ISLAMABAD: On Thursday, employees from the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) along with a significant number of healthcare workers from across the nation eliminated all barriers and reached D-Chowk and conducted a sit-in there.
For about three hours, traffic stayed jammed in the city. Later, the protestors declared that if the presidential order was not revoked by Jan 5, they would hold a sit-in in front of Parliament House.
Last month, President Dr Arif Alvi promulgated the Medical Teaching Institution (MTI) Ordinance under which the hospital would be operated by a board of governors (BoG). On the advice of the Search and Nominating Committee, the BoG members were appointed and informed by the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS).
Employees have previously organised a number of hospital marches and demonstrations in numerous industries demanding the revocation of the decree.
The Pims workers arrived outside the National Press Club on Thursday, and then held a rally against D-Chowk. The district administration initially tried to stop them from accessing the Blue Town, then blocked the China Chowk lane. The demonstrators eliminated all the barriers, though, and entered D-Chowk and held a three-hour sit-in.
Dr Asfandyar Khan, Chairman of the Grand Health Alliance, told Dawn that the district administration had told the hospital staff that it was not appropriate to conduct a sit-in at D-Chowk.
Threaten to hold protest outside Parliament House if ordinance is not withdrawn by Jan 5
It is sad that activities that were lawful for Prime Minister Imran Khan were deemed illegal for others while he was in the opposition. For 126 days in 2014, Mr. Khan held a sit-in at D-Chowk, and now we’re saying it’s unconstitutional,’ he added.
As the protesters wanted to march to D-Chowk, Dr. Asfandyar said that an assistant commissioner arrived there and said that the president of an African country had to move from there and that the protesters had to wait 15 minutes.
We waited half an hour, but we were not permitted to go on. Finally, the barbed wire was lifted and we entered D-Chowk to stage a sit-in. We would hold a sit-in in front of Parliament House if the ordinance is not repealed by Jan 5. He said that healthcare employees would never allow hospital privatisation.
Mayor-elect Pir Aadil Shah of Islamabad, who belongs to the PML-N, also arrived at the sit-in and declared that his party would support attempts to revoke the declaration as it would deprive people of their right to health care.
He said, “I assure you that [PML-N leader] Maryam Nawaz will come to support you as well.”
Against the government and the health ministry, the demonstrators shouted slogans and pledged to go to every degree to save the hospital.