‘We may have left our homes but our heart and soul are still in Pakistan’

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Pakistan Kidney Centre. (Photo courtesy: Hospital Management)
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The Diabetes Centre. (Photo courtesy: Hospital Management)
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Dr. Asjad Hameed. (Photo courtesy: Hospital Management)
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Dr. Farook R A Farooki. (Photo courtesy: Hospital Management)
Updated 28 December 2018
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‘We may have left our homes but our heart and soul are still in Pakistan’

  • Expatriates residing in the GCC look to pay back by contributing to the country’s health care sector
  • Have played a crucial role in promoting quality facilities over the years

DUBAI: Dr. Farook Rasheed A Farooki was 29 years old when he left his home in Muzaffarabad- Kashmir to settle for a life as a young doctor in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
That was 45 years ago.
Soon, with his hardwork and excellent reputation, he became a naturalized citizen of the Kingdom. However, he says, his love for Pakistan always kept him grounded.
He finally decided to take the leap when, along with other like-minded Pakistanis, he established a charity hospital for kidney patients and named it as the Pakistan Kidney Center.
“In 1969, I came to Jeddah to look for a better life and got a job in the Ministry of Health. I worked there for eight years and then started my own clinic as a family physician. I worked very hard in my adopted country. And in return , I got a lot of respect and love. I was able to give a good life to my family,” the 76--year-old father of two said.
But that was not enough for him. “I always felt that I have a loan to pay to my motherland, where I was born and where I was educated.”
Eventually, he and his friend, Dr. Khaleelur Rehman, decided to establish two charity health projects in Pakistan — the Pakistan Kidney Center and Heath Mobile Units. 
This was essential as Pakistan ranks eight in kidney diseases causing 20,000 deaths every year. Additionally, Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is rapidly growing in Pakistan, too.
“There are very few facilities available in our country, especially on the mountainous region. Patients have to travel a long way to major cities which add to the cost of their treatment. So we decided to build our center on the Silk Route’s main highway from Islamabad to Abbotabad, which is called Muslimabad,” he said.
The Pakistan Kidney Center was established in April 2015. With 14 machines, the facility provides 35 dialysis sessions on a daily basis.
“We successfully started our OPD with 14 dialysis machines [which works in two shifts] to take care of around 40 of patient every day. We maintain the highest standards. All machines are busy round the clock, so much so that we are now considering to start the third shift of dialysis,” Dr. Farooki said.
He added that the construction and operational costs of the facility cost him nearly Rs200 million. “Around Rs75 million was gathered through personal donations of board members and rest came from friends and philanthropists in KSA. Our current running cost is Rs2 to 2.5 million per month, out of which 25 to 30 percent is generated by center revenue. Rest comes from donations,” he said.
He has set his sights on launching a Mobile Health Unit next. “In the mountainous parts of Pakistan, there are no hospitals, no OPD facilities, or even trained medical staff. Hence, the only way to provide medical care they deserve is to reach them with Mobile OPDs on a regular basis,” he said, adding that “our mobile units travel to far-flung areas holding camps, providing medicine, and creating awareness about the prevention of diseases.”
His impending age and logistic challenges haven’t discouraged Dr. Farooki from serving his motherland. “I knew it won’t be easy. But nothing can stop me to help my people. Allah has given me the opportunity to serve my homeland. And I will do it with the best of my abilities till my last breath,” he said.
Dr. Farooki is not alone. Several other Pakistani expatriates in the Gulf voiced similar aspirations. Dr. Asjad Hameed, a famous diabetologist in the the UAE, is another such example.
Early this year, Dr. Hameed and his friends realized their six-year long dream by establishing a world-class diabetes hospital near Islamabad which they named The Diabetes Center.
Dr. Hameed, 51, has been working on curbing the nationwide epidemic of diabetes in Pakistan for more than a decade. Pakistan is one of the top ranked in the list of countries with diabetes where one out of five people suffers from the disease.
Dr. Hameed’s journey began in November 2011, when he decided to take the plunge. During a winter morning walk along the corniche, he shared his idea of establishing a hospital in Pakistan with two of his close friends.
Since then, there has been no looking back. “I initiated the project six years ago with my life’s savings of Dh300,000. We first launched a site clinic in Islamabad in 2012, where more than a 100 patients visited per day. And in April 2018, our world-class hospital became operational,” the father of three said, adding that “till date, we have spent Dhs 25 million on the hospital and are treating 200 patients per day.”
“We [Pakistani Gulf expatriates] are not only the highest in providing remittances to the country, we also serve our country in many ways. Contributing to the health sector is one such example. There are many known and many unsung heroes from the gulf countries who are serving Pakistan in several ways,” Dr. Hameed said.
“Though providing quality health services to all Pakistanis is the government’s job, we as responsible citizens cannot sit back and see our brothers and sisters suffering. We may have left our homes for the better future. But our heart and soul is still there. We will continue to do whatever we can. Keeping our people healthy is certainly one of such responsibilities that we owe to our country,” he said.
According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO) issued in 2017, Pakistan spent 0.5 to 0.8 percent of its GDP on health care for the past 10 years while the WHO benchmark of health expenditure is at least 6 percent of the GDP to provide basic and lifesaving services.


