The country’s political scenario is heating up, particularly in the province of Punjab, where the recent surge in the popularity of Imran Khan’s party, Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI), has definitely put some major political parties under tremendous pressure. Judging by their moves, it now appears as if some of them are scared of his bouncers that seem not to have lost any of their bite, to which the great Indian batsman, Mohinder Amarnath, can testify when he was knocked down by a ‘lethal Khan’ bouncer back in the early eighties during an India-Pakistan test series. That was about 30 years ago.

Recently, the PML-N MNA, Hanif Abbasi, revived those memories of Imran running from a long run-up and putting terror in the hearts and minds of the opposing batsmen. Likewise, Abbasi may have felt the pressure of the bouncer standing on the non-strikers end, and seeing his more senior batsmen cringe under them, when he stated in a talk show that members of Imran’s family were appointed as Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust Board of Governors and paid Rs2 lakhs per month. Perhaps, this statement was the result of a barrage of fast, lethal and well-directed bouncers by Khan at his political opponents. However, Imran has clarified it by claiming on television that no one on the Board, including himself, has ever taken any money from the hospital since its inception in 1994.

Apparently, what this seems to have done is put Imran into a more aggressive mood by going all out with a deadly combination of bouncers and yorkers to further pressurise the opposing team (in this case, a certain political party). And with an ever-improving team, surely, the task is not beyond the most dedicated and single-minded captain. It was this trait that made Pakistan the world champion in the 1992 Cricket World Cup in Australia. Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre (SKMCH & RC) is another example.

The question, however, is: Why don’t our politicians focus more on these lines, rather than just criticise or target one of the few clean and controversy-free institutions working for the welfare of the people in Pakistan? Although it may damage this national asset, yet we must not be surprised, since we (read political parties and successive government) have a rich history of doing so! Just look at PIA, Pakistan Railways, Pakistan Steel Mills, to name a few.

So, let’s look at how the hospital was built and what is its importance for the people of Pakistan.

To build the hospital, initially Imran Khan donated most of what he had earned from cricket, including the two plots that he received from the government for winning the 1992 World Cup, besides receiving local and foreign donations.

Next, every year, thousands of new patients are registered in SKMCH from across the country, due to which the construction of two more hospitals are in the pipeline: One is in Karachi and the other in Peshawar. The hospital to be established in Karachi was delayed because of the unrest in the city, but now things are moving fast and in the right direction. The land has already been acquired for it, while a Diagnostic Centre is already functioning. In Khyber Pakhtumkhwa, too, land has been acquired for this purpose with the boundary wall constructed in the area of Hayatabad. There is a Diagnostic Centre in University Town and a number of collection centres are spread throughout the province.

Anyway, most of the patients in SKMCH are treated free of cost, despite the fact that cancer is the most expensive disease to treat. With it being the only hospital of its kind in the country, it could have made a fortune if the Board of Governors or, to put it more bluntly, Imran wanted to. But that was never the thought behind it. That is why the people have put their trust in it and help it through their enormous donations every year.

Imran Khan had a dream to build the hospital for the people of Pakistan, which is exactly what SKMCH has been doing since 1994. Also, it is our moral duty to help him in his endeavour. We can criticise him for his political outlook, but please keep a good cause, like the hospital, out of it and learn to face the bouncers with courage standing up as they will never stop coming. Remember that this is the stuff Khan is made up of!