Progress and Development
Long time ago when Dr. Kamil Rajpar a PPP Jiayala was the Sindh Health Secretary, I went to see him in the Sindh Secretariat. Dr. Kamil Rajpar a committed, dedicated worker of PPP was a dear friend. While I was asked to wait, I could see there was lot of noise and shouting match going on inside his office. After about fifteen minutes, I was called in and he as usual welcomed me with an infectious smile but I could see he was furious and a bit depressed. I asked him the reason and also tried to enquire about the atmosphere in his office few minutes ago. He asked me, do you know this gentleman who has just left my office? I replied in negative. Then he himself introduced the guest saying that he was Mr….. MNA from the interior of Sindh. He was annoyed and had come with a complaint that why a School and a Basic Health Unit has been approved in his constituency. He wants it to be shifted to the neighboring constituency. I could not believe it and asked him again what was he saying to which Dr. Kamil Rajpar said you have heard it correctly. These Waderas do not want progress in their areas because if the people get educated, they will know their rights and they won’t be able to enslave them for too long. This is the basic difference between the politicians in Sindh and Punjab though this mentality also prevails in certain tribal areas in South Punjab and Baluchistan.
Dr. Kamil Rajpar, Dr. A. H. Saeed and Dr. Mrs. Ashraf Abbasi with the guidance of a few other senior healthcare professionals including Prof. Kh. Zaki Hassan had prepared the Peoples Health Scheme which was quite a useful document. Few days after it was formally launched by Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, I received a call from Dr. Mrs. Ashraf Abbasi who also served as Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly whom I had known since 1972 when she was our host at Larkana when I first visited Larkana to cover an Eye Camp. She wanted to discuss about the Peoples Health Scheme. We met at Mideast Medical Center in Clifton (it has now been replaced with a Shopping Mall) in the consulting room of Dr. A. H. Saeed another committed and devoted PPP loyalist whom I had known since early 70s when he was Chief Medical Officer in Pakistan Railways and Medical Superintendent of Sardar Bahadur Khan TB Sanatorium at Quetta. Dr. Kamil Rajpar also joined us later. While we were discussing the Peoples Health Scheme, during the interview I asked Dr. Mrs. Ashraf Abbassi that if they could implement even up to 10% of what is written in this document, it will be a great achievement. She asked me why I was so pessimistic. At this I said that when the PPP will come to power, those who will be entrusted the responsibility of implementing this, will be different people who will have their own agenda and none of you may be around. When PPP formed the government at Center and in Sindh Province after winning the elections, Prof. Nek Mohammad Sheikh was appointed as Director General of Health and the rest is history. Dr .A. H. Saeed was very close to Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. Couple of months after the death of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto when PPP once again came to power after elections, I went to see Dr. A. H. Saeed in Park lane Hospital where he had shifted his clinic from Mideast Medical Center which was demolished. When asked about the working of the PPP Government and reforms in the Health Sector about which he was always very enthusiastic, he just kept quiet. He was a bit depressed and then said, “the new PPP leadership does not know me and I do not know them.”
Again a few years ago we organized a meeting of Pakistan Aspirin Foundation at Taulka Hospital Tando Adam and it was very depressing to see the conditions in the hospital with dirty surroundings, unhygienic conditions all around, no cleanliness and fractured beds and trolleys in the Wards. I asked the Medical Superintendent why do you invite the area MNA and MPAs and ask them to help improve these conditions. He said they all know it but none of them seems interested. The District Health Officer who was also sitting in the room said Saeen, we have up to 60% ghost workers in the district and we cannot do anything. They just come to collect their pay and refuse to work. Why don’t you talk to the area MNA and MPAs and complain about this, was my next question. To this the DHO remarked, it is because of them, they are part of this problem.
