KARACHI: The National Assembly has rejected the request of its member belonging to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Rashid Godil, for treatment abroad, citing an order of the prime minister issued in 1997, it emerged on Friday.
Mr Godil sustained five bullet wounds last month in Bahadurabad in a gun attack that left his driver dead. He was rushed to the Liaquat National Hospital where he was put on a ventilator for a few days before being treated by a team of doctors. He was discharged from the hospital last week.
Earlier on Aug 25, the lawmaker requested the National Assembly in writing to send him to another country for his treatment.
He received a reply from the National Assembly secretariat, dated September 10, saying that the policy for sending public representatives had been revoked following the prime minister’s order.
The secretariat reply, a copy of which has been obtained by Dawn, quoted the Prime Minister order that he had given during his previous tenure on February 22, 1997, but did not change its wording, which said ‘the existing policy will be revoked’.
“It is regretted to inform (you) that the then Prime Minister of Pakistan had been pleased to desire that the existing policy of arranging medical treatment abroad for public representatives or government officers at state expenses will be revoked forthwith and no exceptions are to be made in this regard,” said the letter.
It added: “Such requests will not be processed either by the ministry of health, Government of Pakistan, or by the provincial health departments vide PM’s directive dated 22nd February, 1997.”
The letter did not clarify as to why it referred to the prime minister’s 18-year-old order to reject Mr Godil’s request while until recently the government had been spending millions on the treatment of politicians and senior bureaucrats who went to hospitals in other countries.
In a petition filed in the Islamabad High Court in March, documents were submitted showing millions of rupees had been spent between 2006 and 2010 on the treatment of bureaucrats and politicians at state expense.
While it was claimed that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had imposed a ban on treatment abroad at the cost of the national exchequer, officials said there was no fresh order issued by the government to revoke the facility for lawmakers.
Sources said the request was made by the lawmaker apparently due to safety concerns rather than his treatment as he was told by a team of doctors that he was completely stable and would improve further with the passage of time. The sources said doctors at a hospital in Birmingham through a video conference also studied his case and were satisfied with his convalescence.
Doctors at the Liaquat National Hospital, where Mr Godil remained under treatment for 25 days, however, said he was not yet fit to travel abroad for a couple of months at least.
According to them, his right lung, which is working at its one-fifth potential, can be further damaged due to cabin pressure during a flight. But a state-of-the-art air ambulance could transport him to the United Kingdom or any other country, officials said, adding that Dubai was the nearest destination offering the air ambulance service that was very expensive.
A spokesman at the Liaquat National Hospital said Mr Godil visited the health facility on Friday for routine check-up.
Published in Dawn, September 19th, 2015