Pakistan is one of those countries which are blessed with extraordinary minds and dedicated, hard working people. But it’s also one of those unfortunate countries who don’t value their assets. Trivial differences rule and alter our judgment and opinions about people and their circumstances.
Sectarian violence is not new to Karachi. For decades the city has been gripped with sectarian discrimination and it hasn’t done anyone any good. Many had to leave and those who didn’t had to pay with their lives. Dr Hamid Raza is also among those who had to flee from Pakistan because their religious beliefs were unable to ensure their safety at home.
An MBBS graduate from DOW Medical College, Dr Raza left for UK to specialize in ophthalmology (eye surgery) from Royal College of Surgeons in 1986. He returned to Pakistan in 1992 and started practicing in Social Security SITE Hospital, more commonly known as Valika Hospital. After 8-9 years of practice he decided to run his own clinic. Fate, however, had other plans.
‘I’d paid off all my loans I borrowed for my clinic but I had to leave soon after. The investment was a loss.’ He laughed barely concealing the pain he felt at the memory.
But why did he decide to leave? The situation of the city had never been perfect. More than once robbers had paid him a visit in his clinic and they definitely weren’t friendly.
‘It wasn’t the general situation of the city that made me leave. The real reason was the sectarian violence. Jan ka khatra tha (my life was threatened).’ He explained. ‘Most of my friends were leaving and the condition of the city was terrifying.’ One of his friends was being followed religiously and one night, when one of them came up to his clinic to kill him in cold blood, he had to escape to USA in a matter of hours.
He, however, still wasn’t planning to leave. He wasn’t receiving direct threats and he thought that if he took certain precautions, he might not have to leave at all. Despite the fact that his parents were scared for his life and were constantly asking him to leave, he didn’t want to abandon his family. But he had to give in to his mother’s pleas when his Professor’s son, who was an ENT surgeon, was followed and killed in front of his house. The incident frightened his parents and they asked him to leave that very same week.
‘The whole week my father, a friend or my wife would drop me at the hospital or my clinic. My car didn’t leave the house, in case I was being followed. A gunman trailed along me all the time. By the end of the week I left for UK.’ He recalled. He resigned from the hospital, but the president of the hospital didn’t accept it and told him to take a leave instead, till everything was settled. He however had no option but to leave. Without informing anyone that he was leaving in prior, he left. He’d already applied in a hospital in England and got an interview call the day he arrived in UK. The fact that he’d specialized from England helped him get a good job and in a matter of months, he was able to call his family and settle down with them.
Pakistan was still not forgotten though. He was sure that situation at home would improve and he planned to return when that happened. A couple of years later he fulfilled his wish and came back only to find out that nothing had changed. A few months later he had to leave for England again, this time for good.
Life has been polite to him and he didn’t have to face any financial or settlement issues people normally have to face. But the fact that he is away from home still upsets him at times.
‘Life is good here, but the whole family is in Pakistan and I miss them.’ he confided.
(The above is an account of the person mentioned. No additions or deductions have been done to the situation he narrated.)