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Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Daily Diary (DD) - Day 360 of 2018

0553hrs:

Going to sleep early (2200hrs last night) and getting up early (0500hrs this morning) in winter is not a norm for me but it will have to be if I'm to become sharper and more concise in my daily activity.

I'm writing up a report on Latif Ejaz of Trar, Rawalakot who featured in yesterday's blog entry. The report will also be added to that entry (Day 359).

In a bid to resolve Latif's dilemma, we have a meeting with the stand-in prime minister of AJK, namely Raja Nisaar this morning. The actual prime minister, namely Raja Farooq Haider has been absent from Muzaffarabad for over 2 weeks and we can't continue to wait for him. It so happens that in his 2 and a half year tenure as PM thus far, whenever I've come to Muzaffarabad, he's been absent from the capital. I'm sure that's a coincidence though.

A summary of the meeting is captured below:




Updated at 2109hrs (07/01/19):

Report on Latif Ejaz:

Written on: 26/12/18

Seeking to Balance Taxation with State Responsibility in Pakistan and AJK


The life-shattering experience of Latif Ejaz of Tral - Rawalakot - AJK earning his daily bread in Kahuta Pakistan for the last 2 decades

Latif Ejaz before the accident

Latif Ejaz now - as at 26/12/2018

Road Traffic Accident (RTA):

At about 4pm on the 25th of March 2015, 45 year old Latif Ejaz - an electronics engineer (studied in Ukraine) and originally from Trar, Rawalakot and living (and working) in Kahuta - Rawalpindi for 25 years, was on his way to deliver a computer that he had built for an old lady in the vicinity. In Kahuta he had his own electronics (including computer hardware and software services) shop and it was common for him to deliver machinery to his customers. On this occasion, he was riding his motorbike with a passenger on board - namely Qazi Amar Mahmood who was carrying the aforementioned computer - on the main road near Beor towards AJK. 

Travelling in the other direction towards Kahuta  was a 15 year old, namely Tauseef Akhter s/o (son of) Muhammad Yasin resident of Kaangarh tehsil Kahuta - who didn’t have a licence and had borrowed a motorbike was trying to overtake a Suzuki pick-up vehicle. Unable to control his speed or direction, Tauseef clashed head on with Latif’s motorbike despite the latter slowing down and even moving his motorbike into the rough part of the road on the left side. Tauseef’s motorbike had veered totally onto the wrong side of the road.

A photo of Tauseef Akhter before the accident 
It was observed that Tauseef was not only speeding but riding the motorbike with one hand on the handlebar while the other was busy in straightening his hair. When he saw the oncoming motorbike (Latif’s) he lost control and the point of impact was between Tauseef’s motorbike’s handlebars and Latif’s helmet. The latter was wearing glasses with metal rims under his helmet both of which were crushed on impact and hence the facial injuries, including the loss of his sight in both eyes.

The Suzuki pick-up also stopped and the local police promptly arrived on the scene. Tauseef’s motorbike was taken to the police station while Latif’s bike was secured by a local resident and kept at his home, despite the police wanting to take his motorbike too. To date the computer has not been recovered and witnesses at the scene say they saw the police taking that away too.

Meanwhile, the Suzuki pick-up hastened to take both injured parties to the local hospital in Kahuta. Tauseef’s injuries revolved around a broken leg while Latif suffered injuries to his face, head and the whole of the left side of his body. Latif’s pillion rider Qazi Amar had just suffered minor injuries to his back and remained conscious. 

Shortly after first aid, both injured parties were referred to PIMS (Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences) in Islamabad. An unconscious Latif was taken by ambulance while Tauseef was taken in a private vehicle.

Latif remained admitted in PIMS for about 22 days before he was able to be transferred back to his residence in Kahuta. He was anxious to return home as his family was alone (wife and 4 young children) and he had no other immediate relatives in Kahuta. 

Legal Proceedings:

Latif was also anxious to pursue the person responsible for these injuries - namely Tauseef - and had already asked extended members of his family to enquire from local authorities. However, despite Latif’s father and brother asking the police to pursue criminal charges, they flatly refused. Even the incriminating motorbike had also quietly been released by the Kahuta police.

