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Random thoughts

September 24, 2018

An asset for society


September 24, 2018

Pakistan has an untapped wealth of about 120 million youth. Unfortunately, most young people are uneducated, untrained and jobless. The fault lies with our system of education – an area that has been neglected by incompetent, inefficient and often dishonest bureaucrats and administrators. Ghost schools are a point in question.

In addition to the youth, we also have a well-educated, experienced force of senior citizens. Senior Citizen Day is celebrated all over the world on October 1 every year. The number of senior citizens in the country is estimated at being 8.7 million, some of whom are organised within the Senior Citizens Foundation of Pakistan.

The head office is in Islamabad and there are branches in Karachi, Quetta, Peshawar, Lahore and Wah. I am currently the president of this organisation. Akbar Hayat Gandapur is the vice-president, H M Chohan is the secretary, Hafeezuddin is the information secretary and F I Qureshi is the finance secretary. All these men have been federal secretaries with decades of valuable experience.

Members of the organisation include professors, scientists, doctors, economists, politicians, administrators, diplomats, water experts, and engineers. It is most unfortunate that this wealth of available knowledge has never been tapped by any of our rulers or even the Pakistan Engineering Council and the Pakistan Academy of Sciences to seek advice and input for any important national projects or solve local problems.

In developed countries, think tanks, consisting of senior citizens, are set up and governments regularly benefit from them. Funds are provided to these think tanks and requests for advice on policy matters and/or specific projects/problems are forwarded to them.

Every year, the Senior Citizens Foundation of Pakistan selects two candidates for medals of special recognition. Last year, these candidates were Dr Naeem Ghani and Akbar Hayat Gandapur. Selections for this year have yet to take place.

Dr Naeem Ghani is an eminent medical specialist. A graduate from King Edward Medical College, Lahore, Nishtar Medical College, Multan and Kings College, London, he has visited more than 30 countries in connection with his profession. In addition to working in Pakistan, he had a long distinguished career in Saudi Arabia, where he had the unique honour of being the visiting honorary companion to King Suleman Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud.

Dr Ghani has concentrated on welfare work in Pakistan since 1992. He has established numerous free medical clinics in Rawalpindi and Islamabad, and conventional and non-conventional educational institutions. He is the chairman of the Sultana Foundation – a non-profit organisation working in the fields of education and healthcare – and the Nazaria-i-Pakistan Council – which is committed to realising the ‘promise’ of Pakistan. He is also the author of numerous publications.

Akbar Hayat Gandapur is an administrator with three masters degrees to his name – public administration (Punjab University), economics (KP) and defence and strategic studies (QAU). During his service, he acquired training in rural development administration, project evaluation and review techniques, and investment analysis and decision-making. He speaks, English, Urdu, Pashto, Punjabi and Seraiki. During the course of his work, he has been able to travel to many countries and interact with various other cultures, which has greatly influenced his approach to life and society. As vice-president of the Senior Citizens Foundation of Pakistan, he contributed his experience generously and with great devotion to the welfare of senior citizens.

There are some problems faced by senior citizens that need urgent remedial action from the government:

1) The constantly rising prices of medicines, which successive governments have been unable to control. For senior citizens, medicines are part and parcel of life, and ever-increasing prices place a heavy burden on them. The government should take firm measure to regulate the prices of medicines and keep them to a minimum.

2) The Senior Citizens Bill: the draft of this bill was finalised by the Ministry of Capital Administration and Development and the National Council for Social Welfare. It has been languishing with the government for many years. It should be presented to parliament without further delay. Only Punjab lags behind in this regard, as similar legislation has already been passed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and Balochistan.

3) The age at which pensioners qualify for a 25 percent increase in pension is currently set at 85 and above. This age limit makes the number of beneficiaries negligible and it would be better if this facility is made applicable to those who are 75 and above. This would make life a lot easier for many old people. It is hoped that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government will take urgent action to solve these problems.

Studies in the US have offered some advice for senior citizens. First, around 51 percent of old people suffer a fall while climbing stairs and some even die. Old people should climb stairs with extreme caution and hold firmly onto staircase railings. Second, don’t rapidly twist your head as this may bring on dizziness. Do so slowly. If it is part of your exercise, warm up the whole body first. Third, don’t bend your body to touch your toes without warming up your entire body first.

Fourth, don’t put on trousers/shalwar while standing; do so only while sitting. Fifth, don’t sit up from a laying-on-your back position. Roll to right or left first and then sit up. Sixth, before any exercise, warm up the whole body first. Seventh, don’t walk backwards. This can cause a fall with serious injury. Eighth, don’t bend from the waist to lift something heavy. Bend your knees and lift up anything heavy while half squatting.

Ninth, don’t get up fast from the bed. Relax for a few minutes after waking up and then get up slowly. Tenth, eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly for proper bowel movements. Constipation causes piles. Eleventh, think positive and enjoy the life that you can now lead after many years of hard work. Twelfth, getting old is mandatory, but feeling old is optional.

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