Protesting MNCH employees urge Shehbaz, Maryam to intervene

Published March 13, 2024
Employees of the Maternal New-born and Child Health programme stage a sit-in in the Chattar neighbourhood of Muzaffarabad on Tuesday. — Dawn
Employees of the Maternal New-born and Child Health programme stage a sit-in in the Chattar neighbourhood of Muzaffarabad on Tuesday. — Dawn

MUZAFFARABAD: The protesting employees of the Maternal New-born and Child Health (MNCH) programme on Tuesday called upon the prime minister of Pakistan and chief minister of Punjab to play their role in bringing their plight to an early end.

The employees, most of them women, have been on a sit-in in Chattar neighbourhood of Muzaffarabad, which houses almost all official buildings, since March 4.

Even though the green belt where they have camped themselves catches the attention of every person walking or driving past it, the employees regretted that no one from the government had bothered to contact them, “even on humanitarian grounds let alone as part of their responsibilities.”

“We have been hit by the impassivity and mercilessness of the ruling elite and this amounts to rubbing salt into our wounds,” said Ansa Javed, an employee from Rawalakot.

As Tuesday – the first day of the holy month of fasting – was a sunny day, heralding the advent of summery weather, many female protesters squatted on the ground under their small sun-umbrellas to beat the heat.

“We have been gathering here on a daily basis since last Monday in a bid to shake the conscience of the public office holders and senior bureaucrats who daily drive past us in their luxurious vehicles, but to no avail,” commented an MCH technician belonging to Kotli, who identified herself by her first name Sadaf.

The protesting employees called upon the media to convey their plight to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif as well as to Punjab Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz.

“Ours was a federal government funded programme, but after its transfer to provinces the AJK government backed out of its commitment to regularise us. PM Shehbaz Sharif should seek an explanation from the AJK government in this regard,” said Maria Wasim, one of the employees.

“If they have money for their luxuries, why not for us?”

Intervening, Ms Afshan, an employee from Jhelum valley, said: “While our rulers cannot spare time to visit our camp from their nearby offices, Ms Maryam may come all the way from Lahore to listen to us because she is a kind-hearted lady.”

She said since Ms Nawaz was also the chief organiser of PML-N, which was a coalition partner in AJK, she should direct the AJK cabinet members from her party to play a role in addressing the issue of MNCH employees.

Published in Dawn, March 13th, 2024

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