It took about 9 months for Latif to gain enough strength to personally travel to Rawalpindi in early January 2016 and present his case in an open complaints forum (kulli kacheri) to the CPO (City Police Officer) of Rawalpindi. The latter questioned Latif and after satisfying himself of Latif’s bona fides, summoned the police at Kahuta to his office in Rawalpindi 2 days later, where they were ordered to proceed with an FIR (First Information Report) as initially requested by Latif Ejaz’s family 9 months earlier.

The SHO (Station House Officer) at Kahuta Police Station was Sardar Zulfiqar of Devi Gali - tehsil Hajeera - AJK. Write an FIR he did but the articles he used were lame and weak compared to the severity of the case. Ejaz Latif’s life had been turned upside down: He was blind in both eyes, his electronics business had collapsed, he had 4 young children and a wife to support and the limbs on the left side of his body are still awaiting cure. A 15 year old Tauseef with no driving licence couldn’t control the motorbike he was riding while speeding and had crashed into 45 year old Latif, who had held a licence for over 20 years (ITP License Number: 00259445 Expiry Date:  21/09/2016) and had even tried to avoid the oncoming motorbike by slowing down in the rough on the left-hand side. 

Here’s a comparison between the 2 articles written in the FIR compared to the 2 articles that should have been written:

Front page of FIR
Rear page of FIR

Articles used in FIR:
Case No: 16 of 14/01/16 
Articles (Dafaat): 279/337-G 
PS Kahuta



Articles that should have been used:



Despite the CPO’s instructions to the Kahuta police, the aforementioned SHO still delayed the writing of the FIR for a further 10 days, apparently to find an alternative means of resolving the issue. However, the damage to Latif was too severe and the financial implications of recovery too costly. The police also used other forms of delaying tactics according to Latif. For example, repeatedly asking a blind Latif to take them to the accident scene and although the police tend not to ask for bribes directly from an FIR applicant, others who are well acquainted with the local police make ‘suggestions’ on behalf of the police which become increasingly assertive. How can a blind man whose world has been torn apart in every sense bribe the police to make a strong case on his behalf?

Latif also claims that the elder brother of Tauseef, namely Sardar Naseem then began threatening him repeatedly to abort legal proceedings. To the extent that on one occasion Sardar Naseem even came to Latif’s house - uninvited and unannounced without permission and began threatening him. As Latif only had (and has) his wife and 4 young children for support and no extended clan in Kahuta, it isn’t difficult to imagine how vulnerable they were to threats from a relatively far more powerful family. One can make their own assumptions as to why lenient articles were used in the FIR. 

The case was taken up at the Sessions Court in Kahuta consequently and 3 hearings took place - each hearing over a month apart - the defendant Tauseef didn’t appear at various hearings in the interim, while witness statements were taken and filed but before any cross-examination could take place, it was learned that Tauseef had ‘fled’ the country and was now working in the UAE. The case remains shelved for all practical purposes.

A contemporary photo of Tauseef in the UAE - 1 of 2

A contemporary photo of Tauseef in the UAE - 2 of 2

Here’s an example of how Tauseef tried to ‘excuse’ himself from legal proceedings by concocting a false application to the court:

Tauseef excuse - Page 1 of 2
Tauseef excuse - Page 2 of 2
Medical Summary:

It would have been far more convenient to have obtained a concise medical report on Latif Ejaz’s injuries, treatment and aggregate medical bill. However, as with overall governance and societal behaviour, almost everything in Pakistan has a scattered, ambiguous, ad-hoc and nepotistic feel about it. We have however scanned 7 medical related papers (appended at the end of this report) - after extensively going through all Latif’s medical files repeatedly - which should hopefully paint a clearer picture of what Latif has undergone thus far.  

Diagnosis:
Polytrauma

Injuries:
-          Both eyes
-          Nose cracked
-          4 teeth broken
-          Left side of head, face, arms and leg including multiple fracture of facial bones.

