Friday, December 18, 2009

IDK’s Person of the year

With Time magazines recent announcement of its person of the year (a banker no less). America’s preoccupation with the almighty dollar becomes even more apparent. Arguably the chairman of the Federal Reserve commands considerable influence over the lives of US Citizens, more so in tough economic circumstances. However it can be said that these influences are abstract and esoteric in nature.

With my far maligned worldview my choice of person of the year isn’t on the mainstream media’s radar. However my person of the year has had a real and tangible influence on my life. Pakistan is a savage land and no more is this made more apparent than in it politics. At times reminiscent of the mob wars of a bygone Chicago politics in the land of the pure can get ugly. That’s why very few politicians rise above the muck and manage to take a respectable position in society. Among these is the late Senator Syed Mazhar Ali.

A civil engineer by profession he is responsible for the township in which my late father built his home and in which my mother now resides in. It’s a splendid community to live in and has been featured as a blog post on IDK. Well run municipalities such as Gulshan-e-Maymar are rare in Pakistan and have spawned many copycats who try to match its excellence. Proper housing is sorely needed by the weary citizens of Karachi and I salute any effort to address this need.

The good senator didn’t make it on my list just because he planned a model community. It’s what he built in the heart of the town that really gets my motor going. In its heyday my alma mater the Karachi Institute of Information Technology offered world class education in the area of software development. Its beautifully constructed campus offered students a sanctuary where they could flourish as individuals and as professionals. I made numerous lifetime friends in that place and always have fond memories when I recall my time there.

Apparently in a place where illiteracy is the norm not even education is spared by the crosshairs of the savage land. A spat between the senator and the Higher Education Commission managed to get the university blacklisted. Parents ignorant of the quality of education at the institute kept their kids away and soon attendance dropped. Compounding this problem was the early demise of the senator. His death had a tremendous impact on the staff and faculty. I remember our director (his little brother) an MIT educated luminary delivering the tragic news with teary eyes. A Quran-khani was shortly arranged and the holy book was recited many times over in his honor by the students. With no strongman championing for the University the establishment had to close its doors.

So there you have it my person of the year.
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