LAHORE: Punjab Minister for Health Dr Yasmin Rashid on Saturday told the Supreme Court that the Pakistan Kidney and Liver Institute (PKLI) would start conducting paediatric liver transplant within six months.
The minister also informed a two-judge SC bench that the Punjab cabinet had approved a draft legislation to abolish the trust of the PKLI which would be run by the government through a board of governors (BoG) after its approval by the chief minister and the provincial assembly.
The bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, was hearing a matter regarding alleged irregularities at the PKLI and any possibility to conduct paediatric liver transplant at it.
Punjab cabinet approves draft legislation to abolish the institute’s trust and take over its management, says health minister
Dr Rashid said she along with the chief minister had recently visited the PKLI and had a detailed meeting with doctors over there. She said the doctors assured the government that the institute would be able to hold the first-ever paediatric liver transplant in the public sector by June.
Advocate Zafar Iqbal Kalanuri, however, raised objection to the composition of the BoG and said the government wanted to appoint certain officials at the institute to take control of its affairs.
However, the minister dispelled the impression and assured the court that no official from the previous government would be made part of the BoG.
At the hearing, the chief justice also took notice of a negative propaganda campaign being run in government circles against Dr Rashid in the light of harsh remarks of the court regarding her working. He said the remarks had been misconstrued.
“I was personally very happy when you were given the portfolio of health,” Chief Justice Nisar told
Dr Rashid and added that it was his wish to see a practising doctor run the health ministry.
CJP says he won’t let minister resign
The minister said the opposition parties in the provincial assembly had also demanded her resignation.
“You need not to be worried about criticism. Look at me, who else can face criticism more than I experienced,” CJP Nisar said while giving her assurance that he would not let her resign.
Meanwhile, Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) Director General Hussain Asghar submitted an inquiry report about the institute.
He said the project, which was supposed to be completed by December 2017, was still under construction. He said no action had been taken against the contractors for delaying the project.
He said some government officials were involved in misappropriation of funds and a detailed investigation could be held after registration of a case against them.
Representing the previous management of the institute, Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan objected to the fairness of the report. He said the ACE report was mainly based on a forensic audit report that itself carried grave factual mistakes.
He also requested the bench to stop the ACE from registration of an FIR till the submission of a reply to the report. “The FIR carries a big stigma,” he added.
The bench did not pass any restraining order to this effect but directed the ACE not to cause any illegal arrest in the case. The court also asked Barrister Ahsan and other counsel of the PKLI’s old management to submit their replies on the report by Jan 16.
Next hearing will be held at Islamabad.
Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2019