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Army to provide protection gear to Balochistan medics


–ISPR urges patience, says govt trying to acquire and supply resources required to fight COVID-19

RAWALPINDI: A day after the Quetta police arrested over a dozen doctors, protesting against the unavailability of personal protective equipment (PPEs) in public hospitals, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) on Monday announced that emergency supplies of medical equipment, including PPEs, were being dispatched to the provincial capital “to help medical staff fight COVID-19 effectively in Balochistan”.

The equipment is being supplied on the special directives of Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, it said.

In a series of tweets, the military’s media wing quoted Gen Bajwa as saying: “Doctors and paramedics are the frontline soldiers in this war. Most advanced nations/govts are finding it extremely difficult to fight this pandemic.”

“Pakistan government is striving hard to acquire and supply the required resources. In this hour of distress, we must remain patient and steadfast,” added Gen Bajwa.
While the police had said it arrested 30 doctors for taking out a protest rally in violation of Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) imposed by the Balochistan government in Quetta in connection with the lockdown, the YDA claimed that more than 100 doctors and health workers were arrested.

YDA Spokesperson Dr Rahim said that the arrested doctors will not leave the police stations until their demands were met and they were provided with protective gear.

According to YDA’s Balochistan chapter President Dr Yasir Achakzai, 15 doctors in the province had been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus so far but the government still had not supplied protective equipment.

“On one hand, the coronavirus is killing us and on the other, police are beating us up,” Achakzai said.

On Monday, Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal said that he had met the YDA doctors and had assured them of his government’s full cooperation in their battle against coronavirus and in meeting their demands.

Meanwhile, Balochistan government spokesperson Liaqat Shahwani, while commenting on the clash, said that if medical professionals start flouting Section 144, what message will it send to others in the province.

Addressing the media, Shahwani said: “The doctors formed a mob and advanced towards the secretariat. The district administration tried to discourage them, urging them to practice social distancing but they did not listen.

“What message does that send to the people of the province,” he asked, adding that the government has fulfilled their demand for protective gear and will continue to do so in the future.


In a related development, Punjab Young Doctors Association (YDA) President Salman Haseeb while condemning the clash between medics and police in Quetta, said that doctors on the frontline in the province were also not being provided protective equipment.

In a statement, Haseeb said: “All doctors in the province will wear a black band around their arms in protest.

“If doctors in Punjab are not provided protective equipment, then we will also protest,” he said.


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