Minister of State for National Health Services and Regulations (NHSR) Saira Afzal Tarar has been accused of influencing the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) to get 16 new medical colleges registered.
Most of the colleges are owned by people associated with the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), an official source told Daily Morning Mail requesting not to be named.
However, health experts have advised the ministry to remove the incumbent body including the newly appointed Registrar Dr Waseem Hashmi to ensure free and fair elections of the council were impossible in presence of these officers.
The Lahore High Court (LHC) had earlier ordered the ministry to conduct elections of the PMDC within three months after the laps of PMDC Ordinance 2015 but the Health Minister had come forward to rescue the incumbent body from the crisis as she wanted to get new colleges registered before the expiry of her PML-N led government in June 2018, the source revealed.
The source also disclosed that several members in the council also owned medical and dental colleges. For example an Executive Committee member Dr Farukh Ejaz was an owner of Wateen Dental colleges Rawalpindi and recently had submitted application to the Ministry of NHSR for recognition of his medical college.
It further revealed that the bureaucracy of NHSR had advised the minister to compliance with the orders of LHC in connection of elections in PMDC but Ms Tarar was found resisting on it in several meetings of the ministry over the future of PMDC.
The source also added that in a meeting, Secretary Health and other stakeholders emphasized the minister to comply the LHC directives regarding PMDC elections. The bureaucracy had expressed its fear that if the matter was taken up by the Supreme Court, then the apex court may ask regarding the legacy of council’s tenure after Ordinance’s lap and the NHSR’s silence on it, it further added.
The source disclosed that in another meeting, Justice (Retd) Shakir Ullah Jan, the legal member of PMDC, had advised Saira Afzal Tarar to comply with the LHC orders regarding council’s elections. It added that the legal member also expressed dissatisfaction over the performance of current body and said after the court orders he was considering the current body as out-of-date.
It may be mentioned here that the Supreme Court had also nominated Justice (Retd) Jan under PMDC Ordinance 2012, which was considered restored after the lap of PMDC Ordinance 2015.
According to the source, a legal expert of the ministry had also advised the ministry to remove the current office bearers of PMDC including newly recruited Registrar Dr. Waseem Hashmi and others if they want to ensure transparency in elections.
The expert pointed out that the current council had adopted an illegal procedure for recruitments of its blue eyed people against key posts of the council and it would be a pre-poll rigging if these officers were not removed.
This was pertinent to mention here that PMDC management had also wrote to the Ministry of Law and Justice seeking its help regarding the powers of current body regarding the day to day functions after the decision of LHC.
The source said that the incumbent body was reluctant on registration of new medical colleges and had asked the ministry to complete the pending legislation to empower the council for this purpose first.
When contacted President PMDC Dr. Shabbir Lehri said the matter of council’s future was in Supreme Court and it was the appropriate forum to decide the legitimacy of current council. He said this matter should be resolved once for all so that the council could work in more efficient way.
He, however, rejected the news regarding submission of application for recognition of new medical college by Dr. Farukh Ejaz, a member of PMDC’s executive committee. He said that the apex court had banned all the registration of new medical and dental colleges.
Dr. Lehri said the council was working on a framework to re-inspect all existing medical and dental colleges, saying that the institution no meeting the standard and requirements under the PMDC law would be closed.