Positive Pakistani: Call of duty

Published: December 4, 2011
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From a primary school in Lyari to Yale’s School of Medicine, Dr Junaid Razzak’s story is an inspiring one.

From a primary school in Lyari to Yale’s School of Medicine, Dr Junaid Razzak’s story is an inspiring one.

From a primary school in Lyari to Yale’s School of Medicine, Dr Junaid Razzak’s story is an inspiring one. From a primary school in Lyari to Yale’s School of Medicine, Dr Junaid Razzak’s story is an inspiring one.

Think of an ambulance and the first image that comes to mind is a white Suzuki Bolan painted with a red cross. No wonder then that the Aman Foundation’s sleek, bright yellow ambulances stand out among the fume-spewing buses, noisy rickshaws, and death-defying motorcyclists on Karachi’s chaotic roads.

You must often have spotted one tearing through unrelenting traffic, rushing the sick and injured to a hospital. In a city rife with medical emergencies, where target killings, bomb blasts and road accidents are a daily occurrence, these vehicles save many precious lives. How this network of ambulances was established is an inspiring story which starts with an ambitious boy, Junaid Razzak, who rose from humble origins.

Today, Razzak is a renowned emergency medicine expert and the executive director of the Aman Foundation. He started his schooling at a humble primary school in Lyari, completing his secondary education from Nasira School in Depot Lines. Not one to be held back, the hard-working student subsequently attended Adamjee Science College where his impressive grades and unbounded enthusiasm won him a scholarship at the prestigious Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH), the top private medical institution in the country.

It was in his fourth year of medical school that Razzak discovered his true calling: emergency medicine. “Fourth year is the time when you choose your field. Most of my fellow students went abroad for internships, but I stayed back and spent time in the emergency room at AKUH,” he says.

It was time well spent. When he saw the sorry state of emergency medicine, Razzak was driven to bring about changes in the field. He graduated from AKUH in 1994, but his interest in emergency medicine only grew.

In collaboration with the Edhi Ambulance Service, an arm of the philanthropic Edhi organisation and the largest volunteer ambulance network in the world, he researched and analysed road traffic injuries and emergency cases. Edhi had a mountain of documentation for every call and every case it had handled in the last two decades. The downside? None of it was digitised, so he spent days sifting through it manually.

The experience stayed with him, and the data revealed a disturbing pattern. Gruesome injuries, often suffered by the poorest members of society, were often improperly handled by well-meaning doctors, simply because of a lack of know-how. These mistakes frequently, and literally, led to the loss of life and limb.

Yet, Razzak soon realised that he needed more professional training and specialisation courses before he could progress further. He sat for the US Medical Licensing Exams (MLE) and had observations at the Beth Israel Medical Centre, New York, and the Yale-New Haven Hospital, Connecticut. In 1996, his residency and training programme at Yale University’s School of Medicine started and in 1999, he was given the ‘Best Trainee’ award by the State of Connecticut.

On the personal front, Yale was also important for the doctor since he met his future wife there. Following graduation, the two stayed in the US for a few years, always looking forward to the time when they would return home. “The plan was always to come back,” says Razzak. “That’s why we never bought a house, never completely settled in.”

Before they could come back, Razzak did his PhD in Public Health at the world-renowned Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, where he focused on the use of ambulance data for monitoring road traffic accidents. Finally, in 2005, the studious boy from Kharadar returned to Pakistan as a successful, qualified expert in emergency medicine.

He joined his alma mater, AKUH as a faculty member and went on to successfully found Pakistan’s first emergency medicine service (EMS) training programme at the university. “There were many doctors who were awarded their degrees without ever administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) as it wasn’t a requirement,” he reveals.

This changed when his EMS programme became a mandatory rotation that all students had to serve. Subsequently, Razzak went on to build and head a new emergency department. Yet, the battle was just half won. Students in the new department faced a dilemma, similar to the one Razzak had as a student. They were required to go to the United Kingdom to sit for their exam, otherwise they would not be considered qualified.

“We had trainees, but no exams here,” he says. “If these students couldn’t sit for their exams here, they weren’t qualified on paper and therefore couldn’t be hired as consultants.”

