Tuesday, February 28, 2006

BIRD FLU: What you need to know

I thought it prudent to inform you of some key tid bits of info regarding the B-Flu, since it may be unnecessarily scaring the shite out of some folks:

*The following information was extracted from http://www.symptoms.name/birdflusymptoms.htm*

Symptoms of bird flu (avian flu) in humans

In humans, it has been found that bird flu or avian flu causes similar symptoms to other types of flu:
Muscle aches
Sore throat
(Severe cases) Breathing problem and pneumonia

Bird flu can be fatal.

Overview of bird flu (avian flu)

Bird flu, or avian flu is an influenza virus strain that typically infects birds - including wild birds like ducks and domestic birds like chickens.

There are many forms of bird flu, and most are relatively harmless, producing mild symptoms or even no symptoms. However, several strains of bird flu produce a highly contagious disease that kills quickly and can lead to a bird flu epidemic. These dangerous viruses are known as "highly pathogenic avian influenza." One such bird flu virus is currently spreading among chickens in Asian countries.

In recent years it was discovered that the bird flu virus can occasionally infect people who have close contact with live birds.

How dangerous is bird flu?

There have been a number of small outbreaks of bird flu since 1997, and people who get it appear to have a high mortality rate.

1997 Hong Kong - 18 people were infected and 6 people died.

2003 Hong Kong - Two cases and one death.

2004 East Asia- As many as 10 deaths have been linked to an outbreak in a number of Asian countries.

How can bird flu be treated?

Anyone with bird flu symptoms should see a health care professional immediately. Several antiviral medications used to treat human flu appear to be effective in treating bird flu, although the strain is resistant to some others. Consult your doctor.

How to Avoid Getting Bird Flu

The Centers for Disease Control recommends:

*travelers to clean their hands often with soap and water or waterless alcohol-based hand-rubs

*all foods from poultry, including eggs, should be thoroughly cooked.

*any travelers with a febrile respiratory illness returning from countries affected by H5N1 virus (bird flu) to seek prompt medical attention.

*avoid contact with live poultry and birds (if you are traveling to areas affected by avian influenza outbreaks)

Other informative links:

Bird Flu (H5N1) Strain in NWFP

Alas, the flu has permeated our ever-so impermeable borders of NWFP. I'm sure the guys in the NSA and CIA laugh with me.

Anyway, so it has arrived, the long awaited Bird Flu a la Pakistan. Chicken prices have dropped, causing a loss of about 1 Billion PK Rupees to the indutry (US$ 16,666,666 approx). Two chicken coops have been quarantined until the results of the test samples are verified by the World Reference Laboratory in Weybridge, UK.

Click the links below for more details:

BBC Coverage on NWFP Bird Flu

The News Pakistan's Coverage on Bird Flu

Monday, February 27, 2006

Impak Summer Program

(image courtesy of www.impak.com)

hat if you had the opportunity to help the 3.5 million people affected by the earthquake that hit Pakistan on October 8, 2005 to rebuild their lives?

Impak is looking for dynamic, initiative-driven individuals to take on the challenge. Impak's QRSP offers an unparalleled opportunity to learn and make a difference, while living Impak's vision of building bridges and affecting positive change through meaningful work opportunities.

. . .

Impak Announces "Quake Relief Summer Program (QRSP)"

Following a successful pilot program, Impak has reorganized and is making preparations for another summer service corps experience in Pakistan. This year, Impak is focused on supporting reconstruction efforts in Northern Pakistan following the earthquake that devastated the region in October 2005. The 2006 program, dubbed the "Quake Relief Summer Program" (QRSP), places volunteers with established organizations working with people and on projects that serve to restore normality to the region. Volunteers work and live with the organization while Impak supplements the experience with orientation and group travel opportunities.

The QRSP represents a special focus for Impak in 2006; Impak recognizes the incredible circumstances of the earthquake and has made necessary changes from its 2005 program to fulfill Impak's obligation in providing support to this region. Details about the QRSP, including applications and program dates, will be available soon on our website at http://www.impak.org/ ; join our mailing list and stay tuned for updates.

About us:

Impak is a private, non-profit organization that seeks to bring positive change by connecting individuals abroad to Pakistan through meaningful work and volunteer opportunities.

