Clocks have always intrigued me. For those of you who have visited  our home, you know that we have at least one wind-up pendulum clock in every room, except the bathrooms and closets. The pendulum clock that hangs in our kitchen has been in our possession for more than fifty years.

I’m especially fascinated by old clocks and captivated by the concept of time. Anna Marie and I have traveled to Greenwich, outside London, and viewed the Shepherd Gate Clock at the Royal Observatory. I’ve carefully lugged home interesting clocks from South America and Asia for my family and have even visited the rare display of ancient clocks at the Forbidden  City in Beijing, China.

The clock is one of the oldest human inventions, and if I had become a clockmaker and an official studier of time, I would have been called a “horologist.” The word clock comes from the Celtic words clagan and clocca, which mean “bell.” If a device doesn’t have a bell or a chime, it’s simply called a “timepiece” or “watch.” For millennia, devices such as the sundial, the candle clock, the hourglass, and the ancient water clock were all used to precisely measure units of time during any given day. So in layman’s language, clocks measure time, and time is what keeps everything from happening all at once. That sounds simple enough . . . but wait. What is time? 

We all know that an hour can seem like an eternity or pass in a flash, depending on what we’re doing. You can’t see or feel time, yet your car mechanic can charge a hundred dollars an hour for it without fixing a thing. And some wise guy can convince you that “time flies like an arrow, but fruit flies like a banana.” I even had a sacrilegious bloke once ask me, “What year did Jesus think it was?” 

Time was a serious enough issue that when Queen Elizabeth I of England and Ireland was on her deathbed in 1603, she begged, “All my possessions for a moment of time.” 

Ancient philosophers and theologians have never been able to agree on the nature of time. Saint Augustine handled the subject cleverly. He thought he could grasp the meaning of time but admitted that when it came to explaining it, he had a difficult time: “What then is time? If no one asks me, I know; if I wish to explain it to one that asketh, I know not.” He ended up explaining it as a “ ‘distention’ of the mind . . . by which we simultaneously grasp the past in memory, the present by attention, and the future by expectation.”

In ancient Greece, philosophers like Epicurius believed that time and space were infinite, and the universe had no beginning. By contrast, monotheistic faiths, such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, have traditionally believed that God alone is infinite and that he created a finite universe in which time had a distinct beginning. In medieval times, philosophers and theologians also argued that the universe was finite, and time originated when the universe began.

So people either believed that time was part of the basic framework of a finite universe, and that events happened in a sequence that could be measured in some way, or they believed that time, like the universe, was infinite, nonsequential, and couldn’t be measured. That’s about as clear as mud, isn’t it? 

When I get tired of reckoning with the dusty minds of the past, I resort to the real world and philosophy of Dr. Seuss to shed some light on the subject of time:
                              How did it get so late so soon?
                              It’s night before it’s afternoon.
                              December is here before it’s June.
                              My goodness how the time has flewn.
                              How did it get so late so soon?
Then he quips, “They say I’m old-fashioned, and live in the past, but sometimes I think progress progresses too fast!”

I started paying attention to historic clocks as I traveled the world. I’m totally enraptured by Big Ben along the river Thames in London.

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Another intriguing clock is the the Salisbury Cathedral clock, built in 1386, which is said to be the oldest surviving clock in the world that mechanically strikes the hours (which means it operates by weights and doesn’t have hands or a dial). I also learned a bit about pendulum clocks. Apparently, Galileo was one of the first scientists to come up with the pendulum concept, but Christiaan Huygens is credited with inventing the first pendulum-regulated clock in 1656. He also determined the precise pendulum length required for a clock to make a one-second movement.

Spring-driven clocks came on the scene in France during the fifteenth century. Then, in the eighteenth century, on November 17, 1797, the first clock patent was awarded to Eli Terry, who ushered in the era of clock making in America. Early in the nineteenth century, Terry was the first clockmaker in America to develop mass production and interchangeable clock parts.

About twenty years before the American Civil War, Alexander Bain, a Scottish clock maker, invented and patented the electric clock. By the twentieth century, technological advances paved the way for the invention of timepieces without any mechanical clock parts at all. These types of clocks keep time by different means, including tuning forks, quartz crystals, or atoms. Since the 1960s, the frequency of a cesium atom—9,192,631,770 oscillations per second—became the international unit of time.

Albert Einstein once said, “The release of atom power has changed everything except our way of thinking. . . . The solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind. If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker.”

I believe Einstein was saying that since this phenomenon called time seems to exist for the convenience of humankind, it certainly stands to reason that the most significance connected to it lies with the hearts and behavior of individuals. Each person has exactly the same number of hours and minutes in each day. Wealthy people can’t buy more hours, and even the smartest scientist can’t invent more minutes. Try as you may, you can’t save time to spend it on another day.

The dazzling concept of time reminds us to cherish all the individual moments, because they will never come again. If you don’t value yourself and those around you, you won’t value your time. Until you begin to value your time, you won’t fully maximize it.

There’s a clock on the wall, and it’s ticking down the time you have left till you’re dust in the ground. How you love the people with the time you have determines if you’re judged worthy or not.

William Penn said, “Time is what we want most, but what . . . we use worst.” Had I understood that fully, even at a younger age, I probably would have joined Albert Einstein in saying, “If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker.” 


Many old, salty sea captains have managed to sail their ships back to the safety of harbor lights with nothing more than a magnetized sewing needle balanced on a cork, floating in a cup of water. That was the only compass they needed to get back to the comforts of home and hearth. And while it is touted that a compass never lies, it can deceive you. The direction of north that your compass gives you just might be wrong. Compasses point toward the magnetic north pole, located near Ellesmere Island in north Canada. But true north is not there. It is over seventy miles away. Depending on where in the world you are located, the difference between where your compass is pointing and where you are in relation to true north can be considerable. 

When I was just a kid, I learned that it was possible to take even the finest compass and make it tell you that north was anywhere you wanted it to be. All you needed was a cheap refrigerator magnet close by, and you could perform miracles. No longer would the needle of the compass point to earth’s magnetic north, but it would point to wherever the refrigerator
magnet was placed in close proximity. Of course, the accuracy and utility of the compass was completely spoiled. No longer would it perform the function for which it was designed. No salty sea captain would set his cup of water, cork, and magnetized sewing needle on top of a refrigerator magnet and expect to sail safely home. 


Through the years I have been concerned about how easy it is for folks to employ their handy refrigerator magnet to situations of life and truth. It doesn’t take much for someone to slip his refrigerator magnet onto the table and proclaim that north is precisely where he says it is. I have become increasingly bothered with the proliferation of relative truth and the difficulty of determining “true north.” While growing up, I used to wonder why glib politicians were referred to as having magnetic personalities. Today, I think I better understand. With their handy little refrigerator magnet, they can change the compass direction of north two, three, or four times in a day—or even within a debate. But where precisely is true north?

I was traveling in the Bulgarian city of Haskovo, performing a medical Needs Assessment Study for Project C.U.R.E., and I struck up a conversation with one of the health officials, a former officer of the Soviet Union. We began talking about what it had been like to live in the country prior to the collapse of the Soviet regime. “Everything was relative,” he said. “You never knew just what to expect as ‘truth.’ You could only depend on what you were told at the moment and you were expected to respond accordingly. Everything was relative with no unattached or independent ‘absolutes.’” Then he related a story to explain his point.

“There was a certain clock shop on the main street of our town. The man who operated the shop had a good reputation in the community. He was conscientious and kind and knew a lot about clocks. On the back wall of his shop, he had on display a large and beautifully hand-carved clock with an expensive and precise set of works inside. It was, indeed, a masterpiece
and kept very accurate time. The clock man loved the clock and was very proud of it.”

My new friend went on to tell me, “Everyday an important-looking man walked by the clock shop. He would stop momentarily and study the clock on the back wall. He would then pull out his own pocket watch that was attached to his jacket by a handsome chain. He would reset his pocket watch, place it back in his jacket, and hurriedly walk away. One day the clock man stepped out of his store and stopped the man as he reset his pocket watch. ‘Do you admire the clock on my wall? I see you stop every day and look at it before you walk on.’

‘Yes,’ the man said, ‘I love your clock, and I know that it is very accurate. I have a very mportant job. I work at the large factory by the river, and I am in charge of blowing the whistle precisely at eight o’clock. I check the time on your clock every day so that I will know exactly when to blow the whistle.’ 

The clock man gasped. His mouth fell open as he stumbled with his words. ‘You are the man who blows the whistle each morning? But I set my clock each day by your whistle!’”

I've made a determination and set a personal goal for the future: Don’t get caught up in depending upon relative truth, but diligently seek, as if for the finest treasure, truth that is unattached, loosened from, and non-manipulated by the agendas of this world. 


William Wordsworth’s famous poem about daffodils opens with these inspiring lines:
                               I wandr’d lonely as a cloud
                              That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
                              When all at once I saw a crowd,
                              A host of golden daffodils,
                              Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
                              Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

I swear, I really didn’t mean to fall in love with daffodils. It just sort of happened. Wherever I would wander “lonely as a cloud that floats on high o’er vales and hills,” I, too, would catch a glimpse of the crowd, “a host of golden daffodils.”

