The health department has reinstated all 17 lady health workers (LHW) who were sacked on charges of aiding Dr Shakil Afridi in his CIA-sponsored task of capturing al Qaeda kingpin Osama bin Laden.
A notification issued by the office of DG Health on Thursday reinstated all 17 employees. Officials of the health department claimed their emoluments and salaries had been restored as well.
The sacked health professionals had pleaded not guilty and challenged their removal in front of the Peshawar High Court’s (PHC) Abbottabad bench. The bench, comprising Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Seth Waqar, had earlier found the women innocent and had ordered their reinstatement on March 14 this year.
According to charges framed against the LHWs by health authorities, the women allegedly participated in a fake vaccination drive aimed at tracing the al Qaeda chief, who was found and killed by US Navy SEALS in his Bilal Town hideout on May 2, 2011. The charges stated the health workers were helping Afridi, a CIA operative, collect blood samples of Osama’s grandchildren in order to track him with DNA tests.
The health authorities removed the LHWs from service on February 12, 2012. The health workers, some of whom were severely grilled by intelligence agencies, in turn accused district health authorities for punishing them for a crime they never committed and demanded reinstatement.
DHO Abbottabad Dr Zafeer was not available to comment.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 2nd, 2013.