Mohammad Tufail Baloch has twelve children. The oldest one is 26 and the youngest one 6. For generations his tribe has lived at Dera Bugti till trouble came to the area few years ago. Nawab Akbar Bugti had demanded more royalty money for the gas fields and unless given promised trouble for the government. Military government responded in negative and the Nawab chose to fight back.
Caught in this cross fire were Mohammad Tufail and his family.
No longer able to provide food for his family off his meager income from making and repairing wooden sleeping cots, Tufail decided to leave the area and move to some other parts of the country. He and his family became what have come to be known as internal refugees. After tracking through the hills and mountains of Balochistan and Frontier provinces the family finally reached the banks of Indus River near Attock and set their tents outside the city.
The family crafts of making cots from the wood cut from the open country side and ropes made from the twines has helped it survive. In the last few years his four older children have either gotten married or moved away to the other parts of Punjab in search of jobs.Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Since like Mohammad Tufail himself, all of his children are totally illiterate their job prospects are very limited.
Now the second part of the story.
My old college room mate (who shall remain nameless) after a long successful career in international banking decided to return to his ancestral village along the banks of Indus. Other than fowl hunting along the river, his life long passion was to open a school in his village. As a child he had daily traveled several miles with an adult chaperon in order to go to school. His parents being the local landowners were able to do that whereas none of the other parents could afford that luxury for their children. As a result none of his childhood friends from the village went to school. For them the village mosque was the school and Moulvi Sahab the only teacher they ever had. With land donated by his father and from his personal funds my friend has opened up a school for the local students.
One day a young 17 years old girl with her three youngest siblings showed up at my friendÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s door and asked for his wife. She wanted to enroll her two younger sisters and one brother in the village school but informed that the family would not be able to pay the tuition and instead offered Balochi embroidery as tuition payment that the older girl had done with her own hands.
Now the third part of the story.
On my every trip to Pakistan I always visit my friend and together we go around Lahore desperately trying to re-live our youths. I have been very pleased with his school project and have been helping him in his endeavor in what ever small way I can. We routinely call each other and exchange our e-mails, some times daily. The first and the second parts of the story were told to me by my old friend. I was deeply touched by the story of Mohammad Tufail Baloch and his family. It reminded me the story of my own family. I had never met my own great grand father but had heard the family stories millions of times that how two centuries ago my own people from Persia tracked through the hills and deserts of Afghanistan, Balochistan and Frontier to reach to the fertile plains of Punjab and Sindh. They were not the worriers riding behind Nadir Shah and Ahmad Shah Abdali. They were just the simple goat and sheep herding nomads searching for a better life for their children, very much like Mohammad Tufail Baloch and his twelve children.
I have since then ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“adoptedÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ Lubna, Hifza and their younger brother Tamim. Lubna has just finished class 6 and secured second place. Hifza has finished class 2 and has stood first by scoring 449 marks out of 500. Tamim has finished class 1. He is not working hard. His position is 6th in his class. Tamim and I have to have a talk.
The author Pervaiz Munir Alvi is Pittsburgh based Civil Engineer by profession. He is a regular commentator and writer at ATP.