February 11th, 2008 by Shakir Lakhani

I have observed some cases of people being affected by black magic who were later cured by modern medicine. When I was a boy of six, we had a woman servant who would suddenly become unconscious and fall to the floor. She was convinced that she was affected by black magic and only so-called faith healers or “amils” could cure her. She must’ve spent a fortune without being cured. My mother finally took her to our family physician, who gave her pills for hypertension. The fainting fits ceased, and although she had to continue taking the tablets for a long time, she never fainted again. Another case concerned a distant male relative who had severe stomach pains. No one was able to diagnose his illness (this happened in 1960). Fortunately someone suggested a psychiatrist who had recently returned from the U.S. It turned out that the man was suffering from a severe form of depression (about ten to fifteen percent of people in Pakistan are victims of this disease).

In the nineteen eighties I had a worker whose wife always gave birth to boys who would die a few days after birth. Again, black magic was blamed, “amils” were consulted but the woman continued giving birth to boys who couldn’t live more than a couple of weeks after birth. One day, I asked him why he didn’t take his wife to a hospital for treatment. He scoffed at the idea. “These doctors don’t know anything about such things.” When I pointed out to him that women in the city were not affected by black magic and gave birth to normal children (except in rare cases), he said he would talk to his wife about it. Unfortunately the women in his family strongly resisted the idea of being treated by modern medicine, and so the poor chap never became the father of a boy. And that is Pakistan’s tragedy. In a country where even educated people believe in black magic, how can you expect the illiterate ones to listen to reason?