British documentary speaks of Pakistan’s unsung heroes

LONDON: A documentary by British TV Channel 4 screened on Saturday has spoken of Pakistan’s unsung heroes as they race in their ambulances to help those in need, injured in road accidents or fallen victims to crime in the southern port city of Karachi.Reporter Peter Oborne spent two weeks living in the Edhi ambulance centre in making the documentary about the courageous individuals who risk their lives to make the city a safer place.Writing in “Daily Telegraph” he wrote of his experience:“The director/cameraman Ed Watts and I felt rather like Spitfire pilots in the Battle of Britain. We lounged around, smoking cigarettes, drinking sweet tea and watching the world go by: motorcycles, brightly painted buses, taxis, cars, donkey carts, street porters, lorries, rickshaws, bicyclists. We particularly loved the buses, so colourful with their gaudy decorations and passengers overflowing onto the roofs. The energy was amazing.

“Then suddenly a call would come through from the operations room:emergency! We’d scramble into the ambulance and tear off, klaxon blaring, cutting our way through the Karachi traffic. Sometimes we’d becoming to the aid of someone who’d had a heart attack, sometimes to a traffic accident, but more often to the scene of violence.”The documentary centres around the daily life of driver Muhammad Saleem who had been working for the Edhi Foundation for 24 years.  Oborne says there were no horrors that Saleem had not witnessed.“He had been one of the first at the scene at the first (failed) assassination attempt of Benazir Bhutto. He’d spent a year away from home at the Kashmir earthquake in 2005 ­ painful for a happily married man with six children. He was well used to wading through the carnage created by suicide bomb attacks, and took everything in his stride.”Oborne concludes by saying that focusing on Pakistan’s problems does create a false picture. He notes that Pakistan is a vibrant, positive, and magical country. “And while it contains so many heroes like our ambulance driver Saleem, there is profound cause for hope.