The chaining, beating and threatening abuse of so-called ‘patients’ by a cleric in Haripur, according to a report, is criminal. Albeit the case rests on the controversial line between religious and logical reasoning for his practices, the manner in which this self-proclaimed rehabilitation expert treated patients is torturous. The situation is a reminder of the dire need for the state to moderate and keep checks on healthcare facilities to ascertain that they are being run in an honest, legitimate and effective manner — and, not to mention, free of torture.
State moderation of healthcare and rehabilitation facilities across the country must first and foremost require practitioners to hold the appropriate qualifications and certification. This policy must apply to teachers, psychologists, pharmacists, religious and scientific healers, among other types of professionals dealing with people’s lives. This is certainly not to discourage people from offering professional services but to ensure that they acquire the correct skill set and education to do so. Had the cleric been educated, he would know that the vomiting and quivering withdrawal symptoms his patients faced occur when a person is taken off a drug ‘cold turkey’. These patients, being addicts with altered brain chemistry and dependency on the drugs, do not fare well when the chemical or drug element is suddenly removed from their systems. Of course, the physiological phenomenon can be treated with psychological and behavioral techniques, as well as modern medicine.
What the cleric was running was practically a torture cell under the guise of an addiction treatment centre. He used the addicts as slaves, ordering them to work on various projects without financial compensation. Perhaps, the cleric is the one who needs to be assessed for psychopathological issues for his chaining of addicts. This is a claim that authorities need to take seriously, as they have already failed once in teaching this man a lesson the first time he was arrested in 2006. Instead of being banned for life from treating patients, he was acquitted and allowed to continue his practice. There needs to be a reasonable explanation for why the man was acquitted when he was wrongfully holding adults against their will — which, by definition, is kidnapping.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2014.
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