PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government finally issued a notification to rename Nawaz Sharif Kidney Hospital in Swat as Miangul Abdul Haq Jahanzeb Kidney Hospital.
The provincial government decision has already triggered a strong reaction from Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders and workers, with many of them claiming that their party leader had provided funds to build the kidney centre and procure equipment for it.
"The Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is pleased to rename 'Nawaz Sharif Kidney Hospital, Swat, as Miangul Abdul Haq Jahanzeb Kidney Hospital," the Health Department stated in a notification.
The kidney centre was established keeping in view the plight of the people of Swat when they left their houses and villages in hurry to enable the security forces to launch an offensive against Taliban militants headed by Maulana Fazlullah in 2009. Around 2.5 million people had become internally displaced and were accommodated in camps in Mardan and Swabi.
According to sources, former prime minister and PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif had offered to build a kidney centre in Swat. The provincial government had offered him an ill-equipped Category D Hospital in Manglawar near Mingora for the establishment of the kidney hospital.
The previous building was demolished and the Swat district administration provided 47 kanals of land to a trust run by former federal finance minister Ishaq Dar to the proposed kidney hospital.
The district administration later provided an additional land of 35 kanal to the same trust for the hospital.
"Neither the government funds nor that of Nawaz Sharif were used for the construction of the kidney hospital in Swat. It was a group of Punjab-based philanthropists that raised the funds and donated the same to the kidney centre and set up the facility for treating the renal diseases," a senior government official in Swat told The News.
Pleading anonymity, he said the centre was named after former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and he had personally come to Swat for the groundbreaking ceremony of the health facility in 2012, though he was not the prime minister then.
According to the government officials in Peshawar, the decision to name the kidney centre was made in violation of rules of business of the Administration Department that national assets could not be named after a living person.
Later when the kidney centre was built in two years, Nawaz Sharif was then the prime minister and he again visited Swat in 2014 for its inauguration and opened it to patients.
"Naturally, there could be a political motive behind this decision of renaming the kidney hospital on which I can't comment but the law is clear in this regard," the government official in Swat argued when asked why they needed to change its name after seven years.
He said it would be difficult for the people in Swat and its adjoining districts to forget the name of the health facility, which is commonly known as Nawaz Sharif Hospital. "Look at the Khyber Teaching Hospital in Peshawar, the name was changed on political grounds but it is still known as Sherpao Hospital as the facility was named after the late governor of the Northwest Frontier Province, Hayat Mohammad Khan Sherpao," he said.
PML-N provincial president Amir Muqam strongly reacted to the decision of the government, saying it would send a negative message across the country. "I had informed Nawaz Sharif about the lack of facilities for kidney patients in Swat. He had agreed and arranged funds for the kidney centre through Punjab Hospitals Trust," he recalled.
According to Amir Muqam, Ishaq Dar was chairman of the trust and he was not the finance minister at that time but had donated Rs500 million for a kidney hospital in Swat. "Let me tell you another fact, Nawaz Sharif had donated all his salaries to the kidney hospital that he had received as prime minister. I used to bring the cheques for his salaries and deliver them to the medical superintendent of the hospital," the PML-N leader said.
According to Amir Muqam, Nawaz Sharif had provided quality equipment as the aim was to establish a renal transplant unit there.
"The KP government didn't utilise the modern equipment to date," he lamented and said since Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre was also built on the state property, someone may rename it as well in future.