Daffodils grow naturally in woodlands and meadows throughout Europe, North Africa, and west Asia. There are anywhere between forty and two hundred varieties of daffodils, but you don’t get to view them very long. They’re in bloom for about three weekends, and then they’re gone for another year. 

The name daffodil started out as affodell. No one seems to know why the initial d was added, but it most likely came from the Dutch article “de,” as in “de affodil.” From at least the sixteenth century, folks have been fooling around with the name, as in rhymes like “Daffodowndilly has come to town, in a yellow petticoat and a green gown.”

Daffodils are also the stuff of legend and myth. An ancient Chinese legend, for example, speaks of the daffodil bringing a poor but good man much wealth. This spring flower is also a symbol of the Chinese New Year. Daffodils that bloom on this occasion are said to bring good fortune during the year. The Chinese also love and revere the flower because of its sweet fragrance.

In Persian literature, garden flowers often symbolize facial characteristics. Daffodils, for example, resemble beautiful eyes, roses symbolize cheeks, and hyacinths resemble shining locks of hair. Some countries associate yellow daffodils with Easter. And in the German language, the word for “daffodil” is osterglocke, which means “Easter bell.”

As far as I’m concerned, “a house with daffodils in it is a house lit up, whether or no the sun be shining outside.”

The place where I fell in love with daffodils wasn’t Germany, China, Persia, or Holland. It was in dear old London town. In my years of travel, I would be required to pass through London as often as ten times a year. I looked forward to being in Great Britain in the spring. Many times I would be in London on my birthday, March 22. Even if I only had a few hours’ layover at Heathrow or Gatwick, I would grab my camera, put the rest of my bags in “left luggage” at the airport, get on the train, and head for Victoria Station. From there I could walk into a fantasyland of weaving and nodding gold. The daffodils would be in bloom in Green Park, Hyde Park, St. James Park, and all along the Pall Mall from Trafalgar Square to Buckingham Palace. It was ecstasy. It was peace. It was a delight to the eye and a solace to this weary traveler’s soul.

One spring I had been traveling in Afghanistan and northern Pakistan, and it was necessary for me to pass through London before continuing on to Ethiopia, Uganda, and Rwanda. It had been very cold in Pakistan and would be very hot in Africa. I needed a whole new set of clothes but didn’t have enough time to go all the way back to Denver to exchange suitcases. Fortuitously enough for me, it was spring break at Anna Marie’s school, and it was also going to be my birthday. She packed another suitcase for me, jumped on a flight out of Denver, and met me in London.

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We walked through the parks and returned to our hotel near Westminster Abbey. I was very exhausted from the travel and fell soundly asleep in our room. When I awoke, I was reclining in a room filled with fresh daffodils and roses. Anna Marie had gone to the market to purchase flowers and fresh strawberries for tea and shortcake.

A few years ago, Anna Marie asked if there was anyplace special I would like to go for my birthday. My answer was, “No, I don’t believe so. I think I already know what’s on the other side of most of the mountains on the map.” Then I stopped and said, “Oh, there is one place I would love to go . . . Let’s go to England and chase the daffodils.”

So we flew to London and then caught the fast train to Carlisle. We met up with some friends and headed to the Lake District in the north. Our destination was the village of Grasmere, the old stomping grounds of William Wordsworth. We visited fields of daffodils, the ancient stone church and courtyard of dazzling yellow, and the gravesite and headstone of William Wordsworth. 

To my surprise, busloads of Japanese and Korean tourists were there to honor Wordsworth and view the daffodils. I later learned the significance of daffodils in the Asian culture. It seems that Japanese practitioners of a traditional medicine called Kampo mixed daffodil roots with wheat-flour paste to treat wounds. In a more recent medical breakthrough, scientists discovered a compound in daffodils called galantamine that has shown promise in treating Alzheimer’s disease. And it just so happens that commercial crops of daffodils, the national flower of Wales, are grown in Powys, Wales for this purpose.

Most visitors travel to Great Britain in summertime after school is out, and they mistakenly think that all English parks have to offer is green grass. Little do they know that under that carpet of green grass are tens of thousands of daffodil bulbs ready to cast aside winter and announce the beauty and vibrancy of yet another spring. By the time the tourists arrive, lawnmowers have cleared away the transitional gold and have prepared the parks for another summer.

I can identify with the final stanza of Wordsworth’s poem about daffodils:
                                       For oft, when on my couch I lie
                                       In vacant or in pensive mood,
                                       They flash upon that inward eye
                                       Which is the bliss of solitude;
                                       And then my heart with pleasure fills,
                                       And dances with the daffodils.

Next time spring rolls around, why not experience an affair with the daffodils?   



READY FOR THE BANQUET Return to Pakistan - 1996 (Part 6)

Quetta and Islamabad, Pakistan: Monday March 18, 1996:  My Pakistani Airlines flight from Quetta to Islamabad put me into the capital city just before 2:00 p.m. That gave me plenty of time to notify the embassy that I am leaving tomorrow and to confirm my flight details back to London.

In my hotel room, I took a call from Senator Raja Zafar-al-Haq’s office that everything was set for “the reception and dinner honoring Mr. Jackson” at 8:00 p.m., and at 7:30 the senator would come personally to my room to brief me on the eve­ning and then accompany me to the affair.

Let me just review the providential happenings regarding my involvement with Senator Raja Muhammad Zafar-al-Haq. On December 6, 1995, I boarded a Pakistan International Airlines flight 325 from Quetta to Karachi. At 2:45 in the morning, we left Karachi for Amsterdam, Holland, via Islamabad, Pakistan. I was settled in my assigned seat reading Dr. George Roche’s book Fall of the Ivory Tower, when a very distinguished Pakistani gentleman with a black, pin-striped suit sat down in the seat next to mine. I shook his hand and greeted him and then went back to my reading.

Just before the plane took off, the whole cabin crew came by, shook his hand, and inquired if there was anything they could do for him. I sort of raised my eyebrows, and as I looked at what was happening, I won­dered who the gentleman might be. It was certain that they were all there not to shake my hand or inquire about my comforts.

When we landed in Islamabad, well into the middle of the night, some people from the capital city boarded and came over to attend to any of the gentleman’s needs. Upon departure he and I began visiting, and in the course of conversation, I discovered that he was presently a leading senator in the Pakistani government in Islamabad, had been an ambassador to Cairo, Egypt, and perhaps other countries for several years, and was additionally the secretary general of the World Muslim Congress. I learned that he was going to Amsterdam and then on to Oslo, Norway, or someplace, to lead the summit talks regarding the Muslims in Bosnia and Croatia.

He was such a superb gentleman and was very interested in what I was doing in Project C.U.R.E. and why I was doing it. That led to my taking all the time I needed to go clear back to my childhood and give him a complete account of my personal testimony—what God had done in my life, how my life was entirely changed, how I’d given away everything and started over and had dedicated my life to only putting deals together for God and other people around the world, not for my own personal accumulation. I told him that I truly believed that I was, without doubt, the happiest and most blessed man in the world.

He said that he had never met anyone who had actually done such a thing and wanted to know if upon my return to Islamabad, I would notify him first so that he could put a number of Pakistan’s most important people together at a dinner where I could tell them the story about God that I had told him. I told him that I would consider it an extreme privilege to come and be a part of such a gathering.

Well, the senator was absolutely true to his word. Before I left for my return trip to Pakistan, I sent him a fax telling him when I would be there and giving him two alternative dates for us to get together. On March 10 he replied and invited me to meet with him on the evening of March 18 in Islamabad.

When I arrived in Islamabad on March 13, on my way to Quetta, I called the senator’s office and confirmed our evening together.

When I returned to Islamabad from Quetta today (March 18), there was a message at my hotel room that everything was set. The senator would be in sessions all day but would personally come to my room at 7:30 p.m., greet me, brief me on the dinner meeting and the persons who would be in attendance, and then accompany me to the dinner.

In my short life, I have had way more than my share of unbelievable and astounding experi­ences, but today was, indeed, one of the most memorable! The senator escorted me to a room that was beautiful enough to make you gasp. As the door opened, there was a beautifully decorated table with large fruit baskets and lots of puffy, white linen tablecloths.

A little while before 8:00 p.m., the dignitaries began coming, one at a time, into the appointed room. The senator formally received them and then brought them to me and introduced me as the honored guest of Pakistan. When several guests had arrived, I was directed to sit with the senator on a sofa against one wall of the large room. The other guests were seated in a circle facing me. The senator had informed each of the guests about Project C.U.R.E. and my involvement in the international world. Everyone was warm and very cordial, and no one allowed the formality of the evening to interfere with our getting acquainted.

The senator had invited twelve guests for the evening. Five were senior senators who are heads of import committees and commissions in the country. Three of the guests were either present ambassadors or former ambassadors of Pakistan throughout the world. The other four were nationally or internationally famous doctors.