Determined to remove, for others, the hurdles that he himself had crossed only after many toils, Razzak collaborated with the College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan (CPSP) to organise a curriculum for the specialised field. The first batch for this course was enrolled last year.  Now students wanting to specialise in emergency medicine will be able to obtain certification in their chosen field, without having to travel abroad.

“I consider this a major achievement,” he says with a smile. “I don’t think there is any country that requires this specialisation more than us, with all the natural disasters, deteriorating law and order situation and terrorist attacks that we face.”

At just 40, this medical expert has achieved what most people can only dream of in a lifetime, but he still has big plans for the future. Razzak will shortly launch a tele-health service for Aman Foundation and dreams of building a world-class health facility in Pakistan. It seems that nothing is impossible for this inspirational doctor.

Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, December 4th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (70)

  • Dec 4, 2011 - 12:40PM

    Dear Tribune team, Success stories you are sharing here are wounderful source of inspiration for all the pakistanis. They will not only help build positive image of our country but also ignite a flame for doing something bigger than ourselves in our lives. Brilliant effort by Dr. Razzak. May Allah Bless you all – Ameen.

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  • Khan
    Dec 4, 2011 - 1:07PM

    The nation salutes you. And sign me up for the donors lists.

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  • Dec 4, 2011 - 1:27PM

    This is very nice. There are good people left in this country too. May Allah help Dr.Razzak to achieve more.

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  • Shahid Kureshi
    Dec 4, 2011 - 1:48PM

    Well done and keep up the good work. You make us proud. Just please stay away from Politics at any stage. God bless you.

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  • Iftikhar-ur-Rehman
    Dec 4, 2011 - 2:03PM

    Great work Junaid Razzak!! Keep up the good work. I sincerely hope & pray for more successes in your life.

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  • adnan raza
    Dec 4, 2011 - 2:45PM

    i salute to Mr Junaid.it shows that Pakistan ha great talent in every field.its message for all of us to work hard in our fields.imagine if there r 100 such persons in every field than how pakistan will change.

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  • Mohammad Ali Rai
    Dec 4, 2011 - 3:34PM

    Simply superb! Best of luck to Dr Razzak for attaining even bigger feats in the coming future!

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  • Anjum
    Dec 4, 2011 - 4:56PM

    Well done, and we get inspired and propelled by such strong characters of Pakistan.

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  • Maria
    Dec 4, 2011 - 5:11PM

    Great work! All the best for the future!

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  • Truth From Pakistan
    Dec 4, 2011 - 6:20PM

    Well done Doc. Take it to the next level !

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  • Adeel
    Dec 4, 2011 - 6:34PM

    Awesome job Dr.Junaid…wished you had stayed at AKU :(

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  • AM
    Dec 4, 2011 - 7:55PM

    Not many people could be a mentor, role model and a guidepost– all at the same time for everyone around them. A visionary with an amazing capacity of collaborating with the most impossible stakeholders and resolving almost all issues through dialogue. Wish you good luck, Sir.

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  • Ali Khawaja
    Dec 4, 2011 - 8:01PM

    Thank you for your contribution Dr. Razzak, we would be glad to achieve even a part of what you have.

    A proud AKUite.

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  • JAVAID KHAN
    Dec 4, 2011 - 9:02PM

    Excellent work Razzak.We miss you at AKU.Keep up your good work.Join me on 25th at Mazar-e Quid for bringing a change in Pakistan

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  • Dr.Samina Hoosein
    Dec 4, 2011 - 11:23PM

    Excellent work , Dr.Junaid , we are all very proud of you , may you have success and happiness always

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  • Dr.Samina Hoosein
    Dec 4, 2011 - 11:30PM

    Well done!! Dr.Junaid , we are all very proud of you , may you always have success and happiness !!! .

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  • Usman Hyder
    Dec 5, 2011 - 1:11AM

    Very proud to be an AKU student after reading this. I hope you have set an example for other students and that we all can make a difference to our country after graduating. AmeenRecommend

  • Sheikh Ali Tariq
    Dec 5, 2011 - 2:46AM

    I have worked at The Aman Foundation for 7 months now and I can tell from my experiences with Dr. Junaid Razzak that he is a great man and an inspirational leader. His humbleness and positive attitude are role model qualities for young men like myself and my peers especially even after he has achieved so much.

