MULTAN: After a video of Seraiki poet Shakir Shujaabadi went viral on social media as well as the mainstream media, Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, PPP representatives and PTI estranged leader Jahangir Tareen came to his help, making arrangements for his treatment and giving funds to him.

On the directions of CM Buzdar for free medical treatment, Shujaabadi was admitted to the Nishtar Hospital by the government.

Provincial Minister for Culture and Colonies Khayal Ahmad Kastro, accompanied by Punjab Minister for Energy Dr Akhtar Malik, Parliamentary Secretary for Information and Culture Muhammad Nadeem Qureshi and Deputy Commissioner Amir Karim Khan, paid a visit to the ailing poet after he was shifted to the hospital.

Nishtar Hospital Medical Superintendent Dr Amjad Khan Chandio briefed the visitors on the health of the poet.

Mr Kastro said the best treatment facilities would be provided to the poet on the direction of CM Buzdar as the poet had highlighted the deprivation and issues of the common man of the region through his poetry.

“Care for the great Seraiki poet is the responsibility of the state,” he declared.

Provincial minister Dr Malik said the treatment of the poet had started and all-out efforts would be made to facilitate him.

“The poetry of Shakir Shujaabadi is the voice of south Punjab,” he added.

Culture secretary Qureshi said the provincial government would continue to look after the poet.

A delegation of PPP Cultural Wing South Punjab, led by its president Dr Ashu Lal, also paid a visit to the poet on the direction of PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari. He handed over Rs100,000 cash to the poet on behalf of the party.

PPP Cultural Wing Secretary General Jahangir Mukhlis told Dawn Sindh Minister for Education, Culture, Tourism and Antiquities Syed Sardar Ali Shah was going to announce financial assistance for the poet soon.

It is pertinent to mention that the PPP chairman was the first political figure who took notice of the condition of the poet and directed Sardar Ali Shah to provide all required facilities to the poet besides making arrangements for his treatment.

PTI estranged leader Jahangir Tareen also visited the Nishtar Hospital to inquire after the health of Shujaabadi and presented him with a cheque worth Rs500,000 while announcing a monthly stipend of Rs50,000 for him.

Terming Shujaabadi an asset for the entire Seraiki nation, Mr Tareen said he would do the maximum for the poet.

Mr Tareen was accompanied by former provincial minister Social Welfare and Baitul Maal Muhammad Ajmal Cheema, MPAs Saeed Akbar Khan Nawani, Chaudhry Iftikhar Gondal, Salman Naeem, Khurram Leghari, Qasim Khan Langah, Ghulam Rasool Sangha, Faisal Jabwana, Tahir Randhwa and Chaudhry Zawar Hussain.

In 2015, Shakir Shujaabadi was admitted to the Lahore General Hospital (LGH) for treatment and a medical board was constituted on the direction of the then chief minister Shehbaz Sharif. The board comprised senior doctors, headed by Professor Anjam Habib Vohra, while the other members included Professor of Neurosurgery Dr Khalid Mahmood, Dr Athar Javed, Dr Shahid Mukhtar and the then MS Lahore General Hospital.

The board was of the view that Shujaabadi was suffering from a disease called dystonia right from his childhood, which got worsened in 2004.

Seraiki nationalist Zahoor Dhareja said the poet once told him that he was informed by the doctors that his disease could be treated only in the US.

Dystonia is a disorder characterised by involuntary muscle contractions that cause slow repetitive movements or abnormal postures. It is not curable but certain things, including exercise, can be done to minimise its related problems. The condition varies from person to person but in most causes it worsens with age.

Published in Dawn, October 29th, 2021

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