing desperados are definitely influenced by the pictures they paint in our imagination.
Let’s face it guys, India borders Pakistan. Bollywood is Universal, Indian beauty became a phenom after watching Frieda Pinto in Slumdog Millionaire and dosas- Just wait till we start finding them ready made in grocery stores. So why is Pakistan lagging behind in the arts? It’s dying film industry has been done with for some time now and fashion shows were a no go until a few weeks ago.
Sometimes people need that little light to shine in order to exercise their talent and reach for the stars. Models graced the runway with the likes of the biggest fashion designers in the world. Surging violence in the country did indeed grab headlines and cause many security scares. The fashion show had to be rescheduled twice, but then enough was enough and Karachi decided that the show must go on.
The four day event helped boost an industry that Pakistan SHOULD indeed get recognition for. Unfortunately, it’s the tumultuous persona of the country that gets recognized. Don’t be afraid to embrace our country for all of the good people, colorful culture and talent that it holds!
Let us cheer for better times with some sugar cane juice.
By: Uzma Bawany/Executive Director/Thaakat@gmail.com
The latest earthquake shook the city of Padang in Indonesia and was responsible for over one thousand deaths. In addition to the mortalities, hundreds of bridges were fallen, infrastructure was pulled loose and populace in the region is running in circles trying to gather their belongings.
We live in Chicago. Yeah we get snow, sometimes at a jaw dropping six feet. Sometimes our basements get flooded because Des Plaines River just can’t handle all that glitters from the sky. I’d say though, we are still pretty lucky. When’s the last time we had to prepare for a natural disaster? Y2k in the year 2000 doesn’t even count, it never happened!
In a region where infrastructure struggles to build the community and daily poverty is devastation enough, people are unable to rebuild their lives. Scientists now say that according to geographical estimates, the worst is yet to come. Another earthquake is on it’s way just days after people are still clenching their clothes to block the stench of rotting bodies.
Scientists have done GPS measurements of the rate of plate motion and our earth doctors suggest the area has been lacking in the stress relief that was otherwise predicted over the past few years. Ah, technology. What greatness it brings to us in that it predicts disaster , though how terrible the predicament that we cannot protect ourselves from the fall. People in rural regions have no access to media and bulletins to reach to news fast enough. Those that can don’t have the mobility and money to get away fast enough. Those that can get away are so tied to their homes that they have accepted mortality and do not wish to escape it at all.
Perhaps these people, these same people that make the clothes we wear on our back, the same people that gather to watch television on the one broken set in the neighborhood and are grateful to have bread for breakfast, lunch and dinner are tired. Perhaps they feel that a final end is at least their end to poverty.
If the people of Padang are well prepared, they should survive another quake. We live in Chicago, but the snow is not here yet. Let us take some free time to look into how we can prepare the people of Padang from further devastation.
Ah, technology. It is great, if only it can reach those people that need it -fast enough.
Please take a peek at www.islamicrelief.org for more information on how you can help the people of Indonesia in trying times.
By: Uzma Bawany/Thaakat@gmail.com/Executive Director
I feel like we don’t update our supporters about Thaakat enough via our Urdu Times initiative so we thought to take a moment this week to let everyone know what we’ve been up to for the past year.
Thaakat Foundation started with a small group of students who gathered in an apartment one day to share ideas about life, little did they know they were there for their first unofficial board meeting. Without a due everyone agreed to be on board (I told them it was for eternity) and they willingly signed over their Sunday mornings for meetings and free time to spreading word of the cause.
That was in August of 2007. Today, we are incorporated with the state and federal governments as a 501c3 non -profit and hope to spread the agenda of creative altruism to the depths of college campuses and beyond.
In the last year we were able to hold 9 major volunteer events which included a Thanksgiving and Mother’s Day luncheon with the elderly at Hamdard, teaching children principles of money saving and courtesy, gardening up beauty for a HUD sponsored nursing home and holding a poetry slam to encourage tolerance and amicability among Indian and Pakistani youth.
