KHAIRO Dero, gulan jo sehro/ Sajay dunya jo khair/ Khairo Dero maan
theendo (Khairo Dero, a garland of flowers/ The whole world’s goodness
will/ Start from Khairo Dero. (Nazar Husain Shah)
So sang the devotees of Nazar Husain (fondly called Jabal Shah) when
they performed for me on a hot summer evening in Khairo Dero where I was
on a short visit recently. Nazar Hussain, a Sufi, came to Khairo Dero
from Layyah when he was 14 years old, after he fell into a well and was
rescued. The legend says he received instructions to make Khairo Dero
his home, and his dargah now stands here.
When twice within a span of 10 days you are reminded of the ‘freedom
of expression’ Pakistanis supposedly enjoy, it makes you wonder. First,
it was a retired ambassador, Karamatullah Khan Ghori, who reminded the
audience at his lecture on the Middle East at the Pakistan Institute of
International Affairs (PIIA), that in Pakistan the press is more free
than in the Arab world. He was right, but it irked me. If we need a
yardstick, does it have to be a region which is the worst model of
Then came the Adab Festival’s debut in Karachi last month. In the session on Nasim Zehra’s outstanding book, From Kargil to the Coup: Events that Shook Pakistan,
we were told by a retired general – Wasim Ghazi – that civil society
had failed to present alternative narratives to the conventional stand
adopted by the army on various issues. That was very surprising.
THERE is a problem with our health sector. It has been heavily
‘medicalised’. Taking their cue from the pharmaceutical companies, many
physicians and surgeons tend to adopt the curative approach
preponderantly, depending on diagnostic technology and drugs. Preventive
medicine has been pushed aside, as have been its essentials — public
health awareness, nutrition, personal hygiene, lifestyle and sanitation.
As a result, healthcare has become so costly that it is increasingly
out of reach of the masses. Only the rich and privileged can hope to
obtain satisfactory treatment when they are ill, while the country’s
national health indicators are shockingly dismal.