Pakistan exhibits a potential illustrated in the ambitions of an emerging population seeking to bring positive change in the country. Impak believes that it can help strengthen this effort by building bridges with communities abroad; its underlying objective is connecting Pakistan's emerging civil society with individuals overseas who are motivated to make an impact.

Beyond serving as a facilitator, Impak seeks to bridge cultural gaps, promote understanding and give individuals an opportunity to experience first-hand the real potential of Pakistan. Individuals participate in an intellectual and cultural exchange that is the first step on the path towards progress and understanding.

For more information, please visit our website at http://www.impak.org/

Sunday, February 26, 2006


I would like to let everyone know that I am no longer accepting donations towards the earthquake relief. If you still feel you want to donate for quake related activities, please visit www.RSPN.org for donation details.

Thank you for your support. I would love that one day, if all the international donors, could take some time to visit Pakistan and see what they have helped recreate.

Today, Pakistan is a better place thanks to the world that helped out.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

New Look + H5N1 Bird Flu

You may notice I took sometime to change the look and general appearance of the blog. Feedback is always invited.

So, bird flu...Iran has it, Afghanistan has it, India has it...how come our esteemed Ministers insist we don't have a threat? The only other H5N1 free area is the Arabian frikkin Sea. I don't knw about you guys, I'm slightly nervous.

It's times like this i think about the billboards with the cows holding up painted signs that read "Eat More Chikkin" (thanks Raza)

it's "Eat More Cow Now"

One newspaper article on the birdflu coming to PK and prices of chicken will drop, good time to stock up for those of you who can't live without their white meat.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Robert Fisk on Religion

I don't know whether I agree, but its entitled to receive opinions...

Robert Fisk: Don't be fooled, this isn't an issue of Islam versus secularism

'The Koran does not forbid images of the Prophet but millions of Muslims do'

Published: 04 February 2006

So now it's cartoons of the Prophet Mohamed with a bomb-shaped turban. Ambassadors are withdrawn from Denmark, Gulf nations clear their shelves of Danish produce, Gaza gunmen threaten the European Union. In Denmark, Fleming Rose, the "culture" editor of the pip-squeak newspaper which published these silly cartoons - last September, for heaven's sake - announces that we are witnessing a "clash of civilisations" between secular Western democracies and Islamic societies. This does prove, I suppose, that Danish journalists follow in the tradition of Hans Christian Anderson. Oh lordy, lordy. What we're witnessing is the childishness of civilisations.

So let's start off with the Department of Home Truths. This is not an issue of secularism versus Islam. For Muslims, the Prophet is the man who received divine words directly from God. We see our prophets as faintly historical figures, at odds with our high-tech human rights, almost cariacatures of themselves. The fact is that Muslims live their religion. We do not. They have kept their faith through innumerable historical vicissitudes. We have lost our faith ever since Matthew Arnold wrote about the sea's "long, withdrawing roar". That's why we talk about "the West versus Islam" rather than "Christians versus Islam" - because there aren't an awful lot of Christians left in Europe. There is no way we can get round this by setting up all the other world religions and asking why we are not allowed to make fun of Mohamed.

Besides, we can exercise our own hypocrisy over religious feelings. I happen to remember how, more than a decade ago, a film called The Last Temptation of Christ showed Jesus making love to a woman. In Paris, someone set fire to the cinema showing the movie, killing a young man. I also happen to remember a US university which invited me to give a lecture three years ago. I did. It was entitled "September 11, 2001: ask who did it but, for God's sake, don't ask why". When I arrived, I found that the university had deleted the phrase "for God's sake" because "we didn't want to offend certain sensibilities". Ah-ha, so we have "sensibilities" too.

In other words, while we claim that Muslims must be good secularists when it comes to free speech - or cheap cartoons - we can worry about adherents to our own precious religion just as much. I also enjoyed the pompous claims of European statesmen that they cannot control free speech or newspapers. This is also nonsense. Had that cartoon of the Prophet shown instead a chief rabbi with a bomb-shaped hat, we would have had "anti-Semitism" screamed into our ears - and rightly so - just as we often hear the Israelis complain about anti-Semitic cartoons in Egyptian newspapers.

