A real feel-good story

Published June 19, 2022
The writer is a former editor of Dawn.
The writer is a former editor of Dawn.

AFTER weeks of doom and gloom, this Friday brought some good news in that the international terror-financing and money-laundering watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), has been finally satisfied with Pakistan’s progress on compliance with a 34-point action plan.

This means that Pakistan has safely put some distance between international financial isolation and may be headed off the ‘grey list’ now, where it has languished since the summer of 2018, with prospects brightening of improving its credit rating and being seen more favourably as a destination for foreign investment.

It would be premature to celebrate success at this stage, as Pakistan remains on the grey list until an ‘on-site’ visit and inspection by a FATF team is conducted to physically verify that all the action points have been indeed implemented. At that point, Islamabad will be likely removed from the grey list. Nonetheless, it is safe to say a huge step has been taken in the right direction.

Most of the work on the compliance criteria was done during the tenure of the PTI government and there can be no denying credit to it. Kudos to it. Many of its leaders, most notably Imran Khan, have come forward with self-congratulatory messages. Deservedly so.

In this moment of relief for Pakistan, for which credit was being claimed by one and all, one irony was lost somewhere along the way.

Mr Khan did not share credit with anybody else, like his party did for the handling of the pandemic when it credited the National Command and Control Centre, NCOC, jointly headed by Asad Umar and a serving three-star general with the success.

Read: ‘Many fathers’ of FATF success

Equally, in another example of how far things have moved from the same-page harmony with the PTI, since the military’s ‘neutrality’ commitment, the army’s chief spokesman lauded the efforts of the “core cell” at GHQ (under the DGMO) which “steered the civil and military effort” for bearing fruit.

In this moment of relief for Pakistan, for which credit was being claimed by one and all, one irony was lost somewhere along the way. It was former prime minister Nawaz Sharif who first raised the issue of global isolation on account of Pakistan’s support to militant groups in a meeting with the former DG ISI Lt-Gen Rizwan Akhtar in 2016, two years before the country was put on the grey list.

What followed the publication of a report about that meeting in Dawn is public knowledge. Nawaz Sharif’s government was systematically destabilised and his ouster from office was orchestrated after the warning of an approaching national calamity was perceived as a slight by one of the most unaccountable institutions in the country.

‘[The] Notification is rejected’ was added to the national political lexicon after the military’s chief spokesman reacted with those words in a public message to a notification by the government listing its action after a commission of inquiry into the Dawn story submitted its report to it.

This tweet represented the start of a period of retribution. The former prime minister and his daughter were sentenced to prison terms and it was ensured that the 2018 elections saw a different party forming a government in Islamabad and in Lahore.

For the independent media, the nightmare started in 2016. The PML-N government’s fate was no different. That hellish nightmare continued till the spring of 2022, though the same-page harmony ended somewhere in the autumn of 2021. The polarisation and divisions in the country have deepened alarmingly.

Television channels and their pundits, the ‘senior analysts’ with the most lowly levels of intellect and logic toe their favourite political party’s/ leader’s lines and seem to be broadcasting to audiences from their respective silos.

If these divisions and the tone and tenor of messages on television channels bring a smile to your lips for their often utterly ludicrous, partisan and juvenile political content, social media is a different story where viciousness seems to be a prerequisite for partisan commentators. It literally takes a moment to escalate, or descend into galum galoch (abuse).

Social media is often seen as platforms where little good can be found or exchanged, apart from a lot of bile and poison. But is that always the case? Let me share my own experience from this week. On Friday, a Twitter friend from Karak in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa asked me to retweet his brother’s appeal for help.

The brother is a primary schoolteacher whose two-year-old son has not been able to hear or speak from birth. He said he took his son to a specialist medical institution in Peshawar and they said the only thing that can enable the boy to hear (and then speak) is a cochlear implant.

The cost of the device and the surgical procedure, the primary schoolteacher said, was Rs4 million which was nowhere near anything he could afford on his meagre government salary. I retweeted the appeal to support the family.

A few hours later, a friend of mine messaged me and said she knew of a Karachi businessman who may be able to help, as he has helped such patients before as well. This Saturday morning she messaged me to say the businessman (philanthropist) has said he’d take care of the device and the surgical procedure expenses.

Both my friend and the Karachi businessman had one condition. That their names were not mentioned as they sought no publicity. As I informed the family of the offer and made it conditional to keeping anonymous the donor, their joy was immeasurable.

In my 38 years in journalism there are few things that have given as much meaning to my professional life as this. As I write these lines, all doom and gloom is far from my mind. At least for now. All I can feel is tears of gratitude and a welcome lump in my throat. Please join me in wishing the child the best. And more power to the anonymous donors.

The writer is a former editor of Dawn.
abbas.nasir@hotmail.com

Published in Dawn, June 19th, 2022

Opinion

Editorial

Fleeting good news
Updated 03 Dec, 2022

Fleeting good news

Indeed, there is no other option to get out of the economic mess we have created in the last few years.
Battle for spoils
03 Dec, 2022

Battle for spoils

THE spectacle playing out inside a London courtroom shines a light on the struggle for control of the assets of the...
CM Bizenjo’s complaint
03 Dec, 2022

CM Bizenjo’s complaint

BALOCHISTAN Chief Minister Mir Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo’s claim that his province is facing a financial crunch due to ...
Wayward ideology
02 Dec, 2022

Wayward ideology

Anyone who claims his legacy for themselves should not treat his words so whimsically.
Progressive stance
02 Dec, 2022

Progressive stance

THE timing of two encouraging developments in the fight against domestic violence in Pakistan could not have been...
China Covid protests
02 Dec, 2022

China Covid protests

PUBLIC protests are rare in China where the People’s Republic maintains order through a strict authoritarian code...