LAHORE: The two main opposition parties have reacted strongly to the torture and arrest of doctors in Quetta, saying the government’s bullying of medics, who have been demanding protective gear, is shameful.

“It is not justified to imprison doctors just because they were demanding protective gear and equipment,” PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said on Monday.

He said that at a time when doctors were needed in hospitals, they had been sent to jails. “The PTI government is violating human rights and arresting and torturing doctors, which is a condemnable act. Doctors are fighting coronavirus as a frontline force and the entire world is appreciating the services of doctors and paramedical staff in this hour of need, but in Pakistan, the government is sending them to jails.”

Mr Bhutto-Zardari said the PPP stood with the medics and saluted them for their services.

Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif also condemned the torture on doctors. “We don’t understand how the government can torture the medics, who are saving lives in these testing times,” he wondered and asked how the government planned to win the war against Covid-19 through such actions.

He directed his party to provide medical kits and other safety gear to the doctors, nurses and paramedical staff in Quetta.

Former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani also condemned the baton-charge on doctors. “It is a matter of deep concern that the administration acted in this brute manner on people who are in the vanguard of the fight against the virus. The doctors and the paramedics are putting their lives at risk without proper protective equipment.”

He said those responsible should be removed immediately and the Balochistan health minister should resign.

Published in Dawn, April 7th, 2020