Rangers deployed after deadly clash between lawyers and doctors in Lahore

Policemen gather beside a burning police vehicle following a clash between lawyers and doctors at Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) in Lahore, Dec. 11, 2019. (AFP)
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Updated 12 December 2019

Rangers deployed after deadly clash between lawyers and doctors in Lahore

  • Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) is closed, patients moved to other hospitals
  • Police have registered cases against dozens of lawyers involved in the attack

ISLAMABAD: The government of Punjab province has deployed the Rangers, paramilitary law enforcement personnel, as the situation remains tense in Lahore following a clash between lawyers and doctors at the Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) on Wednesday.

The PIC was closed on Thursday and patients have been moved to other hospitals in Lahore.

At least three heart patients have died after a group of lawyers attacked doctors at the hospital.

“Three patients including an elderly woman died after doctors failed to provide them timely treatment and remained engaged in averting the assault,” Punjab Health Minister Yasmin Rashid said in a televised press conference in Lahore on Wednesday, as quoted by AFP.

A group of more than 200 lawyers, who had ongoing issues with the doctors of the PIC, stormed the hospital, vandalizing property and damaging dozens of vehicles of visitors and setting ablaze a police van, she said

Reportedly, police have registered cases against dozens of lawyers allegedly involved in the attack on PIC.

On Wednesday evening, Rashid said in a tweet that strict action would be taken against the lawyers who tortured doctors and obstructed treatment at PIC.

“No where in the world is there any precedence of attacks on medical facilities even in wars. This government will not spare them. The footage clearly shows all those involved. The crime is heinous, 34 involved in violence have already been arrested,” the minister wrote.

The incident was apparently triggered by video clips some doctors had made ridiculing the lawyers.

Punjab Information Minister Fayyaz-ul-Hassan, who arrived at the hospital to mediate, was also thrashed by angry lawyers.

Private television channels showed live footage of the scuffles from the scene where some of the lawyers were also seen brandishing pistols.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, who ordered an inquiry into the incident, directed the provincial government to take stern action against all those involved in the attack.


Daily wagers say government’s virus relief package won’t cover minimum needs

Updated 30 March 2020

Daily wagers say government’s virus relief package won’t cover minimum needs

  • Assistance to reach 3 million workers — less than a half of the affected, according workers’ association
  • The support package is part of the government’s Rs1.2 trillion scheme to minimize the impacts of the pandemic

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani government on Monday approved Rs17,500 ($106) monthly cash assistance for around 3 million daily wage workers who lost their jobs amid cutbacks and shutdowns over the coronavirus crisis. The amount may be insufficient for them to survive.

“Something is better than nothing in this critical time, but this amount (17,500 rupees) isn’t enough even for a small family of five members to get by, ” Zahoor Awan, secretary general of the Pakistan Workers’ Federation (PWF), told Arab News.

“A small family needs at least 50,000 rupees per month to fulfill all its expenses including house rent, food and utilities,” he said.

The Rs200 billion financial support package is part of the government’s Rs1.2 trillion fiscal stimulus scheme to minimize the adverse impacts of the disease outbreak on the country’s fragile economy.

“It was estimated that around 3 million workers will fall in this category and they will have to be paid a minimum wage of Rs17,500 ($106) per month,” the government’s Economic Coordination Committee said in a statement on Monday.
The government will disburse the money to workers through provincial labor departments.

“This is a substantial and major commitment from the government at this difficult time,” Khurram Husain, business analyst and editor at Dawn daily, told Arab News, adding that the labor departments will have to generate “authentic data” on the workers for the funds to be fairly distributed.

However, the very data on which ECC based its relief may be unreflective of the reality. 

While the ECC estimates that 3 million daily wage workers have been affected by the shutdown of commercial activity across the country, according to PWF’s Awan the number is at least 7 million.

He said the government’s package covers only the formal industrial sector. “What about those thousands working in small hotels, shops, self-employed, and others who aren’t registered with labor departments?” he said, adding that it is necessary for the government to broaden its definition of daily wage earners.

Ghulam Mustafa, a daily wager at a textile mill in Chakwal, said that prior to the business shutdown his monthly income was Rs26,000.

“It’s impossible to meet all the expenses with Rs17,500,” he told Arab News. “The government should waive off our utility bills along with this allowance.”