Behind the Curtains with Dr. Mansoor Baseer Pal

Behind the Curtains

Dr. Mansoor Baseer Pal 
The Most Feared Professor of KEMU
by Moeed Ahmed, Laiba Khalid and Taroob Latef

Chairperson of ENT (Unit I)

KEMC Graduate Class of 1981, FRCS (UK)
Senior Registrar Walsgrave Hospital UK
Assistant Professor Fatima Jinnah (1991-1999)
Professor AIMC (1999-2003)
Professor KEMU (2003-present)

Author of numerous published papers, Dr. Pal holds special interest in nasal and sinus surgery

Cynical on the outside but just as soft hearted on the inside, Dr. Pal was as forthright as one can be, evaded no questions and spoke fearlessly on every matter.

A renowned weight lifter and arm wrestler of his time with a thriving love for England, Dr. Pal’s face lights up every time he talks about his late father and wishes he had walked in his footsteps to pursue Physics as his career.


What are your hobbies? How do you like to spend a regular Sunday ?
Layt k cricket match dekhna aur late k adha sona adha jagna aur tv dekhna. But fail to do so 80% of the times because of guests, weddings, pending works etc.

Favorite actor?
None but there is a favorite actress that I won’t tell :P

Favorite drama?
Used to watch translated version of the Spanish drama Salvador, it was very interesting.

Was your marriage love or arranged?

What do you love most about your wife?
Alhamdulillah everything !

I have 2 daughters and a son. My son has done PHD in IT from London University and now he is a teacher in Oxford University. Wo kehta hai abba tu ki parha reya ai King Edward mein. My older daughter is on a scholarship in Lums studying Economics and choti wali abhe teer chali rahi hai har taraf. She wants to go to MIT.

Why did you come back to Pakistan from UK?
A very, very, very pinching question (he laughed).
When you are sailing two boats, it becomes extremely difficult to decide which boat to continue sailing and which to abandon. From 1991-1995, I was sometimes in Pakistan and sometimes in UK. I passed step 1 in 1982 just after MBBS but for Step 2, I needed money. No money! And I was stuck here! But I worked and earned for myself and with my own money and my parents’ dua, I went to England. But I guess it was not meant to be.

I won’t say that it was love for my country that made me come back 
because it will be a false statement. May be in the back of my mind or heart, 
there was some hidden love but I came back because my mother 
was alone and very ill and I was her only son. 
I personally believe I made a mistake.

I was stuck here for ten years. I tried two times to go back again but I wasn't successful.

Why do you think that you made a mistake?
You will only realize this when InshaAllah, you will go abroad and you will see the difference in the quality of work, the hours you work, the reward you get and the mental peace you have there. In this country, most of the time you are busy with things not required of a normal person e.g this is not functioning, this is disturbed, bills theek karao, ye karao. It is all nonsense.

Secondly, we have been trying for more than ten years now to develop this place but of no use. When you are working somewhere and things are not improving, you don’t feel like working there anymore.

The other reason is medical teaching. When you teach somebody and you don’t get the feedback you deserve, you feel unhappy. There is unhappiness in this country. Mostly everybody is unhappy. Are you happy? No. The only thing which keeps us here is that may be internally you find satisfaction about working for your institution. But it’s a very depressive environment, very depressive.

Why did you become a doctor?
Another very burning issue! My father MashAllah was highly educated. He was PhD from Princeton University, New Jersey and was teaching at Punjab University as Professor of Physics.

Einstein was my father’s Professor !!

I was very good in Physics because it was the subject of home. It was difficult for me to decide what to do. When your parents are in an age where they are mostly unwell and you are still studying, the child has to do certain things and finish them quickly. He cannot keep planning because he looks at his parents and he sees that his support system is not going to last for long.

My mother was very keen that I should become doctor because my khala, khalu and another khalu were all doctors and graduates of KE and more well-off than my father although my father was much more educated than all of them.