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  • Amber saeed
    Dec 5, 2011 - 3:40AM

    Dr Razzak is an excellent teacher as well.We need more ppl like him in our teaching institutes.i am glad his efforts are being recognized.

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  • person
    Dec 5, 2011 - 8:39AM

    Good topic and story. Checking for grammar is always a good idea before posting an article online esp. the most popular english news website from Pakistan

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  • Syed Hussein El-Edroos
    Dec 5, 2011 - 9:47AM

    WOW. What a man, human being and doctor. May Allah help you achieve all your goals.

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  • Adil Khokhar
    Dec 5, 2011 - 10:53AM

    You are living legend SIR.

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  • Dec 5, 2011 - 12:23PM

    Great Work. May Allah SWT will give you reward for your noble work.
    I am a great fan of any achievement by a Pakistani as we do not have much resources.
    I hope that you will be a role model for many others.
    May Allah SWT bless Pakistan (Ameen).

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  • dr asim arif
    Dec 5, 2011 - 1:07PM

    well done you are pride of country

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  • Dr. Samar Alam
    Dec 5, 2011 - 1:19PM

    Im proud to be a part of team that has lead by this Legendary Man. He has done so much for the city. I wish we could have alot more like him. I pray for your success Sir.Recommend

  • Hassan H Somani
    Dec 5, 2011 - 2:13PM

    He is visionary leader, Worked with him and found him positive and enthusiastic, May Allah (swt) bless him. We all are proud of him

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  • Omar Hasan
    Dec 5, 2011 - 2:45PM

    Dr. Junaid,

    You are doing a great job for our Country. May Allah give you more success, Ameen.
    Pakistan is Proud of you.

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  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Dec 5, 2011 - 3:01PM

    Good work.

    Keep it up!

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  • Faheem Khan
    Dec 5, 2011 - 3:49PM

    The motivating story of Dr. Razzak is an exception and does not mean that Govt. should stay calm and lucid, rather provide opportunities to others like him still there in lyari.

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  • Beenish
    Dec 5, 2011 - 4:01PM

    He is a role model for a successful emergency department.I hope others shud also try to follow him,starting from zero n getting upto wat u want is though dificult but not impossible.. keep it up.

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  • Rizwan Riyaz
    Dec 5, 2011 - 4:02PM

    I congratulate Dr Junaid for achieving his goal. Truly a inspirational work! He is a legend, the way he worked in this system is not easy. I hope we can learn from him. A person like him can easily find the easy life and work for any country, but he is the fighter! staying here despite the current security situation of Pakistan. May Allah protect him and make him successful!

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  • Anas moosani
    Dec 5, 2011 - 4:05PM

    keep up the good work chachoo

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  • Memon
    Dec 5, 2011 - 5:45PM

    But AKUH ER is quite helter and scelter; u go there in emergency and u have to wait 8 hrs till finally one collapses waiting for turn when they announce emergency.

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  • A.sattar Abro
    Dec 5, 2011 - 5:49PM

    A.O.A ,
    hi sir i also worked at aman foundation & i had heared lot about ur work,ur pattren,& progress when u worked at E.R in aku .i cardialy appriciate ur work at aku & todays in AMAN foundation.
    GOD BLESS U sir .

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  • najia ali
    Dec 5, 2011 - 6:39PM

    Dr. junaid has always been my inspiration! a true role model, a true leader. He is a visionairy. His thoughts and vision start where many of avergae minds stop working. His contribution to development of emergency medicine in pakistan is tremendous. He is a star and a legend. People like him are a treasure for society. I wish him all the luck ! May Allah Bless him.

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  • Dr. Z. A. Faheem
    Dec 5, 2011 - 6:53PM

    Great work Dr. Junaid! We’ll always with you in the success of Telehealth services and your vision with full commitment and dedication. GOOD LUCK

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  • Hu Jintao
    Dec 5, 2011 - 7:47PM

    Thank you from bottom of my heart. People like you are true source of inspiration

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  • Dr Saamia Shams
    Dec 5, 2011 - 7:49PM

    Dr Junaid Razzakh is a role model and a true leader. Iam always inspired by his humbleness, knowledge and positive attitude.
    Great man great work !

