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Setting the record straight on First Lady’s visit to PIMH

Bushra Bibi received a lot of flak on social media for her seemingly assertive tone with the hospital staff. However, Dr. Aneela Kamil has inside information on the visit and states that the First Lady was kind and sympathetic towards the hospital and its patients. The thing is when Pakistanis hear about a First Lady, their mind instantly goes to the glamorous American First Ladies. They forget the charter of rights which gives Bushra Bibi the liberty to maintain her personal attire.

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I watched the much popular video clip which shows the First Lady of Pakistan (Ms. Bushra) advising the staff at Punjab Institute of Mental Health (PIMH). Most of the viewers expressed negative feelings about the lady’s commanding attitude.

One of my very close friends is a doctor and manages patient affairs at a senior level at PIMH. After looking at all the comments people were sharing on social media I was tempted to contact my friend to know the inside story about that visit.

Interestingly, the First Lady received a lot of flak on social media for her seemingly assertive tone. However, I was told that the person she instructed to prepare a target list for “Tabdeeli” was the executive health officer who actually planned this visit and was with her during a long meeting afterward. Her intentions seem to be good even though her queries and speech appear abrupt, therefore, we should not judge her on the basis of a short video clip.

Read more: Bushra Bibi seeks major reforms in Lahore’s psychiatric hospital

Moreover, my friend described the interaction to be very good. The staff was not intimidated by her, they found her tone and manner to be sympathetic toward patients. The weather was not very favorable but she took a round of the old building as well to do an in-person inspection. I was told that Mrs. PM spent time in the kitchen, emergency and the wards.

Bushra Bibi dedicated to mental health

According to my information, Ms. Bushra was concerned about the cleanliness of the kitchen area and utensils, the type of food, and the way food is presented to patients. She specifically asked about those patients who have feeding difficulties and cannot hold spoons or plates in their hands.

Due to security concerns, the hosts could not offer any bouquets or souvenirs. Some of the patients had fondly crafted embroidered dupattas to present to the First Lady but the protocol officers did not let those wishes materialize. This came as a disappointment to the reception committee at the hospital. Nobody was allowed within two arm’s length due to corona restrictions. Only a PTV camera was allowed and the escort team had only two to three members which was another positive point about the protocol team as they followed the “ together apart” strategy!

Read more: Bushra Maneka force behind the idea of “Al-Qadir University”

Hospital staff emphasized the need for the construction of new blocks and the repair of old ones. They also require more Physiotherapy units and need an urgent resolution of their solid waste disposal. PIMH has been rendering services for Psychiatric emergencies since the early 19th century. Being the largest facility for Psychiatric patients in South Asia, it has 1500 beds and covers an area of 172 acres of land.

This facility was started as a Psychiatric ward by a Hungarian doctor, Johann Martin Honigberger who was a physician to Maharaja Rangeet Singh in the 1800s. Later when East India Company took over, judicial commissioner Robert Montgomery converted it into a bigger facility. It was in 1900 that it was given the name of Lahore Mental Hospital which at some point of time was changed to Punjab Institute of Mental Health.

PIMH is not the only mental rehabilitation facility visited by our PM’s wife. In the recent past, First Lady also visited the Fountain House and another similar facility where she joined inmates for a lunch in the regular dining area. Those visits were also during the Corona pandemic but security concerns were somehow less.

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Pakistanis blinded by glamour?

Actually, when we hear about a First Lady, our mind instantly takes us to the glamorous American First Ladies for example Nancy Reagan, Michelle Obama, etc. Western elite gets grooming classes and are told to follow a set pattern of behavior at social appearances. Their dress, makeup, and hairdo are tastefully and professionally enhanced before a public interaction. Nusrat Bhutto matched those figures from the west very well.

The case with our current First Lady is totally different. We don’t get to see her beautiful face and persona as she is clad in a black gown with head and face cover. The public did not get the opportunity to appreciate any pearl necklace, bracelet, earrings, and rings. No fresh-colored and nicely cut outfit, no smiles or jokes, but, the charter of rights and freedom gives her the liberty to maintain her personal attire and we must accept it!

Read more: Bushra Bibi: the most searched person in Pakistan

The author has done MBBS, MCPS, FCPS, MCCEE, and is a consultant Obstetrician & Gynecologist at Mega Medical Complex. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space. 

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