Unwarranted Backlash

The Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) was recently exposed to be involved in criminal activity surrounding the sale of infectious materials like discarded syringes and blood bags. As if this was not enough, the administration of the hospital has been threatening the whistleblower and probing into his decision to go to the police and media. In the midst of all this, the investigation report has been left incomplete despite having a 48-hour deadline. Somehow, the dangerous and harmful nature of the crime committed and the need for accountability has taken the backseat in all of this.
More often than not, whistleblowers in Pakistan are subjected to unwarranted backlash that could potentially threaten their lives or bring consequences that could make every day that much harder. The latest victim of this norm is the official who gathered evidence of the illegal activities being carried out in the hospital and gave it to the police and media. After the initial exposé, an inquiry committee was set up and ordered to submit a report within two days. While the investigation revealed key details like the involvement of hospital employees as well as the incinerator, the committee also warned the whistleblower of the severe consequences that would be taken against him since he exposed the organisation.
Moving past the gross misconduct of hospital employees, there are multiple aspects of this incident that are problematic. The first is the inability of the inquiry committee to honour anonymity codes. Revealing the identity of the whistleblower results in them becoming a victim of harassment and intimidation by those they report to, discouraging them from speaking out against what is wrong. The second is the lack of transparency when it comes to the investigation report as well; there is no proper method that is followed, information is still kept under wraps and no mechanism of accountability has been asserted. In fact, the aspect of accountability has not even been talked about. The report is still incomplete and all relevant authorities have still not come to a conclusion of what corrective measures need to be taken.

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