By Zubeida Mustafa
John Hadfield has been visiting Pakistan every year without fail since the late sixties. He has lost count but Is certain that his latest trip to this country this month was his thirtieth. If not more. He says he Is happy here and feels at home, In fact when he was very ill a few years ago, his wife helped him get to his feet by urging him to recover fast so that he could undertake his annual pilgrimage to Pakistan. ‘It was a bit of psychotherapy she tried and It worked,’he remarks.
His mission? To conduct post-graduate surgery courses for Pakistani doctors. These courses are held every year in Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar and according to a rough calculation at least a thousand Pakistani surgeons have benefited from his training. A number of them have attended his courses in Britain and two — the late Haziqul Yaqeen (of KV SITE Hospital, Karachi) and Mahmood Chaudhri (of Sheikh Zayed Hospital, Lahore) — have actually worked under him as his registrars. What is more, Mr Hadfield (the British conventionally do not prefix the title doctor before a surgeon’s name) does not charge a penny for the courses he conducts here. He even pays from his own pocket for his air ticket from London.
And yet when John Hadfield applied for a visa for one of his umpteenth visits, his application was turned down by the visa officer in the Pakistan High Commission in London. He had described the purpose of his visit to be to conduct a course which was not considered to be a valid enough reason for a trip 5,000 miles away. A senior official was more sensible and Mr Hadfield was allowed to come. The following year he simply described himself as a tourist and was promptly issued a visa. Continue reading John Hadfield: Passage to Pakistan