Jadhav case: Pakistan, India to face off in ICJ on Monday

Updated 16 February 2019
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Jadhav case: Pakistan, India to face off in ICJ on Monday

  • Pakistani delegation to argue case in UN court left for The Hague on Friday 
  • ‘Will except the final decision of the ICJ,’ Pakistan says

ISLAMABAD: The International Court of Justice (ICJ) will resume on February 18 public hearing in Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav’s case that was initiated by New Delhi against Islamabad in order to get consular access to its incarcerated citizen.
India claims that Jadhav was apprehended on trumped up charges.
The Pakistani delegation that will argue the case in the UN court, left for The Hague on Friday. 
According to the court’s schedule, the public hearings in the case will commence from February 18 till 21 in The Hague. Attorney General Anwar Man­soor will lead Pakistani delegation while Harish Salve represents New Delhi in the world court.
Salve is expected to argue first on February 18 followed by English Queen’s Counsel Khawar Qureshi making submissions on February 19 from Islamabad’s side.
An Indian naval official, Commander Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav, was arrested by Pakistan in March 2016 from the impoverished and rebel-infested Baluchistan province during a counter-intelligence operation. 
Islamabad claims he confessed to his involvement in subversive activities and espionage against Pakistan working for India’s premier intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).
Placed on trial by a military court in Pakistan, Jadhav was found guilty and sentenced to death a month later.
India, however approached the world court in May 2016, invoking the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. Subsequently, the court passed an order directing Pakistan to stay the execution, pending a final decision.
Islamabad has made Jadhav’s statements public, but New Delhi has countered that the officer is retired, that he was kidnapped from Iran, and that he had been made to confess under duress to fabricated charges. 
“We will accept the final decision of the ICJ,” a senior foreign office official said, adding “there are more charges of terrorism and sabotage that he will be charged with after the court’s judgment.”
It may be recalled that Pakistan gave access to Jhadav’s family on humanitarian grounds in December 2017. Officials say Islamabad would be willing to entertain a request in future if his family submits an application to meet the ill-fated spy.
“There are specific instances (of terrorism) that he has confessed to and those cases against him are pending” but India needs to answer six key points of Pakistan against its demand to ICJ to order for the return of Jadhav, the official explained to Arab News.
In a special handout given to Arab News, Pakistan argues that India failed to provide evidence that Jadhav was kidnapped. It also failed to explain why and when the officer retired and why he was in possession of an authentic Indian passport under a false cover Muslim name. Why is India demanding his return pending an international court decision, another question Islamabad raised? Consular access cannot be granted to a person implicated in national security matters under the 2008 Agreement on Consular Access between both sides, argues Pakistan. 
India will scheduled to respond to submissions from Pakistan’s side before the ICJ on February 20 and the closing argument by Pakistan will be presented the day after. Islamabad expects the ICJ may deliver its final decision by summers this year.