How could you realize it! Life is busy and time passes very fast. So do the ‘elders’, they don’t just pass they ‘pass away’. I am talking about the generation which is now over 80 years of age. There is special significance to this generation in the context of our country and that is why it is important to talk about it, and think about it, before they are all gone. As of 1 January 2018, the population of Pakistan was estimated to be 199,031,265 people. This is an increase of 2.10 percent (4,099,417 people) compared to population of194,931,848 the year before. In 2017 the natural increase was positive, as the number of births exceeded the number of deaths by 4,335,284. On the basis of this record the total surviving generation over 80 is just about 0.2 percent, as some of these must have passed off between the census and now. So the number of survivors is about 400,000, including me. I survived cancer in 2005 and with God’s blessings completed the National Art Gallery as a humble contribution. Who are these Super Seniors? These are your parents, or grandparents. You would know if they are sick or healthy, economically self-sufficient or with a begging bowl! Are they a burden or an asset? These questions are to be responded by the family. But not only by the family. The state must take responsibility as well. State must take responsibility for more than one reason. This is a reason accepted around the world because such persons made whatever contribution they could in their life time and any decent state looks after their physical, financial and other needs. The most important in the context of Pakistan. This is the last generation who were part of the struggle of the independence; made sacrifices, and saw the blood shed during migration. It is the remainder of the generation from which 14 million were displaced, 2 million were killed and an equal number was raped, and injured. This is the generation which bowed and kissed this land, licked the wounds and, with courage and little resources went forward to build a free country. This is the nation who saw and followed the Quaid e Azam. This is what makes this ‘last generation’ unique in the world. This is the generation which saw blood drenched trains, houses on fire and bodies on the streets. These are the people who shared whatever they had and tried to heal the wound and rehabilitate. Finally these are the people who are witnesses and can tell the whole story of the struggle and sacrifices made for independence. Remember many are already gone. Intizar Hussain, Hamid Akhter, Mehdi Hassan, NurJehan, Reshman, Hijab Imtiaz Ali, AR Chughtai, Syed Imtiaz Ali Taj, Hanif Ramey, Habib Jalib, Ustad Daman, Justice Shahabuddin, Cornellious and many other sensitive persons are already gone. God bless their souls.Several may go in this decade. We need to locate them, honour them, record them and give them a status and position of respectability. Their experiences are no ‘tales’, these are realities to learn from. It is the remainder of the generation from which 14 million were displaced, 2 million were killed and an equal number was raped, and injured. This is the generation which bowed and kissed this land, licked the wounds and, with courage and little resources went forward to build a free country This generation of Super Seniors has no voice. They are not political activists. They don’t have the energy. They can’t come to the politicians or civil servants to be heard and wait outside their door. This should not even be expected or required if the ‘nation’ the ‘state’ fulfills its responsibility. What is the responsibility of the 99.8 percent of the rest of the nation and their government running this State of Pakistan? There are claims of making a ‘welfare State’, there are claims of making a state like “Medina”. These are all good intentions and give some hope. But to fulfill these pledges, I suggest to form a committee of Seniors and Super seniors to analyse the needs of this ‘last generation’. Fulfill their needs on priority but also record their experiences. The good, and/or the bad, experiences during independence movement. All of these. Don’t just record the versions of the politicians of now and then. There was much more in life than the political experience. I have been asked to record my experiences by archive collectors the world over. But my experiences were limited to me as an individual. There are as many stories from as many individuals that are alive today. These stories are your heritage and history. Don’t lose it; these people will not be there for long to tell the tale. There are eye openers of evil deeds, but also eye opener of courage and bravery and respect for human lives and value of friendship. Some people without caring for the religious association risked their lives to protect the persons of other faiths. The experiences of minorities must be given special attention. To look after the various aspects of the Super Seniors I would like to suggest some steps that may be considered by the decision makers in the present government. There should be an organization/committee set up to determine the actual numbers of male/female survivors. a) Analysis be made of their status , needs and contributions to the country. b) System be devised to fulfill their financial, medical, housing needs, and to make them participate usefully in society. c) While some facilities exist in the form of National Savings investments, these should be upgraded for Super Seniors as soon as possible and preferably before the end of the year 2018. d) Super Seniors be allowed to take a reverse mortgage if they own a house and the banks should be given instructions accordingly. e) The distinguished Super Seniors should be consulted in decision making at different levels of government to benefit from their experience and maturity. f) Special health cards are issued which should enable them to seek medical help. If they are not satisfied by the government hospitals they should be provided the medical help of their choice at a contribution of 25 percent by the senior. g) If housing is not available to the seniors then adequate and clean senior housing be provided by the government with assisted housekeeping. h) Media and libraries should be instructed to contact such super seniors to record their experiences of independence struggle, migration and settlement. i) The off springs should be instructed to provide emotional and physical care as a religious duty and be made legally responsible. Incidently such laws exist in India. j) If some seniors possess any extraordinary skill, or art, then arrangements should be made to help them pass it on to interested students.This would mean scholarships to students. These are only a few suggestions but when a ‘Committee’ is formed then lot more can be listed by collective thinking. The basic idea is to bring the benefit of the experience to the nation and provide dignity and comfort to the Super Seniors. These Super Seniors are in a very a small number and to take effective steps the government does not need to look to IMF or World Bank! These are our ancestors and if we can’t provide for even such a small number then it is a matter of great shame. I have no doubt in my mind that it is only a political will that is required, NOT an aid. If the political will is there and the urgency is felt, all actions can be taken successfully. While I am trying to make a case for the Super Seniors because of their limited expectation of life span, I do feel that government also needs to rationalize and improve upon the existing assistance to all Senior Citizens because they have also done whatever they could and need support in their old age. I write with conviction but several times I feel that these words are falling on deaf ears. Writings appear on the pages of a worthy newspaper and, later, find room in the waste paper basket. Because, the decision makers, politicians, as well as civil servants,have little interest in public opinions. They have a casual look at the ‘headlines’ and the rest is of no interest. They are always in a ‘meeting’ and avoid public. Most of them attend to offices to be able to draw their salaries; only few try to make their salary a ‘rizqe halal’, by serving the community. I try and do my duty in response to my conscience and hope the readers will cooperate and play a part in whichever capacity they can. There is great power in collective action and this is the only way to make any headway. The action is needed NOW. Not after the last generation is gone, it will give them no satisfaction. The writer is Pakistani theatre, film and television actor, scholar, public speaker, columnist, teacher and dramatist Published in Daily Times, November 2nd 2018.