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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) on Sunday urged the government to nominate a new ad hoc body of three or four persons of integrity and tasked it with holding an election in Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) within 60 days.

It also suggested that the new body should be authorised to manage only day-to-day affairs of the PMDC. It said the total strength of the council should be 35 members - 24 of them elected by doctors.

Last month, President Dr Arif Alvi promulgated an ordinance that dissolved the ad hoc committee which had been functioning for over a year. It was decided that a 17-member council would deal with issues related to medical colleges, attached hospitals and health professionals.

Says govt should nominate a new ad hoc body and task it with holding council’s election within 60 days

However, the ordinance will have to sail through parliament within 120 days. In case of delay the government will have to extend the ordinance for another 120 days by passing a resolution in the National Assembly. On the other hand, opposition parties can block the passage of the ordinance in the Senate where they have a majority.

PMA Secretary General Dr Qaisar Sajjad said the association was concerned about chaos and confusion prevailing in the PMDC that was badly affecting its working.

“According to the presidential ordinance, a 17-member handpicked council will be nominated to run the affairs of PMDC with unlimited powers. PMA has already rejected this ordinance. What we understand is that after promulgation of the ordinance the previous ad hoc committee headed by Justice Shakirullah Jan has ceased to exist. Since there is no new council in place, the PMDC seems to be in a limbo. This situation is absolutely not acceptable to PMA and doctors.”

He said the PMA had already written letters to the president and prime minister to withdraw the ordinance. Moreover, letters were also sent to heads of all political parties to support PMA’s stance.

“PMA, as a stakeholder, again demands that the ordinance should immediately be withdrawn as it will not be passed by both houses of parliament, thus there will be a new ad hoc committee and the musical chair game will go on,” Dr Sajjad said.

He demanded that a new ad hoc body of three to four persons of integrity should be constituted and given a timeframe of not more than 60 days to hold an election and manage day-to-day affairs of the council.

“The total strength of the council should be 35 members, majority of them (24) be elected by doctors representing public and private medical faculty, dental faculty and family physicians from all provinces.”

He said the tenure of the new council should be four years. Doctors want an autonomous, independent, honest, ethical and democratic PMDC, he said.

“All stakeholders, including political parties, should be taken into confidence so that the new ordinance is passed by both houses of parliament,” Dr Sajjad said.

Senator Raza Rabbani on the floor of the upper house on Jan 31 criticised the promulgation of the new ordinance without tabling the bill in parliament.

He said issues related to the PMDC should have been discussed in the Council of Common Interests. He alleged that the ordinance was a part of attempts to rollback the 18th Amendment.

Published in Dawn, February 11th, 2019