Most Pakistanis, including Christians and Muslims, have always admired doctors and even called them “Messiahs” for their work in saving lives and caring for patients.But now, many have changed their opinion of some of these doctors in the province of Punjab where members of the Young Doctor’s Association went on strike to demand that the government increase their salaries and stopped providing medical services.
The government of the Punjab has said in a statement that the doctor’s salaries had been increased by 50 percent some six months before and that they did not have the financial resources to increase the salaries.
However, after the statement was released, the young doctors became more forceful and stopped working in emergencies which worsened the situation all over the province.
Then, when the Punjab government tried to arrange alternative doctors, the striking doctors allegedly attacked and injured those brought in to replace them.
The tug of war between the striking doctors and the local government has had terrible consequences which have taken the lives of 31 innocent people, including children, women, and old people who were not attended in emergencies by the striking doctors. Unfortunately, opposition parties are inflaming the issue rather than motivating the striking doctors to a find a solution and the young doctors are holding the Punjab government responsible for the deaths of patients, while the Punjab government blames the doctors but in this situation poor people are dying and suffering.
When U.S. diplomat, Raymond Davis was jailed for killing two Pakistanis on a crowded Lahore street on January 24, 2011 in what he described as “self-defense,” the whole country protested against it. The protests were so powerful that the federal government set aside the pressure of U.S. government despite the billions of dollars of support that the American government was providing Pakistan.
President Barack Obama had intervened and asked Pakistan to release Davis as a diplomat who held immunity, but following this, the Pakistani government bowed down before the protesting Pakistanis and faced the anger of the American government.
Eventually, however, Davis was released on Wednesday, March 16, 2011, after weeks of secret negotiations between American and Pakistani officials, a pledge of millions of dollars in “blood money” to the victims’ families, and quiet political pressure by Pakistani officials on the courts.
But the battle between the young doctors and the Punjab government has hardly stirred the Pakistani people and there has been a silence over the loss of lives.
The opposition parties are giving statements against the ruling party in the province and backing the doctors, but nobody so far has succeeded in motivated the doctors to start work and again save lives.
The protests of the doctors show that they are not creative enough to use positive and peaceful means to convey their demands to the government. In fact it shows they are not equipped to communicate with the government and the suffering people to win support for their case.
The plight of the doctors is far better than many in Pakistan such as the poor factory and daily wage workers. Doctors are provided with a variety of facilities and they are better paid than most in this country.
The government has announced a minimum monthly wage for a worker of the equivalent of $84.00 USD, but millions of them are not paid fairly, while gasoline and power outages have caused the closures of industrial units, leaving workers jobless and causing many tragedies.
Some of the poor workers have committed suicide because they cannot feed their families, and children of these poverty-stricken workers are malnourished; they cannot get quality education and live a miserable life.
So my challenge to the striking doctors is to compare their difficulty with poor workers, who lives below the poverty line.
In Pakistani school primary classes, children are taught that the doctors’ profession is a “holy one.” They have been told that these doctors have sacrificed for the good of the people and work in “difficult circumstances.”
But now many are changing their views as recently the kids and young children and older people are witnessing crying mothers, children and families asking doctors help to save their lives, but the striking doctors believe more scenes of crying and miseries of people will force government to accept their demands.
Nobody knows how many more lives will be sacrificed so they can press the government.