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Universities being urged to provide free education to the student of war affected areas—File Photo.

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly Standing Committee on Human Rights on Tuesday requested the government to ensure that the students from war-affected areas get free education in universities.

The request was made after some students approached the Ministry of Human Rights with the complaint that the education institutions in the private sector had denied them waiver in fee.

The Ministry of Human Rights had written letters to Comsats, Quaid-i-Azam University, International Islamic University, Nust, Federal Urdu University, Bahria University, Numl, AIOU and the Higher Education Commission, seeking admission for students but without results.

In a meeting here the committee, however, urged the government to increase human rights revolving fund to accommodate the students. It directed the HEC to set aside funds in this regard and urged the Inter-Provincial Committee to play its role in ensuring free education to the children.

The committee also decided to take up the issue with the Economic Affairs Division so that funds could be generated through foreign donors.

According to a representative from a private NGO, Human Rights Seekers Pakistan, both public and private sector universities have declined to give fee waivers because of limited resources.

The committee urged the government departments concerned to ensure not only fee waivers but provide financial assistance for admission fees, tuition fees, accommodation and books.

MNA Kashmala Tariq suggested to the government to implore the corporate sector to contribute in the HR revolving fund which could only give not more than Rs10, 000, that too in extreme cases, to deserving student.

HEC's senior representative Dr Talat Khursheed informed the members that the higher education regulatory body was already offering scholarships strictly on merit.

“The HEC has now started offering financial assistance for initial settlement (travel allowance from home to university),” said Dr Talat Khursheed explaining how Rs450, 000 covered all for a student in undergraduate programme and Rs300, 000 for a postgraduate student per year.

He also sketched a gloomy picture how access to higher education had become difficult because of a deficit of Rs7 billion in the current budget and 50 per cent increases in salaries.

“The Rs70,000 or Rs80,000 fees per semester may seem higher but are according to expenses of universities,” he elaborated.

Adviser to the prime minister on human rights Mustafa Nawaz Khokar took strong exception to Rs7 billion cut in HEC budget and said the government was meeting more than Rs13 billion a year expenses of FC deployed in Balochistan but ignoring education.

The meeting was cut short because of an Indian delegation visit to the Parliament.

But in the last 15 minutes, Chairman of the committee MNA Riaz Fatyana took up the issue of honour killing. He directed the Ministry of Human Rights to amend the present criminal law and also make the state defendant with the family members of the victim.

He also sought complete report about the murder of Dr Baqir Shah, major witness in the Kharotabad incident in which FC and police personnel gunned down foreign civilians.

The Committee also took up the issue of missing persons.

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