As additional guests arrived, we would all stand, be introduced, sit back down, and con­tinue our talking. When one of the ambassadors found out that my travels in the next couple of weeks will take me to Uganda, he related stories of when he was ambassador to Uganda during the time that Idi Amin was taking over the country. They were all huddled on the top floor of the embassy while the revolutionaries were dragging the civilian nationals and government leaders into the lower area of the embassy and shooting them. The dignitaries shared many other intrigu­ing stories.

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Finally, all the guests arrived, and we were seated at the large, beautifully prepared table. Every­thing was so exquisite. A full eight-course meal was served by attendants dressed in uniforms and wearing white gloves. The dinner conversation centered a lot around Project C.U.R.E. and health needs around the world. They also discussed the terrible problem of crime in Karachi and other cities and said that it just didn’t seem like the morals taught in the Koran were as effective as they used to be.

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When we had been served dessert and tea, the senator told all the guests how he and I had met on the airplane and how I had honored them by returning to Pakistan to meet with them. He requested then that I speak about why I would leave the comfort of my home and go around the world to seek out places to help people with donated medical supplies.

I thanked the senator for such an honor and privilege of being invited to be with them for the evening when I knew that they had been in busy senate sessions all day and would have to return to the chambers to continue their work early tomorrow morning. It was an evening I will remember throughout the rest of my life.

I went on to tell them about growing up in America, where the pressures to succeed and accomplish were so great and the expectations to attain and personally accumulate wealth were so strong. I told them I was not born into a wealthy family, but in America, if a person really desired to rise above the difficulties and achieve success, it was very possible to do so.

I told them that it was like the man who entered the shoemaker’s shop and told the proprietor that he needed new shoes and wanted to know how much a pair of new shoes would cost. The shopkeeper told him the price of a pair of new shoes would be one hundred dollars. The man agreed and purchased the new shoes for the price. As he was leaving the shop, another man entered and asked about the price of a new pair of shoes. The shopkeeper told him one hundred dollars.

“But I don’t have one hundred dollars. All I have is fifty dollars.”

Whereupon the man who had just purchased his new shoes pulled the package containing his used shoes from under his arm. “Sir, I have a pair of shoes here that I would be willing to sell you for fifty dollars.” The second man happily agreed and paid the first man fifty dollars for his shoes.

Now, each of the two men bought a pair of shoes that day. Each paid fifty dollars for his pair of shoes. One man ended up with a new pair of shoes for fifty dollars, and the other ended up with a used pair of shoes for fifty dollars.

“When I was young,” I told them, “I determined that I would always be the man with the new shoes.”

I went on to share my experience in business and the art of bartering and how God got ahold of my life and changed me completely. I told them that in order to break the addiction of per­sonal greed and accumulation, my wife and I gave away our wealth, and I vowed to God that I would use the abilities he had given to me to put deals together that would benefit oth­ers, if he would but give me a second chance in my life and allow me to start over again. I went on to talk about Project C.U.R.E. and the personal reward and satisfaction I receive from seeing people, who otherwise would have died, being helped and sent home from hospitals and clinics healed because of God’s love through the efforts of Project C.U.R.E.

I told them that it was all right now if I did not always have new shoes. I told them that I am, however, still involved in barter and am totally satisfied with what I am now receiving from my share of the barters. “I am the happiest man in the world because I am now exchang­ing affluence for moral influence. Thank God, I was given the opportunity to exchange success for significance.”

I then told them that without doubt they are the most successful men in Pakistan, or else they would not be where they are tonight. “But,” I said, “I see in your eyes tonight that some of you need to accept my invitation. Some of you here tonight also need to move from a position of success to a position of significance.”

When I finished they applauded for a long time, and I saw tears in the eyes of at least one senator. All came by and spoke and shook my hand as they left. Many of them hugged me. Another senator, who is the chairman of the powerful senate education committee, stood close and said to me and the others standing around the door, “I am frightened when I think of how close I came to missing this meeting tonight. I am inspired … My life will not be the same.”

Before I went to bed, I thanked Jesus for being in that meeting in such a strong way. He seemed to remind me that when he was on earth walking and talking, those were the very Gentiles, the sons of Ishmael, the seeds of Abraham and Hagar that he was referring to when he said that he had come to bring salvation to the Gentiles.

I feel so humbled and so privileged to have had the opportunity tonight to share with those powerful Muslim leaders. In fact, involvement in the whole Pakistan episode—the traveling, the dangers, the terrible hospitals, the cargo-container movement from our warehouse to the port of Karachi—has been well worth the single opportunity of sharing with the senator and his important friends. I was not the one who manipulated the meeting that dark night in December, flying at thirty-six thousand feet over the old Soviet Union from Islamabad to Amsterdam. God’s love and his great plan are becoming reality, and his faithfulness to the promise to Abraham’s seed is being played out in an ongoing pageant of eternal love and acceptance.

I may have now played my bit part in this drama and will be allowed to slip off the stage as the next scene unfolds. But I went to bed tonight in the heart of Islamabad, Pakistan, with the satisfying knowledge that I have been true to my commitment to God that I would go anyplace and say anything to anybody as an act of total obedience if he would give me the guidance and assurance that I am, indeed, at the right place at the right time saying the right things to the right folks. The expectations and results are not mine. Those are within God’s jurisdiction, but I can sleep well tonight in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Tuesday March 19

I checked out of the hotel this morning and hurried to the airport. The equipment used for the Pakistan Airlines flight 783 was a Boeing 747. The Islamabad airport was trying to proc­ess all those people through a small departure room and understaffed customs counters. The flight was a zoo. I was flying excursion class, which was the cheapest possible, and I paid the price for the difference in discomfort, but some eight or nine hours later, we safely landed in London, where I met up with Anna Marie, who had flown from Denver to bring me a totally different change of clothes.

From London I will now travel to Ethiopia, Uganda, and Rwanda, from the cold, high desert of northern Pakistan to the steamy equatorial continent of Africa.

Wednesday, March 20–Sunday, March 24

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I really enjoyed the couple days of rest in London with Anna Marie. Friday, March 22 was my birthday, and we celebrated it over dinner at one of London’s Italian restaurants. I still have mental pictures of the fresh daffodils, fresh strawberries, and tea biscuits Anna Marie went out and purchased on the street and brought back and arranged for me in our hotel room. Indeed, this life is a good life.

ACCEPTED INTO THE FAMILY Return to Pakistan - 1996 (Part 5)

Baluchistan Province, Pakistan: Saturday March 16, 1996: Ghafoor Kasi began to explain to me some of his frustrations with his job. He said that all of Baluchistan Province, including the city of Quetta, is divided into A and B sections. Neither the police nor the military have any jurisdic­tion over the B areas, even if someone commits murder. Furthermore, if someone commits a crime in the A area, which is just a very small fraction of the city, and can get over into the B area before he gets caught, the police cannot ever pursue the criminal into the B area. An additional issue that frustrates law and order is the fact that military personnel are totally immune to prosecution, even in cases of rape or murder.

Dr. Malik Kasi had told me one time when we were together that he and his wife were traveling through Iran back in the 1970s and stopped for the night at an inn. While they slept they were robbed of all their money and valuables, and in addition he was absolutely certain that the innkeeper was serving up roasted human flesh for the evening meal.

Eventually Khursheed, Ghafoor, and I ended up at their Baluchistan friend’s Persian carpet shop. Dr. Kasi had sent a message to the shopkeepers telling them that a very dear friend of his, who looked like a white Englishman, was coming to their shop, and that they should give me the best deal.

I suppose we spent at least an hour at the cramped upstairs shop, which was stuffed with roll after roll of handwoven silk and wool carpets. When we walked away, I was the proud owner of two exquisite, small carpets, two of the red carpet pillows like the ones in the Kasis’ homes, and an antique wool and silk hanging that had been used for heaven knows how long out on the desert camel caravan trail as a doorway closing for the corner door of a tent.

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Before we left the shop, I had several pictures taken with my camera of the salesmen, the shopkeepers, Ghafoor, Chief, and me and my carpets.

With my treasures loaded into Chief’s Toyota pickup truck, we headed to one of their favorite tea spots near the large military complex. There I was introduced to another senior tribal member.

I doubt that we Americans will ever understand the family structure and culture of that ancient area. When the younger family members meet one of the senior tribesmen—in this case, Ghafoor and Khursheed were only a tad bit younger—the elder is revered and honored by the younger family member dropping to one knee, taking the right hand of the elder, and kissing it as the elder kisses the top of the younger one’s head. There is never a question of pecking order in such a culture.

At the tea house I was also introduced to another young cousin, who had just returned from Iran. Before he could leave the table where the older tribesmen were sitting, he had to go through a ritual of getting himself excused from that table so that he could come join us at our table.

We all gathered at Dr. Malik Kasi’s home tonight for dinner. Of course, just the menfolk showed their faces. A huge table was spread with dishes included that I never knew existed. In fact, I still don’t know what some of them were. Dr. Kasi’s two sons-in-law joined us for dinner, as did the adopted “hashish” brother. It was really a great time of getting acquainted and relaxing.

