OTR

Print
off record
 
Shaukat Ali Jawaid
 

Professional agitator
faces agitation from
her own colleagues

Dr. Yasmin Rashid got interested in Thallasemia during her postgraduate training in UK and on return while she practiced as Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, she also did lot of work for the welfare of children suffering from this disease. She has also been interested in Alzheimer’s disease and did some work to create awareness about this as well. She worked as Professor of Obstetrics & Gynaecology and was also interested in medical politics, hence she struggled for many years as a leader of Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) using this plateform to impress upon the authorities to improve the working conditions of healthcare professionals as well as improvement of health services in the country.

Some years ago while flying from Karachi to Lahore, she was seated next to me in the plane and during our discussion, she disclosed that she has decided to join Imran Khan’s party after retirement. I told her that it is a one man show and just like other political parties in Pakistan, it does not have any democratic set up, how she will find herself comfortable in such an environment where the one man dictates and everyone else has to accept that? She replied that I will tell Imran Khan, I won’t accept any dictation. At this I said, everyone says this in the beginning but in reality things work out to be different and who knows the corrupt politicians, Imran Khan criticizes today won’t become a part of his own party in the days to come. Politics is a very dirty game in Pakistan and one is forced to make lot of compromises. Imran Khan will learn it soon.

A few years later I went to see Prof. Zafarullah Khan Vice Chancellor of King Edward Medical University and I saw Prof. Yasmin Rashid sitting there with lot of papers and was busy signing them one by one. When I enquired about it, she said, for the last ten years, the administration has not sent my Annual Confidential Reports (ACRs) and now I am completing this. Perhaps it was essential to claim retirement benefit and for pension purposes as she was going to retire in a couple of week’s time. As a leader of PMA, Prof. Yasmin Rashid was most of the time busy in agitation opposing government policies and had earned the title of professional agitator; hence none of her seniors was perhaps interested or willing to sign her ACRs. She must be thankful to Prof. Zafarullah Khan for having helped her in this regard.

After retirement she joined Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf and also contested elections on PTI ticket but was convincingly defeated by the PML (N) candidates or the Shareef Family in particular on a Lahore seat. First she contested against Mrs. Kalsum Nawaz (on a seat which fell vacant after Mian Nawaz Shareef was unseated) who was lying on a death bed in a London Hospital and whose election campaign was run by her daughter Maryam Nawaz. Despite the fact that establishment did all it can do to help her, malicious campaign by the unseen forces against the Sharif family and the PML (N), putting up a large number of independent candidates against Mrs. Kalsum Nawaz to slow down pace of voting to ensure low voter turnout, arrest of a large number of poling agents of PML (N), nothing worked and Mrs. Kalsum Nawaz defeated Prof. Yasmin Rashid. She again contested against PML (N) candidate in the general elections and was again defeated. In fact it is impossible to defeat PML (N) in any free and fair elections in Punjab where the party is very popular and people love PML (N) and the Shareef brothers for the tremendous development work it has undertaken throughout the province. Every day millions of people who travel on motorways, roads network in the province, travel by Metro Busses in Lahore, Multan and Rawalpindi-Islamabad pray for their long life and prosperity. In addition tremendous development in the energy sector eliminating the electricity load shedding just to mention a few are some of their accomplishments for which people respect them. Hence to defeat PML (N) one has to go for engineered elections, failing the system, manipulation in counting and delay in announcement of the results which it is alleged were all on display during the last elections. The whole world knows the real crime of Mian Nawaz Shareef but then someone has to stand up to say enough is enough and stop this game being played in the country for the last many decades.

Prof. Yasmin Rashid got elected Member of Punjab Assembly on reserved seats and also got a birth in the provincial cabinet with the Health portfolio. PTI which governed the province of Khyber PK during the last five years has introduced the MTI scheme there and it is facing some resistance as well. MTI scheme no doubt has many positive points but it needs to be implemented in a phased programme taking into account the ground realities. First of all we need to develop proper infrastructure. Anything which works in United States cannot be transplanted in Pakistan suddenly. Once PTI managed to form its Government in the province of Punjab as well after the elections, they decided to implement the MTI here as well. Now being the provincial health minister one had expected that she will discuss the benefits and likely disadvantages with all the stake holders before this bill was presented in the provincial assembly but it did not happen and she had to listen to the dictation and abide by that. PMA leadership of which she has remained an important leader for so many years is opposing this scheme and PMA Punjab has passed a resolution for a meaningful discussion on the bill, the junior doctors who have some genuine fears about it are upset and are protesting against it. Dr. Yasmin Rashid however, proved to be more intelligent than her counterpart Provincial Health Minister of Khyber PK who has earned the rare distinction of assaulting and injuring an Assistant Professor Dr. Ziauddin Afridi of Khyber Teaching Hospital with the help of his guards which has lead to the young doctor’s strike all over the province. Dr. Yasmin Rashid has not taken any such rash step. However, she decided to go after the CPSP leadership and accused them that they were behind this strike by young doctors in Punjab. In a detail report appearing in prestigious Daily Dawn of May 12th 2019 it says “Punjab Health Minister Prof. Yasmin Rashid claimed that the CPSP is behind the recent strike of young doctors in public sector teaching institutions against Medical Teaching Institutons Act.”

