Pakistan blocks sites which contains word ‘Shoes’ in the URL

Like me, if you live on Internet and Pakistan, strong are the chances you’re already familiar with the Authority of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA). We know PTA from their active involvement in our SMS, Watching us online, and yes banning Facebook and other websites in general.

Most recently over 1,000 porn sites were blocked by internet service providers (ISP), directed by PTA. It was also stated by a source, “They are adding to the list on a daily basis.”

Here is where I and PTA get face-to-face, my problem is not like they have blocked my favorite porn site. History is history, we all share it. Instead they added my innocent site in the list too, and it is blocked today.

My website (http://hometownshoes.com/) is about selling shoe, not even close to porn. But who knows, when the ‘athletes foot’ is banned. May be they found a link between shoesathletes foot>something unethical, but I don’t know about.

This is what I see, when I open my website

When you visit the link in Pakistan, it reads: “THE SITE IS RESTRICTED” and site name appears as PTCL. So I instantly called to PTCL helpline inquiring them the problem my website is facing. But after a 13 min long wait, their busy CSR told that it is blocked from PTA and PTCL has nothing to do with it.

While writing this post, too much to my surprise, I find I am not alone. In fact, PTA has blocked all sites in Pakistan which contain the word ‘shoes’ in its URL and first of it took place one Nov 01, 2011. Now somebody please explain me what is wrong with sites containing shoes.com in its address. That is totally ridiculous.

From its website, PTA claims ‘‘To promote and protect the interests of users of telecommunication services in Pakistan.” But instead from my experience PTA is causing loss to my business and now I’m insecure about running my website in Pakistan. How sad..!

Any ways, I visited PTA website assuming for some help, but in vain. No one answered my call from any of their contact numbers. More, I wrote an email, hoping that they would solve my problem at an earliest when they see my complain message.

This is not at all childish or minor mistake. PTA has the responsibility to make our life easier on web and telecommunication in general. But such continuous stupid mistakes are making it worse for people like me. I am angry and sad at the same time.

PTA is keeping to over use its authority. Shall we stop them?

100th Post – Big Day

NEWS: I got funding for my business project. Read below to know more. 😀

Earlier this year on Jan 28 (which is my birthday), I shared what I have in mind for 23rd year of life.

“This year is gonna be the most important phase of my life. I especially love having all of you on this journey, through blogging, social media and phone calls and yes in person. I’m looking forward to execute number of projects in business and of my life.”

Here is what happened so far, instead of getting more business I started disbelieving in what I was doing. I started feeling unhappy about myself. <– I think it happens with everyone of us at sometimes.

But writing this blog made me focused again, I kept going with learning, making more genuine friends. I started loving and believing in myself.

In 2010 I was having a conversation with a group of people in my hometown. Who were talking about how things are in Pakistan and how west is involved in all this. A 51 years old guy named Mohd. Hussain (who is now my friend) told about a text message stating how Facebook is hurting muslims by promoting blasphamious content.

Then I interrupted the discussion and told them what is true and what really is social media. Later me and Hussain had a long conversation where he told me about his business. He and his small team, makes 100% hand-stitched leather shoes.

Because of very limited resources, they were compelled to sell them to some big brands. Which makes money from him, and he doesn’t as much.

I shall be working with these guys, who do such an awesome work.

I asked him, why don’t we sell them online, I offered him my help. But we couldn’t get started because both of us couldn’t arrange extra money for that.

I kept trying, asked to some of my rich friends but resulted nothing. Then I started looking for funding, we applied at P@SHA ‘s Social Innovation Fund, and yes we made it.

Out of 370 ideas which were submitted, we made in the first 3. You can see first round winners by clicking on the image in left.

I appreciate P@SHA, sponsors and judges who encourage my idea, and providing financial and consultancy support. Me and my team is genuinely thankful to them for believe in us and what we aim to do. It’ll be fun and the work we will love to do.

And I believe coming days are far brighter and full of learning. Thanks to each and everyone of you, who visit and encourage me. I’m happy to surround myself with people who lift me. And I look forward to kill what I eat.

One more thing.. There is also another interesting and big project I’m working on with some of the best folks I know. Stay here.. Right here and we’ll make it.

I’m so happy, this’s post which is also 100th post on this blog is a truly special. I believe no need to outline today’s learning, just keep learning, relearning and unlearning. Change your actions to achieve different result and you’ll change world for you. Thank you again very much, I’m full of gratitude now. Happy!

Have something to say? Would love to see you in comments.

9/11 A Decade After: Words of a Very Common Pakistani

I was in grade 7, studying at a local government school of my home town, at that time we had no furniture in classes and used to sit on floor of the room.

What I knew about America is that it is a big and powerful country, like another out one. And then that whole day, pictures of twin tower, Bush and American people were shown on the only national television, the only TV channel we had that time.

It was just start for common Pakistani, in past 10 years America is the one of the most common topics, people discuss here at every scale. Even on streets wall are written Go! America Go!

A lot has been changed since that time. 9/11 reviled the power and influence of extremists in Pakistan. They’re everywhere, training children to become suicide bombers, governing Pakistan, run newspapers.

I feel sorry about the victims of 9/11, but you can never understands how many common Pakistanis are being killed because of this.

It is simple, US wanted to win cold-war against Russia, they send weapons in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia (also considered very hold place for Muslims) provided the money. But the most dangerous weapon the used against Russia, was Islam. We used religion to motivate young men, to volunteer for the war. I know many mothers, who lost their sons in that war.