Following dinner we all retired to the visiting room, where we had been for tea late yesterday after­noon. There we were served tea along with nuts, dried fruits, sugar-coated almonds, and other great munchies. We spent until 11:30 p.m. talking about Greek and Persian history, Aristotle, and Alexander the Great right on up through the partitioning of India and Pakistan by Lord Mountbatten of England.

With a time difference of exactly twelve hours from Evergreen, Colorado, my body is still con­fused about when it should sleep and when it should be awake. But early morning risings and late-night bedtimes have me tired enough to sleep standing up in the shower with the water running.

Sunday, March 17

While I was at Dr. Kasi’s house for dinner last night, Dr. Buzdar finished his neurosurgeries and came by the hotel at about 9:30 p.m. looking to have a cup of tea with me. He left a note with the front desk requesting that we get together for lunch today. I tried to reach him by phone to confirm before I went down to breakfast but was unable to get through to him.

At 9:30 a.m., Dr. Qazi, deputy director of the hospital, arrived at the hotel to take me back to the hospital. On the way he started shedding a little light on what had been happening. It appeared that a process was going on whereby the entire administration of the hospital was being removed and placed into other government projects. Dr. Zehri was gone, along with others I had met in December. Dr. Qazi was very worried because he had heard from three different rumor sources the day before that he was next to get the ax.

At Dr. Qazi’s office, Dr. Malik Kasi and his protégé were there to meet me. They wanted me to visit the school and meet the teacher who had educated most of the immediate Kasi tribe. The school is called St. Mary’s and is run by Rachael Nathaniel, who came from Bombay, India, and started a school in the Quetta area forty-one years ago. She is a devout Christian and has served alone all these years, teaching the Muslim children. Now the church that owns the school building is putting the pressure on her financially, and it looks like she will have to close the school.

I am sure that it was Dr. Kasi’s wife who suggested that I be taken to see Rachael Nathaniel. Thirteen of the Kasi clan are now enrolled at the school, and it was with Rachael that Dr. Kasi’s wife had lived and learned such good English before she married Dr. Kasi. It was a great honor to meet the dedicated lady, and indeed, she has done phenomenal missions work, but I don’t see, at the moment, how Project C.U.R.E. can be of assistance. The local Muslims need to step up to the bat to help save her school. They are the ones who have benefited and are benefiting from her good work.

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On our way back to the hospital, the two doctors found a parking place right in the heart of Quetta, and they told me we were going to visit a very important coffee house. Historically, it had been the meeting place where all the different tribal elders would come to do busi­ness. It was definitely old English Colony India. The coffee house was round and totally windowed on the walls. It looked out over a small parklike area that had a raised concrete patio overflowing with bearded Pakistani men sitting at tables. Everything that happens in Baluchistan probably starts there. Dr. Kasi thoroughly enjoyed tak­ing me around to the elders and introducing me to them.

At the hospital it was time to completely tour Dr. Kasi’s domain. He has headed up the pediatrics department at the hospital for years, as well as being the major pediatrics professor at Bolan Medical College.

I thought I had a rough time handling some of the scenes yesterday, but seeing ward after ward of babies with tuberculosis of the brain, acute encephalitis, and the final stages of severe malnutrition in the pediatrics department really zapped me emotionally. The thought went through my mind, Will I ever get used to this exposure? In some ways I hope so; in some ways I hope not.

At 1:00 p.m., I went to another office to wait for Dr. Buzdar’s driver to come and pick me up for lunch. I really wasn’t very hungry, but it wasn’t going to be as easy to skip lunch today as it was yesterday. We were joined at lunch by a colleague of Dr. Buzdar, another brain surgeon. Dr. Buzdar was really disappointed that we had not been able to spend as much time together as we had on my previous trip. We reminisced about carpet shopping, and I renewed my invitation for him to come to my home in Colorado and see the carpets he helped me buy.

He told me that he is still planning to come to San Diego on June 24 to attend a neurology semi­nar there, and then he wants to drive or take the train from California to Denver before heading back to Pakistan. It really is a blessing to have a home where I feel comfortable inviting all these international friends. I’ll bet that’s why God hasn’t allowed Anna Marie and me to give it away yet.

I had the brain surgeons drop me off at my hotel on their way back to the hospital. It was about time for my appointment with Ghafoor and Chief. They came just as soon as Ghafoor could leave work. He really is Mr. Important in the constabulary and occupies a large front corner office at the police complex. His duties included not just Quetta but the entire Baluchistan region. It really is amazing that he and Chief had taken as much time off as they had to host me. I certainly appreciated it.

We went on an excursion up into the mountains and past the manmade lake where I had gone with Dr. Buzdar on my last trip. However, we continued on higher into the coal fields and through several military encampments. I saw many caves and mine tunnels.

Surrounding Quetta are high mountain ranges with peaks that stay snow covered all year long. My hosts told me stories of how they would climb the mountains during the summer when they were kids and bring snow home on donkeyback to make ice cream.

It was getting dark by the time we left, but my two friends wanted to make one more stop and introduce me to another cousin who is a civil engineer with the government. Rauf Kasi lives in a spectacular two-story home that had just recently been completed. It is in a very new area that is probably one of the most exclusive in Quetta.

As we talked and got acquainted, he was just full of questions about me personally and about Project C.U.R.E. He said, “There had to be something that happened in your life that made you decide to do what you are now doing and do it without pay.”

I said, “Yes, there was something definite and distinct that happened in my life that changed my value system and moved me from success to significance.” Since he asked, I proceeded to give them my personal testimony. Tears were welling up in Rauf’s eyes when we finished. I thought to myself, Yup, God speaks to Muslims.

Ghafoor had to preside at some big police function tonight and was not going to be able to join Chief and me for dinner. When we dropped him off at police headquarters, the Balochistan advance fighting team, sort of like the Green Beret unit in the US, was getting ready to rehearse for their evening performance.

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They were dressed in white ceremonial uniforms with long, red-trimmed coats. There was one drummer and one wind-instrument player, and the rest of the troupe did the tribal war dances. The musical instrument sounded a lot like the music from a bagpipe, only he had to stop the music once and a while between notes to take a breath.

Ghafoor summoned the team over, introduced me to them, and had them perform in front of the headlights of Chief’s truck.

Dinner alone with Chief tonight gave me a great opportunity to get acquainted with him. We talked a lot about his orchard farming and his four kids. Back to the hotel about 11:30 p.m.

As I was getting ready for bed, I recalled some of the different pieces of advice that Dr. Kasi had given me while we were together:

    1.    “Stay away from the mosques.” Many of the simple Muslims have been unfairly brainwashed about infidels. It’s a good practice to avoid danger by just staying away. A story is told about an infidel running out across the desert. When stopped and asked why, he replied that a decree had been given to kill all the camels near the mosque. “But you are not a camel” came the response. “I know,” the infidel retorted. “But by the time I could explain that, it would be too late.”

    2.    When I asked Dr. Kasi to give me advice about buying Persian carpets, he said, “If you, Mr. Jackson, wanted to have great financial success, you would begin going through our country and purchasing old Muslim prayer carpets. There are very rare carpets now available dating back hundreds of years, and no one here wants to charge much for a prayer carpet. But soon they will be very valuable historically.”

    3.    I asked where I could go to the toilet. His reply, “Go anywhere you would like; 90 percent of the people consider Pakistan a toilet.”

    4.    He also advised that I learn some simple Baluchistan greetings: “I’m glad you arrived safe, and no one killed you” (a very common greeting because of the danger and lawlessness); “I hope you have rested”; “No one else is happy in this province; I hope you are”; and “I sincerely hope you are not constipated.”

Monday, March 18

When I returned to my room after breakfast this morning, I received a phone call from someone claiming he was from the office of the secretary of health. He told me that I must come down and sign a large number of documents regarding the cargo container in Karachi. I would also have to make additional arrangements to pay for a tax-exempt status for my organization; and fur­ther, I needed to pay a large amount of money to ship the container from Karachi to Quetta.

Working in Third World countries is not for the newly initiated or naive. I still have times when I mess up, even though I’ve worked in this arena for nearly fifteen years. But fortunately, I read this caller correctly: He simply was going to extort money from me, and I somewhat politely told him to take a long walk off a short dock.

I packed everything and headed for the front desk to check out of the hotel and be ready for Dr. Kasi, who was going to arrive at 9:30 a.m. to take me to the airport. At the front desk was Dr. Qazi, waiting to tell me that it looked official that he would be transferred from the hospital administration position, so he would probably not see me again if I came to the hospital in the future. But he wanted to give me a way to get ahold of him when I return to Quetta on my next trip. He hugged me and hugged me and cried as I left. I knew he was wishing that he had some other option this morning than staying the rest of his life in Quetta, Pakistan.

On the way to the airport, I again invited Dr. Kasi to come to Colorado. I told him how much I appreciated his sharing his family with me. He reached out his hand to shake mine and said, “God willing, we shall be friends forever.” I wish some way that could be true.

At the airport I gave Dr. Kasi a complete set of all correspondence, documents, and fax messages regarding Project C.U.R.E.’s transactions with the Quetta hospital and told him that he could refer to those documents regarding any questions or situations in the future.

