Friday, October 10, 2008

A Pop Singer With Failed Kidneys

Being a perennial skeptical about email money appeals, a message about Alamgir’s health and plea to wire transfer money to a bank account made me decide to check the veracity of the news. I looked up Alamgir’s telephone number in Georgia and called him up. Luck was with me, I was able to talk directly to Alamgir in quite detail. Here is what I gathered from our telephone conversation.

In 2004, Alamgir was diagnosed with failing kidneys. At that time his kidneys were operating at 50% of their capacity. The kidneys kept deteriorating in their performance and by now they are almost useless. Alamgir needs a kidney transplant, but till he finds new kidneys he would have to go through dialysis, the process of machine-cleaning the blood. For the dialysis to start he went through a surgery on Monday, October 6, at Gwinnett Medical Center, Lawrenceville. In that surgery Alamgir was fitted with a dialysis catheter. Once the surgical wound is dried up, Alamgir’s dialysis through the catheter would start. Since Alamgir has permanent renal failure, he would go through another surgery in which he would be fitted with surgically created arteriovenous fistula, a preferred approach for dialysis. Surgically created arteriovenous fistula is apparently a more involved surgery and is hence delayed till the patient is in better health through dialysis made possible through catheter.

The main reason Alamgir landed in financial trouble is because he was not carrying any health insurance. Although he sounded fatigued Alamgir spoke with optimism.
He said many Pakistani doctors currently living in the US were studying at either Sindh or Dow Medical College when he was at the peak of his career. They were his friends and he was happy to see them coming to his help. Just a day ago he received a call from Ishrat-Ul-Ibad, Governor of Sindh, who extended his support to Alamgir especially if Alamgir would come to Pakistan for further treatment. Alamgir said he is consulting his doctors for the best approach to take. Currently he is being helped by his wife; Alamgir’s son is studying in Virginia.

So, yes the news about Alamgir’s ailment and the appeal for financial help are authentic. Money should be sent directly to Alamgir's bank account as given in the email message.

Alamgir’s photo, courtesy of

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

A Pentagon conversation

1. Pakistan needs $100B for its economic survival.

2. Well, money is tight right now. Everybody is asking for bailout.
What would happen if we don't provide $100B assistance to Pakistan?

1. Pakistan is a key ally in the War on Terror. If we don't help her,
the country will destabilize and go in chaos.

2. What do these things mean? Destabilization and chaos.

1. It would mean Pakistan would not be able to pay for the salaries of
government employees including the armed forces. And that would mean
many militarily trained people on the loose. Without immediate
financial assistance Pakistan would not be able to import oil, the
main force running the economy. There would be economic meltdown.
The Rupee would have a free fall. Qualified people would be leaving
the country; business would come to a halt.

2. Yes, one can see all that. But how does it hurt us?

1. There can be discontent. People can join Al-Qaida.

2. How much would it cost to seal the borders, so that no matter who
joins who no undesirable people can come out to hurt us or other
western interests?

1. That cost can be calculated. But what about the gems? What if in
the ensuing chaos, Al-Qaida gets Pakistan's gems?

2. OK. So, that is the main blackmailing point for the Pakistanis:
help us or else there would be instability and Al-Qaida would grab the
nuclear weapons. Uhmm. What can we do to neutralize Pakistani
nuclear weapons? How much would it cost to do that? It must be a lot
less than $100B Pakistan is asking for.

Pentagon photo, courtesy of