Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Big Bikes in Pakistan

Suzuki atunned the bike lovers last year with their launch of GW250 Inazuma, M800 Intruder and GSXR1300 Hayabusa in Pakistan. Honda followed suit and introduced CBR150 and CBR500 both twin cylinder bikes. The 2014 marks the arrival of Aprilia in Pakistan as they introduce RS4 125 and Shiver 750, which are trult Italian bikes. What has been sheer disappoitment to the bike lovers are the sky high pricesof all these bikes, consider Honda's CBR150 for Rs.660,000-, Inazuma for Rs.700,000- and more surprisingly Aprilia's RS4 125 for a massive Rs.985,000-. No doubt, these imported machines are costly and thanks to higher import duties couppled with weak currency value the total cost goes high but still the price tag put on all these bikes makes no sense and it appears that the these bikes have not been intruduced with the aim of selling them rather it is a projection stunt to show the company's presence in the country, I mean who would buy a 125cc bike for roughly 1 million rupees when he can easily find a used R1 in similar price, which is a more famous and obviously more powerful race bike; 125cc versus 1000cc no comparison at all. Only time will tell how many units of these smaller displacement bikes are sold in Pakistan. In my view, it is a failed experiment.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Right to Information in Pakistan

Constitutions of all the great democracies of the world share some common traits when it comes to the rights of the common man. This is so not just because they know the importance of the public opinion of the government but also because all such common traits are in fact the very spirit of a government that is truly democratic. Whereas a dictatorial monarch will curb every reasoning voice and turn down every pointing finger, a democratic government will lend a keen ear to criticism for it and tend to resolve the issues. Freedom of speech and the right to know are the two fundamental rights that distinguish a democratic state from a dictatorial realm. Freedom of information laws give access to the general public to the data held by national government. There is always a legal process to establish the right to know and have access to government-held information.
The right to information is the touchstone of other freedoms and even in the present age the governments ignore it even when it formally exists. Information is a public good and right of information is a weapon that a common citizen should be armed with for it empowers the civil society to keep a check and control corruption in departments and even make an assessment of how far the country has made progress from a certain point in time. It is like a scanning of the working of governmental body and can be beneficial in treating the epidemics like neglect of duty, misuse of power, corruption, favoritism, social injustice and the like. In a democratic republic right to information should be as basic as the right to breathe, not just on the national level but also on the local level. A common man should have easy access to all the information he requires on anything that bothers him in the city including any policy devised by the local administration.
We are living in the age of wisdom and knowledge where even a common man is well aware of his legal rights, it is for this reason that today many countries of the world are introducing such laws so as to give access to all the required information to the common man. Sweden’s Freedom of the Press Act of 1776 is the oldest one known while in Pakistan it was the historic 18th Amendment in April 2010 that ensured right to information by inserting a new Article 19-A in the Constitution acknowledging the right of citizens to the required information. Pakistan has thus joined the list of more than 50 countries where right to information is guaranteed to its citizens. The Article 19A allows access to information in the following words, “Every citizen shall have the right to access to information in all matters of public importance subject to regulation and reasonable restrictions imposed by law.” The Constitution of Pakistan embodies all the fundamental rights of citizens and insertion of Article 19A further expands the scope of fundamental rights given in the Constitution. This will ensure a step forward toward good governance, effective policymaking, transparency, and active participation of people in the public affairs.
The basic principle in devising laws allowing access to information is that the burden of proof falls on the body from whom the information is required, if the information is not disclosed then a genuine reason has to be given for withholding the same else the concerned body can be held liable for violation of a constitutional right.  Inducting Article 19A in the Constitution of Pakistan can be helpful not only to the public but to the government also in so many ways. Whereas it will ensure protection of public rights it will also create awareness among them as to their own rights, which means that they will become vigilant about their rights and knock the doors to justice for any violation thereof. At the same time it will have indirect effect on the working of the government as well as governmental departments would be well aware that anything they do will be open to public access and they can be easily held responsible for violation of laws, neglect of duty and corruption. It is also helpful in bringing home to the common man what a government is capable of. When everything that goes in black and white is open to common man’s access, government will take effective measures in devising effective policies, make right use of the taxes collected by the public and address the grievances of the public timely. However, having the right to information is one thing and actually grabbing it is quite another story. Since, in Pakistan the law about right to information is still new, not many people are aware of it and it is only with the passage of time that the fruit of this legislation will ripe and only time will tell that to what extent it has been helpful in eradication of social evils and injustice and to what extent the law is being followed in its true perspective. It is only when the understanding of the law will be preached to the common man that a new dawn will break in the country. Laws about freedom to information have effectively played their role in ensuring protection of fundamental rights of citizens where anyone can question deviation from the normal course and any malpractice. The right to information is a hallmark of true democracies all over the world and the nations making the right use of it can make better electoral choices. Well informed taxpayers can know that their money did not go wasted and that it has been rightly used for the purpose it was collected for, informed citizens can hold accountable the concerned for illegal budget and public spending. The law about having access to information is there now, it is for the citizens to understand what power has been transferred in their hand and it is only when the citizens realize the right use of this power that they can get rid of all the social evils and see the country rising to a whole new horizons.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Another Feather in the Cap