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  • Merchant
    Dec 5, 2011 - 9:46PM

    Words are not enough to define the achievments and courage of this person.All we can say is that it is an oppertunity to follow the lead of such a visionary and probabaly among the few true leaders availible to us who is also a caring person at the same time. Congratulations sir, we pray for your success, safety and health and also that you may mentor us to achieve all that what you have achieved for all the years to come ahead.

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  • Fahd
    Dec 5, 2011 - 9:56PM

    Kudos to Dr. Junaid Razzakh for bringing about a massive change in a neglected specialty of medicine, both at professional and community levels.

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  • Adeel Ahsan
    Dec 5, 2011 - 10:05PM

    Dr JR..
    Great Leader… Good Work. GOD BLESS YOU Sir.

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  • antanu
    Dec 5, 2011 - 10:07PM

    Its very sad that my indian friends have not bothered to share their views on a very positive side of our troubled neighbors. Now who are mean minded…Pakistanis or we Indians?Recommend

  • Manzoor Hussain
    Dec 5, 2011 - 10:23PM

    Dr. Razzak is an inspiration to all people of Pakistani origin/ citizenship. May Allah reward him for all his hard work.

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  • bangash
    Dec 5, 2011 - 10:55PM

    God bless Dr Razzak.

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  • Pawan Kumar
    Dec 5, 2011 - 11:06PM

    I did know, Dr Juuaid will do some thing especial in Pakistan when I was working with him, I remeber he was fighting CPSP for traing in AKU in ER.
    Really great jod, God bless you and your family and wish to conti all same efforts.

    Pawan Kumar

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  • Dr Babar Afridi
    Dec 5, 2011 - 11:37PM

    Very inspirational. Proud of you, Dr Junaid!

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  • Jacqueline Maria Dias
    Dec 6, 2011 - 3:45AM

    An inspirational story of Dr. Junaid and his service to the people of Pakistan Well done !

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  • Nisreen
    Dec 6, 2011 - 4:37AM

    Well done you! We desperately need more people like you. May we get the strength to contribute towards the well being of the country too.

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  • Fawzia Salahuddin
    Dec 6, 2011 - 6:43AM

    My experience with Aman Ambulance has been superb – their drivers are intelligent and their doctors are compassionate and knowledgeable. Thank you Dr. Junaid for not only making it happen but making sure that we get the implementation details right as well.

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  • Tabinda Azam
    Dec 6, 2011 - 11:01AM

    Hats of to Dr Razzak, for this remarkable achievement.You do all Pakistanis and Americans of Pakistani descent proud. May God Bless you with many more successes and keep you in Rahmah and Hifazath.

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  • shahzad Noor
    Dec 6, 2011 - 11:43AM

    Dr. Junaid Razzak is role model for all Pakistani nation !

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  • dr shankar vankwani
    Dec 6, 2011 - 5:04PM

    wel done great job dr sb we r proud of uRecommend

  • Phil Brewer
    Dec 6, 2011 - 5:35PM

    It was my privilege to be one of the Yale faculty when Junaid completed his emergency medicine residency. He is remarkable as a gentle, bright, humble, and dedicated humanitarian who could have easily chosen to stay in the US and pursue a lucrative career in academic emergency medicine at an Ivy league institution. Instead, he remained true to his convictions and original plan to return to Pakistan where the need for his talents and vision is the greatest. No matter what challenges Pakistan faces, as long as there are people like Junaid the future is bright.

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  • Rafiq Suleman
    Dec 6, 2011 - 6:27PM

    Dr, Junaid Razzaq, is the best one in “The Aman Foundation”.
    His efforts are marvelous.
    Basically I am always inspired with his best knowledge, attitude and calm smile on his face.

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  • Tanveer Nizamani
    Dec 7, 2011 - 12:07AM

    Junaid Razzak means, ” A LIVING LEGEND”. God Bless YOU Boss.

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  • Dec 7, 2011 - 1:37AM

    It is an honour to be working under Dr. Junaid Razzak as a team at Telehealth. No wonder he is a man of truly inspirational qualities. I knew very limited about Dr. JR’s back ground and achievements. It makes me proud to have him as our leader and a source of correct vision for Telehealth. His humdleness, down to earth attitude makes him loved by all employees. His dedication to his goals is the reason why he has achieved so much. May God grant him endless health, prosperity and success in everything he does. “Some people are gifted to turn the dust into GOLD”. Dr. JR is one of those blessed ones.

