Lawmakers from erstwhile FATA districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are adamant that most of the posts recently advertised for nursing staff by the provincial government have been filled by candidates from just one division.
They pointed out that as many as 481 posts for paramedical staff had been advertised by the province’s health department. Of the total, 415 posts were filled by people from Malakand, the native division of Chief Minister Mehmood Khan.
According to the province’s director-general health, the posts had been advertised in October 2020 and only 40 applicants from the new districts had been appointed while candidates from administrative districts, specially Malakand Division, had been selected for all other posts.
Meanwhile, there is an ongoing sit-in manned by candidates from previously autonomous tribal areas outside the Peshawar Press Club. Lawmakers elected from the newly-created districts also opted to mount fierce protest inside the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly.
The advertisement had clearly stated that the posts were reserved for people from the new districts and selected candidates would be posted there too, MPA from North Waziristan Mir Kalam Wazir said.
Criticising the government for inducting most candidates from areas other than the one specified in the advertisement, he said that this was an injustice.
Most of the selected candidates, he said, were from Swat, Buner, Shangla, Lower and Upper Dir.
Provincial Health Minister Taimoor Saleem Jhagra differed from this opinion.
As many as 70%, or 1,769 of 2,432 total applications were from Malakand Division. He maintained that most of the nurses already working in the public health sector in the province were from Malakand Division. He pointed out that 86% of nurses working at the Peshawar Institute of Cardiology were from the same division.
He said that even if the authorities had found all applications from the new districts eligible, only 200 candidates could have been appointed.
Dispelling the misperception, he said that no one had interfered in the selection process and no preference had been given to candidates from the division from the chief minister’s native area.
Most people, he said, living elsewhere in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa did not opt to join nursing as a profession and, therefore, most applications had originated from Malakand Division.
The government, he said, was aware of the sentiments of the former tribal areas, adding that appointments of new nurses had been temporarily suspended to overcome misgivings.
When SAMAA Digital asked the DG Health Dr Niaz Mohammad if new inductions would be made to the same posts, he said that all candidates had been selected on merit and in accordance with prevalent legal provisions.
“The selected candidates have not been suspended. The government wants to take all stakeholders into confidence in this regard, Dr Niaz said.
He said that although the nurses would perform duties in the new districts, but they had been selected from all over Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. He hoped that this bottleneck would soon be resolved, saying that shortage of nursing staff would hit the local people visiting hospitals in the new districts.