Transfer case: Punjab health minister dismisses allegations of ‘political victimisation’

Dr Rashid reviews construction of shelter home

Our Correspondent January 04, 2019

RAWALPINDI: Weeks after the daughter of prominent opposition leader Hanif Abbasi was transferred within a Rawalpindi hospital under alleged pressure from a provincial law minister, the Punjab health minister on Thursday came out and defended the move and dismissed any hint of political victimization.

While touring the Holy Family Hospital (HFH) in Rawalpindi on Thursday, Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid was asked by journalists about the episode where Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat had called up the Medical Superintendent (MS) of the Benazir Bhutto Hospital (BBH) Dr Tariq Masood Niazi and threatened him with dire consequences unless he did as was told.

In an audio recording of the call, which was leaked onto the internet and subsequently went viral, Basharat could be heard directing Dr Niazi to transfer Dr Areeba Abbasi, the daughter of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Hanif Abbasi — currently in jail in the ephedrine case, from her current department to the skin department.

After the recording of the call went viral, it drew protests from the Young Doctors Association (YDA) in Rawalpindi and PML-N workers of the city. Punjab Health Minister Dr Rashid, the Federal Health Minister Aamer Mahmood Kiani and even Prime Minister Imran Khan took notice of the incident and ordered a probe.

However, weeks after that incident, the matter seems to have been swept under the carpet.

When asked about progress on the inquiries on Thursday, Dr Rashid said that PM Imran has already said that Dr Niazi can continue working on merit and that she does not want to say anything further on that.

She went on to say that it was the prerogative of the hospital’s MS to transfer a doctor from department to another.

“Why is there talk of political victimization in this matter?” she asked, “Why would anyone target someone on a political basis?”

HFH facilities

During her visit, Dr Rashid interacted with the patients and heard their complaints.

Some patients and their attendants complained over the attitude of the contractor who handles charged parking at the hospital. At this, Dr Rashid directed the hospital’s administration to take action who imposed a Rs50,000 fine on the contractor. A patient complained about the misconduct of Emergency Department Ward Boy Imran. On the complaint, the hospital administration suspended the ward boy. 

Published in The Express Tribune, January 4th, 2019.


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