PIMS protesters plan sit-in outside Parliament on Dec 31

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Islamabad : The Federal Grand Health Alliance (FGHA) will hold a sit-in outside the Parliament House on December 31 to win the support of parliamentarians for withdrawal of the Medical Teaching Institutions (MTI) Ordinance.

The sit-in will be preceded today (Wednesday) by formation of a human chain by protesting employees of the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), who will encircle the hospital premises to express their resolve to protect the pre-MTI status of PIMS. A day later on Thursday, demonstrations will be held in Islamabad’s various sectors to take the city’s residents into confidence regarding the reality of the “flawed and obnoxious legislation.”

“If the government does not accede to our demand by December 30—the day when the Senate session is scheduled—we will engage with parliamentarians a day later to mobilize support for protection of our rights as civil servants, for continuation of free medical services to poor patients, and for restoration of the pre-MTI status of the PIMS,” FGHA’s Chairman Dr. Asfandyar Khan stated while announcing the FGHA’s future strategy at a grand open-air seminar held at the PIMS protest ground on Tuesday.

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Addressing the protesters, the leader of Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao appreciated PIMS for being “the only institution in Pakistan” that has been providing free treatment to the poor. He criticized the government for trying to rob the underprivileged by withdrawing the facility of free medical care, and assured the protesters that representatives of QWP and PDMA will utilize every available platform to oppose any alteration in the status of PIMS. “We will also raise our voices for you within and outside the Parliament,” he said, adding “only a system that is acceptable to PIMS employees, who have always rendered exemplary services during disasters and natural calamities, can be enforced.”

Former MNA Anjum Aqeel said, it was the PML(N) government that restored the erstwhile status of PIMS during its tenure. “We will not allow anyone to jeopardize the functioning of this hospital and will support the protesters till withdrawal of the Ordinance. The central leadership of PML(N) will also step in for protection of PIMS, should the need arise,” he said.

Dr. Asfandyar said, “Let the rulers know that the whole of Islamabad is on our side. History bears witness to the fact that those who attempt to undermine PIMS in any way end up losing the seat of power. If we actually announce a full-fledged strike, which will include closure of Emergency and Covid-19 ward, your government will cease to exist.” He said, “Medics are under oath to serve patients, and it is this very weakness of ours that makes it so easy for the government to turn a deaf ear to our demands.” He said, not a single patient who may have visited PIMS during the last 24 days can claim not having received treatment during the protest. The FGHA vowed not to allow the Executive Director of PIMS to function.

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