Doctors beaten by police in Quetta

April 07, 2020

Ag agenciesQUETTA/ISLAMABAD: More than 50 doctors protesting the lack of safety equipment as they battle the coronavirus were arrested Monday in Quetta, police and physicians said.The arrests...

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Ag agencies

QUETTA/ISLAMABAD: More than 50 doctors protesting the lack of safety equipment as they battle the coronavirus were arrested Monday in Quetta, police and physicians said.

The arrests occurred after more than 100 doctors and paramedics rallied near the city´s main hospital and then moved to protest in front of the chief minister´s residence. Police later used batons to disperse the group after they tried to enter the chief minister´s home, resulting in scuffles between the sides. “We have taken 53 doctors into custody for violating the law,” Abdul Razzaq Cheema, a senior police official said after the incident.

Cheema said police held the doctors for several hours before the provincial government ordered them to release the group. Liaqat Shehwani, a spokesman for the provincial Balochistan government, said that the doctors were protesting over the unavailability of personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks and goggles. “We had assured them that the PPE would be provided soon but they started the protest,” Shehwani said, adding that authorities were planning to distribute protective equipment after receiving supplies from the federal government earlier Monday.

Medical staff across Pakistan has complained for weeks over the severe shortages of safety equipment in hospitals as they treat patients suffering from the novel coronavirus.

Yasir Achakzai, president of the doctors association in Quetta, told reporters that the government was not following the World Health Organisation´s guidelines for protecting doctors and other health workers. “So they forced us to protest for our rights,” said Achakzai.

Pakistani has recorded 3,277 COVID-19 cases and 50 deaths caused by the virus as only limited testing is available in the impoverished country of 215 million.

Frontline medical workers across the world have been grappling with short supplies of vital safety equipment as the pandemic spreads.

Meanwhile, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has reacted in strongest possible words on the torture and arrest of doctors in Quetta and said that bullying by the government of the doctors who have been demanding protective gear is a shameful act.

Bilawal Bhutto said that it is not justified to imprison doctors just because they were demanding protective gear and equipment. He said that at a time when doctors are needed in hospitals, they have been sent to jails. “PTI government is violating human rights and arresting and torturing doctors which is condemnable act,” he said.

He said that doctors are fighting the coronavirus as a frontline force and the entire world is appreciating the services of doctors and paramedical staff at this hour of need but in Pakistan, the PTI government is sending doctors to jails.

Bilawal said that this shameful act of the government will bring down the morale of the doctors and it shows the incapability of this PTI government. He said that PPP is with the doctors and saluted doctors, nurses and the paramedical staff for their services in these difficult times.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President and opposition leader in National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif has strongly condemned the torture and arrest of doctors and paramedics in Quetta.

“Truly shameful behaviour,” Shahbaz Sharif expressed his disgust, while saying, “It belies logic how those at the frontlines of the fight for our collective well-being and survival are being humiliated merely for demanding protective kits.”

Meanwhile, PML-N Deputy Secretary General Attaullah Tarar said that he had received a message from PML-N Balochistan President Gen Abdul Qadir Baloch that they are in need of 1,500 protective kits for the doctors and paramedics immediately and it was due to this reason that the doctors protested on Monday and were brazenly tortured by the government. Following the request by PML-N leader from Balochistan, Shahbaz Sharif directed the party to immediately arrange for the protective kits from all possible sources and dispatch them to Quetta without further delay.



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