After sixty eight years of independence from the British Raj we stand tall as a nation of proud Pakistanis. We have produced some of the finest brawns and brains in the world and contributed immensely to international sports, music, literature, science and technology. We have always reflected unlimited tenacity and perseverance in impossible times. The question remains that if we have all the talent and spirit in the world what is holding us back? The answer is simple, the country is run by Goons and imbeciles. But in a nutshell this answer is not enough. It may be a very true observation, but it is not a solution to our problems. Most politicians around the globe are sleazy, dishonest, back stabbing liars and cheats. Ours are no different. And the ones who are of upright character are known and loved as leaders like Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the father of our nation. As a doctor, I have learnt the value of interpreting complex data into simple understandable terms and then finding simple step by step solutions to myriads of difficulties. That is known as a management plan. And I propose one for my country to be resuscitated after saving it from the Goons and idiots that refuse to step down from the Government and just let the poor country breathe.
To begin with we must understand the basics ourselves. It is not easy being a small country like Pakistan with vindictive and venomous neighbors. From the very beginning we were cheated out of our rightful land, rivers and assets at the time of Independence in 1947, thanks to the penultimate leniency and love of Lord Mountbatten for the Indian side. We will not stoop into the details of how his beloved Lady Mountbatten had her heart and much more leaning towards Nehru. History has a way of preserving truths, even the ones nations choose to forget. For us it’s like sitting next to a bully in school, knowing you have to perform at an optimum even though you will be threatened, harassed, beaten and cheated in every way possible and if and when you turn to others for help, you will face mockery, slander and scandalous lies. Kashmir has been one of the sore spots ever since and the human rights claims of the United Nations is mocked and ridiculed by the great democracy of India every day. Unfortunately, the world turns a blind eye to bullies. So, ill-fated as this historical background is, I would like to put it in a coffin, nail it down and bury it for good after befitting mourning rituals. There you go, history is dead and gone and tomorrow is another day. Let’s get back to life and work and make today and tomorrow count. Point one of my agenda is to just stop cribbing.
Primarily we need to know what problems we have. I will reiterate this soft reminder that no country or nation on this planet can claim of not having any one of these issues. The proportions or severity of ailments may vary but the symptoms are predominantly universal. So, any chest thumping, ridicule or criticism by other nations is juvenile and perverted. Poverty, illiteracy, corruption, law and order issues, injustice, terrorism, food and water shortage, bad and unaffordable healthcare, power breakdowns, bad governance, natural calamities are the first scoop from a brimming cup. These problems are humongous individually but when clustered together they seem unsurmountable. So, I propose breaking them down and taking them up one by one and even fragmenting them further and finding hundreds of thousands of small workable solutions than an Abracadabra that will just make them poof away. Anyone who tells you how horrible life is, give them a piece of paper and ask them to propose a solution. He who is not providing a solution is a part of the problem. From cleaning a trash heap outside your house to building airplanes. Let’s do it. Ask yourself what you can do. Can you plant a tree in your house? While you are at it, pick a fruit tree like Guava or Citrus. It will cost nothing, grow with minimum care and will need a very small spot in your home. I see it as a mini food stamp. Can a nation of two hundred million people starve if every person just grew a tree in their home?
Now, the ground reality is that things are not as simple as well. We have politicians who are antisocial, runaway schoolboys. They will trash entire cities so that they can play with and park their fancy buses and trains but they will not build bridges and dams for the long term welfare of the country. People will starve and die without medical aid while they buy fancy villas and palaces around the world. They will lie to the nation about internationally signed treaties and business deals imagining they will live forever and enjoy the money they are hoarding. They will seek political asylum in foreign countries and run criminal mafias from abroad. If they had been educated properly and had picked up a single book of world history they would know that even Alexander the Great left the world empty handed. The good news is, they will all wither and die like their predecessors. The seeds of crime, apathy and terrorism they sow today will be reaped by them and their children tomorrow. And the reigns will come to our children one day. So let us educate our children, protect them and make them capable of being heroes and leaders. Teach them the difference between these petty politicians and true leaders. Of course I will educate my child and so will you. But the nation will prosper and the world will be a better place if I also remember to educate the child of the criminal and the beggar. This collateral education will ensure that my child is not harmed in life by a criminal and he does not spend his life giving his hard earned money as alms to the beggars. They can and will work together towards a better future. Anyone who smiles at the simple heartedness of my dream makes me cry for the death of his dreams. How will you ever achieve anything if you do not have the will or the desire to achieve it?
