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KARACHI, May 22: Hundreds of Jinnah Sindh Medical University (JSMU) students on Wednesday staged a demonstration and blocked traffic on the road outside the university premises for an hour while protesting against a strong-worded letter sent by the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) refusing house job facility to JSMU students.

Holding banners and placards inscribed with their demands, the students chanted slogans demanding that the JPMC hierarchy reverse its decision and “not play with our future”.

In its letter, dated May 21, a deputy director of the education and training section of the JPMC, addressed to the ‘principal and chairman academic council, Sindh Medical College, Karachi’ said: “There are no house job seats for Sindh Medical University students in the JPMC and the passed out candidates do not belong to the Sindh Medical University as endorsed by your good office.”

“However, there are seats for Dow Medical University students of Sindh Medical College and in future please contact the vice chancellor, Dow University for a formal request,” the letter stated.

It came as a sequel to the provincial government’s order granting affiliation of three teaching hospitals to the newly established JSMU. Apart from the JPMC, the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) and the National Institute of Child Health (NICH), Karachi, had been notified to be teaching hospitals for JSMU.

The Sindh caretaker government’s order had been taken as a panacea for the problems created by a flawed JSMU bill passed by the provincial assembly in February in which it failed to mention its teaching hospitals.

JSMU vice chancellor Prof Tariq Rafi termed the letter ‘unfortunate’ saying why should he, a VC himself, approach the VC of another university to furnish a request for house job. He said the change of university had nothing to do with granting of house jobs to the JSMU, an upgraded version of the SMC, as it happened in 2000 when the SMC came under the Dow University of Health Sciences from the University of Karachi.

“Same rule should apply now when we ourselves have attained the status of a university,” he told Dawn.

He said: “We have intimated the senior authorities about it and informed them that it has created immense anxiety among students, their parents and faculties.

“Before this letter, they (JPMC) suspended gynaecology classes for our students and we had to make alternative arrangements to cover the course.”

The government order to affiliate three teaching hospitals had ended the months-long anxiety among the faculties, 350 students comprising the first batch of the JSMU and their parents, who had been uncertain about the future of the university.

The saga pertaining to the possibility of the affiliation of the JSMU with the JPMC had caused concerns in the hospital hierarchy that had got a court stay order to stop the hospital from going to the provincial government in accordance with the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, passed two years ago.

A petitioner from the JPMC on Wednesday said it could offer house jobs to the SMC under the DUHS and not the JSMU.

The petitioner maintained in his claim that the chief minister’s order was a ‘violation of the court’s stay order’.

JSMU officials said of the 350 students, some 80 per cent were girls, whose parents would not have allowed them to go somewhere far from the campus for clinical practice given the worsening law and order situation in the city.

Experts said the Jinnah Sindh Medical University’s flawed law had, in fact, jeopardised the future of hundreds of students.

According to the legal document, no teaching hospital has been affiliated with the university where medical college students can take clinical training — a mandatory requirement to run a medical training institution under the Pakistan Medical Dental Council rules.

The JSMU Act 2013, passed by the Sindh Assembly in February, showed the medical college as the only constituent of the university despite the fact that the college itself was upgraded last year through an ordinance to set up a university.

An earlier Sindh medical university ordinance, which was later amended, clearly stated the JPMC, NICH and NICVD would be affiliated with the university.

The measure, the experts said, seemed to have been taken to allay concerns of the faculties that had challenged the hospitals’ devolution in court.

The experts added that the PMDC could cancel the college’s registration and de-regularise it if the medical college remained without a teaching hospital.