No respite for suffering humanity in Chitral

Garam Chashma Diary — Islamuddin, Garm Chasma Chitral


This diary was to comment on one issue that caught my attention during a recent visit to upper Chitral but suddenly another issue cropped up which was more shocking. Tehsil Headquarter Hospital Garam Chashma, a Government facility under the management control of Aga Khan Health Services has suddenly run out of doctors. Like few times in the past, this time also, the management has sent its doctors on leave or on training without making alternate arrangements for patients. One of them has left the hospital after expiry of his notice period in protest against his terms of service.

Under the new management it was expected to be a quality hospital to justify its ISO certification and the name of His Highness, being a symbol of quality and service to humanity. Except improving infrastructure and bringing in state of the art equipment, AKHSP has done nothing in terms of adequate and contented staff, prepared to give their best to the hospital. AKHSP management has insulated itself by transferring its office to Karachi leaving the local volunteers to face the brunt of public anger. Despite repeated requests that leave and trainings should be allowed after making alternate arrangements the high ups of AKHSP continue on their perilous path fully ignoring the logistic problems of the area which remains cut off from Chitral during this time of the year.

Another issue that I wanted to highlight relates to the God forsaken village-Sarghooz in Mastuj sub-division. Its 120 households located just opposite the Tehsil head quarter across the river have to negotiate 15 kilo meters to reach Mastuj via Laspur simply because its connecting bridge has been washed away and a new one is still awaited. The route not only involves extra travelling time and fare. Commuting students and visitors to the tehsil head quarters face imminent threats of land and snow sliding, torrential rains and 45 minute long travel time and transport fare of Rs.1500/ which could have been avoided had there been a jeepable bridge between Sarghooz and Mastuj, located opposite to each other. While narrating their daily ordeals a prominent spiritual figure of the village was literally in tears. He thought I can help by writing about this issue. The poor soul does not realize that it takes a lot of efforts to make our thick skinned leaders and administrators to respond to public needs.

Last year these pages carried a piece highlighting the plight of the residents of Dokandeh, Booni, who also have to negotiate extra distance to reach their village because the bridge in front of their village connecting it with Girl’s College has been washed away and a new one has yet to be constructed. The state of Chitral-Booni road presented another painful saga. It is likely to be extinct at many points come flooding but nobody cares. Defective work underway by C & W requires massive correction but there is no accountability. Development projects and repair works have become goldmines for few departments. Government continues paying jokes by going for mega projects involving huge kick backs when smaller ones touching human lives at close range remain unattended.