Sunday, October 16, 2011

Rashidabad is a Dream City

October 13, 2011

By Saeed Qureshi

Rashidabad is dream city in the making. It is dedicated to a martyr who has immortalized himself by sacrificing his life to save those of thousands and even more. It is an epic story that would inspire the generations of defenders of Pakistan who dedicate their lives for the sake of their motherland and for the honor and security of their fellow citizens.

The name of this illustrious pilot is flight Lt. Rashid Ahmed Khan who embraced martydom on December 13 1997 to save the city dwellers from a calamity that could have devoured thousands individuals on the land.

He drove his mirage fighter that caught fire away from the populated area and refused to bail out despite several instructions from the ground control tower. He would have saved his life but in that bid of self protection a devastation would have struck the densely populated areas on the ground.

His father a remarkable, air force commodore Shabbir A Khan( R) decided to dedicate the city after the name of his intrepid son and to keep alive his memory of conspicuous heroism and exceptional martyrdom as a trail blazer to motivate others to imbibe the same spirit of self sacrifice to save the countrymen.

“A single spark can light a prairie fire.” That metaphor was given a concrete shape by commodore by his tireless efforts and unsurpassed dedication. As a result an amazing city has emerged in a remote area of Sindh that is role model for its excellent education environment, marvelous health services and monumental social work.

“Rome was not built in a day” quipped Air Commodore who is the founder and the executive director of this most ambitious and gigantic project being pursued with a missionary zeal. He explained that Rashidabad would be expanded as the time passes depending upon the availability of resources.

In a meeting convened in Dallas at the residence of Mr. Shahid jaffery his long time buddy, Air Commodore Khan who is currently on a tour of the United States, explained in greater details how the ideas of creating such a city was conceived and translated into concrete reality. It was now emerging as a beacon of hope for the local downtrodden citizenry as well as students of the under- privileged families from different parts of Pakistan.

The brochure published by RMWO (Rashid Memorial welfare organization) mentions the projects and facilities that have already been built and are functional. It also provides the contours of the future plans and projects that would be added and thus the scope and ambit of this unique institution would be further enlarged to accommodate the growing needs of the deprived, neglected and poor sections of the society.

The brochure outlines the mission of the city as, “We focus on eliminating illiteracy and alleviating deprivation from the country through establishing projects at district level. The project encompasses four essential elements of progress (education, health, environment and socio-economic uplift)”

The brochure defines the objective of this phenomenal undertaking in the following words:

“The objective of RMWO is to set up model villages throughout the country which shall integrate all essential facilities in a well-knit mosaic so as to ensure positively beneficial outflow to the needy rural folk. Our main thrust is on education, health and vocational training contributing above all in helping to transform the rural mindset from superstitious to the rational. Corollary benefits that would accrue include a check on rural migration to urban towns and empowerment.

At the outset, the idea to build a city like this was born on the spur of the moment and in an atmosphere of 1971 war when the Pakistani air force pilots including air commodore were engaged in flying combat missions. Commodore Shabbir gave graphic yet grieving details as to how after each sortie some of the pilots did not return.

But the defining moment to practically kick off this most momentous project was evolved by the martyrdom of his only son Flt. Lt. Rashid Ahmed Khan. The city’s foundation stone was laid by Lt. Gen. Moinuddin Haider, Governor Sindh on 13th December, 1998. With an initial donation of 20 million contributed mostly by the air force officers, the Rashidabad city started shaping up on a 100 acres tract of land.

In a span of merely 13 years Rashidabad has come up as a flourishing metropolis The city is studded with schools, residence units, healthcare facilities, a vocational training centre, recreational facilities, a mosque and an artificial lake.

Among the entities and organizations that help and fund the school, the most outstanding are the Citizens' Foundation (TCF), General Traders (YK Academy) and the Old Boys' Association of the PAF Public School, Sargodha providing expertise in education, Layton-Rehmatullah Benevolent Trust (LRBT), Fatimid Foundation, the Shahnaz Ghani Trust and the Healthcare Foundation providing healthcare services, the Mustafa Benevolent Trust and the DMKM Welfare Trust providing socio-economic services.

Air commodore Shabbir A Khan, a modest and fine human-being is shy of asking for donations but essentially he needs continued financial succor and sustained flow-in of funds to keep building this blooming and bustling unique city. Such an awesome devotion, supreme passion and earnest aspiration to serve the disadvantaged families and poor humanity can flow out of sincere hearts and pure minds.