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  • Dec 7, 2011 - 12:16PM

    Truly inspirational story. We wish you the best in all your endeavors.

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  • sars
    Dec 7, 2011 - 1:40PM

    Great article and very inspiring subject.Best of luck Dr Razzak and AKU definitely misses you

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  • Dr Muhammad Siddiq
    Dec 7, 2011 - 3:02PM

    Dear Dr Junaid i was ur class fellow in SMC and then you went to AKU, any how great achiements and i proud of you. I am working in WHO for DEWS and responded in EQ and Flood disasters in Pakistan from WHO, I wish you should conduct a course or training program for Ayub Medical Complex doctors because the emergecy services in Ayub Medical Complex is not upto the mark and need your technical out puts
    May Allah G be with and Bless us always
    Regards and best of luck

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  • erum
    Dec 7, 2011 - 7:33PM

    I am an AKU student, and had always heard really nice and inspirational things about Dr. Razzak, and idealized his work in emergency medicine, and was really looking forward to getting to work with him, is he still also at AKU?

    even if not, i hope he keeps pursuing the big dreems, and keeps up the amazing work

    a gazillion best wishes :)

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  • Shamsa
    Dec 7, 2011 - 8:18PM

    mashaallah man I am proud of you even I am not Pakistani :D Keep it up to the sky inshaallah :)))Recommend

  • Mehboob Khan
    Dec 8, 2011 - 8:52AM

    Well done Dr Sahb: Proud of You

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  • Khusro
    Dec 8, 2011 - 11:37AM

    Truely an inspirational story. he’s one person who’s a leader, a visionary, a mentor, a researcher, a reformer and above all a wonderful teacher. He’s An Idol of every ER trainee. Hats off to you Dr Junaid.

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  • gulshan jindani
    Dec 9, 2011 - 12:40PM

    grea…….t work.By chance I came across to read your story .Its true such work really needs lot of ambition and dedicated efforts and hard work. Recently I have done my formal training in Early child education,after working with children for more than 20 years I come to realize the fact that we need to work in this field too . If we want to bring positive change in our society we need to train our children in the manner that is violence free and teaches them good morals. your story gives me positive energy to do some thing in this regard .

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  • Aneela kashif
    Dec 10, 2011 - 5:55AM

    We need more people like him, so proud!

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  • Asiya
    Dec 12, 2011 - 12:40AM

    Salute to Dr. Junaid for having the courage and morals to return to pk and serve it. i pray others can follow suit and practice back home where they r needed more than ever.

    also i would like to link this to a debate on the aku forums recently about morals of practicing in the states. please stop whining. if u have the courage then do something about it and go back. otherwise stop shooting darts in the air and whining. and to all those who are at peace with themselves while practicing abroad, i say thats a personal choice and to each their own. no judgements. but dont whine about it. and to all those recent graduates sitting at harvard and preaching morals of practicing in pakistan and giving glorifying philosophical tirades, please put a sock in it.

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  • Dec 12, 2011 - 4:16PM

    So happy to have known you and have worked in the same institution with you and your spouse. Keep up the good work and do let me know if I could be of any assistance. Karachi people need you!

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  • Karl Adnan Bhatti
    Dec 13, 2011 - 12:56AM

    Proud to know that I’m working under a team led by Dr. Junaid. One think this article fails to mention is the long hours he puts in his work. We have seen him working in the late hours and on weekends. Salute to You Sir for your efforts to change Pakistan by actions not by words

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  • Abdullah Zaman
    Dec 16, 2011 - 8:06PM

    Hats off to you Sir.I cardialy appriciate your work. You are really the source of inspiration for all of us. I am very lucky and feeling proud that I am also the part of Tele Health. Good Luck.

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  • Dr. Muzammil Irshad
    Dec 28, 2011 - 12:50PM

    Well done by Dr. Junaid Razzak! EMS is the need of the time. A lot of medical students and even the trainees don’t know how to perform CPR! Emergency training and techniques are vital to be taught and learned!

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