Furthermore, in some European nations - France is one, Germany and Austria are among the others - it is forbidden by law to deny acts of genocide. In France, for example, it is illegal to say that the Jewish Holocaust or the Armenian Holocaust did not happen. So it is, in fact, impermissable to make certain statements in European nations. I'm still uncertain whether these laws attain their objectives; however much you may prescribe Holocaust denial, anti-Semites will always try to find a way round. We can hardly exercise our political restraints to prevent Holocaust deniers and then start screaming about secularism when we find that Muslims object to our provocative and insulting image of the Prophet.

For many Muslims, the "Islamic" reaction to this affair is an embarrassment. There is good reason to believe that Muslims would like to see some element of reform introduced to their religion. If this cartoon had advanced the cause of those who want to debate this issue, no-one would have minded. But it was clearly intended to be provocative. It was so outrageous that it only caused reaction.

And this is not a great time to heat up the old Samuel Huntingdon garbage about a "clash of civilisations". Iran now has a clerical government again. So, to all intents and purposes, does Iraq (which was not supposed to end up with a democratically elected clerical administration, but that's what happens when you topple dictators). In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood won 20 per cent of the seats in the recent parliamentary elections. Now we have Hamas in charge of "Palestine". There's a message here, isn't there? That America's policies - "regime change" in the Middle East - are not achieving their ends. These millions of voters were preferring Islam to the corrupt regimes which we imposed on them.

For the Danish cartoon to be dumped on top of this fire is dangerous indeed.

In any event, it's not about whether the Prophet should be pictured. The Koran does not forbid images of the Prophet even though millions of Muslims do. The problem is that these cartoons portrayed Mohamed as a bin Laden-type image of violence. They portrayed Islam as a violent religion. It is not. Or do we want to make it so?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Apologies from Denmark.

FYI Readers - Time to get over it and start finding solutions. Here's a start...

There are three independent apologies with regards to the cartoon issue (Courtesy of Danske Jens -

Another Denmark - 14,800+ Danes

Jyllands Posten Newspaper

Prime Minister of Denmark

I suggest everyone circulate this information. The faster we spread positive changes towards a remedy for this situation, the quicker we can re-establish order and discipline in the Muslim world.
Who knows, it might even prevent the Pakistani protestors from burning themselves and everything around them.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006


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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Let’s talk about it

So now the issue on my blog is the question of whether the cartoon publishing is impeding on the respect of other people.

To contend the last comment: Whoever said the thing about you not liking it if Muslims made fun of Jesus, well he should wake up and look around to see how much of a joke Jesus has become in the western world. Take Jesus Christ Superstar for example. It is a pure parody of the life of Christ and his image. Since some western societies, usually synonymous with Christianity, have found it reasonable to jest about Christ does not provide them the liberty to involve other religions. Frankly, I personally believe that no one has the right to impede on another and presume it is ok. I really think it would be reasonable to say that in any country, even Denmark, walking into someone else’s house, moving things around, sleeping in their bed, sharing their wife, using their shower, eating their food, driving their car and taking things they like without permission would be quite unacceptable and insulting, especially if it is someone you DO NOT know.

If that example is not vivid enough, let’s take African Americans, a race the Dutch know very well from past experience. If one was to draw images of them in shackles and publish them for the purposes of humor, it may seem funny to some but in reality it is quite humiliating and, well, rouses some buried sentiments that took many centuries to forgive, let alone forget. It is not about being able to do something; it is really about respecting others place alongside yours on this planet and not disrespecting them.

I believe it is one of the 10 commandments that say: Do unto others as you would have done unto yourself. Think about that and then think about what is ok and how you can group an insult to an entire religious group (the 2nd largest in the world) and say that it is in the name of Freedom of Speech, knowing full well that image depictions of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) are strictly forbidden and punishable by death in Islamic Countries. There must be a good reason for that. This is not a social taboo one unearths by exposing in a public forum type fashion, hoping for a global catharsis. This is burning the principles of a belief because you have the physical ability to do so with complete disregard for the value it has to others.

