Are we failing? - Dr Farrukh Saleem -Sunday, August 22, 2010

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Edhi Trust's success has no parallel. Fifty-nine years ago, Edhi had Rs5,000. Edhi Foundation now has an annual budget of Rs850 million. Fifty-nine years ago, Edhi had just one room in Karachi . Edhi Foundation now has 300 centers across Pakistan and a center each in New York , London , Toronto , Tokyo , Sydney and Dhaka. Fifty-nine years ago, Edhi was on foot. Edhi Foundation now has the largest volunteer ambulance service on the face of the planet (Guinness Book of World Records). Fifty-nine years ago, Edhi's only help was Bilqis (his wife). Edhi Foundation now has a fleet of 400 ambulances, one helicopter and two air ambulances. Nothing succeeds like Edhi.

Al-Khidmat Foundation, in its own words, had set out to "serve humanity". And, Al-Khidmat has been very successful at that. In 2005, Al-Khidmat provided more than 10,000 shelters and make-shift homes to earth-quake affectees. Last year, Al-Khidmat played a major role in comforting IDPs out of Swat, Buner, Malkand, Bajaur and Dir. As I write, Al-Khidmat is once again proving to be the most affective welfare organization in Charsada, Nowshera and Swat.

Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation is the other entity that is now playing a key role in dispatching medical teams comprising doctors and paramedical staff to flood-affected areas in southern Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. The West accuses Falah-e-Insaniyat to be Jamaat-ud-Dawah's front, but the fact remains that Falah-e-Insaniyat is saving souls in Charsada, Nowshera and Swat.

Yes, the political entity, the government, the very organization "through which a political unit exercises its authority, controls and administers public policy" is failing. Yes, the machinery through which a political unit "directs and controls the actions of its members or subjects" is failing. But, the extended social group of 171,373,158 -- the 6th largest in the world-that inhabits 803,940 square kilometers referred to as Pakistan continues to be robust, resilient and hardy. The government may be failing, the society is not.

To fail is to leave something undone. Edhi, Al-Khidmat and Falah-e-Insaniyat are doing what needs done so they are certainly not failing. To fail is to disappoint. To fail is to prove undependable. The political government is proving to be undependable while non-government entities are reaching their set goals.

The essence of our crisis is that we are missing the essence of democracy. Elections are meant to make leaders' dreams subordinate to wishes of the voters. Not in Pakistan . Budget drafters are supposed to prioritize priorities of the voters. Consider this: The National Disaster Management Authority was allocated Rs100 million for the whole year while the PM was given Rs100 million a month every month of the year for his foreign expeditions. Consider this: the PM gave Rs50 million to 5 million flood affectees of KPK translating into Rs10 per affectee while he spends Rs50 million every two weeks on his foreign tours.

Yes, the success of the wicked tempts many to sin. Yes, our government shall continue to fail because our leaders teach faith through words not deeds. And Edhi shall continue to succeed because Edhi teaches faith through deeds not words.

The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad. Email:

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