RAWALPINDI, Sept 19: The young doctors of the garrison city staged a demonstration on Wednesday to press the Punjab government to improve service structure and to end criminal charges against their colleagues in Lahore.
On the call of Young Doctors Association (YDA) Punjab, they gathered in front of Benazir Bhutto Hospital (BBH) in the morning and blocked the road. The protesters, carrying placards, chanted slogans against the provincial government and the Punjab Chief Minister for not taking their demands seriously.
The protesters blocked Benazir Bhutto Road for more than an hour after which they dispersed peacefully. But it choked traffic on the road, although the traffic police tried to control it, leaving motorists from Committee Chowk underpass to Naz Cinema Chowk stranded during this period.
While addressing the gathering, the speakers vowed to continue the protest till the acceptance of their demands. They demanded of the government to recognise the doctors’ demands and improve their service structure.
These demands include quashing of criminal charges against the doctors arrested during the strike in June, direct induction in BPS-18, and a health allowance of Rs10,000 per month for all doctors in the government hospitals.
While talking to Dawn, YDA Punjab Chairman Dr Mohammad Haroon said that the Lahore High Court had stopped the young doctors from observing a strike. The current protest was launched by doctors who were on weekly off, and hence had not violated the court’s order. He said the government, including the Punjab health department, was not taking the matter seriously and was deliberately delaying the issue till the general elections.
“But the YDA will continue to raise its voice for the doctors’ community. If the government did not improve the service structure, the doctors will leave the country for a better future,” he warned.
Dr Haroon held the Punjab Chief Minister responsible for poor healthcare in the province and alleged: “He (Shahbaz Sharif) is trying to privatise the government hospitals and not improving the service structure of the doctors”.
He said that the Chief Minister was acting on the tunes of the bureaucracy. “The YDA has called a meeting of general council in South Punjab next week to chalk out a future plan of action. The doctors will decide whether they will go on strike or stage a sit-in in front of the Punjab Chief Minister’s office in Lahore,” he said.