ABBOTABAD: The Peshawar High Court’s (PHC) Abbottabad bench on Thursday reinstated two lady health workers (LHWs) who were sacked with 15 other colleagues for allegedly assisting Dr Shakil Afridi during his suspected collusion with the CIA to trace Osama bin Laden.
A division bench of the PHC ordered the two LHWs be granted all benefits they are entitled to since the day of their termination. According to Sultan Ahmed Jamshed, counsel for LHWs Bakht Bibi and Amina, the provincial health department had sacked 17 LHWs on February 12, 2012.
He said they were charged by health authorities for assisting Dr Afridi – presently incarcerated for another crime – in a fake vaccination campaign conducted at the CIA’s behest to collect blood samples of children from Osama’s residence in Abbottabad’s Bilal Town. Osama was later killed in a cross-border raid by US forces on the night of May 1 and 2, 2011.
Some of the sacked LHWs were grilled by authorities but continued to deny knowledge of Osama’s presence or collecting the blood samples from his residence. They accused district health authorities of punishing them for a crime they never committed.
Seeking reinstatement, they filed a writ petition on April 16, 2012 challenging their sacking at PHC’s Abbottabad bench and were reinstated in March 2013. Following the court’s decision in their favour, the director general of health issued a notification regarding their reinstatement. Only Bakht Bibi, alias Bakhto, and Amina – who were dubbed as the principal accused for collecting the samples by directly participating in the drive – were not reinstated. They again moved the court through a writ review petition after which a division bench comprising Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth and Justice Irshad Qaiser ordered their reinstatement with due benefits.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 7th, 2014.