After 37 days of protest, the Young Doctors Association (YDA) Punjab called off its strike on Thursday, after several rounds of negotiation with senior Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) members.
Following directions from party leadership, senior PML-N lawmakers engaged with the doctors throughout Wednesday and, after tendering apology on behalf of the Punjab government, were able to convince the doctors to call off their strike, well-placed sources in the party told The Express Tribune.
The YDA had preliminarily announced on Thursday morning to call off their strike in hospital emergencies and, after a meeting of their representative delegation with Punjab Chief Minister (CM) Shahbaz Sharif at the CM secretariat, called off the strike completely.
The CM constituted a six-member committee to submit recommendations, within two weeks, regarding the raising of doctors’ salaries and the resolution of their other demands. The first meeting of the committee would be held on Friday.
Furthermore, all show-cause notices and termination letters served to various officials have also been withdrawn on the directions of the CM.
Sources within the PML-N said that party leader Mian Nawaz Sharif had given a 24-hour deadline to his brother and Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif and senior party leaders MNA Ahsan Iqbal and Senator Pervaiz Rashid to negotiate with the doctors and convince them to call off the strike. Meanwhile, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan had been appointed by Punjab CM to negotiate with YDA on his behalf.
Iqbal held two separate rounds of negotiations with YDA in Lahore. The first one, held at a private hotel, was unsuccessful, despite his tendering an apology on behalf of the Punjab government. The second meeting, held at the residence of, and with the support of a professor from Mayo Hospital Dr Arshad Cheema, was successful in making the doctors agree to call off their strike partially.
Simultaneously, Senator Rashid negotiated with YDA office-bearers in Rawalpindi.
Later, Sanaullah met with YDA Punjab delegation at Mian Aamir Mehmood’s residence and agreed to the withdrawal of show-cause notices and termination letters. He also arranged a meeting of YDA representatives with the CM.
Apologising on behalf of the Punjab government, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif constituted a six-member committee comprising senior adviser Sardar Zulfiqar Ali Khan Khosa, provincial law minister Rana Sanaullah Khan, Senator Pervaiz Rashid and three representatives of YDA. According to YDA President Hamid Butt, the doctors have assigned Dr Nasir Abbas of Children Hospital, Lahore, Dr Muhammad Haroon of Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Hospital, Rawalpindi and Dr Abobakar Gondal of Jinnah Hospital, Lahore to represent them.
According to Butt, the committee will discuss the salaries, pay protection and job structure of the doctors.Sources add that the CM has approved health entitlement for house officers and post-graduate resident doctors.
The results of the negotiations, if agreed upon by both parties, would be announced by the CM.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 8th, 2011.