This is the problem of this country. 
Educated people are in trouble. 
Less educated are flourishing. 
Fraud people are flourishing. 
Straightforward people are dying.

I listened to my mother. May be after few years, I realize that she was correct but till now, I think she was incorrect.

In my opinion being a doctor is not a very good profession
 if you want to flourish, unless you are mentally a businessman! 
If you are a professional medical doctor, you cannot earn much
 but if you are a business minded doctor, you will earn a lot.

If you were not a doctor?
My father insisted, very rightly probably at that time that you should do physics and go to America. I think he was right because he knew the way of going about it. If somebody had sent me to America with a “brain of little less quality”, maybe I would have done better. Lekin Allah behter jaanta hai. Ho sakta hai mai fail ho jata.

Why ENT?
Another very, very burning question (he laughed)

Zindagi mae aik cheez bari important hai is mulk mae. 
Wo hai sifarish. Agar ap kay paas sifarish nahin hai, 
phir baray masail hain. I wanted to go in eye 
from the very beginning.

Less operating time. Huge number of patients. Interesting subject. Immediate reward. A blind person comes with cataract. And leaves with sight. Wo sari zindage duayein dega. Eye was my pet subject. But I with no money got a job of Medical Office in child psychiatry. Wo bhi larai ho gai :P
I was with Prof Zafar Haider (MS) in 1983 one day, wo Khawaja Azeem Sahb ko mera haath pakar kay kehtay hain, ‘This is the professor of this institute in future.’ I said, ‘Hain? Maine bahir jana hai sir. Mai ithay ni raina.’Pata nai uski baddua ya dua lag gai :P

I went to paediatrics for a while and left. Leaving paeds was also a mistake. But I remained crazy for eye.

Zafar Haider Sahb said to Prof of ENT one day, ‘Ye bara acha bacha hai. 
Is ko le jayen.’’ I came to ENT for three months. Wo din aur aj ka din. 
Jo yahan hai wo ap ko milna hai (he placed his finger on his palm)
You cannot fight your fate. May be it was a good thing for me. 
Maybe, I wouldn’t have been good at eye. I don’t know.

Do you think ENT is a good profession for girls?
If they are very keen to make money, then may be gynae & obs is a better profession.

But if they are keen to have a relatively relaxing life 
and better chance of promotion, then it is a good subject. 
I was in England, mein betha hun, gynae walay arai hain, 
orthopedics walay arai hain, phir phajji ja rai hain phajji arai hain,
 ENT walay araam se bethay hain. 
Money is same. Quality of life is same.

Internationally, ENT is at a very high level. Achay mulkon mein tu apko ENT mein aise job nai milnay wali. Here however, ENT is getting low and low. 

Would you ever like to be VC?
Never, mein is kaabil he nai. Never!!!

My father used to receive a letter every three years from his university stating that these are 2-3 candidates who want to be elected as Vice Chancellor. These are their details. Who would you vote for? All alumni used to get such letters. Internationally, Vice Chancellors of all good universities are elected by alumni. Yahan pe agar teen banday kharay hotay aur un mein se aik Arshad Cheema hotay with all his credentials and abilities tu kis ne select hona tha? (At this, other Assistant Professors sitting by him echoed Arshad Cheema!).

When we came to KE we used to hear about Mumtaz Hassan, Ghazala Musa and Arshad Cheema. Usk baad se koi nai. Ap ne kiska sunna hua hai? Koi nai hai ab.

What do you think about our cricket team playing in the world cup?
Theek hai bus aik do sifarishi ghussay huay hai. One being our opener, Motuuu! :P Na fielding karni ati hai, na batting. Do aur bhe hain. Selection committee he kharab hai. Aur usko select karnay wala bhe jo picture mein nai hai, jisko Imran Khan bari dafa point out kar chukka hai. Everyone is afraid, afraid of the game, afraid of the opponents.

We as a nation are fearful, including me.

