As I have often mentioned before, had it not been for the efforts of philanthropists and the kind-hearted individuals who have set up a large number of medical centres, educational institutions and other poor-related social services, the poor in this country would have to endure an even more difficult life than they already do.
I hail from Karachi and am familiar with many projects being run by Chiniotis, Punjabi Sodagaran, Aga Khanis, Bohris and Memons that provide medical assistance, educational opportunities, vocational training and food packages to the poor. Let’s not forget the great services being provided by the Edhi Foundation and Chippa Welfare Association.
Last week, I was invited as a chief guest to inaugurate two highly commendable projects – one in Gujranwala and the other in Karachi. Even though I wasn’t feeling particularly well, I did not have the heart to decline the opportunity to be part of such commendable initiatives.
In Gujranwala, the Malik community – headed by my dear friend and philanthropist Sardar Yasin Malik (the CEO and chairman of Hilton Pharma) – built a 200-bed, state-of-the-art hospital. It was a great pleasure to attend the inauguration. Malik Muhammad Afzal, the local leader of the Malik community, and his colleagues, Allama Iftikhar Ahmad and Malik Qasim, had arranged a grand reception.
Malik Behel, one of my ancestors, was an officer in Shahabuddin Ghori’s army who had defeated Raja Prithviraj and his army. Therefore, the Malik community considers me to be a ‘Malik’ and I take great pride in it. In view of this, they decided to add ‘Malik’ to my name on the inauguration plaque. Now, in the Malik community, I am known as Malik Dr A Q Khan – what an honour! In the past, I had also laid the foundation stone of this great humanitarian welfare project. Now, I was able to visit the hospital after it had been duly constructed and was extremely happy to learn that free medical care would be provided to everyone, irrespective of caste, creed or status.
Sardar Yasin Malik’s initially plans to turn this hospital into a medical college and later expand it into a medical university. This is just one of the many welfare projects he has undertaken – there are too many to keep count of – to ensure medical care and education, and provide food to the poor.
In recognition of his services, the president has awarded him the Sitar-e-Imtiaz and the Hilal-e-Imtiaz. Many universities have awarded him honorary doctorates for his national services. It was touching to see the community spirit among the members of the Malik community and their motivation to work for people’s welfare. May Almighty Allah shower His infinite blessings on all of them.
My second visit was to the Al-Mustafa Welfare Society Hospital in Karachi. This is another highly commendable welfare project run by another dear friend of mine Dr Haji Hanif Tayyab, a social worker and former federal minister. The chairman of the trust is Dr Abdul Rahim, another great philanthropist. The hospital has excellent thalassaemia treatment and dialysis facilities, with an added medical support system.
A few years ago, I had inaugurated the cardiology department. This time I was asked to inaugurate the state-of-the-art intensive care unit. The facility was donated by well-known businessman and philanthropist Aqil Karim Dhedhi, who is popularly known as AKD. It was heartening to see that all facilities at the hospital are being run smoothly and people have access to proper medical care. The staff is highly professional and extremely polite to all patients.
These are the kind of philanthropists who quietly perform their noble deeds without making a production of what they are doing. They are quietly serving humanity and following the Islamic edicts of caring for huququl ibad. May Almighty Allah reward them for their work.
This reminds me of another Memon welfare organisation – the Saylani Welfare Trust. It is headed by Bashir Bhai (Maulana Muhammad Bashir Qadri). They feed almost 100,000 people a day; run vocational training centres; supply food and meat to the poor; and provide financial aid to cover people’s medical costs, tuition fees and marriage expenses. Only the Almighty can give them the reward that they deserve for their selfless humanitarian services.
Note: there have been some positive developments in Pakistani politics. Almost all the opposition parties have joined hands to face any highhandedness by the government. It is rather unfortunate that the Sharif brothers have only learnt their lesson after the damage has been done. Had they acted before, it is quite possible that they would still be ruling Punjab and might even have been one of the coalition partners at the centre. Zardari would perhaps have played his cards more cleverly and efficiently. It still isn’t too late.