Dear Readers, I would like to share this Letter to the Editor that I posted on Twitter earlier this morning. It's always good to know when other people look up to us, even when we ourselves look down on one another ....
PESHAWAR: I recently visited Kuala Lumpur for an angioplasty of some calcified coronary arteries of my father at the Institut Jantung Negara (National Heart Institute). Malaysia is a modern, secular country and has excellent health facilities. However, the downside to this was that seeing such a prosperous country made me wonder at the state of my own country, which seems absolutely backward in every walk of life. May I also add that Malaysia gained its independence in 1957, a decade after Pakistan!
The technology used by the doctors at the medical institute in Malaysia enabled all the calcified vessels in my father’s heart to be unblocked successfully. In Pakistan, doctors had advised my father after the angiogram to have a CABG (coronary artery bypass graft).
Apart from the quality of healthcare on offer, I also found the country to be a peaceful place where people of various ethnic groups, such as the Malay, the Chinese and Tamils, all live in peace and harmony. It is because of this unity and togetherness that Malaysia is a successful and developed country. In Pakistan, we have to live with sectarian violence with Sunni killing Shia and Shia killing Sunni. There is also ethnic violence in Balochistan where settlers from Punjab are targeted.
The next important thing is that Malaysia is a secular country where there is no ban on anyone following/practising any religion. Due to this secular approach, Malaysia is able to attract millions of tourists from all over the world, and this in turn means that tourism is an important contributor to the country’s economy.
Pakistan’s bad luck is that it never got any charismatic leader who could take it on the path of development like Malaysia had with Mahathir Muhammad. Furthermore, as a nation we have no respect for the law and no one, at any level, wants to follow it. A small but apt example is how we follow our traffic laws with most of us following them in the breach. However, in the case of Malaysia, people follow them in letter and in spirit.
Quite clearly, we need to learn a lot from countries like Malaysia.
Mian Muhammad Imran
Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th, 2012.