ISLAMABAD: After being rocked by another scandal, the management of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) has decided to initiate an inquiry into allegations that its ambulances were being used to smuggle flour from Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) to Rawalpindi.
However, Pims Joint Executive Director (JED) Chaudhry Waris Ali Raza said flour bags were shifted from a truck into an ambulance for a few minutes in Azad Kashmir and later unloaded.
“But some miscreants made pictures of the flour bags in the ambulance and made them viral on social media,” he added.
He said the ambulance belonged to the Isolation Hospital and Infections Treatment Centre (IHITC), which is run by Pims. He expressed the hope that it would be proved that the hospital’s staff was not involved in flour smuggling.
According to a letter available with Dawn, Deputy Executive Director Dr Aneeza Jaleel would inquire the alleged misuse of Pims ambulance.
Hospital’s ambulances being used to smuggle flour bags; deputy executive director to probe allegation
“You are hereby directed to inquire the matter within 24 hours and submit report to the worthy Executive Director (ED) Pims [Dr Imran Sikandar],” the letter stated.
An official of the hospital, requesting not to be quoted, said ambulances of the hospital were being used in flour smuggling.
“They take patients to Azad Kashmir and while returning load subsidised flour in the ambulances. As ambulances are not stopped at any checkpost, flour is easily brought to Rawalpindi and sold in the market,” he said.
“The ambulance of Pims was near Chunar Hospital Dhirkot AJK and flour was being loaded into it from a truck. The matter was brought into knowledge of the ED and he directed to hold an inquiry,” he said.
“It is unfortunate that ambulances are not provided to residents of the federal capital for shifting patients and dead bodies within the city but an ambulance of the hospital was found in AJK filled with bags of flour. It seems there is a nexus of the hospital management and the ministry due to which no one takes notice and even if notice is taken the inquiry never reaches its logical end,” the official said.
It may be noted that on February 27, a vendor hired by the Pims administration to incinerate medical waste on the hospital premises was found involved in the sale of the infectious material such as discarded syringes and blood bags in cahoots with hospital employees.
On March 1, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif took notice of the matter and directed an independent inquiry - instead of an internal inquiry - and sought a report within two days.
Later, the National Assembly Standing Committee on National Health Services also took notice of the sale of infectious waste by the Pims employees and the vendor.
In April, the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) had also taken suo motu notice, but action could not be taken against the employees and the company till date.
Pims JED Waris Ali Raza, while talking to Dawn, said the mother of a female employee of IHITC located in Chak Shahzad and run by Pims was sick and permission was given to shift her to the AJK.
“The ambulance shifted the patient to the AJK. As a brother of the employee runs a shop in Dhirkot, he requested the driver to shift the flour bags to his shops as a truck hired for it had developed some faults. The bags were just loaded into the ambulance when these were unloaded after realising that it was unethical. However, some people made pictures and uploaded them on the social media. Though I have directed to hold an inquiry, I hope the findings of the inquiry will be the same as I have mentioned,” he said.
Published in Dawn, June 7th, 2023