Karachi Photo Blog

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Why the NY Times Axact Story stands on flimsy grounds

I am behind on the latest news.  Just today read the New York Times story on the Pakistani software company Axact.  The story, by Declan Walsh, Griffin Palmer and Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura, is so big that another piece, by Griffin Palmer, provides the background information to the lead story.  Here is the gist of Walsh’s piece: Axact runs a plethora of online schools and colleges that give bogus diplomas to students who earn these certificates not by studying but by paying huge amounts of money to these online educational institutions.  The online universities run by Axact include the Newford University, the Barkley University, the Columbiana University, etc.

Decided to do my own research. 

Started with the online Newford University.  Found it here:


Called the toll free number (1-844-733-9355) listed on the web site--no one answered.  Tried to do online chat--that did not work either.  Downloaded an image from their web site and searched the origin on Google; it turned out to be a stock photo. Listened to the video interview of the faculty of the Newford University, referenced in the NY Times article.  The woman introduces herself as Danny Krane.  Searched "Danny Krane" on Google.  The ‘Head of Law’ was nowhere to be found.

Searched the registrant of newforduniversity.com web site.  Found out that the domain was registered from Bahamas; the street address info has the note ‘Contact the owner by email only.’

So, yes, the Newford University appears to be fake.

But that is only part of the story.  New York Times claims the Newford University is run by Axact.  Where is the proof?  NY Times claims ex-employees of Axact say so.  That’s it?  Someone says something and all of us are supposed to believe it?  Come on NY Times.  We expect better journalism.  Give us something more tangible.  Even proving that the Newford University web site is hosted on Axact’s servers (if that is indeed the case) will not prove Axact-Newford University connivance.

To prove that Axact is the entity behind the Newford University, New York Times needs to establish the money connection.  Show that the fee paid at the Newford University web site, ultimately ends up in Axact’s bank account.  Outside of that solid proof the New York Times story can best be described as a very well written piece of yellow journalism.

Photo, courtesy of InDepthPakistan.com

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mohammad Khaliqi arrested, now get Bruce Springsteen

Mohammad Khaliqi arrested, now get Bruce Springsteen

With cameras sprouting everywhere, and people interacting with each other in real time on social networks, criminals are finding it hard to hide.  After a 13-year old San Jose girl was stalked and assaulted last Tuesday, and the photos of the assailant started appearing in news feeds on Facebook and other social media sites, Mohammad Khaliqi knew he was in trouble—that he had to do something drastic to hide.  Khaliqi shaved his beard and head, and moved to a house in San Leandro.  But none of that helped him.  Tens of thousands of Bay Area social media users were on the side of the 13-year old. Once tips from the general public identified the Tuesday attacker as Mohammad Khaliqi, police knew where Khaliqi lived and what places he could run to, to hide.  The house in San Leandro was one of those places and Mohammad Khaliqi was arrested there Friday morning, in slightly over 48 hours of the assault.
The brave 13-old who had hit Khaliqi in the face, told ABC7 Khaliqi approached her when she was about to open the front door of her house.  Khaliqi asked the girl directions, then asked her name and “started asking inappropriate questions.”  You wonder what kind of inappropriate questions Khaliqi asked the young girl.  Was Khaliqi inspired by Bruce Springsteen’s ‘I’m on Fire’?  Did Khaliqi repeated the lyrics of that song to the teenager?
‘Hey, little girl, is your daddy home?/Did he go and leave you all alone?/I got a bad desire./Oh-oh-oh, I'm on fire.’
What should we do with singers popularizing the idea that it is OK for men to force themselves on young girls when daddy is not home?

Surveillance camera images of Mohammad Khaliqi, courtesy of sfexaminer.com
Photo of Bruce Springsteen, courtesy of ultimateclassicrock.com, Monty Fresco, Getty Images

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Neelofur Master Injured in Purse Snatching Incident

In a purse snatching ordeal that lasted for some time ex-NED University Professor, Ms. Neelofur Master, 63, was dragged on the pavement on a street close to her home.  What were initially evaluated by the doctors as head to toe bruises on the right side of her body later turned out to be pelvic bone and multiple rib fractures.  The incident happened on February 16, when Ms. Master was going to the Liaqat National Hospital to see her sister.

A graduate of the Tennessee State University, Ms. Neelofur Master taught Chemistry at Karachi’s NED University of Engineering and Technology and retired as the Dean of Biomedical Engineering in 2012.

