ISLAMABAD: Amid plans to appoint a serving army general as the head of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) for three years, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday barred the health ministry from appointing a ‘deputationist’ as the head of the state-run hospital.

The IHC direction paves the way for the promotion and appointment of Dr Rana Imran Sikander as a permanent executive director of Pims.

Currently, he is looking after the affairs of the hospital as a stopgap measure.

It is worth mentioning that some of the employees of Pims had approached the court for the appointment of a permanent head.

Justice Kiyani says no deputationist to be appointed as hospital’s executive director

Though the case was in court, the caretaker government last month decided to appoint serving officers of the Pakistan Army Medical Corps as the heads of the two largest state-run hospitals in Islamabad – Pims and Polyclinic.

A letter from the health ministry sent last month to the defence ministry said that the posts of the executive director in Pims and Polyclinic were vacant due to the unavailability of eligible officers from the feeding cadre for promotion to the ED.

“In order to ensure effective health care service delivery for the public at large in ICT, it has been desired to fill the posts on secondment basis from Pakistan Army Medical Corps as an interim arrangement,” it had added.

The move to bring army men to civilian hospitals raised many an eyebrow, with the Pakistan Medical Association vowing to resist the move. “We warn the health ministry to refrain from any such decision as it will be an insult to civil doctors. The ministry has made a deliberate attempt to defame the doctors and create differences between civil society and institution,” the statement issued in October added.

Against the backdrop of these events, Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani directed the health ministry not to appoint the ED Pims on deputation. “This court is of the view that till the appointment of executive director of Pims through CSB [Central Selection Board], no deputationist shall be appointed to the position of the executive director; therefore, the secretary of the Ministry of National Health Services is directed to submit a concise report on the next date of hearing qua process of appointment against the post…which could only be filled through Service Structure of Pims, provided under the Rules,” the IHC said.

According to a senior member official at Pims, the three most senior officers, including the acting ED, were promising candidates for the promotion: Dr Tariq of Burn Center, Dr Rana Imran Sikander, and Dr Mazhar Badshah are grade 20 employees currently working at the hospital.

“Dr Tariq is the most senior but there is a court direction that further responsibility cannot be given to him till decision of the court. Dr Rana Sikander is the second most senior officer and his case for the promotion in BPS-21 was sent to the Central Selection Board (CSB) but a meeting could not be held because of the IHC case. However, because of the IHC directions, a meeting of the CSB will be held soon and it will pave the way for Dr Sikander to become ED,” he claimed.

‘Missing vehicle’

Separately, an audit team reported a BRV-Honda car purchased in 2020-21 by the College of Medical Technology (CMT) for Rs3.4 million during a ban imposed by the finance division has remained missing.

“Neither was the vehicle purchased through Pims Transport Section nor was taken to the transport pool of Pims. No record i.e. log book and movement register was available either.”

The authorisation of the vehicle from the cabinet division was not acquired.

The audit documents said the purchase of a vehicle during the ban was a violation of the finance division guidelines and the misplacement of the vehicle was negligence on the part of the management.

It recommended that the matter be inquired besides fixing responsibility and regularisation of the expenditure.

When contacted, Dr Mubashir Daha claimed that the vehicle was recovered last week and had been placed in the transport pool.

Published in Dawn, November 21st, 2023

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