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Friday, December 09, 2005

Does no one really care?


What do these words mean to you? Or are you as puzzled as I think you ought to be? Well, here's a big hint: They have all been all 'cut and pasted' from the same site that displays this phrase: tarraqio ka mal

Huh? Still no clue? Then here's a whole line that's bound to be a dead giveaway: Painda ta binda bad shad, bad man zele murad.

OK, fellow Pakistanis. By this time you've surely recognized the distorted and criminally mauled words as belonging to our National Anthem. (That comma before 'bad man' really threw me off!)

I grant that, when transcribed by someone totally unfamiliar with our National Language, the words could be written in this horrendous fashion. But this crap is not on a Zambian or Greek school website! It's on The Official Website of the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington D.C., with the charming address of

dotORG? I'd expected dotGOV. Surprised, I checked out another of our embassies that came randomly to mind. Australia. It, too, was also registered similarly (

"Well," I thought, "never mind the slight change in nomenclature; at least we are consistent when it comes to Domains" ... only to discover that, in Poland, we are a dotCOM, for crying out loud: takes you there, as does in the Nederlands.

The Nederlands site, by the way, has a link titled Constitution, which took me to the aptly named, where, apologising "for any inconvinience [sic]", the page informed me that the links were currently being updated. That's OK. I'm willing to live with it. After all, this happens to the Constitution, itself, fairly frequently.

While on the subject of links, I must inform you that none of the content or links on any of the sites were the same as those on the others. I am sure that if people really scoured all the pages on all our embassy sites (how's that as a form of torture for political prisoners?), they'd even unearth glaring contradictions.

Some suggestions for the powers that be:
  • The Government of Pakistan Foreign Office, or whoever is in charge of smearing our image abroad, should have a full set of standardized links and basic content developed for re-use on every embassy site, with variations for locally relevant sections. This approach would save time and money, make updating of centrally issued information easy and timely, and ensure that all facts and figures were current everywhere.
  • The style of each site could be similar, while respecting the sensitivities of the country in which it is based.
  • Translations in Urdu (for many travelling or expat Pakistanis unfamiliar with English) would be useful in a special section that displays new rules or laws that may have changed while they were away.
  • Even more important, if not in all countries, then at least in those from which we receive most traffic, pages in the local language of that country should be considered essential.
  • If possible, all sites could have links to useful information pages, such as those containing Addresseses/contacts of our Embassies/Consulates around the world and addresses/contacts of other embassies/consulates in Pakistan; Immigration and Visa requirements, with downloadable forms.
We are a hospitable nation; let's start by making life easy for others from the first point of contact.

Oh, and placing a correctly transcribed and translated National Anthem would gladden all our hearts, as would an image of our National Flag in the right proportions! This is serious stuff, guys! Even Corporations don't allow screwing around with their logos. The proportions are as sacrosanct as the flag!

I quote:
Resolution Passed by Constituent Assembly

"That this assembly resolves that the national flag of the federation of Pakistan be of the following description.

"A dark green rectangular flag in the proportion of length and width 3:2 with a white vertical bar at the mast, the green portion bearing a white crescent in the centre and a five-pointed white heraldic star. The size of the white portion being one-fourth the size of the flag, nearest the mast, the remainder three-fourths being dark green.

The dimensions of the crescent and star are obtained as follows:
"Draw the diagonal from the top right hand corner to the bottom left corner of the green portion. On this diagonal establish two points 'A' and 'B'. Point 'A' at a distance equidistant from top right and bottom left hand corners of the green portion, i.e. the centre of the green portion. Point 'B' at a distance from the top right hand corner equal to 13/20th the width of the flag. With centre point 'A' and radius 1.1/4th the width of the flag describe a second arc. The enclosures made by these two arcs form the crescent. The dimensions of the five-pointed white heraldic star are determined by drawing a circle 1/10th the width of the flag. The circle surrounds the five points of the heraldic star. The star lies with one point on the diagonal at a point where the larger arc of the crescent, if completed, cuts the diagonal."
Source: Letter to Dawn Editor, Monday Sept 21, 1998, by A.R. Thalpawala
While we are at it, can we get to the bottom of who really designed the flag? The current stance is that it was designed by the Quaid-e-Azam, himself, although many websites, including (which, like many others, uses the popular Wikipedia as source), stick to a long-forgotten version - one that I only recall because I found it amusing that the surname seemed to be a Hyderabad Dakkani variant of my own.

But, back to our D.C. site, and a link named "Job Opportunity in Pakistan", where we are told that this singular opportunity exists for the following: "Chairpersons (One ach [sic] for Sciences and Humanities subjects)". Details, we are told can be had from the Ministry of Education, and a hot-link is very kindly provided to, except that clicking it does not take you there, but opens up your mail software with "" as recipient.

Can't we get anything right?

One bit of information that may be useful for younger Pakistanis in the USA is that our embassy in Washington accepts interns.The site informs potential victims --- er-sorry, candidates --- that "Applications for the spring are being accepted on a rolling basis" - and that they are looking for "individuals with ... SUPERIOR writing skills, (this is the single most important requirement)".

After going through several pages of the site, I heartily second the importance of this requirement, and would like to suggest: Please get an intern who not just proof-reads the site pages but also knows some mathematics. A Grade 4 level student will do: Rainfall figures like "1,484 mm (164cm)" just do not make sense. Unless 1484mm translates to 164 cm after taxes).

Until then, maybe, we should just call these foreign office outposts Pakistan Embarrassies.

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Blogger the olive ream said...

As I read this post, I laughed out loud hysterically....then slowly the laughter turned into an embarrassed whimper which quickly turned into exaggerated wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Who the heck is responsible for these civil servant appointments that are hell bent on embarrassing us at every turn?

09 December, 2005 16:54

Blogger Faraz said...


You missed the urdu section of which displays the following message:

'Thanks for your visit. Currently, we are developing the Urdu side of the site. Please revisit!, Please revisit!, Please revisit'

10 December, 2005 02:06

Blogger Zakintosh said...

Thanks, Faraz!

All are advised to visit the Urdu Section mentioned in Faraz's comment. (There is no substitute for seeing the sophisticated animated text for yourself!)

10 December, 2005 02:27


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