MIRPUR (AJK) -  The academic staff of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Medical College (MBBSMC) Mirpur has threatened to go on indefinite pen-down strike from October 25 against the non-payment of their salaries for the last four months.

Dr Faisal Ghafoor Bhopal, chairman of AJK Medical Teachers Association Mirpur chapter, and its member Dr Nisar Ahmed said that the general body meeting of the faculty of the MBBS Medical College Mirpur took the decision to go on the pen-down strike from October 25 if their salaries for the last four months were not released by October 24.

Expressing grave concern over fast-deteriorating economic conditions of the MBBS Medical College Mirpur, the faculty's leaders feared that the medical college has reached at the verge of destruction because of the alleged massive mismanagement and irregularities on the part of the authorities concerned.

"The faculty staff of the college has reached the stage of starvation because of the non-payment of the salaries for over last four months," they underlined. The two leaders continued that the recently held general body meeting of the faculty of the MBBS Medical College Mirpur had apprised AJK Minister for Health Dr Najeeb Naqi, Chief Secretary of AJK Sultan Sikander Raja, AJK Secretary Health, Principal Rasheed Ahmed and other authorities concerned of the prevailing dissention, unrest and concern among the academic staff of the college because of the non-payment.

They continued that it was so sad that the authorities took no notice nor they took requisite measure to release the salaries and there seems no chance of the same in the near future, they pointed out. "The ugly state of affairs compelled the faculty of the college to move to the agitation in form of pen down strike from Oct. 25 to press the authorities for early acceptance of their demands," they declared.

They said that the general body meeting of the faculty also formed their representative umbrella organisation- the AJK Medical Teachers Association, Mirpur Chapter to secure and protect the rights of the academic staff/faculty of the MBBS Medical College Mirpur. They unanimously elected Dr Faisal Ghafoot Bhopal as Chairman, Dr Sadiq Hussain as Secretary and four executive members including Dr Imtiaz Ahmed, Dr Azhar Qayyum, Assistant Dr Nisar Ahmed and Dr Zardad Khan.

They suggested immediate enhancement of funds to Rs1,000 million to ensure the smooth functioning of the college project including the salaries of the faculty.

It may be added that the allocated funds of Rs200 million for the Mirpur-based MBBS Medical College are conditionally released with 50 percent earmarked for salaries. Following the shortage of funds, the deficit of Rs15 to Rs20 million in salaries is being faced at present per month.

With the estimated Rs2.76 billion, MBBS Medical College Mirpur was established in a building of AJK govt-run Para Medical School at Chitterpari in 2014 during the PPP regime in AJK, with the financial assistance of the government of Pakistan which had proposed these funds under the Public Sector Development Programme for the project.

Preliminary data revealed that the proposed cost suggested the allocation of Rs1.95 billion for construction of the building of college complex and Rs800 million for operational purpose and administrative expenditures. But because of the alleged mismanagement and bad governance of Prime Minster Ch Majeed-led PPP government in AJK the college received a total of only Rs500 million to meet all the expenditures in 2014.

In the ongoing fiscal year 2016-17, the allocation of Rs200 million could not meet the expenditures - both for construction and running of the administrative and academic activities. Rawalakot-based Poonch Medical College, it may be added, is being run by the AJK government from its own development funds under ADP.

Independent academic observers wonder over the induction of several faculty members comprising the retired professors and assistant professors from various medical colleges of the country in the presence of young doctors holding high qualification in various disciplines in the country.