Published in The News Blogs. July 9th, 2012.
Lie 1: Patients are dying owing to the strike
Truth: Every argument against the doctors’ strike invariably takes refuge under the false notion of innocent deaths, but as far as the strike goes, there is no possible way that it could have killed the patients.
Emergency departments in all the hospitals remained fully functional during the strike, and that is where all the critical patients are brought to. All doctors did was to close the OPDs. And the media might not have told you this, but closing down OPDs doesn’t kill anybody. Yes, patients died; but only when the doctors themselves had to run and desert the emergency departments. Here I consider it fitting to share a sweet secret with you: when the policeforce is unleashed upon you irrationally, you do run for life dearest. I would. You must be kidding if you say you won’t.
Lie 2: Doctors went on strike at once, creating havoc
Truth: I shall agree, but only after you convince me that a time span of about a whole year can be reduced to a scrap like that. You might not have noticed, but it’s been quite some while since the doctors have been sporting black bands and protesting peacefully. For those who listen loud, you’ve got to shout! No one lent any ear to what the doctors were saying before loss seemed imminent. Why on Earth didn’t the Punjab government come up with the idea of telecasting their version of the story before this? If you keep on playing the ostrich while others want you to respond, things definitely will get messy. Sorry, mate, but that’s how it goes!
Lie 3: It’s just about the money
Truth: Only partly. You might believe the doctors to be a heap of greedy filth, but you’ve got to be in place to realize the drudgery they do in the name of work. That said, it isn’t all about money. The strike hovers around the demand for improvement in the service structure of medical professionals. And this demand includes various aspects of the health sector of Pakistan. And believe me when I say this: if implemented, these changes will not only be good for the doctors, but the patients will also get way better treatment than what they are getting now.
Lie 4: The media is telling you the truth.
Truth: Precisely. And Constantinople was a sheep. The media’s reporting in this entire scenario hasn’t just been myopic; it is brazenly one-sided. It has, very conveniently, chosen to echo the powerful voices and hasn’t paid much heed on knowing the truth before making a fuss. Petty coverage, if any, has been given to the doctors. Thriving on sensationalism, it has influenced the masses so much so that everyone is now coming up with all sorts of fancy expletives for the doctors, or presenting them with gems of wisdom such as, ‘These monsters should go abroad…’ Thank you, that’s kind!
Lie 5: The strike doesn’t ‘suit’ the doctors; they are the servants of humanity
Truth: Perhaps bringing this concept of morality and ethics into all this is the strongest – and the weakest point against the doctors. I beg your pardon, but the last time I checked, the doctors weren’t angels. Nor was anybody else. And since, I suppose, the doctors aren’t being blessed with any ‘Man-o-Salwa’ from the skies, it is as much their right to strive for their betterment as is of any other professional. If you compare the pays and perks of doctors with other professions, they might as well end up in the minus. So before you point your finger at doctors again, make sure you’re either Mother Teresa or have a heart of pure gold. The doctors are not refusing to treat, but they aren’t sheep either!
Lie 6: The doctors are completely right; all their demands are justified
Truth: And hence we shift to the other extreme of the story. The doctors are not claiming to be all good (if anything, it was the masses calling them ‘saviours’ and ‘messiahs’). And ironically it is this point to which all this episode should have started with, and should have remained at. The demands might not be all justified, some might even be impractical. But that’s the debatable part. Ideally, the Punjab government shouldn’t have treated doctors like animals; arresting and torturing them. Ideally, doctors shouldn’t have gone on strike. Ideally, some official should have lent some sympathetic observation to the doctors’ demands long ago. But that’s too much for idealism. In the real world, we now have about ten deaths due to this fiasco. I don’t know whose hands their blood is on; but I’m just pretty sure it’s not the doctors’.