Thursday, March 31, 2011

Shelabagh, Balochistan

Shelabagh, Balochistan
Originally uploaded by Ameer Hamza
These are the British era keys for trains, railway station and the records and God knows what, at one of the most outstanding railway stations in Pakistan. This railway station is purportedly named after a woman of this name. You can see the tunnel, the longest in the country, on an old Rs.5 note. This note is no more used. You can also note the cross design on the keys marking the religion of the designers of this railway system, still in use in the country.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Frere Hall, Karachi

Frere Hall, Karachi
Originally uploaded by Ameer Hamza
Frere Hall is one of the few well-preserved buildings from the days of the British Raj that still exists in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan. Recently, it opened to public after Americans shifted their embassy to M.T Khan road. Therefore, security was relaxed, barriers removed and people of Karachi asked to throng the place. And they have already started that.

Frere Hall was built in honour of Sir Henry Bartle Edward Frere (1815–1884), who was known for promoting economic development in Karachi. Out of twelve designs submitted, the one by Lt. Col St. Clair Wilson was chosen and construction started in 1863.[1] It was opened by Samuel Mansfield, the Commissioner of Sind in 1865.[1]

The total cost of this hall was about Rs. 180,000 out of which the Government contributed Rs. 10,000 while the rest was paid for by the municipality.[1]

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Minature Jholay, Tando Allah Yar

Women in Pakistan, most notably those of Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab regions, go to various Tombs of Muslim Holy men (also called Sufi or Aulia in Urdu and Persian) and ask for manat. They place these miniature jholas at their favourite tombs and request for the birth of a child from ALLAH via the Saint. When their wish is granted, they fulfil their promises to the Saint. That could be anything from giving charity to visiting the Tomb for consecutive months or even years. Some women even dedicate their child to the Tomb of the Saint as its keeper. Wahabis and Deobandis, both products of British rule in Saudi Arab and India respectively, reject this belief system and name it shirk (a concept within Islam which means that you place someone on the same pedestal as ALLAH or GOD).

Friday, March 18, 2011

Davis release........... my reaction

This was the report filed by Express:

And my reaction to it:

(As reaction was written in a language not suitable, I have decided to delete it. I find it reasonable to delete posts with which I don't agree at a later date).

Sunday, March 13, 2011

25 men killed by our own FC?

I got call yesterday from someone who witnessed first hand these events. That person is a Sindhi-Baloch and is a permanent resident of Dera.

He informed me that there was an attack on FC convoy in which one man, presumably of the FC, was killed. In retaliation, FC men indiscriminately started firing towards the local people, who were running halter shelter to save their lives after the bomb blast. Instead of understanding the situation FC started firing and killing. One of the relatives of my friend, who related this incidence to me, was also shot dead inside his own shop which happens to be nearby the place of bomb attack. In total, 25 men were killed by FC men. Many more are injured. I think Tribune should carry out more research as the numbers of dead might as well increase.

In a sad tone my friend told me that he did not object to the presence of FC in his province before this incident. But from now on he demands, like all residents of embattled province of Balochistan, that these killer FC men be brought to justice. But he also told me that he cannot imagine our crooked Army and Court officials to take a stand against FC. So the sufferers would remain the poor and the down trodden of Balochistan.

I would like to hear the version of Pak Army / FC about this incidence.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

How has improved my life

Few years back I was desperately trying to purchase my first ever DSLR (Digital Professional camera) of Nikon. As it was way too expensive in Pakistan, I considered purchasing it from USA via my cousin, which would then be brought to Pakistan by anyone who would be coming here. For this end, I had accumulated Rs.50,000, a handsome amount by my standards. In USA, much to my chagrin, the rates were similar to those in Pakistan. It was then that my good cousin, an American citizen by birth, asked me to check out the prices at, a website she claimed had the most competitive edge in the market. Despite reservations I checked the prices for Nikon D70s model and to my delight the rates were really very competitive – best anywhere I had seen. I clicked and ordered the camera and my love affair with photography continued. And it still does. Since then, not surprisingly, I have been hooked to Amazon website, arguably the world’s largest online retail store.

Living in America or Canada helps when you want to purchase goods from If you don’t live there, at least you should have friends or relatives who live there and who appear in Pakistan from time to time. The idea being that you can just order about anything to their addresses in USA or Canada, receive the goods there and when they return to Pakistan, you can have your items delivered, without the agony of paying extra bucks for transportation to Pakistan. I have noted, for all the goods and without any exception, that Pakistan is considered as a country where the rates for delivery are the highest – at par with unstable states like Somalia or Libya. This clearly means that the items delivered to these and some other states do not reach their destination in proper condition as described by the seller so these sellers have to transport their goods using elite services like DHL or UPS. Hence the costs. Therefore, since that day in 2006, I have ordered all accessories (camera or otherwise), bags, shirts, beauty creams and all my books from to one of the three addresses in USA. From there these items are brought down to my home in Karachi by anyone who is unfortunate enough to be the first one coming! This time around I ordered 15 books, some of them really bulky, in second hand condition (good to acceptable but never torn) from to my friend’s house in Chicago. He later ordered 7 of them to Florida address of another friend of mine whose mother was coming to Pakistan for a wedding. I received my books gratefully without paying an extra penny as transportation costs. (Delivery of a book within USA costs USD 3.99 no matter what the size or origin of the book within the States. Same book’s postage might cost you anywhere between 20 to 40 USD, if ordered on a Pakistani address.)

Tips for purchasing from

Search the item thoroughly. Then read what customers have to say about the product. Also check the product rating based on consumer ratings. Then, if the product is very expensive, say a camera, then check out various sites detailing tech specs of that product. Back to, check out who’s selling the product. has a rating system for all its suppliers and provides each seller a star based rating from which a customer can decide which seller to go for. I always consider 96% rated or above seller to be worth going for. This ensures great delivery time, lowest possible costs and if something is wrong with the product or the packaging, it may be returned easily and replaced without hassle.

Take this as an example: I recently ordered a Lonely Planet traveler diary notebook from a seller whose rating was 96%. The seller informed me that my diary would reach latest by 14th Feb, 2011. My friend informed me on 19th Feb, 2011, that my product hadn’t arrived yet. Using claim form at Amazon I complained to the website. Within next 24 hours I received apology from the supplier, who told me that my USD 5.0 (rate for the book + postage) have been refunded to my account. They further told me to keep the book for free if it still arrived (They won’t charge because it was a late delivery). What a brilliant service that was. I have mentioned this instance of honesty and excellent supply chain system to all who know me and via this blog I am mentioning it to all who have read it. Purchasing wasn’t that easy before Amazon paved the way. And today, before I drop down to local shops, I check book reviews and rates from the website. Many a times, a book selling for over Rs.3000 (used but like new) in Karachi’s elite bookstore have been purchased by my on for less than Rs.800. No wonder, I now have probably the best collection of National Geographic photography books this side of Suez Canal!

Ameer Hamza is now collecting Travel Safari Vests, Travel Backpacks and all the travel books written in English anywhere in the world. For this end, he has annoyed his friends and a cousin in USA to a great extent.