Shujaat Ali: I have a similar story to tell much like my fellow Baltis

The aerial view of Baltistan, perhaps, reveals Baltistan more fully than any other subsequent impressions for a first time visitor. You see a patch of greenery, here and there, with difficulty amidst the wasteland of gigantic, unending mountain ranges. Scarcity and deficiency paints your picture of this place.

In Baltistan, the Facilities are scarce just like its habitation. Nature presents itself as a formidable foe in this regard but the governments are no less culpable themselves for making it what it is today. Basic healthcare is far from adequate. And education pipes out the same sad story.

My journey began with this same sense of deprivation much like my fellow Baltis. I had to leave my family and stay at my uncle’s house at Skardu city for mostessori class, inducting myself in Uswa Public School. It was 1995, a time when English medium schools were considered fancy but were not in vogue entirely.

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I was one of the pioneer students of this school with an affiliation lasting a decade. I was lucky enough to be the topper during the matriculation exams. Therefore, leaving this institution for me was harder than I thought, even after getting an irresistible scholarship opportunity from Marafie Foundation.

That Marafie Foundation got me through my intermediate with negligible expense on my part. I completed my intermediate(Pre-Medical) from Karachi with second position in college to my name.

I was hopeful for my future, and therefore vigorously pursued to secure a medical quota seat for myself. I strenuosly applied myself for MCAT preparation, contending with my fellows for the only chance we all had to study MBBS. Only I lost the battle, with a percent sealing my fate at the end.

The next year I applied again, got the nomination and didn’t send my documents at the end. I was disheartened with the first result, which had shaken my confidence and weakened my resolve. Yet when my self-pride was restored, I realized that my interest and passion lied somewhere else.

It was pharmacy that I was most interested in, a field I had chosen for security and convenience- to dispense it once nomination was secured but to pursue it if happened otherwise. Later, pharmacy clung to me and MBBS got discarded for good.

Its complexity and technicality charmed me. But the bigger reason was that I believed I could do greater good for my people through this field. With no proper pharmaceutic system, the drugs plague the poor people of Baltistan, benifiting the stores at the cost of their own health. I wanted to do something for my people.

With this hope, I applied for various scholarships once I was graduated. Alhamdullilah, I got the scholarship within a year for MS leading to PhD.

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And now I am doing PhD in Molecular Biology and Genetics from University of Bordeaux France in coordination INSERM Laboratory, one of the best laboratories of France.

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