LAHORE: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar has directed the federal and provincial governments to submit their replies about AIDS control programme in Jalalpur Jattan area of Gujrat during hearing at Lahore registry on Thursday.

A three-member bench, led by CJP Nisar, passed the order in a suo motu notice on increasing number of AIDS patients in the area.

The top judge stressed, “HIV/AIDS should be treated as a disease rather than a stigma.”

A former executive officer of Gujrat appeared before the bench and revealed that “53 cases of HIV had been reported in Jalalpur Jattan among them were 47 women and six children”.

He cited an official inquiry according to which two HIV positive expatriates from South Africa had returned to the area after being deported from there in 1993.

The CJP observed that this non-communicable disease [AIDS] is a national issue which should be heard at Islamabad seat with the appearance of federal and provincial authorities.

The top judge also summoned secretaries’ health of the federal and provincial governments as well as the non-governmental organisations (NGO) working on the prevention programme.

Nisar expressed serious concerns over the increasing number of patients, lamenting that the authorities had no statistics despite that such patients are present all over the country.

Drug-fuelled HIV surge raises concerns at AIDS meeting

During the proceedings, Punjab Healthcare Commission’s Chief Operating Officer Dr Ajmal Khan also informed the court that no valid data about the HIV patients was available with the governments and said that unclean blood transfusion was the main reason.

A federal law officer informed that AIDS control programme was being run in the country and the NGOs were also working on it in order.

After hearing the arguments of the officials, the CJP sought replies from the federal and provincial governments, with directions to the authorities concerned not to deal with the disease as stigma but treat it as a disease.

Countering quacks

Taking up the issue of quacks, the top court got an administrator of a rehabilitation centre arrested and ordered police to register a criminal case against him.

COO Dr Khan said Amir Chishti Clinic is “established as rehabilitation centre” but the addicts admitted to the centre are subjected to violence.

He also showed the bench a video of torture, saying that the clinic had centers in Lahore, Shiekhupura, and Faisalabad.

Experts show concern over rising number of patients

“Over 300 alleged addicts had been kept there in the centre of Lahore,” said Dr Khan. He added no qualified doctor was available at these centres.

Police produced Imran Chishti, the administrator of the centre, before the court who could not say even a single word in his defence when he was asked by the bench about the situation at rehabilitation centres under his nose.

The CJP directed Advocate General Punjab Imtiaz Rasheed Siddiqui and Additional Advocate General Shan Gull to personally visit the rehabilitation centers and shift the addicts to Darul Aman.