Senate body tells govt to bring tribal districts at par with developed areas

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ISLAMABAD: A Senate committee has directed the government to prioritize the health and education needs in the tribal districts to bring the region at par with developed parts of the country.

The Senate Standing Committee on States and Frontier Regions (Safron) met at Parliament House on Monday.

Committee chair Senator Taj Mohammad Afridi said health and education have been neglected in erstwhile Fata, the federally administered tribal areas, and the government must focus on the social and economic development of this region, which has now merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The Saffron Ministry told the committee that the tribal districts have been allotted 4,048 seats in universities and colleges, of which 2,000 have been filled. The committee said the seats in government colleges and universities should be doubled and sought a list of universities that have not complied with the quota.

Additional seats were allocated for students from the tribal districts in 2017. Most departments doubled the quota after Fata was merged with KP, but the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) refused to do so on the grounds that medical and dental colleges have a certain number of seats according to provincial quotas and it was not possible to increase seats just for students from the tribal areas.

The Pakistan Medical Commission, which has replaced the PMDC, said that a decision has been made in this regard and applications will be sought from students from the tribal districts.

The Pakistan Engineering Council said that a notification has been issued and all universities have increased their seats. Admissions will take place according to the new quota from the next session.

In a briefing on the salaries and regulations of religious seminaries’ Primary Teaching Certificate and Certificate of Teaching employees, the committee was told that there are currently 490 teachers working at different seminaries.

The teachers have not been paid since June 30, 2019, the committee was told, and the finance department has not released funds for the project. The senators urged for emoluments to be paid by Jan 31.

Safron Secretary Aslam Kamboh assured the committee that its direction would be fulfilled.

A list of illegal appointments was submitted to the committee during a discussion on appointments made by the KP health department. Senators were told that some illegal appointments were made despite a ban, and officials were not found at their duty stations and were instead receiving salaries at home.

The committee said all such candidates needed to be terminated as per codal procedure.

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