As far as global projects are concerned, We were able to work with The More Than Tomorrow Foundation to launch a pilot computer learning center in Nothern India for which we have secured another two laptops to help with teaching in the village. We were able to work with the College of DuPage MSA to raise more than $1200 for the SWAT refugees in June 2009 and currently we just met our goal to sponsor a village in Southern India with clean water for up to twenty five years. Toot Toot!
Thaakat has been featured in booths at Melas, Chaand Raats, Expos and sponsored in fundraising events though co-hosting with College of DuPage IPO, DePaul PSA and the University of Illinois at Chicago UDA.
We love that we have inspired youngsters to donate but even more, we have inspired them to want to be involved hands on through our local volunteer events. People that we’ve worked with have been so touched by the fact that these young adults are not on assignment or being forced into helping. These young adults have volunteered their time and want to help.
Often times when we have left Hamdard center the elderly send us off in cheers and both volunteers and seniors depart misty eyed but strong in heart and hope. We are the future and if we as youngsters become too consumed in work, computers, television, violin lessons, soccer practice etc etc.. Then there will be a generation of old but wise, poor but hopeful, weak yet strong in mind that will be left in just faraway dreams that someone one day will care to take notice.
We all work, very hard. Many of us work so much so that we barely see our families. Do take the time to sit down during the week and schedule bonding time with your family, especially your grandparents. Take out time once a month to volunteer. Take time out to teach your children the importance of global awareness and cultural diversity.
Our board members have worked on a purely voluntary basis tirelessly to help progress our efforts in the last year, if you feel you are a business, school organization or individual that can help us move forward please contact us at email@example.com!
THANK YOU SO MUCH TO ALL OF OUR DONORS AND SUPPORTERS WHO HELPED US MEET OUR GOALS FOR THE WATER FILTER PROJECT!
Thank you of course to Tariq Kwaja of the Urdu Times for believing in us when no one else did!
By: Uzma Bawany/Thaakat Foundation
Some call this having financial wealth, to others it may be the ability to get through life smiling, to me it’s being able to cook a good batch of cookies and uhh what do you call it- being successful.
Being successful- how generic right? I hate it when people say that, what does it mean? What is successful? Who is the judge? Are you ever really satisfied?
Let me allow you to read my mind, only because I’m that nice. Sometimes I feel like if I give people too much insight- then my dream isn’t just mine anymore. Then again I think, if the people closest to me don’t know what I want to acheive–who will bring me up when I’m down? Who will help me on my journey down the yellow brick road?
You always hear people say they struggled their whole lives or that they just never had enough. Pathooey to all of you, because in the recourse of thought and circumstances of those around us- you see that you never really struggled. You’re struggle was in loss of achievement because you gave up.
Here are my tips of motivation to get you on the mindset to knowing you’ll be a millionaire- whether success to you means rich in the mind or in the heart.
Did Spongebob change your life?- It could be Spongebob, it could be a line in “Entourage”, it could be a verse of a song. Whatever it is, find those few words or images of inspiration that remind you of your goal at hand. That small something that makes you feel like a super star.
Skinny *****ing- Blame game. Quit it! This is what I call the cycle of you did this and she did that and now I’ve lost it all. If you are overweight, don’t blame it on the skinny girl, blame it on the fact that you’re not at the gym. If you’re not rich, don’t blame it on Madoff (unless you really lost moola with him) blame it on your lack of change in your savings account. Take that negative energy and re-invest it to make yourself a better person. Realize where you are wrong before moving on.
Dress for success- Sometimes you become so lost in your thread to success that you forget how nice it feels to get all dolled up, to look like you’re a million dollars. Play the part so you feel the part-it’ll do some crazy things for your motivation.
Where’s your recipe?-Fine, have a million things on your list- but define what your essential goal is and how you plan to get there. Even Martha Stewert can’t bake cookies without a recipe. Life requires a plan, Goals require a suit to action.
Hope that helps for beginners- because no matter how humble your origins, a Knight is what you will be if you so wish it. Good Luck!