I appreciate that a few Danish folks have taken the time to provide some insight on how religion is perceived in Denmark, and yes it certainly clears certain misconceptions about the intentions behind the publication. However, since they are now out in the open and the issue has obviously gone well out of hand, it is clear to presume that it was not a mistake, it was a miscalculation based on very unintelligent and careless judgment.

The question now is how to fix this. Since it is done, can the Muslim community forgive the Danes? I suppose the first step would require the Danes to be a little more ashamed of this, the government specifically, and plea for the Global Muslim leaders to engage in some conciliation, since it is obvious we cannot spend the next few generations burning down things. Or if you take the incidents in Pakistan and consider burning down your own house in protest (how effective that would be!), we would really be left with ashes and hatred. The thing that upsets me, other than the inexplicable act itself, is the sheer disregard and lack of common sense applied to this situation. By publishing it in a Danish newspaper, Christian Danes are not the only ones who will see the images. Are you so negligent of the fact that this is world is a global village now and that so many varieties of cultures and societies are integrated for the greater good, a common western belief and tolerance for others is in fact a necessity for a nations survival in today’s world. If it wasn’t, Hitler would have been the least of the world’s problems; he would have just been one of the many.

What is the next step; any insight, Denmark? You started this…it would only be fair to presume an extra effort from your part to remedy this. You know how they say, don't break what you can't fix...

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Bad ideas go to print - undone

It is a terrible predicament the Danes have gotten many other western countries dragged into. Unfortunately for many countries that did not endorse the printing act, they are now suffering.

Here is an idea for those of you who are keen upon rioting and protesting; in New York City, around the time of New Years (2005-2006), the Metropolitan Transit Authority (aka MTA) went on strike for various reasons, mostly pertaining to their livelihoods and their survival with increasing living expenses and stagnant salaries. They protested by staying home. Not a bad way to force your employer to give you sometime off work and have more to spend with the family. The point is that by spending time at home, they were protesting their dislikes towards their employers in a peaceful and harmless manner. Now the interesting part: MTA suffered extreme financial damage during the week or so that the MTA workers were on strike.
Now for all you number crunchers, here are some figures that might help you understand the devastation a peaceful strike / boycott may have: The 33,000 MTA workers that did not show up for work the first day cost the city of New York approximately $400 Million, that is 400,000,000 US Dollars just for the first day. The following two days cost approximately $300 Million per day in losses ranging from ticket sales to cancelled events and transportation congestion, overtime payment to workers and police officers. The pre-strike estimates suggested $1.6 Billion in loss to the city of New York.

Think about it hard, I am not suggesting you strike against your respective cities...for those of you who missed the point. I am merely suggesting that even a peaceful strike can have harsh repercussions, if not harsher than violent and destructive demonstrations. The latter only suggests that we are, in fact, as backwards and under-developed as the West may portray us in the media. Much of the damage Muslims incur today is essentially due to their own mistakes in the past that are now coming back. We have done much of this to ourselves. Why are European countries banding together, despite their differences in economics, politics and global affairs, just to mention a few? Simply because even disagreements between nations can also be solved by unifying resources. The EU is a strong entity today and the EURO is a strong currency today because they managed their policies and people jointly and for the greater good. Why do countries, such as Turkey, want to join the EU today? Because they delivered on their promise of becoming a unity which spreads better living standards and controls essential needs for people's survival such as security, foodstuff, employment (with the exception of Germany today).

Lesson is, protest peacefully, if you want to cause harm, don't crack your own skulls, and instead boycott Danish products in your country. Financial loss bears heavily on the target, more than aggression. Think about it, what is the difference between aggressors breaking and burning buildings in the streets and monkeys? There is a good chance the latter won't show such aggression upon themselves.

Going back to the issue, this has caused massive amounts of panic amongst the leaders of the Muslim world and now the OIC will convene and this will be a hot topic on their plate full of discussions. The last thing we need now is counter-productive measures of taking all the years of hard work done by countries to bring peace and betterment to developing countries and flushing them down the toilet, bring about a global religious war. Terrorism is already synonymous with Islam; the Danish newspaper certainly could not have been so ignorant as to not know the potential consequences of their irresponsible act. Now they will reap what they sew. I only hope that all parties involved directly will tread cautiously.

