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KP doctors call province-wide strike after police fail to lodge FIR against health minister

Updated May 15, 2019

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Patients wait for doctors to attend to them at Khyber Teaching Hospital on Wednesday. — Photo courtesy author
Patients wait for doctors to attend to them at Khyber Teaching Hospital on Wednesday. — Photo courtesy author

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Doctors Council (KPDC) announced on Wednesday a province-wide strike in all hospitals and private clinics after the police failed to register a first information report (FIR) against the provincial health minister Dr Hisham Inamullah Khan and his security guards for allegedly thrashing an assistant professor at the surgical ward.

"We will continue the strike until police register FIR against the health minister and his guards," Dr Siraj, a member of the KPDC, told DawnNews. He added that the decision was taken by the body during a meeting held earlier today.

"All doctors are on the same page [on this matter] and demand a fair inquiry," he said.

Yesterday, the doctors at the Khyber Teaching Hospital (KTH) called a strike after Dr Ziauddin Afridi, an assistant professor, was allegedly beaten by Hisham's guards. The doctors suspended services at all levels in protest and also blocked traffic on University Road near Town police station. During the protest, five doctors went inside the police station to lodge an FIR against the health minister but were physically assaulted, KPDC members said. Dr Farooq, another KPDC member, shared a video clip that showed doctors and police officers exchanging harsh words and pushing each other.

The doctors' body has warned that if the police fail to register an FIR of the incident by Thursday, doctors will not attend outpatient clinics and emergency services will be shut down as well.

The episode started on Tuesday when Dr Afridi gatecrashed a meeting being chaired by Prof Nausherwan Burki, who is a close relative of Prime Minister Imran Khan. The doctor attempted to share his grievances against the administration for not promoting him to the position of associate professor at Khyber Medical College. However, all of a sudden he threw eggs at Prof Burki and was subsequently taken out of the conference by police.

An hour later, the provincial health minister arrived at the hospital and held a meeting with the administration reportedly at the request of Prof Burki, who has been coming to Pakistan from the US every month to bring reforms in the health sector since 2013.

Dr Hisham then met the doctor and the two exchanged hot words and physical bouts and kicks. The health minister's guards immediately came into action and beat up the surgeon, who was then taken to the operating theatre for head and neck injuries.

An FIR was lodged against Dr Afridi and three others for throwing eggs at Dr Burki; however, so far no action has been taken against Dr Hisham. The health minister has maintained that he acted in "self defence". In a press conference, Dr Hisham said that he had gone to the hospital to apologise to Dr Burki and had confronted Dr Afridi for his actions. He alleged that Dr Afridi had a "sharp object" in his hands which prompted the health minister's guards to physically assault the KTH assistant professor.

Dr Afridi, on the other hand, said that Dr Hisham had used abusive language and ordered his guards to beat the surgeon.

Meanwhile, the chief minister took notice of the incident and ordered inquiry. Hospital administration later banned Dr Afridi from entering the Khyber Medical College.