Your say on Imran Khan?
As a person he is a very nice man. He has sincere feelings for his country. He can lead Pakistan to a good place but Imran Khan ka sath kis ne diya hai?
Ab Allah unko khush rakhay wo shadi shuda hogaye hain, pata nai kia chakkar hua hai, kia masla hua hai. Usk baad se khamoshi bhe agayi hai. Lekin yahan pe koi raula hua hai. Maulvi Fazl-ur-Rehman par gaya hai usay :P

Do you play any sports?
I am very bad at cricket but khelta zarur tha. I was very fond of kite flying, school se ana guddyan urana.

Ever got a supply?
Yes pharma! Our professor retired on the eve of our exam and left his AP in charge. He was a good man, meray friend bhe hain ab, meray patient bhe hain. Class unko tang kia karti the. Out of 200 sudents, 150 failed pharmacology that year including me. Like I said, imtehaan he nai hua tha na.

Did you ever mark proxy?
No, I never did. I hate such fraud from the start. My father was a very honest person; there was no concept of fraud in our house.

What about those students who mark proxy in your class?

Jootian maarnay ka dil krta hai. If you are absent then stay absent. What difference will it make? Was a student ever detained if he stayed absent for 10-15 days?  You do wrong for nothing.

Galat kaam kro koi bari achievement krni ha to, koi atom bomb bnana ha, ye kia chotay chotay fazool kaam hain.

Favorite color?

Favorite place to go on a vacation?
My second home England. My lovely England! (jera menu lift hi nai kranda :P)

Favorite restaurant in Lahore?
At different ages your favorite restaurants change. When you are single your liking is different. You can even enjoy at Gawalmandi. When you are married, you try to impress that someone special and go to better restaurants. At that time we used to go to Chinese restaurants mostly. When you have kids, you start thinking about what they will like, kabhi KFC chalay gaye kabhi McDonalds chalay gaye. Now they have grown up and have their own preferences aur saadi choice hi muk gayi ha.
Now the main thing is to restrict your diet. I am probably a psychological patient or something; I don’t want to go to restaurants that offer buffets. It disturbs me a lot. I don’t know why, maybe I am crazy. People outside are roaming hungry and you are eating 20 varieties of dishes. Do you like it? Think how much of it is wasted. You overeat, even throw away. You don’t like to donate 500-1000 to a mosque. You assume all beggars are professional, suppose someone is not professional, will you ever donate more than 500 Rs?

This reminds me of an incident. 7, 8 years back when I used to live in Muslim Town, I was standing outside my house when a young boy came to me and said: “Sir, I am very sorry, I have come from Karachi and I have lost my money. I am here to get admission in LUMS but I am short of this amount of money. Please help me.” What will you do? It was late night and the next morning was the last day for admission. What to do? Khair Allah ne dimag ma daala, I helped him. He said he was well off and will return the money as soon as he goes back to Karachi. That never happened. But 7 years later my daughter got scholarship from LUMS worth lakhs. Maybe it paid off!

When are you retiring? What are your plans after retirement?
I will retire on 18th July 2016. I am formulating some plans. Though none of the plans I made in life before ever succeeded. *laughs* I have a great idea in mind which is very difficult to implement. It has been my wish to do such work. I can’t disclose it. It is neither ENT related nor medical related. I don't want to do anything medical related, will continue to practice to earn a living but if I manage to implement my idea I may quit medicine too.

Are you looking forward to retirement?
Waiting for it. I would love to retire right now!

Best memories of KE as a student?
As a student, there are many. Student life is the best of all.

Best memories as a professor ?
I feel I was better off at AIMC. You should have some helping hands, money and administrators to develop the department you work in, which unfortunately is zero here.  In AIMC, the development is smooth. It would have been fun now that the principle is my friend Mehmood Shaukat.
But the working process and theatre were best at FJMC Ganga Ram. We regularly used to perform some major surgeries in the theatre there which we are not able to do here. Ear surgeries were very common. The biggest problem here is that the patient environment is very poor.
What do you want from life now?
Ye mulk theek hojaye. Imaan dari ajaye. 
Don’t know how it will come but it should come. 
If something happens to this country, every Pakistani anywhere
 in this whole world will be in trouble. 

