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A new hazard of medicine

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: (Published 27 April 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:1045
  1. Saad Shafqat, assistant professor of neurology
  1. Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan

    In a tragedy of mounting proportions, doctors in Karachi are facing a grave risk on account of their professional identity. In the past three years, more than 80 doctors have been killed in Pakistan's largest city, ambushed during their daily commutes by motorcyclists who deliver automatic gunfire from point blank range. Karachi has had a reputation for being something of a powder keg, but no one had anticipated it would come to this.

    I, too, am a doctor in Karachi. These are not easy times for any of us, but to belong to a profession whose members are being senselessly killed is an experience bordering on torture. Panic has rippled through my city's normally thriving medical community. I know colleagues who have fled the country and left behind flourishing practices and distinguished teaching positions. Some have confined themselves indoors. The rest of us are varying our daily routines, sleeping over at the houses of friends and neighbours, and exchanging cars so we don't get …

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