Memorable years Pakistan and Sri Lanka today


Dear Ali - Zohare Ali Shariff - first of all I wish to thank you for all the lovely sentiments expressed about my country and the peace loving ‘ordinary’ people in your letter published in this newspaper on 12th March.

My former employer selected me to be the Head of its Representative Office in Karachi in 2001. As the days were nearing for my departure to Pakistan, the 11/9 destructions in America took place. Despite numerous negative opinions and requests I proceeded to Pakistan in October 2001. After spending three memorable years I came back to Sri Lanka in 2004 and continued my employment at our Colombo office.

As everybody knows, the situation in Sri Lanka was worse than in Pakistan until May 2009. I had seen and heard more distractions, bomb blasts, massacres, etc. than in Pakistan since the shameful black July in 1983, for which the then government was solely responsible. We all saw the destruction, loss of lives and other calamities in the Colombo Fort area due to the Central Bank (CB) bomb blast that occurred on 31st January 1996. Even our office, which is closer to the CB, was also affected but there were no casualties. My ‘bad luck’ as my friends used to say, sometimes would have saved me from my ‘worst luck’ by going to Karachi in 2001 without having been working in Colombo.

I never felt that I was in another country after establishing myself there in a few weeks.

During my time there I met top class businessmen and bankers who became my friends. Even my office colleagues, neighbours at Al Habib Pride (apartment) and shop keepers were very kind and polite to me. Among so many distinguished men, I was lucky enough to have come to know a thorough gentleman and a brilliant banker, Mr. Sirajuddin Aziz, the present CEO of Habib Metropolitan Bank.

During my tenure there I was also fortunate enough to meet a fantastic Sri Lankan who was so humble, simple and not reluctant to mingle, with all Sri Lankans, having a smiling face whenever he visited Karachi. That was none other than our Ex-Army Commander and Sri Lanka’s former High Commissioner to Pakistan, General (R) Srilal Weerasooriya, RWP RSP VSU USP, who was decorated with Sitara-e-Pakistan (a high Civil award from the Government of Pakistan) in 2014.

There was a substantial presence of Sri Lankans in Karachi during that period. We had regular get-togethers, birthday parties, evening chitchats and laughter etc. Since I was the only occupant in my apartment, few Sri Lankan boys who were employed in the garment sector used to stay during the weekends at my place. I still remember our (over 75 Sri Lankan participants) enjoyable long distance trip to Mohenjo-daro in Sind Province and Harappa in Punjab, the parts of great Indus Valley Civilization. Our cheers were in abundance to the Pakistani cricketers whenever they were playing against other countries.

This was once a resplendent country. In the sixties we had foreign reserves too. ‘Reverse Sweep’ in cricket is everywhere in the country in the form of, ‘Reverse Gear’. Hats off, to the judiciary of your country!

There is an old Roman adage: ’Who is to guard the guardians when they choose to pilfer’

The famous business futurist and author, Joel A Barker once said. ‘Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world’.

There is a popular quotation of George Bernard Shaw. "Power does not corrupt men. Fools, however, when they get into, position of power, Corrupt Power"

Mahatma Gandhi has said, ‘There is plenty in this world to meet man’s needs but not his greed’.

The above four ‘hats’ suit us. Our leaders are wise in their hindsight and lack of foresight as they close the stable doors after the horses have bolted away.

The Paradise you are talking about was there, when we all were small. Peace loving and law-abiding people in this country are yearning for years, "When that day will be ……"

Nobody knows and it can be a distant dream.


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