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KARACHI, Jan 10: The raid mounted by law-enforcement agencies on the house of a heart specialist on Thursday, in the dead of the night, has angered the community of doctors. The raiding officials were apparently looking for two suspects.

The doctors’ representatives held a press conference on Friday evening and demanded of the government to stop harassing them for “simply carrying out their duties”. They were of the view that these raids, often conducted at the behest of foreign powers, violated the norms of civilized societies.

The doctors who spoke at the press conference at the Karachi Press Club included Dr Shershah Syed of the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA), Prof Dr Ahmed Saeed of the Pakistan Islamic Medical Association (PIMA) and Dr Akmal Waheed, the person whose house was raided.

They said that according to the professional oath they had taken at the time of graduation, they were supposed to provide medical aid to all people, regardless of race, cast and religious beliefs. Their code of conduct required them to keep personal information of the patients under wraps.

“This is known as professional secrecy,” said Prof Ahmed Saeed. In case authorities thought that a doctor had violated certain laws of the country, correct legal process should be initiated against him.

“That is, if the government seeks ‘privilege information’ from doctors, who have sworn to keep personal information of the patients to themselves only, then it should follow the relevant laws. The doctors can be made approvers or witnesses as the case may be.

“But conducting raids, harassing women, these cannot be condoned,” Prof Saeed added.

Dr Shershah that said harassing a doctor and his family simply because he had treated somebody was not acceptable to the doctors’ community. “Same goes in case of paramedical staff.”

A number of doctors had left the country after a spate of killings. “These doctors wanted to serve the country but the killing of some of their colleagues, often deliberate, had made them leave the country,” said the PMA’s office-bearer.

In response to a question, Dr Shershah said: “I state categorically that the raids and arrests by Pakistani, American, French and British officials are totally unacceptable to doctors.”

Dr Akmal Waheed, who had especially come from Quetta to attend the press conference, said that a contingent of law-enforcement officials had raided his house at 2am on Thursday. At the time of the raid, he added, only women were inside the house.

Answering a question, he said that all the officials who went inside the house spoke Urdu. “However, there was a vehicle from which no one came out and from which these officials were apparently taking orders.”

In response to a question, he said that the raiding officials had found nothing incriminating from his house. “This is all the more embarrassing for the government.”

Dr Akmal said that he had gone to Afghanistan twice. Both the visits were humanitarian in nature.

Prof Saeed said his organization had carried out humanitarian work in Afghanistan and also in northern Pakistan where a large number of Afghan refugees were present.

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