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Opinion

Random thoughts

July 2, 2018

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For the public good

A few days ago I went to Karachi. I love Karachi in much the same way the people of Lahore love their city. I spent my college days there and later served as inspector of weights and measures for three years.

Since I was determined to get a higher education in engineering, I went to Berlin in 1961, where my whole life changed, as a consequence of which the security of Pakistan changed. It was a hard, adventurous, fruitful journey of almost 15 years. Despite my travels and stay abroad, I still love Karachi. My mother, four brothers, a sister, two sister-in-laws, a niece and the grandson of my older brother are all buried in the graveyard adjacent to the Rehmania Masjid on Tariq Road. I also have many friends there, most of them successful industrialists, all eager to invite me for dinner when I go to Karachi for a day or two. Since I prefer to have dinner with my family, many of my friends join us there.

One of these dear friends is Khalil Nanitalwala, a thorough gentleman, a fine human being, a great philanthropist and a very successful businessman, well known for his Medicam products. His family is very hospitable, if I am unable to have dinner with them, they send over traditional dishes like ‘aalu gosht’ and ‘paya’ to my sister’s house.

The family are all ardent supporters of education, especially for the young generation, to prepare them for a brighter future and help build a brighter Pakistan. He has always been Khalil Bhai to me and has always been exceptionally nice and kind to me. In addition to running his business, he is also a literary figure who writes thought-provoking columns in the daily, Jang. He is always engaged in one educational project or another. But if I refer a needy person to him for assistance he never hesitates to promptly help him.

Around 16 or 17 years ago, I visited Khalil Nanitalwala (KN) Education Academy at Malir Cantt. It was an excellent project with fine educational facilities, an air-conditioned campus, a well-equipped library, more than 200 competent and qualified teachers and instructors, a good hostel, cricket and football grounds, swimming pool, skating hall and a horse-riding school. In recognition of my services for the security of Pakistan, a 1000-seat, air-conditioned auditorium was built in my name. The gardens were laid out with lush green lawns and colourful flowerbeds, a beauty to behold in the dry surroundings of Karachi.

During a recent trip to the KN Academy, contrary to the deteriorating conditions we find in most establishments, I found this one to be even better than before. The young children presented interesting tableaus in which not only children but also Begum Nanitalwala participated with great enthusiasm. It was not only a delight to see, but also eye-opening to note how totally involved they all were in this excellent educational work – preparing the young generation to serve Pakistan in the coming years. The whole campus and all the facilities could easily have made it look like we were in Europe, but it was Karachi, and all the contractors and workers were locals. Hats off to Khalil Bhai, his family, his children and all the dedicated staff for creating such a fine, exemplary facility.

Khalil Bhai set up this academy in 1999. The family not only provided the 25 acres of land on which it stands, but also Rs100 million for its construction. In those days such an amount was sufficient to set up any fine facility. In 2017, he set up the Archid School, Clifton, with branches in Gulshan and Nazimabad. The whole system is managed by Junaid Khalil Nanitalwala, the able son of Khalil Bhai. The managing director is Jean Jacques, a Frenchman whose motto is: “Plants are shaped by cultivation and men by education.” The motto of the family is: ‘Together we can’. The children have all possible available facilities from class one to the GCSE level. It is based on the British education system and students can go straight on to universities in the UK, if they so choose.

Karachi is well known for its famous philanthropists/industrialists. People belonging to various communities have set up very good educational and medical facilities. As a matter of fact, without such facilities and activities the poor population of Karachi would have been much worse off. Our rulers all seem to be oblivious to the needs of the common man. As more details have become known from the scrutiny of election nominations, none of our politicians are anything less than multi-millionaires. They seem to forget their duties to the public who vote them into power as well as the divine edicts stating that Allah’s chastisement is very painful. It almost seems like all the politicians are, in some way or the other, related to Qarun.

Note: Isn’t it a shame that it has been left to the honourable chief justice to go to schools and hospitals to check on their cleanliness and facilities. Isn’t this the duty of the administration and bureaucrats of the concerned departments? The simplest way to an efficient administration is to replace the hoarde of incompetent sycophants with efficient and competent officers who know their jobs and act accordingly.

An order to the district commissioners to take proper care of the maintenance of these institutions or face dismissal from service, with the forfeiture of all benefits and barring them from any future government service, would bring about an improvement within weeks, not months or years. But who will bell the cat? Incompetent rulers tend to surround themselves by equally incompetent yes-men. As the saying goes: “Birds of a feather flock together.”

Email: [email protected]

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