Next Week: All Things Are Ready for the Banquet.

ABSOLUTELY NO RULE OF LAW IN PAKISTAN Return to Pakistan - 1996 (Part 4)

Quetta, Pakistan: Friday March 25, 1996: I continued to meet Kasi family members everywhere I turned. They told me that all the area that is now Quetta had once belonged to the tribe. Then the British came, and they had to sell much of the farmland to the foreigners. But they were still able to retain large tracts of land and lots of houses in and around the parts of Quetta that used to be their village.

We all motored over to Dr. Kasi’s house. Since the father and the oldest brother are dead, Dr. Malik Kasi is the senior tribesman and lives in his father’s house. Other brothers live within a stone’s throw inside the compound. Going inside was again like entering a carpet and porcelain museum—high ceilings, beautiful wooden stairways, double wooden doors, fine Persian silk, and woolen carpets. Again we drew up carpet pillows, had tea and fruit, and talked. The men invited me to go to a special barbecue place for dinner at 8:00 p.m.

When the other brothers, nephews, cousins, and family members left, Dr. Kasi and I began to talk about the carpets. I asked him if he would teach me how to recognize good carpets and give me an idea about pricing. He was flattered. We went through the whole house, room by room, and he explained the styles, designs, weights, and different geographical areas of the weaving. He then asked me if I would like to go out to a home and see how the family gets involved in weaving a carpet. Of course I said, “Yes!”

As we were leaving Dr. Kasi disappeared for a few minutes, and soon he and his wife appeared with a very, very fine, small carpet. She said that they wanted for me to please accept it as a gift from their collection. She said that the doctor was so pleased to have some­one to talk to about history and carpets. Of course I accepted!

It was very dark by now as we left the gated compound and headed through the village streets. Dr. Kasi had brought both of his young sons with him. That put some of my fears at ease. We drove probably seven or eight miles out into the desert, where we came to a village of mud buildings surrounded by high mud walls. We turned in between two local food shops, where they were still doing night-time business by the light of lanterns.

The pathway we fol­lowed was one that Dr. Kasi had followed one time about a year earlier when he had come to treat the wife of the house who was extremely ill with a life-threatening sickness. The high mud walls lining the narrow passageway allowed very little room on either side of the car. The center of the pathway was where all the sewer and wastewater collected and eventually col­lected in a ditch that ran along a railroad track on its way somewhere into the desert. A door opened in the wall, and lantern light from one of the mud houses streamed into the passageway. Two men stepped out in front of Dr. Kasi’s car. Fortunately the men were very friendly and insisted that we come in and eat with them and meet their special guests, who had arrived from Turkey. We politely turned them down, but they became quite insistent that we at least come in and have green tea with them.

Dr. Kasi hastily tried to explain to me that the Muslim culture in that part of the world demands that they take good care of pilgrims or travelers and not leave them out alone at night. It is a great insult if you refuse the offer. We continued to protest and asked them to please give us directions to the carpet weaver’s house. The two men finally agreed and ran ahead of the car lights to show us the way. The passageway in places was so soggy with the sewer water mixed with the recent rain that we very nearly got stuck several times. The thought ran through my mind how impossible it would be to ever solve the mystery of my disappearance in a situation like this if, in the darkness of the desert, someone wanted to rob and kill me. There is no law and order out here, and very little chance that anyone would ever try to pursue the matter.

Enough of that! We arrived at the correct doorway, and a very Mongol-Chinese-looking Asian man warmly welcomed us into the home. The first room housed the family’s valued posses­sion—a donkey with a feed bag strapped around its head. Eventually we came into a large open area where the family was gathered around a warm charcoal fire built on the dirt floor. All the family members surrounded Dr. Kasi when they recognized him. He was obviously their hero. In fact, all the children were named in one way or another after him.

The large open area also housed a horizontal loom set up off the floor about eight inches. When the family understood that Dr. Kasi had brought me to see them do a little carpet weaving, one of the daughters jumped right over to the apparatus, pushed the shuttle mechanism forward, and began stringing woolen threads, which had been wrapped around sticks of wood, through the lateral base strings. She was really very confident and quick. Then, with some wooden tools, she beat the new strings compactly into place before she pulled the shuttle handles back to align everything.

I asked Dr. Kasi what they used as a pattern for such a complicated design. He said, “There is no written-down design. It has been memorized and passed down from mother to daughter for years and years. A girl is very valuable and has greatly increased marriage qualities if she possesses the memory of such a design.”

A family keeps the carpet weaving going almost constantly by having each member take turns helping. It takes them several months to finish a carpet.

In order to help us get out of the sloppy, stinky maze of walls and bogs, one of the young men of the family, whose job it was to drive the donkey cart, rode with us all the way out to the main road, giving us directions like a pro. Tough luck, but he had to walk in the dark all the way back to his mud house.

On the way back to town, I took the opportunity to quietly share with Dr. Kasi how God changed my life and the details of how I got involved in Project C.U.R.E.

We were about twenty minutes late when we arrived at the barbecue restaurant. Abdul Ghafoor Kasi, the policeman, and his nephew Khursheed Kasi, the family orchard farmer, were already there. We had a splendid time eating skewered goat meat and some kind of bird meat and who-knows-what-else meat dipped in dif­ferent yogurt concoctions and laced with high-powered herbs and spices. Once again I prayed like crazy for an immune system equal to the occasion.

I returned to the hotel about 11:30 p.m.

Saturday, March 16

This morning Dr. Roohullah Mohammed Qazi called my hotel room from the lobby. No returned phone call; he just showed up. I didn’t know for certain whom I was talking to or whether he said Qazi or Kasi, so I told him that I would come right down to the lobby. He was ready to take me to the hospital, but I explained that another Dr. Munir Kasi was going to pick me up momentarily and take me to the office of Mohammed Irfan Kasi, the secretary of health for the government of Baluchistan. While we waited, Dr. Qazi and I went to the coffee shop for tea.

Right at 10:00 a.m., Dr. Munir Kasi came to the hotel desk. I explained that Dr. Qazi was there, and if Dr. Munir preferred, I could ride to the hospital with him. He said no; he had brought the secretary of health with him to the hotel, and he was waiting at a corner table in the lobby to see me.

I started from the beginning of the story with the secretary. We discussed several technical points, and then he gave me the assurance that he would oversee the safe passage of the containers through customs and then from Karachi to Quetta.

At the hospital Dr. Qazi took me to his office. His delay at the hotel with me had caused a real traffic jam in his office. We called one of his doctors to give me a complete tour of the hospital facilities. I spent until the middle of the afternoon viewing some really pathetic sights. To see a lot of what I have to view on the needs-assessment parts of my trips often leaves me absolutely emotionally wiped out.

Out on the sidewalks in front of the entrance of the different wards were sick people lying on blankets or pads provided by family members, who were huddled around them. Lots of mothers, whose heads and faces were completely covered, squatted on the ground holding disgustingly dirty and terribly sick babies.

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Ward after ward, building after building, it was like a never-ending sea of sickness. The doctor who was giving me the tour said that people would travel hundreds of miles to get help from the hospital. They would even come south from the inte­rior of Afghanistan with their old people and sick kids.

On the rounds through the different wards, I ran into Dr. Buzdar just getting ready to scrub and go into brain surgery. We hugged, and he was so happy to see me. He said that he had received word that I was coming to Quetta just the day before. Again, it made me wonder about all the fax messages I had sent. Somewhere there had to be one huge pile of fax papers being held on someone’s desk.

Later I went back to the hotel. I had gone right through lunch. That really wasn’t much of a problem, however. Someplace in the hospital I had lost my appetite.

At 4:00 p.m. Abdul Ghafoor Kasi and his nephew Khur­sheed, whom by now I was calling by his nickname “Chief,” came to pick me up at the hotel. We drove all through the bazaar and market areas of the city. There were literally thousands of small shops selling everything you could imagine.

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They explained to me that some of it was cheap stuff left behind in Afghanistan when the Russians pulled out. But almost all the merchandise had been smuggled in over old historic trade routes once used by camel caravans from Iran, Afghanistan, and as far away as India, Turkmenistan, and China. Loads of electronics and audio-video equipment were for sale, which had been stolen from the ports in Karachi. Thousands of motorbikes and motorcycles were smuggled into Quetta, broken down into parts, and then reassembled and sold.

What I am learning about Pakistan is that there is absolutely no rule of law and order that governs the average person. Now I am beginning to understand a little better about the news­paper articles I’ve been reading in the local paper—the little boy the police recovered from a man in Quetta, who had abducted the boy from his home in Karachi to be sold into forced labor in Kabul, Afghanistan; a tribal dispute that broke out not far from my hotel in Quetta over a building being erected on a questioned site, which resulted in four killed on the spot and five more in critical condition; people in Hyderabad begging for some relief from the bandits in the area, who charge each individual two hundred thousand rupees for “protection.” If the money is not paid, the bandits start killing members of the families one at a time. In fact, the military has completely pulled out of much of Karachi because it is too dangerous to be in that city.