Pakistanis are now far away from Peace, and we are getting far this with every day, especially inner peace. People are scared, then they go to news, to get another fear. It is routine now.

Just five years ago, I wanted to be a soldier to fight against India, because it was taught in schools and society. But thankfully, I tried to re-learn about myself, about my ideology and they reason behind my existence.

One of the best things happened to me was to get admission at Forman Christian College University, Lahore. It is a missionary organization, by Presbyterian church US. I met with some american people first time in 2007, I did see the common American. A very brighter side of the people of US. There was a teacher, Jeanette Coufal, she was very thoughtful, and good human. People like her motivated me to be more than me.

It encouraged me to start Indo-Pak Peace Media, I really don’t know if it is doing much good. But somehow we are trying to bring people closer. We are trying to teach people that religion is someone’s very personal belief, and it shouldn’t be misused at all.

Of course innocents American paid the price, for what, US government did in cold war. Life of common Afghan, is far from the life.

And yes, here in Pakistan, we are paying, for what, General Zia did in Pakistan. Extremism is very long rooted in Pakistan because of their hidden agenda. And what spoil people more is the way media is driving them and how we, especially youth is following them blindly.

They are trying to bury truth deeper and deeper, but I also see the light. I am the light, I am the one of the first ray of this new light, new beginning. You are the light, if you’re someone open to re-learn and un-learn.

At the same time, I am not proud of everything I did in my life. I have made some of the most terrible mistakes you can imagine. But I believe it is never too late to get back to humanity. US should follow the same.

Peace for America, Peace for World, and most importantly Peace for You!

PS. I haven’t been very well (mentally) so could not write. But things are much better now. Will post regularly now.

Eid Mubarak from Waqas

My mother has cooked some Kheer. I haven’t yet tasted it, but it is been always very delicious since I remember.

Father is back from mosque (after Eid prayer & meeting with some friend), he is lying now.

All of brothers are wearing new clothes.

I just had two relative who came to visit me.

Eid is not just the eid every year, it refresh many momries to me.

When I was 7, my mom used to buy glasses for us, Eidi (gifts on Eid) were always there too. I used to buy a new toy gun every year on Eid. Then all the day enjoying with cousins.

I think, human is the only specie who face so many turns in life.

But this is what makes us human and life a life.

Happy Eid Mubarak to Each and Everyone of You!!!

PS. I was not feeling well for past five days, this is one of few reasons I couldn’t write a new post. It’ll be back soon.

So You are Facing Tough Time, Now What?

Note: Two of my very dear friends, who also read this blog, are going through very tough time, one lives in US & second in Pakistan. So this post is especially written for them. You can also add your words and share your experience if it can help.

Unfortunately I’ve no how-to on how to be strong and changing the fate etc, rather I shall talk about very practical approach.

So you’re in hard time, true, accept it, relax your soul (which seems impossible, but you can). Now analyse the situation and look for solution. I’m telling you this from my experience, we most likely select the complaining part when we go through hard time, it is really very uncommon to stand to fight for what you deserve.

In life almost every problem eventually pass, communicate with people you trust, including yourself. Now find the way you can bring good back for you. Be selfish, and do not let anyone damage your health and mind, how else you’ll fight against it.

Engage yourself in something which is important, any fresh activity, like reading, blogging or gardening, worrying is not important.

Talk with someone who knows you and respects you, share what’s been happening, what are your fault, how you can stand again. And I believe You Shall!

Time will come when you will be at peace again, try to stay focused on learning from this, stay positive.

Friends, this is not just another post for me. I’ll specially pray for each and everyone of you. Be Strong! Be Human!

“The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering.”  -Ben Okri

My friend Oliver also did the same thing for one of his friends, read Being Human (also go through all comments there)

Friends, if you can please add your words, please do in comments. Thank you very much.

Did You Know? Why You Visit Waqas A Day

By the time you get to your browser and jump to WaqasADay (for which I’m grateful), I along with my younger brother put all the wheat in the bags. Earlier my mother spread it on roof.

In a small town of Pakistan, like I live in Basirpur, life is different.

But there is something really powerful which unites us, it is the diversity.

Yes! Diversity Unites Us! It makes us happy! It makes you happy! It makes me happy!

I value and appreciate your visit / share / feedback.

And most importantly the moments when you think of this of this blog and the guy behind.

Nothing more to say. This post is super-awesome!

I ♥ You.

Happy Social Media Day 2011 from Lahore, Pakistan #SMDay #SMDayLhr

Friends, long awaited social media day is here and so is our event.

Those of you who’re joining us please reach by 7:30pm sharp today at Maisonette, MM Alam Road Lahore. Map here


And if you’re someone who’s not coming, follow our hashtags #smday and #SMdayLhr, also we’ll share videos and photos with everyone of you.

The event will be live blog here on this blog.

Here is a good news, Mashable and world is noticing our celebration of SMday. See the video below. At 1:22, they shared a photo of our last year’s meetup.

We look forward to discuss how social media is impacting our lives, and interact with you.

Stay Happy and Stay Social

Warmly!

-Waqas Ali
0333 – 6973708

Twitter Chat: Let’s Talk About #smpk

A lot have been spammed from me about today’s twitter chat.

Yes I’m jumping in to talk every Sunday about social media for businesses in Pakistan. I and my team member will use Twitter Chat.

Today night at 9pm PST we are starting our first chat, topic is Using Facebook for Businesses in Pakistan. I think it would be interesting and fun learning experience.

Follow #smpk (hashtag on twitter for more).

See you.