The report further stated that “In a meeting held at CPSP Regional headquarters she burst out at the senior representatives of the college for allegedly provoking young doctors for strike in Lahore’s major government hospitals. The health department in a move to counter the strike directed the newly appointed over eight hundred postgraduate’s trainees to resume their duties at the state run hospitals of the province. Referring to some intelligence reports, she alleged that CPSP hatched a conspiracy against the Punjab government’s initiative of MTI Act. According to the report the health minister had specially called a meeting of office bearers and other senior representatives including Prof. Zafarullah Chaudhry President of CPSP, councilors Prof. Khalid Masood Gondal, Prof. Aamir Zaman Khan, Prof. Mohammad Tayyab, Prof. Mohammad Ayaz and Prof. Abrar Ashraf. Prof.Arif Tujamal Principal of AIMC and Prof. Naqi from KEMU were also present. (Many of them are working as Vice Chancellors or Principals of public sector medical universities, medical colleges run by the provincial government) This meeting, it is said, was called to convey the serious concerns of the Punjab Government to the CPSP office bearers. During the meeting the Health Minister criticized them for secretly supporting the young doctors saying she had been informed by many relevant quarters that the CPSP was supporting the young doctors for strike. She engaged some agencies to dig out the facts and the reports in this regard confirmed the allegations that the CPSP orchestrated the YDA strike. Sharing some facts, she said young doctors observed a complete strike in these teaching institutons of the provincial capital which were being headed by CPSP backed senior doctors. According to a government health official, the minister ended the meeting on a serious note that the Punjab Government would not tolerate such activities in future.”1

All the CPSP office bearers present in the meeting got this dressing from the provincial health minister patiently and proved to be “the most obedient government servants.” None of them had the courage to stand up and confront the Health Minister if they were not involved in this so called alleged conspiracy. The conflict of interest came in their way and this issue has been brought to their notice in the past as well. There was none with the caliber of late Prof. Iftikhar Ahmad, Prof. Mahmood Ali Malik, Prof. Alaf Khan, Prof.Riaz Ahsan Siddiqui or Prof. Eice Mohammed and few others who have confronted the health officials successfully when they thought the government viewpoint was wrong and false allegations were being leveled against them. It is all well documented part of medical history.

Prof. Yasmin Rashid’s stern warning to the CPSP leadership was highlighted by the media prominently and it has dealt a fatal blow to the integrity and credibility of CPSP which is the only Pakistani medical institutons at present enjoying international recognition. CPSP leadership failed to respond, rise to the occasion thus it has left a seriously wounded CPSP and there is lot of resentment against this among the Fellows of CPSP all over the country. Many have shared their views on the social media as well. Prof. Yasmin Rashid also realized the consequences of her outburst at the CPSP later. Hence in a damage control mission, she issued a statement published in Daily Dawn on May 14th 2019 saying that “CPSP helped Government in taming YDA. She also urged the CPSP Council members to help in calling off the strike of young doctors in the state run hospitals. She thanked President CPSP Prof. Zafarullah Chaudhry and council members for providing support to the government in this regard. The College reassured the Minister that it will take action against postgraduate trainees in case they would disrupt the working of the teaching hospitals in future. The minister also conveyed CPSP President’s message to the Chief Minister and to the Prime Minister as well”.2

The damage has been done, CPSP leadership stands exposed, and the conflict of interest which has its own repercussions became very much evident during this episode. Neither the CPSP nor the government can control the young doctors without addressing some of their genuine problems and grievances. In any democratic set up, any scheme is discussed with all the stake holders, their viewpoint is heard, an attempt is made to address some of their misgivings if any or clarify certain points if need be. All this helps in smooth functioning of the state institutons and implementation of Government policies. None of these steps were taken while introducing the MTI Act 2019. Prof. Yasmin Rashid who spent many years of her life opposing government policies must have now realized how it looks when you are sitting on the other side of the table. Doing opposition politics and creating problems for the government is much easy as compared to conceive, enforce and successfully implement any scheme. Now she is being treated with the same medicine which she used to prescribe for others in the past. The concept of negotiations with all the stake holders should never lose sight but as the saying goes, power corrupts and when in Power people forget all these good things. It is still time, let the Government discuss and hold a debate on the MTI Act with all the stake holders and make necessary amendments to reassure the healthcare professionals that there was nothing against them. However, in a country where intellectual corruption is rampant, from where one will find the Angels to take decisions on Merit and ensure that these decisions are not based on personal likes and dislikes of those vested with the authority and how to ensure that no one will be punished or action taken against them for political and other reasons. One sincerely hopes that better sense prevails upon all concerned and we do not have any unfortunate incidents like the one witnessed in Peshawar, in future.

Earlier PMA Lahore it may be mentioned here has also passed a resolution “criticizing the PTI politician from Okara who forced the health officials to visit his house and then distribute the appointment letters of Women Medical Officers himself personally to the candidates. This the PMA resolution stated is not only illegal and immoral act but also direct interference in government functioning and amounts to humiliation of government officials. Such an attitude on the part of politicians is not at all acceptable in New Pakistan. The PMA had also called for an enquiry in this incident”.3 So far it appears there has been no response from Prof. Yasmin Rashid the Provincial Health Minister who being a doctor herself is supposed to ensure respect and dignity to her professional colleagues.

It is heartening to note that now Government of Punjab has started discussion with all the stake holders on MTI scheme and the young doctors have also called off the strike. One would have expected such an initiative from Prof. Yasmin Rashid much earlier even before the MTI Act was presented in the provincial Assembly. Better late than never. We sincerely hope that decisions taken will be for the improvement of the health services and medical education.

References

  1. CPSP orchestrated YDA strike, claims minister. Daily DAWN May 12, 2019.
  2. CPSP helped Government in taming YDA. Daily DAWN May 14, 2019.
  3. Research must include a publication strategy.(Tail Piece) in Off the Record Column published in Pulse International Vol.20 No.9 May 1-14, 2019
© Professional Medical Publications. All rights reserved.