5th October 2021
By Asra Haque
On Tuesday, October 5, a protest by young doctors against the National Licensing Examination (NLE) turned violent as demonstrators and the Islamabad Police clashed at the entrance of the Pakistan Medical Commission.
In September 2020, the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) was abolished via a presidential ordinance, and the Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) was established in its place. The PMC announced holding exams per a national syllabus, a move greatly deplored by medical students and young doctors.
Students argue they had studied under their respective provincial syllabi, and were both caught unawares and left little time to prepare for the newly imposed national syllabus for the now online national Medical and Dental College Admission Test (MDCAT). Protests continued long after the first MDCAT was conducted in August of this year, as test-takers alleged irregularities in the online exam and unexpectedly dismal results.
MDCAT students from across Pakistan announced a long march to the Prime Minister House following days of demonstrations against the PMC, culminating in a 12-day-long sit-in at Islamabad’s D-Chowk.
Earlier this morning, the PMC announced that the MDCAT is undergoing an independent third party post-exam analysis per international standards, and that upon completion the final results will be announced by the end of this week.
However, MDCAT students are maintaining their protest, demanding that a physical test be taken on the same day and that the paper should be conducted under the syllabi of the respective provinces.
Meanwhile, graduating doctors have registered their strong opposition to the NLE, stating that in addition to implementing a national syllabus, the exam was another unnecessary and unfair step in getting their licenses when they have already cleared their college exams. Doctors joined their juniors against the PMC while simultaneously intensifying their opposition to the PMC.
However, the peaceful protest was disrupted when a group of young doctors attempted to barge into the PMC premises and began hurling stones when they were stopped by a contingent of the Islamabad Police deployed at the site. Law enforcement personnel retaliated by baton-charging and arresting protestors.
Doctors and students claimed that many demonstrators were injured in the clash, with the former group announcing the closure of all out-patient departments (OPDs) across the country in response to police brutality.