Next Week: Being Totally Accepted into the Family

SEPARATED OUT FROM THE REST OF THE HERD? Return to Pakistan - 1996 (Part3)

Quetta, Pakistan: Thursday March, 15, 1996: I decided at about 8:30 p.m. to go to the coffee shop and eat some dinner and work on another strat­egy. I began to think, These people really don’t give too much of a rip about $500,000 worth of medical stuff!

At dinner I decided that, most important, if I had to start all over with a government health secretary or someone else, I had better be supplied with the information I had left in the file at the Denver office. The time difference between Quetta and Denver is exactly twelve hours. I guessed that made sense—the two places are exactly on the other side of the world from each other. So following dinner I waited until 10:00 p.m. in Quetta to call Ruth at the Denver office, allowing her time to settle into the day at 10:00 a.m. I eventually got through to her, explained my situation, and asked her to fax to the hotel all the necessary documents.

Friday, March 15

In the morning all the papers Ruth had faxed were at the front desk. After breakfast I received a phone call from Dr. Malik Kasi, a doctor I had not met on my previous trip. I thought when he introduced himself on the phone that his name was Dr. Qazi, a doctor whom I had met. He said that he would be busy today. I briefly explained to him my plight and my concern for the container that was being ignored at the Port of Karachi. I nearly begged him to allow me to meet with him today to explain in full detail. He offered to invite me to his farm and have coffee with him. I told him I neither had his address nor any transportation. I asked if he could send his driver for me. He admitted that he had no driver but would come to the hotel perhaps around 10:30, 11:00, or so.

I stayed in my room, close to the phone, from that moment on. Here was my first opportunity to maybe talk to a real live person who might shed some light on the mysterious situation.

Ten o’clock came … 10:30 … 11:00 … 12:00 … nothing. Oh no, not more waiting! One o’clock … 2:00, 3:00. I had not moved from my room. Suddenly a note was slid under my door. I jumped up, grabbed it, read it. The time listed on the note was 9:40 a.m. Dr. Malik Kasi, had been there looking for me and had left at 9:40 a.m. I had a feeling that the scene at the front desk was not going to be a pretty one. Indeed, I did have considerable pent-up frustration.

I headed to the desk and calmly asked for some explanation. If someone was looking for me at the front desk, why was I not notified of such by phone in my room? And why, if all that had taken place at 9:40 a.m., would anyone wait until 3:00 p.m. to deliver the note?

Most of the people behind the desk scattered. No doubt they sensed the intensity in my calm. I went through several folks before I got to the shift manager. He sug­gested that perhaps my room phone was not working. I acknowledged that as a distinct possibility and gave my apologies if that were the case. We checked out the phone … That was not the case. I explained to the manager that I had not moved an inch from the room since breakfast, that I had been waiting for the man’s visit, and that this visit was very important. Addi­tionally, he was now gone, and I had no phone number for him over the weekend and no address to use as a follow-up.

The manager offered to personally find Dr. Kasi’s address and go there to see if he could return to the hotel. He was good to his word. About one hour later, Dr. Malik Kasi knocked on my hotel-room door. I cheerfully greeted him and suggested that we go to the coffee shop so that I could buy him a cup of tea.

Naturally he was quite reserved and cautious. I joked and told him that perhaps he could shed some light on a very great mystery. His eyes got big. I then went on to tell him the whole story of my originally coming to Quetta in December 1995, meeting the many people, doing the Needs Assess­ment Study, and then returning to the United States.

I showed Dr. Kasi all the fax messages and documents I had sent so many times via fax, e-mail, and finally through the counsul at the Pakistan embassy in Washington, D.C. I told him that I never received a reply to any of my messages. But I presumed that someone, somewhere was getting them. So I came to Quetta anyway. But to my surprise, no one was at the airport to meet me, and no reservations were made for me at the Serena Hotel. “You are the first live person who has responded to my many calls,” I told him. “I was beginning to believe that either I was going crazy or I was in the wrong Quetta.”

He asked several pertinent questions and was trying to figure out why he had never been brought into any of the factors regarding this whole matter. He said, “Let’s go now. I know where Zehri and Buzdar live. We will go directly to their homes.”

On the way we went past the house of one of his cousins, the Dr. Kasi who picked me up at the airport on my first trip. He came out to the car, dirty, unshaven … sort of a mess. Dr. Malik Kasi said, “Look, he sees you and he is embarrassed.” The younger Dr. Kasi admitted that he had been given instructions to take care of my getting picked up at the airport, and that he had delegated the task to a very reliable man, et cetera, et cetera.

Now, at last, I knew for certain that someone had made them aware of my arrival. We went to Dr. Zehri’s home, but the houseman said he would not be back until late Sunday. (I had been told he would be gone until November … Perhaps I hadn’t understood.) Dr. Buzdar was not at home either.

As we drove, Dr. Malik Kasi began to explain what he thought was going on. He said that in 1988, while the Russians were in Afghanistan, just a couple of miles away, the US and other foreign organizations began pouring aid into Quetta and all of Pakistan to reinforce the border and help the people. Most of the UN and humanitarian organizations were very lazy and would simply send lots of stuff, and particularly lots of cash, with almost no accountability. Officials had gotten used to simply diverting those things into instant riches for themselves, millions of dollars at a time.

“When the parents are petty thieves,” Dr. Kasi told me, “the children grow up to be big robbers.” He said that they never expected you would come back or do any other follow-up. So they encouraged the distancing by ignoring communica­tions, counting on your not having time or intent to do a follow-up assessment.

I was angry. I was pleased that I was finally getting some information. Mostly I was excited to have made the acquaintance with Dr. Malik Kasi. Right before I received the note under my hotel door, I had the telephone in my hand to start another calling barrage. But I was checked in my spirit by God, who instructed me, “I have this whole situation under control. Don’t mess up the timing. Don’t get others involved at this point. Just wait … You’ll see.”

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We stopped at one of Dr. Malik Kasi’s farms, where his brother (adopted into the family as an orphaned child) managed the farm and a large orchard. He had an interesting philosophy of life. Since the oldest brother of the family had been assassinated on one of their village roads, this brother’s attitudes and lifestyle had changed. Dr. Kasi said that the oldest brother was the favorite and sharpest son of the family, and everyone liked him. The assassination was such a terrible shock that the adopted brother never really regained his life. “He offers free food at the farm to anyone who needs it,” Dr. Kasi told me. Additionally, he runs sort of a “hashish smoking orchard.” He grows and gives away free smokes of hashish to anyone who wants to come to the orchard. He has found that smoking hashish eases his pain, and he offers to do the same for others who need it.

I asked Dr. Kasi if all that wasn’t contrary to the Muslim requirements. He said that the consumption of alcohol is strictly forbidden, but when the Koran was written, the people knew nothing about drugs, so they were not banned. The brother will sometimes have two thousand people out in the orchards just sitting under the trees smoking free hashish, blasted out of their minds.

From the farm we drove through the Kasi village, down the Kasi road (named after the assassi­nated brother), and to the old home compound that has existed on the spot for nearly two hundred years. It is where the great-grandfather had built a “modern” home and guesthouses inside a high-walled compound. Dr. Kasi’s youngest brother, Quetta’s chief of police, now lives there with his family.

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We entered one of the guest areas where they receive visitors. A gas “fireplace” was burning, taking the chill from the old building. All the floors were covered with gorgeous Per­sian carpets, and the room walls were lined with pillows constructed with Persian carpets about thirty-six inches by twenty inches, sewn together and stuffed with cotton. Tea and condiments were quickly served on the floor, and each man took a pillow and pulled it up close to the fire. Some sat on the pillows, including me, and some sat on the carpets and leaned back against the pillows.

One end of the room was a shelved display area for a collection of extremely rare Gardner and Romanov porcelain pieces. I hadn’t the goofiest idea of the value of the collection. Over the fireplace, on the mantle, were pictures of the police chief with important dignitaries. Also displayed was a badge from someplace in Maryland and an arm patch of that police unit. The brother had been trained near Washington, D.C., in 1988 by US Army Special Forces and Secret Service as part of the US security involvement in the US-Russian stand-off on the Afghani­stan-Pakistan border.

Next Week: I Was Learning That There is Absolutely No Rule of Law in Pakistan

THE SITUATION TURNS VERY STRANGE IN QUETTA - Return to Pakistan - 1996 (Part 2)

Islamabad, Pakistan: Wednesday March 13, 1996: On Monday I had gotten up in Evergreen at 4:30 a.m. to catch the plane to New York. It was a long flight from New York to Amsterdam, Netherlands. But it was an even longer flight from Amsterdam to Islamabad, Pakistan. I had time in Amsterdam to get off the plane, stretch, and walk around while they cleaned and refueled the plane.

I landed in Islamabad early this morning—Wednesday, March 13. That is a long time to be in the same clothes with no chance to shower. Fortunately the Marriott hotel in Islamabad had a record of my reservation even though there was a small verbal fight when they tried to charge me nearly twice as much as when I stayed there only a little over ninety days ago. Lucky for me I had my hotel receipts with me from the previous trip as overwhelming and prevailing evidence.