Lesson learnt: Don't put your finger in a pot unless you know how hot it is...

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Way to go Denmark

As you may all know, the Danes have recently been involved in a heinous act of incalculable proportions. To be more specific, some Danish folks thought it would be funny to throw a match in a drum full of gasoline and stand around to watch the flame grow on its own like a wildfire. Interestingly enough, what puzzles me is that people in Pakistan are having the time of their lives acting out their Neanderthal-like fantasies by burning bank buildings, throwing rocks at cars, burning passenger buses, among many other absolutely exhilarating activities.
I got a text message today from a friend in Peshawar which said “If Jews wish to destroy Muslims and Pakistan; it is quite easy for them. They just need to publish a few more cartoons and Pakistanis will burn themselves and everything else around. Pass this on for awareness” The message; while full of fantastic truth considering all the riots and protests are doing is taking us back to the stone ages, it is very specific to target the Jews as the perpetrators of this “cartoon” incident. How do we even know the person / people involved in the drawings were even of a religious affiliation? For all we know they may be atheists.
To fill you in, some Danish newspaper published some cartoon images of the Prophet Mohammad, the founder of Islam, depicting him in a very insulting way. I think that there is an unspoken limit to everything we do. No matter how bad something seems, there is always something worse. That imaginary limit never gets crossed because it’s always a step ahead of whatever is happening. Unfortunately, what the Danish newspaper did was to lift up the standard for limit-pushing acts, push it over the imaginary line and drop it to set a new standard for lowest, most despicable acts.
There are some things you just don’t do, no matter how bad you want to be. Danes just don’t understand that. Even though I am not religious, I do maintain some respect for religions, be it Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism and so forth. I doubt that when the newspapers published those images, they had even an inkling of an idea what would result in Muslim countries. Pakistan is full of eccentric people who antagonize situations and manipulate them to create any kind of trouble they can then. Qazi Hussain Ahmad is one of those people; a religious fundamentalist troublemaker who foments social upheavals and then denies any involvement. These days he is instigating the emotions of young students allover Pakistan, especially of the extreme religious nature, and probing their respect and faith in Islam so that they go and burn and destroy their own country.
Please keep in mind that I am not generalizing and grouping all Danes under one umbrella. There are many who disagree very seriously with what happened and that is just as much a right as agreeing with the act itself. Burning a flag may be inciting as much trouble as publishing pictures of the Prophet (PBUH). Keep things in perspective, keep your pride above, don't lower yourself beneath people who try to antagonize you.
What no one seems to understand is that by burning down a foreign bank or burning up 19 passenger buses, we are not harming anyone but ourselves? Simply because they belong to foreigners, we cannot just presume any old foreigner is involved. You want to target someone, be specific, but then again don’t be violent. Your violence only makes the Danes laugh at us saying “look at those monkeys Helga; they are beating themselves up because we insulted their prophet. This is fun, let’s insult another prophet and see if we can stir up world war III.”
Protest peacefully, show them that we are, in fact, civilized people and that we are willing to do things that will hurt them such as boycotting Danish dairy products. When you destroy foreign owned businesses, think about the things we don’t destroy, the things we wouldn’t think of destroying because we can’t live without them. All the imported goods we consume in Pakistan, the things that keep local prices at a low because of international product competition, you only bring financial burden upon yourselves. Unfortunately, the people who can and will read this are not the people who need to, it is the ones who cannot read this or are unable to that need the guidance and direction of civilized people.
Shame on us…we are only proving to the Danes what they set out to test. We are savage, whatever the cost, we don’t think about the consequences of the decisions we make, especially when we cloud our judgment with emotion.
Shame on you Denmark, for claiming to be a democracy with no signs of being a democratic nation. You are despicable. Any harm that comes your way, even if it is not something I personally agree with as the means to solve this issue, it is because of your own miscalculated error. You cannot rouse the emotions of the millions of Muslims in the world and expect to ask for calm. Your Prime Minister is obviously not using his intellect when addressing a very severe and sensitive issue that has disrupted any and all relations Western countries have with Islamic ones, especially in the Middle East and Pakistan. I hope the people of Denmark have more sense, although though your PM is elected as a representative of the people's wishes.

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