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September 18, 2008

Nasim Ashraf’s multi-billion project will be laid to rest


September 18, 2008

ISLAMABAD: The federal government is set to abandon a high profile multi-billion rupees project of the Musharraf regime, the National Commission for Human Development (NCHD), by closing down all of its projects except the community based primary education initiative, The News has learnt.

The main architect, and for many the main beneficiary, of the NCHD scam, Dr Nasim Ashraf has already resigned and may not be held accountable for billions of taxpayers' money that he spent during the Musharraf years. He is a US citizen who has also served as the chairman of the PCB.

Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani has constituted a special committee to deliberate upon the fate of the NCHD as the government blocked its funds of billions of rupees owing to scarcity of financial resources.

The name of the NCHD would also be changed after consultation with the provincial governments, said the sources. It has been decided that the community based primary education program would continue for one-year period. For other programs, the government will hold meetings with donors for arranging financing for the projects or the government would close them down.

The second meeting of the Special Committee on the NCHD was held on Tuesday at the Planning Commission.

In line with the present government's policy to strengthen the social sector and to continue viable programs irrespective of when they were initiated, the special committee decided to continue certain key programs of the commission. The committee recommended that the largest and most important of these being the Feeder Schools Program should continue but in a more focused and targeted fashion.

The committee appointed a sub-committee headed by Furrokh Captain, Chairman Pakistan Human Development Fund, with MNA Nafeesa Shah and Secretary Education Jehangir Bashar as members to review the literacy program by taking provincial governments into confidence and to recommend a plan of action for

implementation, financing and staffing. It was agreed that the government would provide necessary resources to support the Universal Primary Education.

Now the cabinet committee, headed by the deputy chairman Planning Commission, is set to recommend closure of all other projects except the primary education, which will be continued in years to come.

The NCHD, which is considered as the brainchild of the Musharraf regime, will be facing closure of its major initiative going on in areas of adult literacy and health related basic provisions of life in many parts of the country.

When Deputy Chairman Planning Commission Salman Farooqi was asked about the fate of the NCHD, he said that the government would continue primary education related programmes in order to achieve the desired results. "We have proposed to continue the primary education related initiative only," he added.

When he was asked whether the government was considering any move to change the name of the NCHD, he said that its name did not bother him. He said the government wanted to improve service delivery operation for achieving the desired results.

However, another high-level official of the government told this scribe that the government had decided to abandon all other projects of the NCHD except the primary education initiative.

Another reason will be bringing administrative and structural changes in the work of the NCHD as the Central Development Working Party (CDWP) of the Planning Commission will approve a fresh project with mandate to help out the provinces and district governments for promoting primary education.

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