At 9:00 a.m. after having breakfast at the hotel, I checked in with the US embassy in Isla­mabad. Throughout my travels I have found that it is a very wise policy to touch base with US governmental officials upon arrival in a given country. I know that a lot of travelers ignore that policy and just go about their business. But I check in with the embassy and tell them why I am in the country, where I will be, and for how long. I then have a reference point and a face-with-a name relationship in case any problems arise or I am in need of some quick advice. The officials appreciate my cooperation since, in a way, they are responsible for me as a citizen while I am in the country, and they are always eager to give me any tips on what to watch out for and where and where not to go. Additionally, it is a comfort to my family and office back home if they know that the embassy can get ahold of me in case of an emer­gency at home.

The meeting at the embassy went well. We talked about Project C.U.R.E. and what I hoped to get accomplished. The lady I met with at the embassy, Sherri Worthington, is an economist. Following my meeting I had a taxi driver return me to the hotel. My trip back to the hotel was delayed for about thirty minutes while we waited in traffic watching a military parade go by, dis­playing all the latest Pakistani war machines. The national military parades its stuff not only to warn the people to stay in line, but it also builds confidence that the present govern­ment in power can take care of its people well and protect them from the threat of outside powers.

The day before I left Evergreen, I had received a fax message from Senator Raja M. Zafar-al-Haq, a senior senator in the Pakistani government and secretary general of the World Muslim Congress. He was the man I had met on the airplane from Karachi to Amsterdam on my previous trip to Pakistan. I had shared with him what God has done in my life and how I consider myself to be the happiest man in the world. He had then invited me to contact him if I ever return to Isla­mabad so that we could have dinner together. The fax I received from him was a response to my communication informing him of my return trip and my desire to meet with him.

When I returned to my hotel, I called the senator’s office, graciously thanked them for the fax mes­sage, and confirmed that I would be available at the senator’s suggested time of 2000 hours on Monday, March 18 (2000 hours means 8:00 p.m. … I hope).

Monday is the day I will be return­ing from Quetta to Islamabad on my way out of the country. I am really delighted about the opportunity and the senator’s response. And I am looking forward to once again being with this very important man of the Islamic world.

Thursday, March 14

Following breakfast at the hotel, I caught the airport bus to the Islamabad International Airport. Our route took us along the wide, six-lane thoroughfare in front of the gorgeous white parliament buildings, the president’s complex, and the prime minister’s huge layout, as well as many other beautiful government and foreign-embassy buildings.

Islamabad was built from scratch start­ing in 1961. It was decided that the city of Lahore, the most natural site for the capital, was too close in proximity to India, being just sixteen miles from the border. So the government decided to build Islamabad as the capital. It was built on the outskirts of Rawalpindi, a city that dates back some seven thousand years. By now the two cities have intertwined, with a combined population of over 1.5 million people.

The airport is a pretty typical Third World major airport. That means it is dirty, well used, and overrun with lots of milling folks. I was about two and a half hours early for my flight, and pas­sengers, I was told, were not allowed in the terminal until just prior to boarding. But I really didn’t feel like sitting cross-legged on the sidewalk with the other locals, nor did I feel like “mingling” for two and a half hours. 

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So even though I was traveling on a cheap economy excursion ticket, I walked down the roadway, where there was a separate building with a VIP lounge sign on the front and many guards with automatic weapons balanced on their hips, and I told the man at the door that it was necessary for me to sit down inside the VIP lounge for a couple of hours. Guess what? He let me in!

I arrived in Quetta shortly after 3:00 p.m. and rode to the Serena Hotel, where I checked in.

It just dawned on me … seldom have I been involved in such bizarre circumstances. On January 25, 1996, I notified Dr. Shafi Mohammed Zehri, medical superintendent of Sandeman Provincial Hospital, Quetta, Pakistan, that Project C.U.R.E. had selected the hospital to be the recipient of approxi­mately $500,000 worth of medical supplies and equipment. I informed him of the esti­mated time of arrival of the shipment into the Port of Karachi, the vessel sailing voyage number, and the name of the vessel. I included any other pertinent information and sent it to him by fax.

I received no reply immediately but did not give it much thought, since I had sent the message during Ramadan, the Muslim holy time. So I again sent the message on January 31 … No reply. I began sending the same message frequently. Each time my fax machine verified that the hospital fax machine had indeed received the transmission … and yet no reply. Eventually I had Dr. Rich Sweeney send the package via e-mail to the only e-mail-receiving computer in Quetta. Again, no response.

It was getting close to the time I was to leave on my trip to Pakistan. It was also getting close to March 10, the estimated time of arrival for the $500,000 cargo container into the Port of Karachi. I was worried. I had visited Jabil Abbas Jilani, at the Pakistan embassy in Washington, D.C., in February. I decided to call him and see if he would help me. He was very receptive and understanding and said that if I would fax him the entire package, he would see to it that it was delivered in Pakistan, and he would addition­ally call to verify its receipt. I thanked him and, based on that assurance, departed Denver for Quetta.

When I arrived in Quetta today, I had fully expected someone to meet me there from the hospital, since I was certain by that time that they would have had time to prepare for me and would have made reser­vations for me at the Serena Hotel as I had requested Dr. Buzdar to do.

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I got off the plane, walked to the terminal, slowly looked over the crowd, and spotted no one with a sign or a smile of recognition on his or her face. I proceeded outside the terminal. It was raining … an extremely unusual phenomenon for Quetta’s high-desert location. I stood under the terminal awning until almost everyone had exited. I kept an eye on the driver of the Serena Hotel bus who was holding an identification sign. He apparently was there to pick up someone who had reservations at the hotel. No one approached him, and as he turned to leave in his bus, I caught up with him and let him know I needed a ride to the Serena. I decided that if no one was there to meet me, they had probably had the bus come out to pick me up. It all seemed validated when I was the only passenger.

But when I went to the registration desk at the hotel, they looked through all of their records and assured me that I had no reservation there. Regardless, I talked them into renting a room to me. But all of the events seemed so strange.

I unpacked all my Pakistan notes and files from my previous trip and immediately set about calling Dr. Zehri, Dr. Buzdar, and the hospital. No one answered at Dr. Zehri’s home or office; all I could get from Dr. Buzdar’s office was a fax tone; and the hospital person I talked to said that Dr. Zehri was no longer head administrator at the hospital and would, furthermore, not be back until November. They said that Dr. Buzdar was out on holiday until next Wednesday.

While I was looking through my files, I realized that I had not brought along any of the paper­work pertaining to the shipment of the container. And now I was becoming convinced that no one in Quetta knew anything about absolutely anything.

I finally was able to talk to Dr. Roohullah M. Qazi’s niece at a phone number he had previously given to me. He is the deputy medical superintendent at Sandeman Provincial Hospital. But the niece said that he had no home phone, and additionally, he was out of town until Saturday morning.

It was now getting late in the evening. I was pushing my luck, because Fridays and Saturdays in Pakistan are sort of do-nothing days for Muslims. I had to make contact with someone before tomorrow. I called back to the hospital and left word that it was imperative for Dr. Zehri, Dr. Buzdar, Dr. Qazi, Dr. Mohammad Nasir, Dr. Malik Kasi, or Dr. Rafique from pediatrics to call me as soon as they could be contacted. I received no response.

Next Week: Was I Being Separated Out From the Rest of the Herd?

TAKING CARE OF MY NORTH KOREAN DETAILS IN NYC Return to Pakistan - 1996 (Part 1)

Note to Readers: I had a very successful trip to Pakistan December 1995. Now I was returning to oversee another $500,000 shipment of medical supplies into Quetta and also meet up with Mr. Raja M. Zafar-al-Haq, the head Senator of Pakistan and the Secretariat General of the World Muslim Congress in Islamabad. I had no idea what I was in for.

New York City: Monday March 11, 1996:
By the time 6:00 rolled around this morning (Monday), Anna Marie and I headed once again for the Denver airport. The sweet, young thing took time off from school just to take me to the airport.

I arrived at LaGuardia Airport in New York just a little past 2:00 p.m. I had made arrange­ments to meet a delegation from the United Nations group from North Korea at the Sheraton Towers Hotel in downtown Manhattan at 3:30. I knew that I would really have to hustle and make good bus connections from LaGuardia to the meeting place if I were to make the appointment on time. The bus got stuck in mid-Manhattan traffic, so when we got close to the hotel, I asked the driver to let me out, and I hurried down the streets and entered the hotel through the side door on Fifty-Third Street. It was exactly 3:30 p.m. Han Song Ryol (Minister Counselor and former Minister of Foreign Affairs) was just coming in the front revolving doors off Seventh Avenue. We all went to the coffee shop for our meeting.

It was really necessary for me to meet with the North Koreans on this trip. When Jay and I visited Pyongyang, North Korea, in September of 1995, Project C.U.R.E. had already shipped the first cargo container of medical supplies into Nampho Port via Hong Kong.