 


EFFORTS do not always give the desired results in the spur of a moment especially when you are sailing against the flow, abracadabra does not work here; it takes sweat, determination and hard work. At Pakistan Bikers Club we have always been striving hard to promote the safe, rather sane riding habits. We have hundreds of thousands of hooligans out on the roads to whom safety means nothing, it is this attitude that needs to be changed and there always is a great hope unless it has become a person’s instinct to violate the traffic laws and believe you me some mothers do have them.
How would you define a biker? One who rides a bike, of course; but just sitting on the bike, putting it into gear and going off is not all that it is about. Neglecting the safety measure, the helmet at least, means you are not serious about riding the bike at all. It will take one moment of bad luck to have you involved in an accident that may see you on the bed with serious injuries and broken bones; it may cripple you for life or make you see the eternal life in the worst case. In Pakistan, we have lots of bikers club enjoying their passion through travelling to far off places, weekend get-together or monthly short trips yet so many of these riders are alien to what a real biker means so at Pakistan Bikers Club we have been spending lot of time to make a biker realize his true identity and we do not let go any opportunity to spread our word to the common riders and our stall at the ACTEPR Expo at the Lahore Expo Center on 24th and 25th of August, 2013 was another of such activities. The stall with a display of variety of big and small bikes remained center of attraction for all ages where many forwarded words of appreciation for promoting the motorcycle safety gear.
Hard work never goes unnoticed and PBC is no exception. Some officials of the PTV World were so impressed by our efforts that they invited us to participate in their program Weekend World and thus gave us the opportunity to spread our word. Unfortunate, that time was short and only I and Malik Muhammad Zahid, president of the club were available to go for the recording. The program was broadcast on PTV World at 8:00 pm on September 01, 2013. Soon afterward we started receiving messages congratulating us, appreciating the valuable information we had shared back there. Not that all minds think alike; our efforts of promoting safe riding habits also get criticism from some blocks which mostly comes out as a show of jealousy and which we always neglect with a roar of laughter. Every single human life counts, if our life long efforts can save just one life by adopting the safe riding habits and use of safety gear, our efforts are fully rewarded.


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Photography

I have been interested in photography for some time now and it has been a lot more fun since I bought my first DSLR, Canon 600D, which is a pretty good camera to start with. Buying a DSLR has introduced me to a whole new world, an exciting one. Those who take photography as a profession or passion it does not come cheap. For high quality pics you need good DSLRs with good lenses and that means a lot of budget. I am happy with the 600D and its stock 18-55mm lens though. Some recent pics:
Pic taken a M2, near Kalar Kahar area..
 Pic taken near Murree..
 Sunset at Blue Area..