More recently a few years ago while I was on a visit to Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Medical University, Chandka Medical College Hospital Larkana, I came to know that the Speaker of the Sindh Assembly was to inaugurate an Electric Fountain with Benazir Bhutto’s picture at the Campus. What a novel way of wasting the money. It might have become dysfunctional by now or will become so soon. Prof. Sikandar Ali Sheikh, a thorough gentleman and noted surgeon was the Vice chancellor at that time. When the learned Speaker of the Sindh Assembly was having a meeting with the Faculty member’s, I also joined the meeting with Prof. Saeed Sangi as it was an open meeting. Discussion about further development, improvement and expansion of the facilities at the campus was being discussed. After taking permission from the Speaker, I first introduced myself and then asked him that once they have named this institution after their beloved leader and if the government is sincere to develop it which should be a befitting tribute to late Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, they should appoint experienced competent faculty members whose appointments should be specific to this institution. They should not be transferred to any other institution in the province. Pay those well offering special incentives and facilities so that they do not have to worry about private practice. Then select young competent energetic junior faculty who should be sent for training to Centers of Excellence within the country and overseas so that on return, they join this institution, serve here and it will make all the difference. What happened to this suggestion is not known.
Government has allotted a huge piece of land for the new campus of SMBBMU on the airport road and a few buildings have also been constructed but they are vacant and not in use at present. The adjacent Cadet College is functioning well and fully alive. Looking at the pace of work at the new campus, it may take fifteen to twenty years to get it completed and by that time the buildings already constructed and lying vacant will become unusable. The authorities should have constructed the Basic Sciences Department there and shifted them to the new campus but it has not happened.
The problems and hurdles against progress and development in the Sindh Province has been correctly highlighted by Dr. Kaiser Bengali, another PPP loyalist and a well-known social scientist of the country who has also served as Advisor to the Sindh Government for some time. His prescription needs to be taken seriously by all those concerned in the Government as well as in the party. Speaking at a session on Politics of Development Budget at Sindh Economic Forum he said that “the political leadership does not want development because they benefit from under development and misery of the general public.” The public sector development plans in the province has no direction. “Sindh needs intellectually, morally honest politicians”. I in the present scenario, an organized Sindhi middle class could be an instrument of change.
Visit to Larkana does not show that this is the city from where three Prime Ministers of Pakistan were elected, late Mr.Z.A.Bhutto and Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto twice. It remains neglected. The situation is not better in cities like Sukkur and Hyderabad either the other two major cities in the province. When you ask people in Larkana, they say, when the leadership lives in Dubai, why they should be interested in the development of Larkana or any other city in the province. The PPP leadership can go on criticizing the “Shareef Brothers” and, the Federal Government as a duty though they themselves have been in the Federal Government and ruling Sindh since long. However, if they ever get some time to think over the root cause of their dismal performance, it is incompetence and inefficiency of their leadership coupled with rampant corruption. They can request Mian Nawaz Sharif to send Shahbaz Sharif to Sindh province on deputation for few years or else try to produce their own indigenous “Shahbaz Sharif”. Irrespective of what the opposition keeps on saying, Mian Shahbaz Sharif has proved that he is one of the most active, energetic, hardworking Chief Ministers in the country who has completed a large number of development projects in record time. Though there is lot to be done in the Health and Education sectors in the province, Various development schemes are currently underway and he ensures round the clock work. His personal supervision also keeps the bureaucrats and others involved with these development projects on their toes as he can come and visit any site any time during the day or night. Just look at the quality of roads, underpasses, flyovers, the Metro Bus Project in Lahore and Rawalpindi-Islamabad which is being further extended to Faisalabad and Multan. If it can happen in Punjab, it can certainly be accomplished in Sindh province as well but the quality of political leadership remains the main difference.
1. Kaiser Bengali. Sindh needs intellectually, morally honest politicians. Address at Sindh Budget Dialogue 2016-17. Politics of Development Budget organized by Sindh Economic Forum. Daily Dawn June 23, 2016. Page-18.