Managing The Ailing Pakistan

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!



5 thoughts on “Managing The Ailing Pakistan

  1. Oh you write up looks like from a retired bureaucrat (Federal Secretay Level) of Pakistan. You painted story of health care in Pakistan as if miracle is happening there…..please visit and see what’s happening at Mayo Hospital Lahore and Civil Hospital Karachi. You down palyed the contribution of engineers who build Mangal and Tarbela Dams and Nuclear Derant Country. How amny doctors in Pakistan opt to go to police service and media? It looks like you want country be run by a heart speialist!!

    1. Afzal sahib,
      I am not painting a rose tinted picture. I am only pointing out the pros of our country that are constantly being undermined by international media, enemies on our borders and many critics within who have not had the “good fortune” of living in any other country and facing its problems first hand. There is no paradise on Earth. I live in a first world country and I can tell you how many things are much more horrible than in Pakistan. In healthcare for example, I would rather go to a dirty MAO or Ganga Ram Hospital and get good medical care, medicines and procedures in a fraction of the amount we pay here not to mention the insurance we pay all our lives only to get higher premiums when we actually need healthcare in USA, etc. Again, our parents could give us a professional education because it is affordable. If you opt to get a college education in any other country you will pay an arm and a leg, and then some.
      Coming back to Pakistan. I cannot ignore the contribution of engineers in building the dams, my maternal uncle was one of them. And I have a huge number of family members who are engineers, architects, doctors, scientists, bureaucrats, businessmen and the list is endless including more than a hundred professionals. Everyone is very highly educated. That speaks for Pakistan in more than one ways. My professor of Medicine in USA has a brother who is a carpenter! We must first value and respect our own to be valued and respected by others. If you are seeing problems, please find a solution and get to work. If you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem. No one needs a town crier, we need working hands. Be one of them and inshallah we will prevail.
      We would give the reins of the country to anyone with half a functional brain. And unfortunately the only way we can determine that is by looking at someone’s credentials. A heart specialist, engineer or any other professional will do a way better job than a politician who is trained to lie, cheat and steal. Maybe you can be a better politician than the jokers in our assembly. And do not say I do not know what I am talking about. I am the daughter of an honest politician and I know many of these clowns sitting in government personally. If they had some shame or good family backgrounds they would not be stealing from their motherland. Islam’s teaching is a separate matter altogether. I wonder how they will face Allah after the lives they have led.

  2. Thanks for your comments and in depth analysis. I understand where you are coming from. Yes, In Pakistan Professional Education is almost free. But quality of education is going down hill coampared to our neighbouring country.
    Any one who wants to study here, there are plenty of ways states and Federal Govt supports students. No child is left behind as long as the kids and their parents are motivated. I am sure you came from an honest political family but why did you opt coming to US? Every smart student wants to leave that country due to compounding problems country is going through. People are very intelligent but they do not have opportunities there. Its all who you know there.Pakistan was created by Politicians and will also be maintained and put on progressive growth by the politicians!!

  3. Now I am smiling. India has such humongous problems that we haven’t even thought about in Pakistan. The AIDS epidemic, social/ cultural clashes between every other province versus the state, extreme poverty, uncontrolled population and a gazillion other problems multiplied by the population that is comparable to China only in number but is outstanding in uselessness. ‘They have more educational institutes than us’ is a comparison between apples and oranges. They have more people. Period. More of the good things and much, much more of the bad ones. The grass looks greener on the other side. Once you sit down with the innumerable Indians who are expatriates and they manage to swallow their pride you will learn of problems of such proportion that ours seem negligible.
    If you find no opportunity in the comforts of Pakistan, then trust me don’t bother coming to USA, UK, Canada or Europe. Life here is hard. We are here for our credentials and we are constantly adding to our country’s progress. Remember the old quote, “Be it ever so humble, there is no place like home”. I am sorry I do not know your professional background or else I would have come up with a list of things you can do to improve opportunities in Pakistan. We are running organizations for our country’s prosperity, we give scholarships to students in professional institutes as “karz e hasna”, which means they must pass on the aid to one person in their lifetime, even one of their siblings. Pakistan was made by an extremely successful lawyer named Mohammad Ali Jinnah, please do not insult him by calling him a politician. Allama Iqbal was also a lawyer, poet and intellectual. Many of the graduates of Ali Garh fueled the Pakistan movement, all were honest people who sacrificed their lives for the country we take for granted. Pakistan became a failed state when politicians decided they will run it like their father’s inheritance. I am sure you know all this and more. But again, we are on the same side. We are Pakistanis wherever we go and we will amount to nothing more than what we make of our country. So, please find ways to make things better, we have enough number of critics all over the world.

  4. Again appreciate your thoughtfullnes and elaborating compounding social issues in our neighboring country India. Yes, their exploding population will create a humongus issues in next 10 years. So does in Pakistan.
    I am passonate about education and more so at grass root level i.e. Primary and up to High School. I tried to reach out Asad Umar of PTI with the intent in managing to donate books of million dollars for Paktoon Khawa schools but he never responded. Our leaders love to talk on TV but in actions, they are no where.
    In any national change, first comes the Philosopher; in our case Dr. Ilama Iqbal, then comes the change agent i.e. a Leader, in our case Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Yes, by Profession and training, he was a Barriester but by actions, he was a Leader and a Politician. There is always a hidden politician in all of us irrespective of our Professional affiliation. I was very successful and Professionally satisfied working with the top Leader/CEO of the biggest organization in Pakistan. It’s due to his support by garnting me leave of absence to go abroad for a graduate studies. Unfortunately, that Plant is closed now imapcting livelihood of thousands families.
    Yes life over here is hard but you get rewarded accordingly. You are challanged every day and have plenty of opportunities to make a difference. You know that when one wants to play in a bigger league, he/she needs to streatch and make her-self a better player. I love reading your blogs. You certainly have an edge in writiing and that’s natural gift!! With Best, MA

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