Hundreds of Pakistani doctors, most of them hailing from Punjab province, are on the verge of losing their jobs in Saudi Arabia, as the Pakistan government has reportedly decided not to extend their period of service there.
The Pakistan government had promised these doctors that their deputation period in Saudi Arabia would be extended because it wanted to strengthen ties with the Arab country and earn maximum foreign exchange through them, "but no such extensions were now being given," they said.
The doctors from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan Medical Association office-bearers alleged that the Pakistan Health Department had extended the deputation period of only those doctors who had either bribed its officials or who were the 'favourites' of the department, reported the Daily Times.
These doctors have written a letter to Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani requesting him to solve the issue. The letter said that hundreds of Pakistani doctors in Saudi Arabia were earning huge foreign exchange for their country.
The majority of these doctors are permanent employees of federal and provincial governments, it added.
"The situation has put the doctors and their families under immense stress," one doctor in Abha said and added there was no limit on the extension of their service period according to government rules "but terminating those who have served their country for many years, both in Pakistan and abroad, is like a punishment".
Dr Junaid, working in Saudi Arabia, said the doctors serving abroad should be considered a national asset, and that the government should reverse the phenomenon of brain drain into brain gain. He said it was sad that the government was terminating even the contracts of senior doctors.