Saturday, September 07, 2013

The Wheels of Change


The history of motorcycling is quite unique for the changes it witnessed over the course of centuries. While names like Flying Merkel, BSA, Indian, Scott and Henderson, Pope and many others shadowed the motorcycling world of their time, few even know their names today and only the names of Harley Davidson Triumph and Royal Enfield remain from the early 20th century era. The two World Wars did a lot of havoc to the world economy; business was toppled and the motorcycle manufacturing was no exception. It was for this reason that the post World War motorcycle lovers heard nothing of the big motorcycle manufacturers that mostly hailed from Europe and America.
Japan entered the motorcycle business quite late in time but when it did it was with a very serious approach to motorcycling where the aim was to produce bikes that were more affordable and reliable and it would not be wrong to say that it is because of these traits in particular that the Japanes bikes hold the major part of the motorcycle market.
Pakistani motorcycle market has a trend of its own. Out of the big four only Honda and Suzuki are producing bikes in Pakistan at present and Yamaha is expected to come out with a regular launch by 2015 since the production halt a few years ago. Kawasaki could not establish their market and has a bried business history in Pakistan. Suzuki has been in Pakistan since long with Honda always there as a tough contender but it appears that Suzuki has decided to go a step ahead now and the Suzuki's recent launch of the stylish GD110 is one such example. The GD100 was just the beginning though and real credit goes to Suzuki Pakistan for introducing the bigger bikes forthe very first time in the motorcycling history of Pakistan. The Wheels of Change ceremony organized by Suzuki Masters Motors at the Pearl Continental Hotel, Lahore on June 22, 2013 will always be remembered as the most remarkable event by the motorcycle lovers of Pakistan when Suzuki announced a regular launch of the GW250 Inazuma, M800 Intruder and GSXR1300 Hayabusa. What makes the arrival of these bikes even more special is that Suzuki will also provide the after sale service and spare parts, now that is quite remarkable. Suzuki's recent launch of the GD110 and the big bikes has not only introduced a new era to the motorcycling in Pakistan but also it brought to a halt the stagnation that has been prevailing for the past so many years. We are thankful to Suzuki Master Motors Pakistan for inviting some PBC members to their Wheels of Change ceremony, it was definitely an event not to be missed. We look forward to more pleasant surprises by the Pak Suzuki team in future.

Monday, September 02, 2013

That Celebrity Feeling

It was quite an experience then. Weekend World team of PTV World approached our bikers club (Pakistan Bikers Club) and invited to come to their show recording. Myself and Malik Muhammad Zahid our club president attended the show. We were not given any details as to what the show was about or why we being asked to attend it. My guess was that they had invited some highway and traffic police authorities to the show and they invited us so we could ask them questions. Hardly 20 minutes to the show and they tell us that the program host Huma Amir Shah would be asking "us" questions about motorcycling, our club activities and the like. That's even better, thought we. It was a  great experience. My bike, Suzuki GS500E was also there on the stage, which is something even more special for me. Unfortunate that the PTV World channel is not available locally as it is international channel and broadcast abroad, however thanks to the online transmission we could watch it there. Had told several friends about the recording and soon afterwards I was receiving messages on my mobile congratulating me, telling that we had shared some useful information back there. For a moment, I certainly had that celebrity feeling.










Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Two Wheels Move the Soul

 

