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February 8, 2017

No hate syllabi in Punjab, PA told


February 8, 2017


Punjab government has asserted on the floor of the Punjab Assembly that none of the educational institutions in the province, whether government, private or the religious seminaries, are having any syllabi that imparts religious intolerance or extremism.

Government and law enforcing agencies have completed a thorough scrutiny of the educational syllabi, particularly those of the religious seminaries besides having these registered, the law minister told the Punjab Assembly on Wednesday while replying to a public interest resolution moved by a treasury member, Hina Pervaiz Butt, on the private members day on Tuesday.

The law minister opposed the passage of the resolution which called for taking immediate and comprehensive measures to remove all the material related to spreading religious intolerance and extremism from all the educational institutions. He informed the House that not only the syllabi of the seminaries were examined but these were also registered with the government under a modern system to have comprehensive monitoring. He praised that the intentions of the mover of the resolution were sincere and showed her concerns, but added that the government had already been taking necessary measures in this regard. He said the resolution gave a kind of impression that the syllabi of the educational institutions in the province were containing any objectionable material, whereas the fact was that all the educational institutions in the province were absolutely free of any objectionable material. He informed the House that the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) had specially scrutinised the 552 institutions that fell in the grey area and found no questionable material or activity there. He also informed the House that nearly 1.1 million students of the seminaries including 1300 foreigners were also thoroughly scrutinized to the satisfaction of authorities. Treasury’s member Gulnar Shahzadi was forced to withdraw her resolution after facing serious opposition from the parliamentary secretary on education Joyce Rufin Julius and the provincial minister for human rights and minority affairs Khalil Tahir Sindhu. The resolution called for barring the private educational institutions from printing their logos on the note books of schools and colleges in order to prevent them from overcharging the parents or compelling them to purchase costly note books, and instead giving them the liberty to purchase notebooks from anywhere they like. Ms Joyce Rifun Julius said the government had already issued a circular to all private educational institutions that restricted them from forcing the parents on purchasing books, uniforms stationary etc. from any particular shop. But the mover referred to scores of complaints from the parents that this circular had been openly flouted by the private schools. The minister for human rights Khalil Tahir Sindhu while opposing the resolution said there was no law that allowed the government to restrict any private institution from printing its logo on notebooks. He referred to the foreign educational systems like Cambridge etc. which were out of the ambit of local laws and publish their notebooks.

But the mover insisted that no educational institution must be allowed to function outside the ambit of the laws of the land. Besides, she added that forcing the parents of the students to purchase notebooks and stationary from specified stores at exorbitant rates against their will was against the fundamental rights guaranteed in the constitution of Pakistan. But the minister kept insisting that specifying the notebooks for students was no violation of fundamental rights. After the tough opposition from her own colleagues on treasury benches, mover Gulnar Shahzadi had no option but to withdraw her resolution.

The House passed a resolution of treasury’s Dr Alia Aftab which called for immediate measures to install chemical treatment plants on the sewers of the factories to prevent them from releasing toxic and hazardous waste that had been causing serious threats not only to the environment but also to the lives of the humans, animals, birds and insects. Another resolution by opposition’s Dr Nosheen Hamid that called for constructing paved lanes on the sides of the main roads for motorcycle and bicycle riders.

Earlier, the opposition ended its boycott of the House after its reservations with speaker Rana Iqbal Khan were amicably resolved. The speaker welcomed the opposition members in the House and assured them full cooperation in fair and smooth running of the proceedings according to the constitution and relevant laws. The speaker said he had equal respect for all members irrespective of their political affiliations since every member was equal in status before the chair.

During the question hour, the House was told that the government spent over three million rupees on the education of medical students in their course of becoming doctors in the government medical colleges. However, there was no suggestion under consideration of the government to ban the doctors from working in other departments. However, the government was taking steps to make the medical graduates work in the medical profession as medical students were being asked to fill up surety bonds for working in medical profession for certain period after completion of their studies. The House was told that the government was also taking steps to make the women, who either don’t join medical profession or joined some other profession after becoming doctors, to return to their profession and serve the country.

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