PIMS employees protest for sixth consecutive day over govt’s decision of forming BoG

Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) employees, who were protesting at the hospital for the last five days against the government’s proposal for running the hospital through a board of governors, on Tuesday warned for holding a protest outside the parliament if the authorities failed to accept their demands.

Addressing the protest held at outside the main Out Patient Department (OPD) of the hospital, Dr Asfandyar Khan, who is mainly leading the movement said that if the government remains stuck to its decision, they will move either toward the parliament or outside the press club to stage a sit-in, adding that their sit-in would continue until the fulfillment of their sole demand.

According to the available information, the incumbent government has been considering running the hospital through a board of governors which will have representation from parliament as well as health and finance experts. It will appoint a chief operating officer, who can be from outside the hospital, to run the affairs of the hospital.

The proposal was drafted by the federal government a few weeks ago. A source privy to the matter disclosed that basically the government planned to adopt the model in the capital as the same strategy was implemented in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the last regime. He added that the model yielded very successful results in the province due to which the government is adamant to impose this in the capital also.

“Please be well prepared. We may move to the parliament on Wednesday (today) and we are ready to bear each kind of loss for this cause,” Dr Asfandyar Khan addressed the participants.

The OPD department has not suffered due the strike as the protest is not continuous.

Dr Asfandyar said that the hospital employees can’t be pressurised by the management.

“The management exercised this practice many times in the past, but has failed in dividing us. We’re united and action against any employee will be considered action against all employees and government will face the consequences,” he recalled.

He said that PIMS has 4,000 employees and they will not tolerate any conspiracy against them. “All the staff including doctors and professors is in our favour. We can close the hospital because the privatisation of the hospital is unacceptable,” Dr Asfandyar claimed.

The last government of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) also attempted to merge Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Medical University with PIMS. Similar strikes were held by the employees at that time until the government ultimately was compelled to withdraw its decision.

The PML-N government agreed to declare the hospital a government institute and restore the status of its employees as that of civil servants.

Recalling that time, Dr Asfandyar said that now, PTI is going to make a board of governors that is tantamount to the previous government’s move.

No one in the authorities concerned approached the protesters to negotiate over the issue. Health Minister Aamer Mehmood Kiani remained unavailable for comment.

However, Prime Minister’s Adviser on Capital Development Authority Affairs Ali Awan who is also a Member of the National Assembly from Islamabad and who remained very active for playing a role in the overwhelming issues of the capital, told Daily Times that holding a peaceful protest is the fundamental right of each citizen of the country.

Published in Daily Times, February 20th 2019.

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