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Monday, 8 April, 2002, 16:44 GMT 17:44 UK
Pakistan doctors in protest strike
Bus attack
Karachi has suffered a spate of sectarian attacks
Thousands of doctors have gone on strike in Pakistan in protest against a series of sectarian attacks on them.

If it does not wake up now, the government will soon find the country deprived of doctors, particularly specialists

Pakistan Medical Association
Work was suspended in public and private hospitals in the main cities in response to an appeal from the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA).

Sher Shah, Secretary General of the PMA, said the stoppage had been very effective.

Doctors stopped work in Karachi, Lahore, Multan, Rawalpindi, Peshwar and Quetta, according to Dr Shah.

The only major city where the strike went unobserved was Hyderabad in Sindh province.

However, doctors were continuing to provide emergency services in government-run hospitals throughout the country.

Sectarian violence

At least 10 doctors were killed during the last four months in Karachi alone, the PMA says.

They say that as many as 78 were killed in the country as a whole during the last four years - victims of violence between Sunni and Shia extremist groups.

They also say that the continuing violence is forcing large numbers to emigrate.

Doctors staged a similar strike last month, hours after a doctor from the Sunni Muslim community was murdered in the city in an attack outside his clinic.

Hundreds of people have died in sectarian violence in Pakistan, and Karachi has been particularly badly affected.

President Pervez Musharraf has vowed to clamp down on extremist groups blamed for the killings.

A number of groups have been banned and their supporters rounded up by the security forces.

See also:

13 Mar 02 | South Asia
Karachi doctors on protest strike
27 Feb 02 | South Asia
Killings challenge Musharraf's resolve
27 Feb 02 | South Asia
'Extremists' held after mosque attack
13 Jan 02 | South Asia
Pakistan's militant Islamic groups
31 Jan 02 | South Asia
Musharraf's prescription for progress
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