Edhi the Saint
The greatest soul on the face of the earth, the richest poor man in the world, a man with only one religion, humanity, whose only mission in life was to serve human beings irrespective of caste, creed or religion, a faqir recognised all over the world, Abdul Sattar Edhi. Such souls are born once in a century and are a gift from God to all human beings. Throughout his life he only kept two pairs of simple clothing, never used the Edhi foundation funds for his personal needs and without expecting any rewards, silently continued his humanitarian services. Because of the sincerity of his mission, within a short span of time, the Edhi Foundation became one of the world’s largest charity organisations. When he was sick, he turned down the offer of getting medical treatment from abroad, firmly believing in the will of God, he preferred to get a medical treatment from his own country, a country where all the elites and the ruling class prefer to get specialized medical help from the UK and USA at the cost of taxpayer money.
Will our ruling class ever learn from his example. His name will always shine in the history of mankind whereas those enjoying the luxuries of the west will fade away
I had the honor of meeting Edhi saab only once, and that day is the most memorable day of my life. Shaking hands with him was such a privilege. Edhi accepted every challenge and established an example of charity, the parallel of which is difficult to find.
It would be grossly unfair to put the onus of our failed health system on the PML-N alone. For almost nine years Musharraf was at the helm, followed by the five years of the PPP and now almost three years that PM Nawaz has been in office. In Sindh and Punjab, respectively, the PPP and PML-N have been in control for eight consecutive years. The same civil bureaucrats have held important posts in federal and provincial bureaucracies, with the establishment setting its own priorities for welfare that do not extend beyond its own nose.
In terms of powers, benefits of housing and allotment of plots, our top bureaucracy and ruling political elite excel others, yet they have no confidence or trust in seeking medical services within the country, the failure of which they themselves are responsible for. Instead of being penalised, they facilitate themselves at state expense, even for diseases for which both hospitals and doctors are available in Pakistan. If there are issues of fake or substandard medicines and equipment, it is either the bureaucracy or political elite who are responsible.
Putting the blame on doctors, pharmacists, medical technicians, nurses and other associated branches of medicine would be unfair given the paucity of funds allocated in the budget and the fact that qualified medical specialists come at a price that is not on offer here. In a country where doctors and professors or school teachers are amongst the most neglected in terms of financial emoluments, it is no surprise that our health and education services are in shambles.
Only recently, PM Nawaz, like his predecessors, proceeded to London, exercising his discretion to seek necessary medical and surgical remedies for his heart-related ailments from a doctor of his choice in London, where his family also lives and does business. The fact that his party has been in power and failed to offer this country even one hospital in which the likes of Musharraf, Shaukat Aziz, Asif Zardari, Nawaz Sharif etc. have faith or confidence in is an indictment upon all of them. Yet the national exchequer is penalized, bearing the burden of their collective criminal incompetence and pay for camp offices and extended families travel, TA/DA, accommodation etc., apart from ridiculing our sovereignty and self-respect that PM Camp Office is located on alien soil.
Barring Ayan Ali, for one reason or other, from going abroad does not augur well at the national or international level. Accountability must be a hallmark of an honest government, and law is always said to be heartless, but in the course of implementing the law it must be kept in mind that this does not ruin an individual’s sanity. In Ayan’s case, she has been made the victim of mental torture and tug of war between political giants, which is clearly affecting her private life. In Caliph Omar’s rule, he annulled the sentence to two thief brothers and asked to book their mother for not upbringing them properly. Our judicial, interrogation and jail system produces more criminals as opposed to transforming them into peaceful citizens. Even an honest and innocent accused turns out to be a thorough criminal as a reaction to the cruelty meted out to him or her during the course of trial before proving to be guilty. The impression is that Ayan has been made a victim and a beauty-symbol to be exploited and ridiculed in public, before policemen, interrogators, lawyers, judges and general public. The way it is being handled is an absolute travesty.
The Himalaya, Karakoram and Hindu Kush combine to make a unique chain of geologically and ecologically connected mountains in the world due to their lengths and heights. The chain stretches for 1700 miles and has all peaks exceeding 22834 feet, with three being over 28000 feet.
The chain makes up the formidable northern frontier of the South Asian subcontinent with deep impact on its upper part. Its climate is affected by these mountains, which check dry winds from lands across the frontier and block water-laden winds, called monsoon, from the eastern ocean, which cause heavy rains. Considerable rain water on high altitudes is stored as glaciers. Resultantly there is a vast rain belt and three large rivers, Sindh, Gunga and Barhamputra. The basins of these rivers have a contiguous, vast and fertile plain, which is the heartland of South Asia. There is a Sanskrit proverb that ‘a hundred divine epochs would not suffice to describe all the marvels of the Himalayas’.
The geography of this land impacted the course of history and resultantly its people have many commonalities. At present, this region comprises Southern Afghanistan, Pakistan, Northern India, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. About one billion people of the Himalayan Region have common interests of peace and prosperity.
Socio-economic justice, equality before law, compassion and tolerance for other faiths and adherence to ethics of governance are pillars of Islam as much as mandatory obligations of the populace. If anybody has any doubt, the lifestyle and austerity of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and his companions are proof if any is required. In an Islamic state, rulers have no right to lead ostentatious lifestyles. There is no concept of monarchy or dictatorship in Islam, where power vests in an individual.
Whatever self-proclaimed champions of Islam may claim, the fact is that basic human rights and social economic justice for all and equality before laws are undeniable rights of all irrespective of their faith in any Muslim majority state, especially an Islamic Republic.