Now back to basics. We have an upcoming water shortage and we need dams to store the bulk of monsoon water that causes annual floods and devastates crops, villages and infrastructure. What if the politicians don’t make big dams like Mangala or Tarbela because they are too stupid to do anything remotely useful. Can we have water reservoirs in every village? Maybe if I allocate a few acres of my land, dig trenches and push the sand towards the sides to make embankments, add concrete and rocks. Don’t I have a free water reserve after the monsoon is over? How hard is that? I know it can be made but I am no engineer. Where are our hundreds and thousands of bright engineers working around the globe in reputable organizations? Come and fix this small glitch and make a contribution of your engineering excellence. Let us make mini dams and dam the political circus. Once we do that, we will make small grid stations for hydroelectricity, build solar parks and give cheap electricity to everyone. And if we have water and electricity, our fields will grow crops. It is inevitable. So, water and food go hand in hand in a primarily agricultural country. If we do it on our own, maybe the few people in power with workable ganglions will follow our lead.
The next on my list is crime, corruption and justice. I have written on the subject before and I will reiterate my take on this. Human beings harm each other if left unchecked. Period. We need laws to be implemented and we need good governance. We have some excellent policemen, lawyers and judges in the system. Is each and every one corrupt, vile and ignorant? That cannot be possible. For every ten corrupt officers of the state, if one honest lawyer takes up one case on moral grounds per year and strives to get a positive verdict we will accumulate positive citations over the years. If every judge decides to expedite justice and not let the lawyers use dilatory tactics, justice will prevail. If one out of ten policemen decides to discourage criminals, the law will be respected. And when criminals are handed out punishments, the crime rate will go down. All of these are mathematical certainties. When these rules have been followed in the past, the law and order situation has improved. So why do we have a national memory loss for all the good things that worked. When you feel better doing something, for the love of God keep doing it!
Now on my very personal area on healthcare. I have recently been exposed to the metamorphosis in healthcare and I will proudly say that whatever should be done is being done now. The University of Health Sciences and the Pakistan Medical Association have some amazing people with great insight and vision. I have had the good fortune to meet some of the pioneers who are changing the face of healthcare in our country. The encouragement of continued medical education, discouragement of quackery and introduction of an elaborate plan of action is up and running. The effects may be slow but will trickle down from the tertiary care to the primary care and things will improve. However, all doctors practicing in other countries, myself included, have the moral obligation to commit a part of our time and talent to the country that made us who we are. The poor patients that we examined, operated upon and studied for our medical licensure deserve a fraction of our gratitude. We have free clinics or colleges in every city and village and I am sure when you visit back home, you will find one near you to dedicate a week or two of your free services to. It is your choice whether you teach medical students or treat patients but just dropping nickels and dimes in donation bins is not enough. We paid petty change to get our degrees in Pakistan as compared to the hundred thousand dollar medical school loans in other countries. We owe this to Pakistan. Let’s teach and treat.
Last but not the least is education. Even though we have small schools cropping out of every nook and corner of the country there is a great difference between the quality of education being delivered in various institutions. The lack of standardized education in the Government sector has come under scrutiny time and time again. The Ivy League private schools with the rich clientele are producing ignorance of a new variety. We do not need foreign educated individuals who consider themselves above the common man and unfortunately are more illiterate to their own culture, literature and language than the children from the Government schools are to Cambridge syllabus. We need to improve the syllabi and bridge the divide between these two extremes. When we emphasize that the quality of education be improved in low income group schooling, we must also inculcate national pride in our elitist schools and tell them that if your children quote Shakespeare and scoff at Mirza Ghalib, you are not imparting good education at all. So when we educate our children, it is important to make sure the children of our servants and staff are also being sent to school.
My dream is to have every child in school in my lifetime and if I can afford it, I will pay the family a stipend of one thousand rupees per child and give two wholesome meals during the school day so that the incentive for education does not struggle against poverty. Every child who comes to school will be fed, clothed, vaccinated and seen regularly by a Pediatrician. The parents just need to send them to school. And somewhere among these little girls and boys, we will sow the seeds of future doctors, engineers, scientists, leaders, artists, musicians, writers, sportsmen and philanthropists. We will teach them to dream big but walk with small steps until they are strong enough to take big strides and carry the torch of humanity, morality and goodness for future generations. These are boundless oceans of dreams, hopes and aspirations. We may not be able to make them come true individually but if each of us carry a small handful we can pitch in and make the world proud and thankful that the small country of Pakistan was created by a great leader and visionary in 1947.
Pakistan Zindabad! Qaid e Azam Zindabad!