This weekend, my family and I visited our driver for a condolence on the death of his young son, who also worked in our Hotel.
The man died
of mouth cancer … due to chewing paan (betel nut) and gutka.
tobacco-related narcotic, is truly the scourge of mouth cancer- and it is
the Provincial Government enacted a tremendous law banning Gutka, with a heavy
fine & imprisonment … while the nascent law is a positive step, the
government has yet to follow up with effective implementation.
is that for the consumers of this substance it is a narcotic. You can’t simply turn off a switch. Like other narcotics and behaviors, it is
deeply ingrained in society and part of their lives – so much so that generations
of families are consuming it concurrently.
Besides, I don’t believe we have the infrastructure to provide
medication, counselling or alternative therapies to “un-learn” this behavior.
Like the law,
we have had strict rules restricting betel nut on the job (let alone gutka!)-
but, like the law, we cannot effectively implement our own rule. We do physical checks and entry pat-downs –
yet it makes its way into the staff canteen and staff areas. In spite of knowing their colleague’s cancer
(which was in its final stage when diagnosed), no one has even reduced this
consumption. Our own house maid, her
mouth STUFFED, refuses to accept she’s chewing it – her mouth so full that she
cannot even verbally defend herself!
condolence visit, not only was our driver’s wife consuming betel nut but their
entire family was chewing away on it … nary a care to the reason behind
reduction of their family’s size!
If the finality of death is not enough to scare such consumers to stopping this narcotic, what will ☠?
One of the
best investments this Country ever made in the ‘90’s was development of the new
Motorways in the Punjab. Let’s analyze what
it has produced-
Poverty- Whether it’s the “CPEC” development of roads network, rail
links or other transport modes or it’s internally developed, tying city to city
and province to province will uplift rural areas and give them access to
commerce, trade, emergencies, etc.;
Commerce – you’ve shrunk the time, eased the availability and given
smooth access to farmers and trade from their villages to large towns and
Mobility- Punjab has become MOBILE.
With a maximum travel time of six hours, people can work in one city while
their home is in another- very much like cities in USA;
Transport- network and infrastructure has increased and become better;
Employment- you’ve created new means of income & employment- whether
new buses ply the motorways, staffing these buses or opportunities for shops,
outlets, offices, etc. (more on this below*)
Tourism- you give immediate access to develop internal tourism opportunities
(more on this below*). This summer, my
brother, sis-in-law and our families drove from Karachi to Nathiagali, in one
of the best overland adventures they have had!
& self-employment- Local towns, villages and populace on the road network
should be helped & encouraged to put up small, clean, 2-3 star lodgings
& cottages– the economy of that area is being developed indigenously. Pakistani hospitality is one of the best the
world has ever seen (but few can experience it in the face of negative
publicity ☹). You don’t need the “Avaris” and the “PCs”
& “Serenas” – let it be the “Khan Motel” instead. One, 10 room lodging will give DIRECT income
& employment to a family of 5-7 people minimum; they in turn will employ
others to help run the show; producers will sell food stuff, cleaning, linen
and other items to these lodgings; the benefits go on down-stream and are never
ending; and on & on. The ancillary
developments that take place are another story all together – shops , retails,
malls, organized tours, etc.
There may be no international empirical evidence suggesting an increase in road networks necessarily helps an economy but I see actual, on-the-ground benefits we have gained in Pakistan. If travel time between Karachi and Lahore can be reduced from almost 24 hours to 12 hours, what’s not to like? If a series of motorways links the length and breadth of Pakistan, what’s wrong with that?
(As I post this, the new M7 – Multan to Sukkar- just opened!)