The doctors who beat up the medical superintendent of the District Headquarters Hospital, Gujranwala, on Wednesday got into the history books for the wrong reason. Instead of making a name for themselves because of some medical discovery, or even taking part in some record-setting surgical procedure, they disgraced their noble profession. It is another matter that such fisticuffs do not solve anything. When there was a resort to the legal recourse of registering an FIR with the local police, the Young Doctors Association went on strike in other cities like Lahore, Faisalabad and Multan, perhaps not realizing that this meant a support of fisticuffs. The medical superintendent was not the only target, but the violence unleashed resulted in the death of a father of five, as well as aerial firing near the doctors’ hostel. That firing was very unwise, for it would make the public wonder at how comfortable it was with the idea of armed doctors around. It was also symptomatic of the fact that doctors, especially young ones, had been students sharing in the culture of violence and weapons infesting the student body.

This blind support of its members is also a sign of the hangover from student life. The YDA might be particularly incensed by the arrest of its Punjab head over the incident. Apart from showing a mean streak, Dr Rashid showed his deficiency in negotiating skills. The original incident occurred on Monday, when doctors ransacked the office the day before, to get their contracts renewed, and someone should remind them that such methods would not get the contracts renewed.

The striking doctors need a reminder that all they are doing is proving they are worse than anything that is said about them. These doctors should be dealt with effectively. The justice system should not be abused to allow the guilty doctors to escape just because they are backed by their colleagues. There must be career counselling which prevents people inclined to such violence from going into such a noble profession. Doctors should remember that they are supposed to alleviate the suffering of humanity, not cause it by their own fists. If they do not, they should at least remember that a society that has spent so much on their training, and which looks to them as saviours, cannot display infinite patience. A medical degree is supposed to lead to a licence to practice medicine, not beat up people.