Sunday, 30 October 2016

QK archives: Surgeon Kabir was a good doctor with business sense

• Surgeon Kabir was a good doctor with business sense

Published October 2003

Rahimullah Yusufzai

PESHAWAR: There was no way one could ignore Dr Mohammad Kabir. You either had to like or dislike the noted surgeon. No wonder then that even in death he got prominent coverage in the media and prompted both his admirers and critics to discuss his life and times.

Dr Kabir occupied almost every post a doctor could aspire for. He became a professor of surgery and was one of the most skilful surgeons during his heydays. He remained member of the Pakistan Medical & Dental Council for about 25 years, was principal of medical colleges both in the public and private sector, and served as NWFP's secretary health. He administered the largest public hospitals in Peshawar and was also the founder of the Gandhara University, an ambitious project that was his labour of love.

Political and socially, Dr Kabir was active and well-connected. His wife, Roeda Kabir, is the daughter of late provincial education minister Yahya Jan Khan and granddaughter of revered freedom fighter Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan. Through intermarriages, including those of his two sons and two daughters, Dr Kabir was linked with many other influential and respected families.

For years, Dr Kabir held important offices in the Pakistan Medical Association, NWFP. He was associated with the anti-T.B. and diabetes organizations and was provincial president of Pak-Japan Cultural Association. His social work undoubtedly raised his public profile but it also showed Dr Kabir's kind-heartedness and his urge to help the ailing humanity. This aspect of his complex character was also evident from the support that he and his wife quietly extended to certain relief and charity bodies and many needy families.

Dr Kabir often attracted criticism and provoked controversies. Some of his critics felt he was self-centered and materialistic. This criticism became more pronounced when he launched the Gandhara University and commissioned its first project, Kabir Medical College. The unusually high fees, concerns about quality of teaching and the faculty, and problems in seeking affiliation with a university contributed to the teething problems that the college was facing and confronted Dr Kabir with hard choices. The students, concerned about their future, also panicked and held demonstrations against the college administration. But Dr Kabir, true to his nature, remained calm and continued his search for a way out of the crisis. And before long, the resourceful Dr Kabir had managed to overcome the crisis that was threatening to discredit his college and university.

Gandhara University was the first major and indigenous private university in the Frontier. It kept growing as Dr Kabir added new faculties to the university. The University Town Peshawar became the home of the university with its affiliated faculties and facilities scattered all over the place. At every milestone, he didn't forget his dear mother and father, naming the Sardar Begum Dental College after her and the Naseer Teaching Hospital after him. One relevant criticism of Dr Kabir was his inability to build a proper campus for the university even though it was often claimed that land on the outskirts of Peshawar had been acquired for the purpose.

Dr Kabir surely had political ambitions. He wanted the ANP ticket to contest the last Senate elections for the technocrat seat. He was disappointed when the ticket went to Ilyas Ahmad Bilour. However, he never went public with his unhappiness over the refusal of the party ticket and continued to maintain cordial relations with the ANP leadership, including Khan Abdul Wali Khan and his family.

Earlier, he had weathered another storm when the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) nabbed his brothers on corruption charges. There were even speculations that Dr Kabir also was on the NAB hit-list. Had he not been strong-nerved, Dr Kabir would have succumbed to the pressure and thrown in the towel. But the surgeon, soft-spoken and yet very firm, kept his cool and gradually extricated his family from a very difficult situation. His brothers entered into plea-bargain with the NAB authorities and bought their way out of prison. Dr Kabir was happy to accommodate his out of work brothers in his fast-expanding educational enterprise at the Gandhara University.

Dr Kabir loved his native province and was aware of its historical significance. That is why he named his university Gandhara after the civilization that once flourished in the Peshawar Valley and beyond. The university definitely has many shortcomings and is primarily a business venture but Dr Kabir deserves credit for attempting to build an institution that is here to stay. Besides, he showed the way to others and now we have a mushrooming of private medical colleges and universities. Hopefully, the fittest would survive and offer quality education to students who could afford to pay their high fees.

It still seems unreal that the workaholic Dr Kabir is no more. He kept a busy schedule on account of the varied nature of his activities. He was a heart patient and had undergone bypass surgery but there was never a dull moment in his hectic life. As his son Dr Sameer Khan commented, his father kept going due to his work. It would be quite a while before we produce such a versatile man who excelled both as doctor and businessman.
Post a Comment