So this country should survive and survive strong. Get rid of certain people jin se chutkara mushkil ha waisay. Everybody here wants to get everything using wrong means. Jb tak ye soch develop nahi hoti k ma ne dusray k liye sacrifice krna ha, jb tk ye soch develop nahi hoti k ye uska right ha mera right nahi ha, tb tk koi tabdeeli nahi aye gi.


Where did the “chai pio gey” phrase originate from?
When a student comes in for viva and the external starts asking certain questions, mein tu sawaal he nai karta, I say this as a hint that you are making a big blunder !!! Chai k sath biscuit kha len, apko koi hosh aye.

It is famous among students that if you offer tea it means: beware and if you offer biscuits later with it, it means: you failed?
Bilkul theek samjhen hain students. All I mean is “Sudhar jao”. Sudhartay kyun nai?

Prof Akhtar Khan was a principal here; he was professor of Medicine, 
un ka aik sonay ka daant tha. Un k baray mein mashoor that k unka 
agar koi sonay ka daant dekh le tu wo fail hojata hai because the teeth 
only showed when he smiled and he smiled only when a 
student gave a wrong answer.

You often ask movie and match trivia in vivas?
I do, just to relax the mood. Students look so tense as if there is a ghost in here.

Are you aware how terrified students are of you?
I don’t know what the reason is, but I would like to know from the students why they are terrified. (Feel free to comment below :P) My children also say that I am very terrifying but I don’t think that I am. Aj tak fourth year mae terrifying baat kia hui hai? Ap ko goli maar di hai?

Everyone says that ENT is the most terrifying subject of five years and any students can fail. The word of supply always comes to mind with ENT. 

Acha sochain ge, acha ho ga. Bura socho ge, bura ho ga. It’s a natural formula. Ap ko aik cheez khatarnaak lag rahi hai. Ap usay khauf se daikhtay rahain ge aur dartay rahain ge!

If students are terrified or afraid of me
tu Allah ki mere pe bari rehmat hai k meray kuch kiye
begair he log mere se dartay hain

Don’t you think that because of such terror, your relationship with students is not too good?
I don’t think so. Relationship of students with other teachers is also not good. The student to student, student to teacher, student to junior and student to senior interaction of KE students is quite bad. If I meet a student or colleague of KE, he doesn’t meet me as nicely as a student or colleague of Allama Iqbal does. Allama Iqbal students are good with each other. Nishtarians are very good with each other. But Kemcolians… Apnay apko dekh lo. Tussi keray khush rainday o apas mae!

Ye pichlay dus saalon se ENT Unit I and II theek chal rai hain. 
Warna is se pehlay I and II were like this *dishum dishum* 
Abhe bhe agar puch len tu upar se mil k rehtay hain,
 thallay walay abhe bhe nai theek.      

What are your criteria to fail a student?
First criteria: What is written on the card he brings along? Is he regular or irregular?
Second criteria: Uski shakal meine kabhi dekhi hui hai k nai dekhi?
Third criteria: ENT ki basic cheezein apko ani chahye. You should know what is tonsil, what is nose and what is ear.

Any piece of advice to the upcoming fourth year?
Firstly don’t listen too much to your seniors. They may unintentionally misguide you. Secondly, the notes circulating under my name are not written by me. Thirdly, ap log bilkul he book se parh k ajatay hain, lecture sunna karen for example indications of tonsillectomy book wali sunana shuru kar detay hain mujay. Class mein jab apko parhaya hai tu phir kya masla hai. Ent is such an easy subject jisko ap ne mushkil banaya hua hai.