The following article appeared in July issue of The Rationale

HEDONISM has its followers, be it with rock music, drugs, expensive cars and not to forget, bikes. Motorcycling, as we see it today, is more than just a means of commuting. Oblivious of its humble beginning, motorcycling is loved by many and envied by others. This is where the age or the gender doesn’t matter; ride a bike and you are a biker. The world’s first production motorcycle was the Hildebrand and Wolfmuller, a 1500cc twin with an output of 2.5 horsepower. Evolving from the steam-powered bicycles of the 1860s to the Marine Turbine Technologies’ Y2k of the present day, motorcycles have had their lovers in all ages.
Considering the international perspective the idea of a motorcycle group is perhaps as old as the motorcycle itself. In America alone, the oldest motorcycle club known is the Yonkers Motorcycle Club (YMC) formed as early as 1903. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that perhaps this group enunciated, by organizing America’s first Endurance Run, some 23 years before the foundation of American Motorcycle Association (AMA), what motorcycling would be in America and perhaps they are also the first motorcycle group to have worked for the community service when in the World War II their members worked as Civil Defense messengers for the city of Yonkers and earned great respect for the time to come.
At present, besides being a major mode of transportation around the world motorcycling is also a leisure activity and has even evolved lifestyles. Motorcyclists have suffered a poor public image since long primarily caused by the constitution of the “Outlaw” groups like Hell’s Angels, The Pagans and The Bandidos, which traces its roots to the post World War II America and it would not be out of place to say that the bad image was further intensified by the fear promoted by the media of the time. Though the bad image has still not been completely diluted into oblivion, motorcyclists have gained some respect since then and today they come from all walks of life; doctors, lawyers, engineers and school going youngsters.
You cannot separate passion from motorcycling. I believe that nothing is impossible if you have the passion to do it and the word “passion” reminds me of the tremendous feat of Herbert James Munro, better known as Burt Munro, the Kiwi motorcycle racer who set a land speed record at Bonneville on the 26th of August 1967 at the age of 68 riding a 47 year old bike. Marvelous, to say the least! Burt owned a 1945 model 600cc Scout Indian with an original speed of about 90km/h. A man of modest means, he modified the bike by making the parts himself and set a speed record that holds field till day. It is the icons like Munro who took motorcycling to the heights of fame. Burt Munro’s feat also inspired making of the movie The World’s Fastest Indian starring Anthony Hopkins. His famous 1945 Scout Indian is currently owned by a Kiwi motorcycle enthusiast who has put it on display at E Heyes and Sons, Invercargill New Zealand.
Unlike other countries, in Pakistan the idea of a group of bikers riding together is still very much new where this two-wheeled machine is mostly a means of commuting from home to the work place. The scenario is now, however, on the verge of change. We have several motorcycle groups of young guys who storm the roads on weekends on all kinds of bikes. A rather alarming aspect of this trend is that our new generation is driving motorcycles beyond their limits with no proper protection. By doing dangerous stunts on public roads they not only cause a serious threat to their lives but also create a nuisance to the ongoing traffic.
Touched by the spirit of togetherness, to make a difference, and with a common aim of riding across the country and enjoy the blissful experience of cruising the highways, venture the valleys and promote safe riding among the motorcycling community a small Lahore based motorcycle group was formed on the 15th of August 2007. The group then widened its vistas to create awareness among the biker community of the country in terms of motorcycle maintenance, technology and above all, safety measures and the group’s name was changed to Pakistan Bikers Club (PBC). The nation got its first real glimpse of the group’s talent when in 2011 PBC organized Pakistan’s first Vintage Bike Show at Lahore where the legendary bikes like Triumph, Norton Commando, BSA and Matchless showed up with models ranging from as early as 1941. Since then, the group has made headway like a V-Twin powered Harley V-Rod and currently its members come from all the major cities of the country. PBC has been conducting motorcycle related activities on regularly basis. On the 14th of August 2009 the Pakistan Bikers Club organized an Independence Rally with the ideals of educating the youth that it should be celebrated in a civilized manner without causing nuisance to the public, no more noisy mufflers nor any one wheeling or the like stunts, just plain riding and a show of unity. Since then, PBC has arranged a series of Responsible Riding Rallies in association with the City Traffic Police, Lahore and some of these rallies also got the media coverage, including the LCCI Motorcycle Rally of March 2012 when hundreds of bikes showed up.
Does the body rule the mind or does the mind rule the body? This question pondered by Morrissey and Descartes is quite relevant here. The purpose behind PBC’s Safe Riding rallies is to create awareness among the motorcycle riders about safe riding, the use of helmet and other necessary protection gear. The number of vehicles is immensely increasing with every passing year on the roads that cannot be further expanded; consider the Murree Road in Rawalpindi and the Mall Road in Lahore. In these circumstances the driving conditions further aggravate with scores of bikes all around. The purpose behind PBC’s effort in conducting safe riding rallies is to educate the motorcyclists about safe riding by riding in the extreme left lane, avoid frequent lane change, careless overtaking, use of side mirrors and above all the use of helmet since head is the most vital part and most likely to receive injuries in case of an accident.

Pakistan Bikers Club is blessed with gems in the group with a lot of saddle time to their credit. The famous names in Pakistan’s motorcycling community of Dr. Omer Khan and Mr. Imtiaz Ahmad from Lahore and Mr. Syed Muhammad Haroon Rasheed from Karachi are a source of inspiration to the youngsters. Mr. Haroon plans to ride from Karachi to the Chinese border on his 1200cc bike along with his sons while Mr. Imtiaz is resolved to further extend his collection of classic bikes which currently are something between 40 and 50, all in running condition. Recently, in March, some members of PBC visited the famous Soun valley in district Khushab. Skirting the city of Khushab, they explored different areas of the valley blessed with natural lakes and springs. The trip was so exciting that PBC plans to do a three-day trip to the area again this year. Some PBC members will also be joining the 2012 Kalam Summer Festival, Off-road motorcycle competition (July12-July16), which is being managed by the Pakistan Army. The purpose behind the event is to attract the tourist’s attention to the area and ensure them that peace has prevailed. Be it the Vintage Bike Show, The Azadi Rally, the LCCI Bike Rally or the Responsible Riding Rallies, PBC has shown utmost devotion for the betterment of the motorcycle community. The community is groomed to excel and resolved to bring revolutionary changes in the motorcycling world of the country. The journey toward betterment might be slow, but considering PBC’s efforts one is convinced that the wind of change has already started blowing and we see a promising future ahead but without the public’s positive role our efforts cannot make a blind bit of difference. United we ride!

The article can also be read at The Rationale