Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid has informed the Supreme Court that the Pakistan Kidney and Liver Institute (PKLI) would start conducting paediatric liver transplants within the next six months.
The minister informed the country’s top court on Saturday that the doctors had assured the government that the institute would be able to carry out the first paediatric liver transplant in the public sector by June. She and the chief minister had visited the institute and held a detailed meeting with the doctors.
A two-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, was hearing a case regarding alleged irregularities at the PKLI and the possibility of conducting paediatric liver transplant.
The health minister further stated that the draft of new legislation to govern the institute had been approved by the provincial cabinet and forwarded to the chief minister. She said the legislation bill would be presented in the assembly after the approval by the chief minister.
The new law would abolish the PKLI trust and the government would run it through board of governors (BoG), she added.
Lawyer Zafar Iqbal Kalanuri objected on the composition of the BoG, arguing that the government wanted to bring old people back into the institute. Dr Rashid dispelled the impression, saying it was just an assumption that was incorrect. She undertook that no official from the previous set-up would be included in the BoG.
At one point, CJP Nisar took notice of a negative campaign against Dr Rashid in light of harsh remarks of the court regarding her work. The CJP said the remarks of the court had been misconstrued.
The CJP told Dr Rashid that he was personally very happy when she was given the portfolio of health minister. The minister said the opposition was demanding her resignation in the provincial assembly. The CJP asked her not to worry about criticism, saying who else could face criticism more than he had experienced. He said he would not let the minister resign.
Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) Director General Hussain Asghar submitted an inquiry report on PKLI, stating that the project was to be completed by December 2017 but was still under construction. He said government officials were involved in misappropriation of funds and a detailed investigation could be held after registration of a case. The DG pointed out that no action had been taken against the contractors for delaying the project.
Representing the previous PKLI management, Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan objected to the fairness of the ACE report. He said the document was mainly based on a forensic audit report that itself had factual mistakes.
He also requested the bench to stop the ACE from lodging an FIR till submission of a reply to the report. “The FIR carries a big stigma,” he added.
The bench did not pass any restraining order to this effect, but directed ACE not to cause any illegal arrest in the case. The bench also directed Ahsan and other counsel of the PKLI’s old management to submit their replies on the report by January 16. The next hearing will be held in Islamabad.