Medical Treatment:
-          Neurosurgery
-          Eye treatment (failed)
-          Soundbox in throat (it took 2 months after accident to cure)
-          Facial surgery (not satisfactory)

Current Status:
Eyes are not functioning at all and all other limbs on left side mentioned are functioning at about 70% of their pre-accident performance. Nerves in left hand and arm are not responding. Pus in left eye continues to leak whilst the eye ball is distorted and has shrunken in size.

Financial Cost to date: (in Pakistani rupees which amounts to roughly 175 to a pound in UK sterling at current exchange rates)                                                                                                  ):
22 Lakh - Loss of accumulated business capital
50 Lakh - Loss of potential earnings from business
9 Lakh - Medical expenses
Note: a lakh equals 100,000

Human Cost to date:
Latif Ejaz, his wife and 4 children have been deprived of the nutrition, clothing, education and other aspects of lifestyle that they would have enjoyed if this accident did not happen. Whilst the mental trauma and exertion involved in seeking treatment and justice cannot be calculated.

Pursuit of Effective Medical Cure for Injuries Sustained from the ‘State’:

As Latif tried to proceed with possible legal remedies for his plight, he also began searching for an appropriate forum to address the State’s responsibility to remedy the injuries he had sustained.

Gradually a consensus developed that he should approach the prime minister of Pakistan (Nawaz Sharif) via his trusted aide Senator Raja Zafar ul Haq, who also happened to originate from the political constituency where the accident took place.

Upon securing a meeting with Raja Zafar ul Haq at the latter’s Islamabad office, Latif Ejaz accompanied by his wife and other notables of his neighbourhood in Kahuta presented his case to the senator. Upon perusing his medical records, Raja Zafar ul Haq exclaimed that the possible costs involved in treating Latif’s injuries would amount to anything between 1 crore and 1.5 crore Pakistani rupees (1 crore equals 10 million). “We are a poor country”, reasoned the Pakistani senator. After remonstration by Latif and those that accompanied him, Raja Zafar ul Haq assured them that he would do whatever was necessary to address Latif’s plight.

Despite two further attempts to pursue the promises made by the senator and numerous calls to his office in Islamabad, no response of any sort was forthcoming. Latif Ejaz had been effectively rebuffed by Raja Zafar ul Haq.

This writer’s Relationship with Latif Ejaz and Efforts to Build Humanity in Governance in AJK:

I have known Latif Ejaz ever since I met him for the first time in the winter of 2005 in Kahuta, on my frequent journeys between Islamabad in Pakistan (where I lived at the time) and my home village in Sehnsa district Kotli - AJK. I have always found him to be helpful in sharing his expertise in electronics as well as in matters related to computer hardware and software. He is also a devout Muslim who prays 5 times a day and has always been focussed on giving his young children a pious upbringing while remaining apolitical on most matters.

When I learned of his accident, I did ask him to send me details which he promptly did. However, I could not devote the attention needed primarily because I have an extensive to-do list. In short, I could not fit in his issue to my schedule to date.

However, my current visit to Sharda in Neelam Valley was unscheduled as I normally try and spend winter at home in Dadyaal; to update my research, which has generated far more material than I - as an individual - can possibly manage.         
                                                       
As I need to complete the devised procedure in reference to Sharda, which involves meeting the prime minister of AJK as part of a 12 member delegation (whereby the PM has been absent from his capital for over 2 weeks now), thus there appeared space in my schedule to invite Latif Ejaz to Muzaffarabad, in order to pursue his just demand for the State to take responsibility, for his blindness in particular.

Inviting him here was based on information exchanged between the AJK Government and Mahmood Ahmed Musafir (where I was a witness) in their table-talk on the 23rd of April, earlier this year.

Item number 4 of Mahmood Ahmed Musafir’s 32 demands in public interest was: Cruel road accident/death policies. In our dialogue, the AJK government confirmed that responsibility for meeting the costs of injuries sustained by any AJK citizen rested with them, irrespective of whether that accident happened in AJK or in Pakistan.

