ISLAMABAD - Hundreds of doctors, nurses and paramedics observed token strike and demonstrated against the targeted attack on the head of cardiology department in Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims).

The health practitioners demonstrated in front of Pims and demanded security for hospital employees.

“For the past 6 months crime incidents have been occurring at the hospital and the assailants easily escape after committing the crime,” said Dr Farooq Shah, general secretary of Young Doctors Association Islamabad. Hospitals are soft targets like schools so they should be made secure by appointing professional and trained guards. “Office boys or lower grade staff are seen standing on entrance who even don’t have weapons,” he added.

The demonstrators demanded to arrest the attackers of Dr Shahid Nawaz and try them in military court, calling it an incident of terrorist attack. They gave the authorities 48 hours deadline to take action or else further line of action would be announced.

Doctors and paramedics staff from Polyclinic Hospital and National Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine (NIRM) also joined the Pims staff to show solidarity.

Due to the demonstration, healthcare activities at outdoor patient departments remained almost suspended; however, operation theatres and emergency department were functional. Work in almost all the departments got disturbed and limited activity was noticed, said one of the officials. “An atmosphere of gloom and sadness has pervades the hospital and everybody feels insecure as every week we hear about a new incident. Anyone can be the next target,” he added.    

On Saturday evening unknown gunmen attacked the head of the department of cardiology at PIMS, Dr Shahid Nawaz. He continues to be in critical condition and doctors at Pims have declared him almost brain dead. His family shifted him from Pims to Combined Military Hospital (CMH) on Sunday night and intend to airlift him to the United Kingdom with a hope that his brain may start functioning. They have appealed to the government to airlift him by an air ambulance to the UK.

Meanwhile, Barrister Usman Ibrahim, minister of state for capital administration & development division (CA&DD), chaired a meeting with hospital officials. The minister inquired about the medical condition of Prof Malik and expressed his dissatisfaction over the security arrangements at Pims despite his repeated instructions after the Peshawar incident to beef up the same.

Secretary CA&DD Khalid Hanif directed that both the inner and peripheral areas in Pims should be manned through around the clock patrolling service and CCTV cameras should be installed on all the entry/exit gates to all the building within the compound. He also instructed that breaches in the peripheral wall need to be rectified. He further advised that all media correspondence should be through the official spokesperson of PIMS to avoid confusion. Vice Chancellor Shaheed Zulfikar Medical University-PIMS Prof Javed Akram informed that the institute was in the process of hiring additional security guards and installation of CCTV cameras to fill the gaps. “Dr Zahid Larik, director MCH, has been appointed as the chief security officer of the institute and he is actively engaging with the law enforcement agencies to ensure the security within the premises.”

The minister directed the vice chancellor to fix responsibility on the people who were responsible for this security lapse and proceed against them as per law.