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I had the privilege of making the first-ever formal presentation of such a gift to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in fifty years. In the ending months of 1995, Project C.U.R.E. was able to send a total of seven containers into the DPRK, with an approximate value of $1,750,000.

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The government leaders had then asked me if I could help orchestrate some groups that might be able to donate foodstuffs to the North Korean people the way we were gifting medical supplies.

I told them about Dr. Ted Yamamori and the Food for the Hungry organization located in Phoenix, Arizona. Ted, Stan Schirm, and the wonderful people at Food for the Hungry have been such a great help with our Project C.U.R.E. operation in Phoenix and with Vern and Mary Gibson, our southwest directors of Project C.U.R.E.

The North Koreans were extremely hesitant to even consider inviting Dr. Yamamori to come to Pyongyang because he is Japanese—an American citizen married to an Anglo lady, but nonetheless Japanese. And because of the long history of Japanese cruelty and their occupation of Korea, the Koreans immediately had a problem with Dr. Yamamori being a part of bring­ing aid to them.

I had to push the New York delegation to a point of making a decision as to whether I could bring Dr. Yamamori with me to Pyongyang in April 1996. I did not want the issue to become an embarrassment to Ted. Finally they answered that I was an honored part of DPRK history, and I was openly wel­come to come and go to Pyongyang anytime I desired … but now was not a good time to bring Dr. Yamamori with me. I was disappointed. Ted was disap­pointed. But Ted and I began to reprocess the plans for a new date of August 21–28, 1996.

In the meantime I wrote a letter to the DPRK stating my disappointment and reinforcing the fact that Food for the Hungry had already come up with funds in excess of twenty-five thousand dollars to help ship two of the containers of medical goods donated by Project C.U.R.E. into Nampho Port. And furthermore, I had encouraged Dr. Yamamori to go ahead and ship a container of goods to Pyongyang even before he physically was able to go and visit North Korea. The meeting at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Manhattan was set in order to discuss my letter.

After Han Song Ryol and I had talked about our families, Pyongyang, and other topics, I began to discuss what I had written in the letter. To my surprise, Han Song Ryol started out by conveying words of appreciation from the head offices in Pyongyang. “Mr. Jackson is to always be an honored guest in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” he began. “Therefore, it is the desire of Pyongyang for you to reschedule the trip as originally suggested by you and to bring with you Dr. Ted Yamamori.”

My mind did some interesting flashbacks and calculations. God had opened the door for Project C.U.R.E. to go to North Korea in April 1993 just as decidedly as he had shut the door on my scheduled recent trip to Havana, Cuba. I was scheduled to go with my oldest son, Dr. Doug Jackson, and Dr. Rich Sweeney, to Havana in late January of this year. I even went to Washington, D.C., and met with Miguel Nunez at the Cuban Interests Section of the Swiss embassy, where we thoroughly planned out our time in Havana. I then returned to Denver, and on Tuesday phoned Miguel and told him that I had not yet received our visas from the Cuban office. He said he could process the visas in ten minutes, but he was waiting for one man in Havana who was to confirm the necessary appointments for our meetings while we were there.

I told him that if I did not receive the confirmation and the visas by Wednesday morning at 9:30, I would simply have to scrub the trip and reschedule it for later in the year. I did not want to schedule the expensive trip for the three of us to Miami and then have a possible problem of getting a charter flight on Saturday from Miami to Havana at that late of a date.

I did not receive word from Miguel on Wednesday, so I called off all the plans and informed Doug and Rich that we would not be going at that time.

Can you imagine how I felt when on Saturday I heard about the Cuban fighter jets shooting down the expatriate planes of Miami Cubans? Then President Clinton imposed new restrictions against Cuba, including halting all charter planes going in and out of Havana from Miami.

Simply stated, the three of us would have been in Havana with no way to get home. Plus, there was always the possibility at such a time of crisis that some “crazy” in Cuba would have spotted one of us as American, and we easily could have become lightning rods for their anger or their desire to become local heroes by bringing harm to an American devil. At any rate, God’s intervention stopped us from going to Cuba in January just as certainly as it appeared that God’s direct inter­vention had turned a no from the North Korean government officials into an impassioned yes for Dr. Yamamori to come with me in April.

It’s really hard to explain the feeling of being involved in a situation where God directly intervened, unless I was there to witness it unfolding firsthand.

After the meeting with the North Koreans, I immediately went to the hotel phones and got the process started to reschedule everything. I really had to rely on the dedicated people back home in Denver to just take over, because I would not even return to the US from Pakistan until about four days before I needed to turn around and leave the country again for Beijing, China, and Pyongyang, North Korea.

Having finished all my phone calls, I again caught the Carey bus from the hotel to the JFK International Airport, where I got on a Pakistan Airlines A310 Airbus ulti­mately headed for Islamabad, Pakistan.

Next Week: The Situation Turns Very Strange in Quetta.


Karachi, Pakistan: Wednesday December 6, 1995: 

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When the flight left Karachi, I was surprised that we didn’t simply head west and then cut eventually back at a northwest angle to Amsterdam. But, rather, we flew almost directly north back over Lahore to the capital city of Islamabad. We stopped briefly there and then flew directly over Kabul, Afghanistan, where all the fierce fighting had recently taken place.

On the flight I experienced another outstanding serendipity. I was seated next to a distinguished gentleman in a pin‑striped, black suit. Even the plane’s crew came out of the cockpit and greeted him. I turned to him about the time we took off, extended my hand, and introduced myself. Come to find out he is one of the fifty-two-member OIS (Organization of Islamic States) group. He is also a senator in the Pakistan parliament, and in our extended conversation, it came out that he additionally was a past ambassador to Egypt. His name is Raja M. Zafar‑al‑Haq, secretary general of the World Muslim Congress.

After we had talked about Russia, the war in Afghanistan, the Muslims in Bosnia, and other issues, he wanted to know what I was doing in Pakistan, “Don’t you know you could have easily been killed in Karachi?" I told him all about Project C.U.R.E. and my trip into Andijon and Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and my Needs Assessment Study at Sandeman Provincial Hospital in Quetta. I told him that I had greatly appreciated my work in Quetta, especially with Dr. Buzdar and Dr. Zehri. I told him that I felt there was a qualitative difference that I observed in the doctors I work with around the world. Many medical institutions within countries that have been used and abused by governments of Communist dictators have been left nearly bankrupt, morally, emotionally, volitionally, and for sure, financially. A lot of doctors who were involved in those kinds of hospitals in the recent past are physically exhausted, but far worse, they have given up hope that things will ever get better. They have lost their way and have no one they could turn to.

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I told him that was where Project C. U. R. E. could come in and make such a tremendous difference. We come alongside and help by sending desperately needed medical goods … but perhaps most important, we can bring hope.

“The doctors see that, really, there is someone out there who cares about what they are going through,” I said. “Who’s to know, when all is said and done, maybe that bringing of rekindled hope is the greatest qualitative contribution that Project C.U.R.E. can ever make. Medical supplies will immediately save lives. Rekindled hope has the power to save generations.”

I told that Pakistan leader that he could, indeed, be proud of the culture of his country and the fact that in spite of centuries of hardship, his people, particularly Dr. Buzdar and Dr. Zehri and the other doctors at the Quetta hospital and medical school, had not lost hope. And in spite of the extensive needs they were currently experiencing, they were excited about what they were doing and what the future held for them. They had not lost hope.

He really appreciated what I had to tell him, and then he asked how in the world I got involved in taking Project C.U.R.E. all over the remotest parts of the world. He pushed my button. I looked at my watch and we were still a very long way from landing in Amsterdam so, I started out by telling him about my being in business and getting caught up in the addictive American philosophy of accumulating wealth and things. And I told him how one day God brought me to my senses and showed me that however much I accumulated in my journey, it would not make me a happy man. I asked God to forgive me for being such a selfish person. I obeyed God and paid a price that required giving over sixteen million dollars away, and I started over to put deals together the rest of my life that would help bring relief to God’s children all over the world.

Mr. Raja M. Zafar‑al‑Haq, the senator, ambassador, and secretary general who was on his way to hold talks on Bosnia and the Middle East, turned completely around in his seat to face me and said, “All of my life I have heard people talk about giving their life away to do good. But I had never met anyone who actually did it. It was always talk. May God bless you and give you good health to continue what you are doing for a long time. And when you know when you are returning to the capital of Islamabad, please let me know, and I will put a group of important people of Pakistan together in my home and let you tell all of them the story you have just told me. God bless you.”

Maybe there was a reason why I went to Uzbekistan and Pakistan during the closing days of 1995.

My trip to Amsterdam was long, and I was able to transfer all my excess baggage to London’s Heathrow Airport. In Amsterdam I had to change airlines from Pakistan Airlines to British Airways. Once I got from London to New York, I had to again transfer everything to United Airlines on into Denver.

By that time I was already starting on the third day of being in the same clothes and not having gone to bed (it was now December 8). But what I had told that Pakistani secretary general is true. I am so fortunate to get to do what I am doing, and indeed, I am the happiest man in the world.

Next Week: My return trip to Islamabad, Pakistan