(continued) Pakistan: March, 1996: Senator Raja M. Zafar-al-Haq 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 semicircle 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.
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.
When we had been served dessert and tea, the senator tapped his crystal water glass with his knife to get the attention of his guests. He then leaned over to me and said, “These are my close friends – some of the most powerful men in Pakistan- now I want you to tell them what you told me about God as we were flying together that night in December. He then stood and 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.
Next Week: May the Seeds Planted Become Great Trees
© Dr. James W. Jackson
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