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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Who killed Masood Hamid and why?

Who killed Masood Hamid and why?

After getting multiple notifications from the alumni of the Habib Public School on the social media, about the brutal murder of one of their ex-colleagues I got curious about the homicide victim: Masood Hamid.  Who was he and why did he get killed?
Masood Hamid, Director of Marketing at the Pakistan Herald Publications (a part of the Haroon family media empire that publishes the Daily Dawn, the Monthly Herald, etc. and owns the City FM 89 radio and the Dawn TV) was murdered Friday night.  According to the newspaper reports his body was found in his car; that he was killed with a single shot in his head; and that the gun was left behind on the scene.

How was Masood Hamid’s murder related to another high profile murder (SHO Preedi Police Station Aijaz Khwaja killed on Thursday), and an attempted murder (of Debra Lobo, also on Thursday), in Karachi?

Who killed Masood Hamid and why?

1.   Was Masood Hamid’s murder an act of sectarian target killing? Not really.  He was not a Shia; not a Qadiani—he was just a run-of-the-mill, not-too-interested-in-religion-Sunni.  Killers of the police officer Aijaz Khwaja (a Shia) did not leave a note because they did not need to, but those who assaulted Debra Lobo did—the note said Lobo was being attacked because she was an American. In short, assaults on Khwaja and Lobo can be attributed to the Sunni extremists.  But how to handle Masood Hamid’s murder?
2.   Was Masood killed because he worked for a media outlet?  Probably not.  Masood was neither a reporter, nor he decided the editorial policy of any publication.
3.   Was Masood killed by mistake, when target killers wanted to really kill someone else?  Probably not.  Karachi target killers are known to be diligent—they do their homework before they kill.
4.   Was Masood killed in a mugging attempt that he resisted?  [Imagine the scenario: Masood Hamid reaches his destination and is coming out of the car when someone puts a gun to this head and asks for his wallet and the cell phone. Masood resists, the nervous gunman shoots Masood and in panic leaves the weapon behind.] Counter argument: Like most educated people Masood probably knew there was no point in resisting when you had a gun to your head. Also, unless the gunman is really novice, it is not easy to leave behind the gun.
5.   Was Masood killed because he owed someone money, or because of some other personal matter we are not aware of?  We do not know.

For whatever reason Masood Hamid was killed, one thing is certain: after three incidents of high profile assaults, in just two days, the claims of target-killers being wiped out of Karachi, after an operation against MQM, have dissolved into thin air.  The Karachi operation needs to be widened to include the religious extremists and other criminal gangs.

Photo, courtesy of Dawn.com


Sunday, April 05, 2015

Agha Hasan Abedi, In the Eyes of his Associates, Part IV

Agha Hasan Abedi, In the Eyes of his Associates, Part IV
An interview with Asrar Hasan (late)

See Akbar Bilgrami's interview at:

See AB Shahid's interview at:

See Nasim Khan's interview at:

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Asrar Hasan--banker (1942-2015)

Throughout his life, Chacha Jan, my uncle, made conveniences for me.  His last act of kindness towards me was to die very early in the day I was leaving town, saving me the hassle of changing my travel plans.

[Detailed personal notes coming soon.]

It takes some time for events to sink in my thick skin.  The morning of February 23 as the plane started to make its final descent and passengers aggravated by the sixteen hour flight came back to life looking forward to the prospect of being freed soon, the ugly dead end death brings the avenue of possibilities to, suddenly became pellucid. It was then that I realized that with his death Chacha Jan had taken a large chunk out of my life too. I was sure I felt it much later than scores of destitute he regularly fed at various sufi tombs.

Asrar Hasan (1942-2015)

Born:  Haswa, British India, 1942
Moved to Pakistan: 1958
Employment with Habib Bank Limited: 1962- 1974
Married Naushaba Sultana: 1969
HBL: Posted in Karachi, then Singapore, back to Karachi, then Sharjah, later Dubai
Employment with the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI): 1974 - 1991
Posted first in Saudi Arabia, then in Egypt, as Country Chief
Moved back to Pakistan: 1991
Worked at the Soneri Bank: 1992 - 2008
Naushaba Sultana died of kidney failure: November, 2012
Asrar Hasan diagnosed with fourth stage hepatic cancer: July, 2014
Died: 6:30 am on Sunday, February 22, 2015, at his home in Karachi.