'Dirty politics' brought PKLI to grinding halt: PM Shehbaz

Published May 8, 2022
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif inaugurates the state-of-the-art Saleem Memorial Trust Hospital in Lahore on Sunday. — DawnNewsTV
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif inaugurates the state-of-the-art Saleem Memorial Trust Hospital in Lahore on Sunday. — DawnNewsTV

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday regretted what he described as the mismanagement of the Pakistan Kidney and Liver Institute (PKLI), saying "dirty politics" kept the facility non-operational for two years and brought it to a grinding halt.

He made the remarks while inaugurating the state-of-the-art Saleem Memorial Trust Hospital in Lahore. According to state broadcaster Radio Pakistan, the hospital will provide world-class medical treatment facilities to the poor and needy.

The premier said that PKLI was established on the same "analogy" and billions of rupees were invested in it. "I sincerely wanted it and still want it to become Pakistan's John Hopkins."

He asserted that it was a "world-class hospital" but lamented how it had been neglected by the PTI government.

"Without going into any kind of blame game, just because it was built under our watch, this hospital that was meant to serve thousands and thousands from all over Pakistan [...] eminent doctors physicians and surgeons came, but what happened after the government changed is a sorrowful tale. I am not here to tell that tale."

The premier went on to say that ultimately it was the people's money which was at stake. He said that the income left over after the divisible pool primarily went towards debt servicing and defence spending.

So if a hospital is made in Rs20 billion for treating cancer and conducting liver/kidney transplants and treating other diseases while experts are called from across the globe but ultimately chased away, who truly suffers, he asked.

He said that when he had inaugurated the PKLI in May 2018, five transplants had already been conducted. The prime minister also recalled how the wife of one of the patients had told him that her life had changed due to the free-of-cost treatment.

"This is not one story, there are hundreds of thousands of such stories and patients that were supposed to get treatment. But only politics and dirty politics kept the hospital non-operational for two years. It came to a grinding halt," he said, asking what could be a bigger travesty for the poor.

PM Shehbaz said that when the PML-N came into power in 2008 and he was made the Punjab chief minister, he made sure to expand the scope of Rescue 1122 — an initiative of Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid's (PML-Q) Chaudhry Parvez Elahi.

"It was such a great initiative that I expanded it to the whole province. Because it was not [about] Parvez Elahi, it was about patients in this country and serving the common man in this country. It's about that."

He went on to say that if politicians "corrected their direction" and focused on the nation's welfare, personal issues could be laid to rest. "But for this you need to have a big heart. We will have to rise above our likes and dislikes."

PM Shehbaz also paid tribute to all those involved in establishing the hospital which millions of patients would benefit from in the future.

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