The callous display of arrogance by a mufti who heads the Ruet-e-Hilal committee, whatever the provocation, is unbecoming of anybody holding such a post. It is failure of delivering these mandatory obligations by every civil and military ruler of Pakistan that men like Edhi have filled the vacuum. Should it not shock us that few of our ulema were unwilling to lead the funeral prayers of such a man who has served humanity as per teachings of Islam?
Allama Iqbal once wrote, “Ever since their political fall, the musalmans of India have undergone a rapid ethical deterioration. Of all the Muslim communities of the world they are probably the meanest in point of character.” Strong words but bitter truth if you look at the size of the Presidency, PM House, gated GOR and DHAs.
Abdul Sattar Edhi, an eminent Pakistani philanthropist and social activist of unparalleled and impeccable reputation, is no more. Edhi saab, founder and head of the Edhi Foundation, left for his eternal abode on July 8, 2016. Undeniably, his passing has left millions of people across the length and breadth of the country in a state of shock and awe. With tears rolling down their cheeks, and a sheath of despair hovering over them, young and old alike could be seen mourning the death of Abdul Sattar Edhi.
Edhi’s philanthropic and welfare work knew no bounds. His unremitting efforts to serve the suffering humanity across the globe spans over six decades. Tormented men, women and children, regardless of their cast, creed or religion, were and continue to be the beneficiaries of the selfless and dedicated services of Edhi.
In his message, United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in Pakistan, Neil Buhne said, “Edhi’s life and values will continue to inspire everywhere in the world. The United Nations family in Pakistan joins millions of Pakistanis and people around the world in mourning the demise of Abdul Sattar Edhi.” In his message,
All said and done, the fact remains that people of the stature of Abdul Sattar Edhi are born once in a century. The vacuum his death has created will perhaps never be filled. If we truly desire to keep Edhi alive, we will have to make sincere efforts to sustain the legacy he has left behind.
M Fazal Elahi
Misery of senior citizens
Old people often have limited regenerative abilities and are more susceptible to diseases, syndromes, and sickness than younger adults. The elderly also face other social issues like retirement, loneliness and ageism. In every country, the government gives benefits to senior citizens, but unfortunately it is difficult for old age people to live a dignified life in Pakistan.
The Employees Old Age Benefits Institution (EOBI) gets a large amount by deducting a specific amount from the salaries of registered employees, however it is not paying the sufficient amount to registered workers as pension. More than 20,000 industrial workers, besides others, are registered with the EOBI and receive pension from the institution of Rs 5250 per month. It is a meager amount to say the least.
The government announces raises in pension for all its employees every year in the budget, but no one is paying heed to the financial problems of the old age EOBI pensioners. I request Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to take immediate action and increase the pensionary amount of the EOBI registered pensioners considering the prevailing price hike in the country.
The apathy of the Federal Directorate of Education towards Islamabad model schools and colleges has become a major concern for parents. Pay-deprived teachers are painstakingly dejected and naturally, therefore, are not interested at all in fulfilling their primary responsibility of teaching. Their neglect and disinterest in teaching is causing serious harm to students, who for no fault of theirs, have to bear the brunt of the indifference of the relevant authorities towards this grave issue.
Nawaz Sharif has taken the onus of upgrading the deteriorating standards of model schools and colleges of the capital on his own shoulders. He is being supported by his daughter Mariam Nawaz in the attainment of this vital objective. Minister of State for Capital Administration and Development Division (CA & DD) Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhary has also recently rolled out an ambitious plan, obviously under the directive of the PM, to uplift the capital schools both in terms of education standards and infrastructure.
All this sounds good and must happen. But what puts a shadow of doubt on the fruition of the government’s plan vis-à-vis uplift of the capital schools is the demotivating factor that currently hounds teachers of public schools due to non-payment of salaries. A glaring example of this fact is the Islamabad Model College for Girls F-10/2, where it is believed teachers have not been paid their salaries for a long period of time.
Will those at the helm in the government take immediate notice of this grave issue and expeditiously resolve it in the larger interest of suffering students and their overly concerned parents? Will the PM be kind enough to issue directives to relevant government bodies to resolve the matter on war footing?
For far too long have we the people complained that our parliamentarians live a life that reflects how disconnected they are with the masses. They wine and dine so to speak while thousands around the country die of hunger and starvation. Keeping that in mind, there is an urgent need to introduce a reform act in parliament, one that sets down such rules for our parliamentarians that they will be forced to live like the common folk and in turn be more empathetic towards their problems.
The first rule should be that parliamentarians be allowed to collect a salary while in office, but should not receive any pay when they’re out of office or have retired.
Also, parliamentarians should purchase their own retirement plans, just as all Pakistanis do with life insurance etc. Next, parliamentarians should no longer vote for themselves a pay raise. Their pay should be linked to the CPI or 3%, whichever is lower. Parliamentarians should lose their current healthcare system (foreign countries medical treatment) and participate in the same healthcare system as the Pakistani people. Parliamentarians with tainted records, criminal charges and convictions, past or present, should be summarily banned from parliament and from contesting elections on any pretext or the other. Parliamentarians should equally abide by all the laws they impose on the Pakistani people. Next contracts with past and present parliamentarians should be void effective 1/1/15 .The Pakistani people did not make this contract with them. Parliamentarians made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Parliament is an honor, not a lucrative career. The founding fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and not rule over us like monarchs. The last reform needed is that people should not surrender subsidies like LPG unless all subsidies available to MPAs and MNAs are withdrawn, including subsidised food in the Parliament canteen, and free accommodation in the parliamentary lodges.