Details of Mahmood Ahmed Musafir’s 32 demands in public interest can be accessed at the following link:

I invited Latif Ejaz to Muzaffarabad on Monday the 24th of December. He arrived early in the afternoon accompanied by a voluntary carer to assist him in his movement. We immediately proceeded to DC Muzaffarabad’s office (as it was the DC who had confirmed AJK’s responsibility in our table talk on the 23rd of April). Although the DC then was Masood ur Rehman and now the DC’s seat had very recently been occupied by Badr Munir, on account of the title (DC) and not the individual who had confirmed AJK’s responsibility, I felt it proper to begin our formal procedure for resolution from his office.

DC Badr Munir listened to us patiently and directed us to his staff and directed them to create a file on Latif Ejaz’s behalf. However, after preliminary discussions with them, they became adamant that Latif Ejaz had to proceed to DC Rawalakot’s office, where Latif originated from. I responded by asking what DC Rawalakot would do after creating a file there? DC Muzaffarabad’s staff replied that the file would return to Muzaffarabad!

I explained that we didn’t want to run a blind man in circles and that as an action-oriented researcher I was keen on helping to create a clear, meritocratic and easily verifiable procedure to resolve such issues, which amounted to many thousands throughout the State. If I pursued each genuine case individually in such a manner, I would become exhausted and with time the amount of victims of dysfunctional governance would only increase. We left DC’s office to consult ‘experts’ in civil society on the matter.

Link to video summary outside DC office:

We also decided to send Latif’s travel companion/carer back to Kahuta and took responsibility to look after him while here in Muzaffarabad.

By coincidence, we learned that such matters are successfully addressed in Gilgit Baltistan in a very clear, systematic albeit long-winded manner; whereby the ‘State’ is ultimately forced to take responsibility. However, as the traditional approach here in AJK has always been very haphazard and based on patronage, it would be difficult to immediately inculcate or emulate the pragmatism of activists in Gilgit Baltistan.

It was eventually agreed that we would approach the senior most representative of the AJK government in Muzaffarabad, considering the prime minister remained absent. Hence, our meeting yesterday with senior minister and ‘de facto’ prime minister Raja Nisaar. The latter did attempt to waive responsibility a la Raja Zafar ul Haq but we explained - using statistics published in Pakistan’s Planning & Development Survey of 2017 - as to how rich the territory of AJK actually was in comparison to Pakistan and thus the responsibility of the AJK government to meet expenses of medical treatment could not be abdicated on.

Yes, there remained an issue of taxation not being controlled by the AJK State but that could be resolved by legislation, subject to the AJK Assembly members being sincere and keen to improve the quality of governance here.

At the end of 2018, in a digital age with access to most aspects of public finance in the region, it was no longer possible to pretend that AJK was a poor region. Per capita and measured by bank deposits, the 5 million or so citizens of AJK had a larger share of Pakistan’s banking than the 200 million or so citizens of Pakistan!

In short, our politicians cannot use the excuse that we are poor.

It was mutually decided between Raja Nisaar and I (Tanveer Ahmed) that we should let Latif Ejaz return home to his family and not make him endure more pain and difficulty by swinging him from one office to another. I would pursue his case when the prime minister Raja Farooq Haider returned to Muzaffarabad, whereupon a detailed conversation on various aspects of governance (including responsibility for compensation of road accident victims) would ensue and would include other members of the AJK Legislative Assembly.

Link to video summary outside Raja Nisaar’s office:

Overall, it should be understood that effective governance needs a transparent, accountable and meritocratic framework. If the AJK government in consultation with its public can arrive at a consensus, we may actually succeed in building humanity in governance here.

Hereby are the 7 scanned documents most relevant to Latif Ejaz’s medical treatment thus far:

PIMS file - 1 of 2


PIMS file - 2 of 2
PIMS Report
X ray of eyes

Eye Care Centre - file 1 of 2

Eye Care Centre - file 2 of 2

Armed Forces Institute Report






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