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Young doctors protest suspension of BBH medical superintendent

Updated February 12, 2019

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Doctors and paramedical staff raise slogans during their protest on Monday. — Online
Doctors and paramedical staff raise slogans during their protest on Monday. — Online

RAWALPINDI: Young doctors on Monday staged a protest sit-in against alleged political interference in the posting of the medical superintendent (MS) of Benazir Bhutto Hospital (BBH) and demanding reinstatement of Dr Tariq Masood Khan Niazi on the post.

The members of the Young Doctors’ Association (YDA) Rawalpindi chapter gathered in the library of the BBH and then staged the sit-in in front of hospital on Murree Road blocking traffic at 12:15pm.

The protesters were chanting slogans in favour of the former MS.

Though the Punjab government on Tuesday verbally announced to reinstate Dr Niazi on the post after a protest by the YDA Rawalpindi chapter, an official notification was yet to be issued.

Dr Niazi was suspended on Feb 4 after a telephonic conversation between him and Punjab law minister was leaked

Dr Tariq Masood Khan Niazi was suspended on February 4 after a telephone conversation between him and Punjab Law Minister Mohammad Basharat Raja held in Dec 2018 was leaked.

The conversation showed Dr Niazi refusing to follow an order from the minister to post Dr Areeba Abbasi, daughter of imprisoned PML-N leader Hanif Abbasi, to the department of her choice at the BBH.

After Dr Niazi’s suspension, Dr Samina Shaheen was given the additional charge of the MS besides her own duty.

A notification issued by the Punjab Specialised Healthcare and Medical Education Department said Dr Niazi was suspended with immediate effect on account of negligence and misconduct.

YDA Rawalpindi chapter president Dr Rana Azeem told Dawn that the doctors staged the protest against the suspension of Dr Niazi for refusing to obey the orders of the minister, who belongs to the PML-Q.

Dr Niazi had been offered two choices - posting as the principal medical officer at the BBH or MS in any other hospital across Punjab. But he reportedly turned down both the offers, Dr Azeem said.

The protesters were carrying posters and placards calling for the reinstatement of Dr Niazi as the medical superintendent of the BBH.

They also condemned the minister’s interference in posting of the MS. The protesters blocked the Murree Road for an hour and later dispersed peacefully.

Long queues of vehicles were seen on either side of the busy artery due to the protest sit-in. However, the city traffic police made diversions to facilitate the motorists and commuters.

The YDA president said the doctors would not accept the posting of Dr Niazi on any other position. He should be reinstated in his previous position of MS.

“Doctors are against political interference in hospital affairs,” he said, adding the government was setting an unprecedented example by interfering in transfers and postings.

He said a meeting of Young Doctors Association had been called in Lahore to chalk out a future strategy.

The representative body of doctors had given the deadline of Feb 11 for restoring the suspended MS and removing the Punjab law minister.

But their demands have not been accepted by the government so far.

Published in Dawn, February 12th, 2019