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April 17, 2018

PA passes three bills again despite Zubair’s objections


April 17, 2018

The Sindh Assembly on Monday unanimously passed three bills for a second time to establish as many universities in the province. The governor had returned these bills to the House without his assent and taking exception to diminishing his role as chancellor of the proposed varsities.

The PA unanimously passed for a second time the Sohail University Bill 2017; the University of Modern Sciences, Tando Mohammad Khan Bill 2017 and the Government College University Hyderabad Bill 2018.

In his observations on these bills, Governor Mohammad Zubair objected to empowering the chief minister to control and manage these universities while curtailing or ending the governor’s role as their chancellor or patron.

Zubair said that such an act of the Sindh government will break the link between the higher education sector and the federation, when the federation has a constitutional role to play in promoting university-level education in all the provinces.

During the discussion to review these proposed laws, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Nisar Khuhro, who had also moved the bills in the House, said the power to control universities was transferred from the chancellor to the CM because the latter is a part of the PA and answerable to it while the former is not.

Khuhro said the House is being empowered to question the chief executive if these proposed universities fail to deliver. Under the previous law, the PA could not pose such questions to the CM because he was not fully empowered to manage varsities.

He said it is wrong to assume that by passing these bills, the federation of Pakistan will be endangered and the link between the province and the federation will be weakened or broken. PA opposition leader Khawaja Izharul Hassan said that empowering the CM to fully control public and private universities across the province will lead to politicisation of these seats of higher education.

He said the province’s higher education sector will be ruined through the ill-advised steps of the government. Hassan clarified that he is not against the setting up of new universities in the province because residents of cities such as Hyderabad and Tando Mohammad Khan definitely require more varsities, but he is opposed to the idea of increased interference of the government in the affairs of these varsities as a matter of principle.

Later, at the time of consideration of these proposed laws, the opposition lawmakers did not oppose their passage and all the three bills were passed unanimously. While passing the Government College University Hyderabad Bill 2018, some fresh amendments were also passed to insert into it to empower the provincial government to control the proposed university in line with the recently passed Sindh Universities & Institutes Laws (Amendment) Bill 2018.  

Singer’s killing

Home Minister Suhail Siyal informed the PA that the alleged culprit of the recent murder of singer Samina Sindhu in Larkana was arrested within two hours of the incident. Responding to a calling-attention notice raised by opposition MPA Naheed Begum, Siyal said it is wrong to assume that the provincial government, the police and other relevant authorities sprung into action only after the video clip of the murder went viral on social media.  

1,700 constables

Prisons Minister Ziaul Hassan informed the PA during the question hour about the plan to hire 1,700 constables for the jail police. He said the plan was put on hold after the election commission ordered halting fresh recruitment drives by the government until the approaching general elections.

Hassan said that there are a total of 523 condemned prisoners in different central jails of the province who have been awarded capital punishment and that they include four women. Responding to a question, the minister informed the House that there is an open jail in District Badin that was established in 1962 under the West Pakistan Prison Rules 1959.

He said the basic concept of this jail was to provide training to convicted prisoners in agricultural farming through modern techniques, adding that it was closed in 1996 in view of the law and order situation prevailing at that time.

However, he said, the prison was reopened in January 2012 and some convicted prisoners were moved from the Central Prison Hyderabad to the Open Prison Badin, but they were released on completion of their sentences. At present no prisoner is present in the open jail, he added.

Hassan said prisoners possessing good character and conduct were shifted to the open prison after they had completed at least one-third of their respective sentences so they could serve their remaining sentences there. The prison is spread over an area of 2008 acres that were allotted by the government, he added.

The prisons minister also said that some 39 lawyers were appointed to provide free legal assistance to under-trail prisoners in jails across Sindh who could not afford to hire a lawyer, as a committee under Justice (retd) Nasir Aslam Zahid was working to provide free counselling services to underprivileged inmates.

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