Oxygen a fundamental right? The government begs to differ!

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*Vehicle carrying oxygen for Services Hospital gets stuck outside city due to ‘containment’

Whether oxygen is a fundamental right of citizens is a question which authorities may have to face in the coming days, as police authorities didn’t allow an oxygen carrying vehicle coming for Services Hospital to enter the provincial capital, Pakistan Today has learnt.

The situation arose when Services Hospital Medical Superintendent (MS) Dr Rehana Malik wrote a letter to the deputy inspector general (DIG) operations requesting him to allow the vehicle carrying liquid oxygen to enter as it was not being delivered due to the recent “containment” of the entire province including the metropolitan. She also highlighted the importance of liquid oxygen in the letter, a copy of which is also available with this newspaper.

After the letter, the DIG instructed the police officials to clear the passage for the vehicle carrying liquid oxygen as it was crucial for the patients. However, the hospital needs a refill of liquid oxygen in its central system after every three days, a senior hospital official told this newspaper.

MS Dr Rehana while talking to Pakistan Today confirmed the letter was written and that the police gave green signal to the vehicle to enter. “It is filled in the central system of hospital and the supply goes to the ICU and the emergency. The DIG assured us the supply will continue,” she added.

However, the situation is so uncertain for the last few days that the government put on containers and opens the roads whimsically. In the last one week, the government initially blocked the entire province through containers, then opened the road the very next day, yet again blocking Lahore’s entrance to all kind of vehicles. The media has also highlighted the ambulances, wedding processions, senior citizens, women and children stuck at the entrances of the city. Many of them were shown crawling under the containers to enter the city while some even entered on a boat.

A senior official further said that one oxygen container is expected today (Tuesday) and the other after three days on August 14-the day of the expected Inqalab and Azadi March.

The LHC has recently remarked in a ruling on removing the containers that mobility was not a fundamental right of the citizens. The fundamental freedoms of life, liberty and property are enshrined in the constitution, however it does not mention each and every of these by name. This has given rise to a question whether liquid oxygen includes one of the fundamental freedoms stopping which would be an infringement of fundamental freedoms.

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