Government says ‘both sides’ at fault and doctors should not have abandoned patients when lawyers rioted
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led government on Thursday alleged that members of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) had instigated a mob of lawyers that besieged Lahore’s Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) earlier this week.
“The facts shared by the Punjab chief minister and inspector general of police with the P.M. reveal the violence and hostility showed by the lawyers [was] under a planned and targeted agenda,” Special Assistant to the P.M. on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan told a press conference in Islamabad. “Majority of lawyers were those who have some links with a specific political party as PMLN lawyers added fuel to the fire and turned the lawyers’ protest into turmoil,” she said, adding the dubious claim that the government thought lawyers and doctors could only clash if there were a “political motive.”
Awan’s media interaction followed a meeting of the PTI core committee under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan. She said the meeting’s participants had decided the government would contact lawyers’ bodies and ask them to purge “black sheep” from their grouping. The meeting, she added, also slammed doctors for their role in the siege. The participants said lawyers, as the custodians of law, should not have violated it, but doctors, as the saviors of humanity, should not have left critical patients to save their own lives. “The clash of both [lawyers and doctors] will increase problems,” she said.
The entire lawyer community should not be blamed for these criminal actions, she said, as the guilty parties could be clearly identified from video footage and punished in accordance with law.
Separately, a member of the Pakistan Bar Council, a lawyers’ regulatory body, urged it to issue an apology to the nation for the attack on the PIC, reported daily Dawn. The organization has issued a nationwide strike for Friday (today) against the “partial and biased” conduct of Lahore police and administration against lawyers.
Also on Thursday, police in Lahore arrested and produced before an anti-terrorism court at least 52 lawyers for their alleged role in the attack on the cardiac hospital. Police had on Wednesday lodged two separate First Information Reports against over 250 lawyers under relevant sections of the Pakistan Penal Code and the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997. The detained lawyers have been sent on judicial remand, according to daily Express Tribune.
Over 200 lawyers targeted the PIC on Wednesday to “avenge” what they claimed was an attack by doctors on another lawyer; the doctors claim the lawyers tried to have them arrested on trumped charges, prompting them to make a viral video that lawyers have perceived as being ‘disrespectful.’ At least three patients died during the mob attack, mostly because doctors and hospital staff attending to them were forced to flee when the lawyers broke in.