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Ideal village of Gujrat

Huzaima Bukhari

My message to you all is of hope, courage and confidence. Let us mobilize all our resources in a systematic and organized way and tackle the grave issues that confront us with grim determination and discipline worthy of a great nation”―Muhammad Ali Jinnah

A famous adage goes by “God helps those who help themselves” and there are umpteen cases where people have been rewarded for putting in efforts towards achieving a known target or to fulfill certain objectives. A deity that is invisible to the eyes can be beseeched for help but expecting it to come down in physical form is a fallacy. They say that God uses other humans as arms to lift their fellow beings out of trouble or to assist them when some confusion occurs and whoever benefits from such behavior spontaneously feels that it is a God-sent blessing. These episodes have been experienced by many who sometimes name them as miracles or say that they could never imagine these sudden turn of events.

There is a lot one can achieve by intelligently and prudently organizing one’s affairs. This is true for governments as well. A handful, steer the destiny of nations and decide the future of an entire state, therefore they must be adorned with unique qualities of dedication, integrity and far-sightedness and above all, they need to be thoroughly organized. Jesse Jackson rightly says: “In politics, an organized minority is a political majority.” People generally like to be led rather than lead. There are very few born leaders and even fewer who get the opportunity to actually be at the helm of affairs. Once they reach a position then their true mettle gets unveiled. In most instances, the subsequent actions betray the tongue yet there are some who outshine and prove themselves beyond expectations. They are actually the ones who are God’s earnest angels.

Who says that an ideal form of governance cannot be achieved, especially in a country like Pakistan that has been mercilessly pillaged by rent-seekers, crafty businessmen and that class of vested-interests which time and again get the opportunity to forage what does not belong to them depriving the unsuspecting citizens of their fundamental rights, forcing them to eke out a bleak living? This civil-militro-judicial-political class combination organized itself to do what Joseph Sobran said: “Politics is the conspiracy of the unproductive but organized against the productive, but unorganized.”

Even in this grim reality, there are certain persons who, albeit on a small scale, have proved that wonders can be achieved if one sets one’s mind in the right direction and fills one’s heart with a generous amount of empathy for others. One such place is Puran Village, Tehsil Sarai Alamgir, District Gujrat in the province of Punjab, Pakistan. This is perhaps the wealthiest village in the country whose almost 95% inhabitants are expatriate Pakistanis settled in UK, USA, Europe and other developed countries of the world but whose patriotism is still deeply rooted in their beloved homeland. Late Al-Haj Raja Muhammad Tahir Qabli is credited with laying the foundation of this model village the details of which can be seen and heard in the following video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKHPNYAQz6A

Cleanliness, female education, exemplary rule of law, state of the art houses, zero rate of crime, a graveyard with free Wi-Fi facility and provision for gratis burial for those who cannot afford, libraries, banks and a self-run post office where salaries of the staff are paid by Al-Puran Welfare Society are some of the hallmarks of Puran. This village, spread over 8 Kilometer square, having eleven entry points with 850 houses and a population of 10,000 is fully covered by CCTV. The state police cannot interfere in its matters because all conflicts are handled by the elders, while rules and regulations formulated by the people themselves are strictly adhered to with heavy and compulsory penalties in case of violation.

Some very interesting rules that are vehemently observed relate to wedding receptions and funeral ceremonies. There is a complete ban on fireworks and strewing of cash during marriages. One-dish meal is to be served while the amount of mehr (dower money) is fixed compulsorily at Rs. 20 million in order to prevent divorces. Other than this, people are expected to visit the house of a dead person only for condolences and fateha but not to enjoy food, which is forbidden. The poor are taken good care of by welfare society members and there is a general atmosphere of peace and contentment in this village.

Taking cue from the working of this beautiful village, the governments at all levels can learn many lessons but unfortunately, the elite capture of state institutions prevents the few well-intentioned from bringing about positive and substantial changes in the entire country. The sagacity and far-sightedness of a single human being, the late Mr. Qabli and now follow-up by his descendants has converted this small abode into a heaven. If Lee Kuan Yew can alter the destiny of Singapore and the Qabli clan can establish an exemplary society, why cannot our political leadership deliver and make Pakistan an enviable country?


The writer, lawyer and author, is an Adjunct Faculty at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), member Advisory Board and Senior Visiting Fellow of Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE).

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