Doctors’ associations are hopeful that negotiations with the Punjab government will soon prove fruitful, people privy to the meetings told The Express Tribune on Friday.
Representatives of the Young Doctors Association (YDA) Punjab, the Medical Teachers Association (MTA) and the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) met with a government committee on Friday and finalised some “administrative issues”, according to a participant in the negotiations.
MNA Zahid Hamid represented the Punjab government.
Though cautious in their optimism, the doctors said, there had been some “positive developments” in the negotiations between the government and the YDA Punjab. Dr Abrar Ashraf Ali, the PMA Punjab general secretary, told The Tribune there has been some progress. Declining to divulge specific details, Ali said, “A breakthrough is likely in the next couple of meetings, if all goes well.”
He said all medical associations had agreed on the need for a new service structure, adding, that they were hopeful things will be worked out in the next meeting with Senator Ishaq Dar. Ali said they will meet with Dar “whenever he is available”.
A doctor told The Tribune that the government had agreed to demands that “do not involve any financial workup”. “It is willing to transfer the authority to grant ex-Pakistan leave to medical superintendents (MS) instead of the health secretary and to take steps towards decentralisation of power,” he said. The doctors, he said, wanted “the whole package” to be announced in one go. Without an agreement on the financial commitment related to a new service structure, nothing can be achieved, he said.
Some of the doctors had also met with Senator Ishaq Dar on Wednesday. The meeting had started at 9:30pm and continued till 1:30am. “The meeting with Senator Dar was very helpful,” said one doctor. Dar had assured doctors that all their demands, including a new service structure, would be met. However, on Thursday, the negotiations had hit a snag. One of the doctors remarked, “Whenever a politician chairs the meeting, things seem to move in a positive direction but whenever a bureaucrat starts negotiating, a standoff emerges.”
Hamid Butt, the YDA Punjab president, announced on Friday that doctors would continue their “peaceful protest”. “On Saturday (today) doctors will gather at the Punjab Dental College. We are monitoring every step the government takes,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 28th, 2012.