This too is Pakistan …
It was close to Iftaar time as I drove home on Wednesday evening. I had left the office around 3 pm but had to go for physio, take my father to the doctor and then run some errands before I could call it a day.
As I headed home, I thought about all the negative press that this country has been getting over the past few years – both locally and internationally. Yes, we are faced with some severe problems. One would have to be blind and in denial not to recognize that. But why do we only focus on the negative? What about the good things that are happening here?
As I asked myself this question, the siren signalled Iftaar and I saw people who had set up tables on the side of the road suddenly jump to life – they were handing out dates, fruit, pakoras and roohafza to passersby in buses, cars, trucks, rickshaws etc who had not been able to reach home to break their fast. This is of course provided free. Each time I had seen this scene in the past, I had smiled, as I did now.
I started to focus on other positive things that were happening around me.
My father had been in severe pain all night and I wanted him to see an Orthopaedic Specialist in case the pain got worse during the holidays. I didn’t have an appointment but I smsed Dr. Najam Qureshi, who is not a personal friend, and told him what had happened with a plea for him to squeeze us into his schedule that evening. He smsed back right away saying my plea for help had been heard – I could drop in with my father and he would examine him. 🙂
Isn’t Karachi also the city where young people have offered their time to be Community Police Officers? I watch them every day as they perform their duties with complete dedication despite the scorching heat. I could swear they control traffic much better than the real traffic cops do. They are polite, helpful and firm.
Isn’t this also the country where Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital – set up by Imran Khan; offers free cancer treatment to those who can’t afford it?
Isn’t this also the country where the Sindh Institute of Urology & Transplantation – headed by Dr. Adeeb Rizvi- offers free kidney treatment to those who can’t afford it?
Isn’t this the country where in the aftermath of the Earthquake that hit the Northern Areas, the whole country pooled together their efforts to alleviate the suffering of those who were affected? Remember how kids, young people, old people, soldiers, technologists, medical practitioners, architects, civil society and members of the public all used their skills and resources to help in any way they could.
Who hasn’t heard of Abdul Sattar Edhi of the Edhi Foundation – who provide help to anyone who needs it – whether it be food, a roof over their heads, clothes, medical treatment, etc.?
Then there are those who provide education to those those who can’t afford to go to school – organizations like The Citizens’ Foundation, CARE, the Garage School, Zindagi Trust, etc
And what about LRBT who offer quality free eyecare “because no man, woman or child should go blind simply because he/she cannot afford the treatment” ?
Or the Karachi Vocational Training Center (KVTC) – a center where people with mental challenges are taught behaviourial skills and technical skills that enable them to take on paid work and lead an independent life.
Or people like Dr. Feroze who has been arranging for plastic surgery for children with severe plastic burns?
Isn’t this also the country where as soon as people hear that a security guard’s son is very ill and needs surgery, or the roof of a woman’s house has collapsed, or a poor person has contracted dengue fever, a collection is started so that the money can be gifted to the affected people?
Ever since I moved back to this country, I have found that the support network in Pakistan is far superior to any that exists elsewhere in the world. If I am ill or in any kind of trouble, I know all I have to do is pick up the phone and a friend will be there in minutes to offer advice or practical assistance. I also know that if I sound depressed for any reason, a friend will pop into the office to ask if everything is okay.
I remember when my mother passed away, two of my oldest friends came over and took charge. I was a total wreck. Thank God for them. They took care of me as well as all the arrangements. Last year when I contracted dengue fever, it was my friends who took turns to stay with me in the hospital so that they could ensure that I was taken care of (and, believe me, I was a difficult patient!)
And in the past few years I have seen the spirit of young entrepreneurs in this country. They are the torch bearers. They are going to lead us out of the mess that we have got ourselves into. Of course we will have to help too but together we can and will do it.
Such is the spirit in this country. Such are the people of this country. How can one not have hope?
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