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Baloch Hal Editorial: Social Entrepreneurship in Balochistan

Baloch Hal Editorial

The Senior Executive Vice President of the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), Imam Baksh Baloch, a native of Panjgur, inaugurated a forty-bed private Shaeed Javid Medical Complex hospital in Balochistan’s border district of Panjgur. It is the biggest hospital ever constructed in the entire Mekran region. This grand project in the health sector has been funded and sponsored by a Haji Zahid Hussain, a resident of Gramkan area in Panjgur district, who heads a construction company called the Emaan Builders.

A job which should have ideally been done by the government’s Ministry of Health has been very skillfully performed so far by Mr. Zahid. This is indeed a remarkable development in a highly backward district. Like many other places in Balochistan, Panjgur has also remained deprived of basic health facilities. Oftentimes, people were obliged to immediately rush their injured or ailing patients to Karachi or Quetta for urgent and better medical treatment. Given the very poor economic conditions of the local people, it is normally very difficult for most families to afford the traveling and treatment expenses in the larger cities.

With the establishment of a huge hospital, the local people of Panjgur and the neighboring districts, such as Kech, Kharan and Washuk, will also benefit. While Mr. Zahid and his company deserve to be deeply appreciated for creating history by coming up with such a great project, what still needs more attention is the future of the hospital. The hospital administration should take into consideration people’s economic limitations and offer cheap treatment so that the hospital is not restricted to those who have the money.

The construction of a forty-bed hospital is surely not the biggest thing that has ever happened in Balochistan. But this project offers some unique lessons. Zahid Hussain is not a politician or a rich businessman. He belongs to a middle class family but has had a progressive and entrepreneurial vision for the development of his backward area and its masses. Sadly, big foundations and trusts refrain from working on such projects in remote parts of Balochistan. They cite different excuses to stay away from working for the welfare of people of backward places. Amid such circumstances, the local people, particularly the educated youth, can either wait for miracles or decide to accept the challenge of fighting the unfavorable circumstances. Mr. Hussain showed that members of the community can also offer miracles if they have a strong resolve.

We congratulate the people of Panjgur and Mr. Zahid for constructing this important project in a regressive part of Balochistan. At the same time, we would suggest the people of the area to learn and support such ambitious young people who stand for a social change in their home towns.

Balochistan urgently and immensely needs social entrepreneurship in health and education sector.

Another such meritorious success story of social entrepreneurship was that of Zahir Hussain, recipient of a USAID scholarship in the late 1980s, who brought almost an educational revolution in Panjgur by establishing The Oasis Academy. Known as the American English Language Center at the time of its establishment in 1994, the Academy totally reshaped the society of Panjgur by opening doors for boys and girls to learn English language, prepare for competitive examinations and operate computers. Later on, the academy also inducted an English medium school. More than 20, 000 young boys and girls studied and graduated from the Oasis Academy during these years. Many of these students, after gaining a vision of life from the Oasis Academy, entered medical, engineering, commerce, agriculture and different professional colleges. Many of them are outstanding professionals in their respective domains of life.

There is nothing wrong with making money from a school or a hospital. Remote parts of Balochistan need such people who are willing to invest money, time and human resource to cultivate the seed of distinction. It takes a long time to bring out a social and economic change. Previously, Mr. Zahir Hussain proved that a positive change was possible in the field of education even without the support of the government and now Mr. Zahid has started his journey in the field of health.

A lot of money comes to Mekran region as foreign exchange because many residents of the area work in the Gulf region. Plenty of educated young men are serving in these countries’ armies. They make good money and their seniors come back home after retirement with a hefty amount of pension. If this money is spent on the construction of schools, colleges, vocational centers, health centers, factories,hotels and other projects, there is no reason why Balochistan should not develop even without the support of the government. All that is required for a change is an unflinching resolve and a clear vision to stand for a change.

Lastly, we would still urge the government, local residents and donors not to refrain from giving donations, financial and technical help to the newly constructed hospital in Panjgur so that it does not face any hindrances while curing the ailing humanity. We should encourage and promote social entrepreneurship.