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RAWALPINDI: The Punjab government has ordered an inquiry into the resignation of Dr Areeba Abbasi from the post of medical officer at Benazir Bhutto Hospital (BBH) after her request to transfer to another department in the hospital was denied.

Dr Mohammad Umar, vice chancellor at the Rawalpindi Medical University (RMU), has been appointed to the inquiry, which was ordered by Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid.

In her resignation to the health secretary Dr Abbasi, daughter of imprisoned PML-N leader Hanif Abbasi, said she had been working as a medical officer at BBH since September last year. She said she had been transferred from one ward to another in the last five months, and when she asked the medical superintendent to transfer her to the dermatology ward she was refused.

According to sources, the inquiry has been ordered into a controversy involving BBH medical superintendent Dr Tariq Niazi and Punjab Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs Raja Basharat.

According to a telephone conversation – a recording of which went viral on Sunday – Mr Basharat called Dr Niazi and asked him to accommodate Dr Abbasi in her request.

When Dr Niazi refused to do so, Mr Basharat allegedly threatened the medical superintendent for disobeying his orders.

In her resignation, Dr Abbasi said the medical superintendent’s behaviour had forced her to resign, claiming he was an active member of the governing PTI and targeting her for political reasons.

She said: “I can’t work in the same facility as [the medical superintendent] so I have had to resign.”

Dr Abbasi joined the hospital in 2017, and was assigned to the emergency department for two months. She was then transferred for pathology, where she remained for three months, and then to the dermatology department.

She was then transferred to the emergency department, and asked to be reappointed to the dermatology department.

Mr Basharat could not be reached for comment on his conversation with the BBH medical superintendent.

Sources in his family said the minister always tries to accommodate people who seek his help and address their problems by speaking with the concerned officials.

The Punjab health minister has taken notice of the matter and asked the RMU vice chancellor to inquire into the matter and report to her.

She has also urged health department officials to inform her of cases of political interference in their official work.

Published in Dawn, December 18th, 2018

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