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LAHORE: The Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) have picked up a doctor in connection with the May 31 attack on the Jinnah Hospital after “a thorough surveillance lasting over a month and a half” on July 10, officials in the agency have told The Express Tribune.
However, Dr Abdullah’s parents and colleagues dismiss the assertions and rule out his involvement in the terrorist attack. They say they will hold a press conference at the Lahore Press Club on July 17 to chalk out a strategy for his release.
Intelligence officials said that the ISI men had started monitoring doctors who they suspected might have facilitated the terrorists who attacked the hospital in a bid to free or kill a suspect named Moaz, who was injured during the May 28 attack on the Ahmadis’ places of worship in Model Town.
The sources said that Abdullah was the first one to send a bouquet to the injured suspect on May 30 while he was still recuperating in the hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU).
Despite Abdullah being a junior doctor, they said, he gained access to the terrorist inside the ICU because of his alleged connections with the Islami Jamiat-e-Taleba (IJT) and the Jamaatud Dawa, which is a banned group.
According to the intelligence officials, six members of the Ahmadiya community, who were admitted to the surgical ward unit 2 of the hospital, indicated that they were not being given proper medical care and said that doctors’ negligence had caused some patients’ injuries to deteriorate.
During their surveillance, they said that they found that two of the doctors in surgical ward’s unit 2 had a close relationship with Dr Ali Abdullah, who “visited the Ahmadis’ ward several times a day despite working in a different ward”. He often “helped” his fellow doctors, prescribing medicines for the Ahmadi victims. A serving deputy inspector-general of police, who belongs to the Ahmadiya community, is also said to have alerted the ISI about the “suspicious movements of Dr Abdullah”. He is also said to have filed his own findings based on information gathered by provincial level intelligence operatives.
Dr Abdullah, sources said, was picked up on Saturday afternoon and by Monday, he was transferred to Islamabad for further questioning.
A local office-bearer of the Ahmadiya community, Nasrullah Baloch, confirmed that the condition of some of the injured community members had deteriorated in the Jinnah Hospital’s ICU. He said that they were now being treated at another private hospital.
Investigation SP of the Model Town Division Abdul Rab said that they were investigating about the missing doctor from all angles, adding that they had also questioned some of the relatives of Dr Abdullah in a bid to establish the extent of his links with the terrorists. He said that despite his being a doctor, his links with terrorists could not be ruled out.
Dr Sarfaraz, the suspect doctor’s father, who is also an additional medical superintendent of the Services Hospital told The Express Tribune that his son might have been detained because of his “ties with the IJT”, adding that his son might even have been killed.
Reaffirming his political affiliation with the Jamaat-e-Islami, he said that although his son had served as an IJT Nazim when he was a studying in the Allama Iqbal Medical College in Lahore, he could not have been involved in abetting terrorists who attacked Jinnah Hospital. “It is not a crime to be affiliated with a religious political organisation.”
According to Dr Sarfaraz, his bearded 24-year-old son had been missing since July 10, adding that he had lodged an FIR with the Garden Town police station on July 11.
He said that a number of doctors had assured him that they would “paralyse hospitals across the province”. He said that the doctors had assured him that when they could “force the UAE government to release Dr Ayaz, our own government will not be able to sustain such protests for more than a week”.
Dr Ayaz was picked up by a US intelligence agency from Ras al Khaimah in the UAE on suspicion of having ties with al Qaeda. The detained doctor was freed after 64 days in custody after doctors in the UAE and Pakistan launched a concerted protest campaign.
The spokesman for the Jinnah Hospital told The Express Tribune that Dr Abdullah had been working in the hospital as the house officer in the surgical ward’s unit 1 for the past three months. He said that there was no doubt that Dr Abdullah was a “hardcore IJT activist, but he simply cannot be involved in facilitating the attackers”.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 17th, 2010.