LAHORE - Pakistan Medical and Dental Council the other day elected its new Vice President Dr Asim Hussain amid strong opposition and odd circumstances. The newly elected VP Dr Asim Hussain is the Chancellor of Zia uddin Medical University Karachi besides holding some other senior positions in the government including advisor to PM on Petroleum and Natural Resources. He is well connected to the influential circles within the PPP. Interestingly, the voting to elect the new vice president and replace the existing one took place when some important members of the general council were missing. President PMDC Prof Dr Sibt ul Husnain, rival party candidate for VP Prof Dr Mussadaq Khan, Additional Chief Secretary Punjab Taimur Azmat Usman, principals of the four public medical colleges of Punjab and some other council members were absent from the meeting. The PMDC's sitting Vice President Dr Masood Hameed chaired the meeting as an acting president in the absence of President Prof Dr Sibt ul Hussnain who was in UK on a private tour. According to an insider, the controversy over the issue triggered in the PMDC meeting when its nine members including Additional Secretary (Technical) Health Punjab Dr Mushtaq Ahmed Sulehriya, Principal Allama Iqbal Medical College Prof Dr Javed Akram and Vice Chancellor UHS Prof Dr Malik Hussain Mubashar stood up on their seats and protested against the in haste inclusion of elections for the office of VP as a part of the agenda. They claimed that the issue to elect the new VP was not mentioned in the first three letters issued to the PMDC council members for their participation in the meeting, which was postponed three times due to one reason or the other. They pointed out that the management of the council included election in the agenda on emergency basis and informed the members quite late, mentioning it in last notice that was sent to them only a few days before the meeting. The last intimation for the meeting was issued on March 17. As such most of the PMDC council members could not prepare for the elections. When contacted Dr Asim Hussain denied the claims by his opponents saying that the issue of electing the new VP was mentioned in the meeting minutes of the PMDC's last council meeting held some months back. He said the VP's term had expired in January this year. About the absence of the president PMDC and his rival candidate, Dr Asim said Prof Sibt ul Husnain could not attend the meeting as he had gone abroad for treatment while the meeting which was to be held at 8:00pm was delayed for eight hours only to ensure presence of his rival candidate Prof Mussadaq Khan but he did not come up despite the fact that the secretary PMDC contacted him repeatedly on his cellular phone. He said after waiting for a considerable time, the meeting started at 3:00pm instead of 8:00 in the morning and added that it was a fault on the part of Prof Mussadaq if he could not show up on the occasion. On the other hand, Prof Mussadaq Khan told The Nation that he had informed the PMDC about his engagements a week ago. Despite his prior intimation about his absence, the management conducted elections. He was busy in his college's seminar at that time, he added. The members of the council claimed that Dr Asim was the first VP in the history of PMDC being elected by a meeting in the absence of its president. The council went ahead with election despite their objection that the president was abroad. The council's members expressed displeasure over the way election was conducted in the absence of several other notable members also. "During the meeting Additional Secretary Health Dr Mushtaq while pointing out that many principals of the medical colleges have been changed and their membership process is in progress, advised the council to postpone the election", a source disclosed. An insider said the nine participants of the meeting also suggested to postpone the election till the return of their president Prof Dr Sibt ul Husnain and requested to include the same agenda item for the next meeting. Talking to The Nation, Additional Secretary Health Dr Mushtaq Ahmed Sulehriya expressed his strong reservations over the way the management elected the new VP. He said the PMDC first served a notice informing the members that the general council meeting would be held on March 11. The notice was again issued on February 27. In this notice too, there was no mention of the election to be held in the said meeting. Nor the election was included in another notice served on March 4. He said similarly a third notice too was issued for the members intimating cancellation of council meeting and its next schedule as well but in this notice there was no word for a new VP. It was only the last notice, issued on March 17 that carried the intimation of VP's elections. Prof Dr Javed Akram said it was the responsibility of the PMDC to give opportunity to its members to ensure maximum participation in the general council meeting. He said the participants of the meeting were not sufficient at the time for electing the new VP. He also criticised the role played by Prof Mussadaq Khan for not participating in the council meeting despite the fact that some council members had proposed him. Meanwhile, PMDC sources said the council meeting also gave approval to upgrade the post of the registrar PMDC from grade 19 to grade 20. Resultantly, Dr Ahmad Nadeem Akbar, Registrar PMDC, has been promoted from grade 19 to the next one.