Any favorite student?
Throughout my tenure, aik he larki ayi the jisko meine khud, apnay hath se distinction di the. Although there was a Professor’s child in her class too but I gave her a distinction. Bus wo aik he nazar ayi the. She was brilliant. Lekin utna brilliant ap sab ko hona zaruri nai  hai.

Sir name?
Meinu nai yaad!!

Do students with higher contacts press you for better marks?
Many ! Every year. But the deserving students never get less marks than them. No question about it. And if others are failing at their level, we pass them too. And then the overall result gets better. There were 62 expected supplies this year but we gave grace marks to pass the majority. Everybody passes the written exam, you know the pattern very well, and it’s not very hard. MBBS is very easy provided you keep a system in mind while studying. You fail only if there is some mishap, sickness or you make a blunder during the viva, it’s easy otherwise.

What do you think about our examination system?
I believe teachers have reduced their own worth. Cursed is that teaching jahan ap students se dar k marks de dein, 17 18 distinctions de dein.

Our teachers used to say 95% result aya hai tu imtehaan koi nai hua,
 agar 30% result aya hai tu imtehaan phir bhe koi nai hua kyunk wo revenge liya gaya hai. 
Genuine imtehaan, genuine honay chahye. 
Genuine imtehaan pe students agar ghabratay 
hain tu wo mera tu koi masla nai hai.

Agar ap chahtay hain hum ghora, gadha barabar kar den tu jis din mein retire hojaun mere pichay ghora gadha barabar kr dena, I don’t care.

While I am sitting on the seat of making decisions, I will do right by it.

One thing you would like to change in our examination and teaching system?
Teacher and students both should be sincere.

Hmari cricket team ko sab gaalian nikaal rai hai, kya waja hai. Bayemaan ghussay huay hain. Aik player ko agar pata hai that he is not fit for this big match, he should quit! Emaandaari ajaye ge. Team theek hojaye ge.

Ap log kehtay hain wo bohat bura hai, us ne supply laga di. Think why is he doing that? Wo kya chahta hai? Wo chahta hai ap emaandaar hojayen. Students from here are flourishing abroad. Why? Because they learn to be sincere and hard working.

To develop a university, to quote Arshad Cheema’s word, we should have a proper research unit where we clinicians don’t fit. It should have a proper research team and a Professor specializing in this field. And they should be well paid. Secondly a number of good students from fourth and final year should be given the opportunity of doing internships abroad on the university’s expenses.

Mujay ap logon ne khatarnaak banda banaye hua hai, mein tu bohat bura banda hun na, mein asal me ye chahta hun! Ye koi bhe nai chahta yahan. Yahan MS bana rai hain, wo kaun karnay aye ga. Apko option diya jaye to give America’s exam or to do MS in KE? Which would you pick? Wo cheez kyun bana rai hain jahan us institution k bachay anay k lye nai tyar.

Difference between the students of KE and other colleges?

Kemcolians are obviously better but boht zyada hogye han.
And it is unfortunate that after so much hard work done by them and us, most of them will quit.

So do you think quota system should be implemented?
It is the need of the hour. Girls-boys ratio should be 60:40. It will save the future which you cannot foresee now. Female doctors hardly ever opt for specialties other than Gynae, Derma or Peads. They think surgery is the job of male doctors only. If you won’t believe in yourself, how will the others believe in you? You continue to be scared. There are so many famous female surgeons. I’ll quote an example from home. My elder sister is a general surgeon and is probably more successful than many male surgeons. Female doctors usually don’t want to work. There are also examples of many male doctors expert in Gynae Obs. You can excel in any subject provided you are good at it.

Ending message?

Parya kro, mehnat karya kro ! You should not get depressed thinking that you will fail or pass. You have to prove that you are good. No one will fail you until you deserve it!

 Tarley minte kr k zindagi nai guzarni, mehnat se guzarni ha, kamyabi Allah ne deni ha. Fraud nai krna, chakar ni dena!!!


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