QUETTA: Doctors across Balochistan on Saturday announced suspension of their services in all government-run hospitals as part of an ongoing protest for the recovery of senior cardiologist Dr. Manaf Tareen, who was kidnapped earlier this year.
Armed gunmen had picked up Dr. Tareen on Sept 17 from Pishin Stop area, located in a high security zone in the provincial capital. Law enforcers are still clueless about the whereabouts of the kidnapped doctor.
Doctor Haq Dad Tareen, a senior member of the Pakistan Medical Association, told Dawn.com that doctors would only be treating patients in emergencies and they would not treat the out-door patients.
Patients remained the worst sufferers of the strike.
“I have been waiting since morning but there is no doctor,” said Muhammad Nabi, who had brought his ailing wife for treatment from Pishin district.
People are dependent on Civil Hospital and Bolan Medical Complex Hospital in terms of medical treatment.
Hundreds of patients were forced to go back home in frustration after wait hours outside the OPDs of Civil Hospital as no doctor was available to treat them. Apart from Balochistan, patients from parts of volatile southern Afghanistan also come to Quetta for treatment.
“I have brought my children for treatment after paying fares for rickshaw but there is no doctor in sight,” said another patient.
Even some patients believed that the demands of the doctors were genuine. However, the patients were of the view that protesting doctors should not punish the poor patients for the wrong doings of the government.
“The government must protect doctors, but doctors should not punish us,” said one patient.
Doctors have been protesting against the kidnapping of their senior colleague for almost two months to press the authorities to rein in the kidnappers. The PMA has also established a hunger strike camp at the Civil Hospital as part of their protest.
“Government's silence over kidnapping of doctors has forced us to take this extreme step,” Dr. Tareen said while justifying the suspension of services.
Incidents of kidnapping for ransom are on the rise in the troubled province.
According to statistics provided by the PMA, more than 100 doctors and professors have left Balochistan owing to threats to their lives. Similarly, around 20 doctors have been killed in different incidents of targeted shootings and explosions.
“We cannot perform our duties under these conditions,” said Tareen.