RAWALPINDI: The district’s schoolteachers are up in arms over being ‘forced’ to contribute a part of their salaries to a Punjab government fund for upkeep of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), displaced by the ongoing military operation in North Waziristan.
Representatives of Rawalpindi’s schoolteachers told Dawn on Thursday that the district education officer (EDO) was forcing them to ‘contribute’ Rs 3,000 each to the provincial government’s fund for IDPs.
They said the EDO was trying to pressure the teachers by exerting influence through senior education officers in the hopes of securing a large amount of contributions for the IDPs’ fund.
Know more: Punjab plans fund-raising for IDPs
“It is unfair to this to teachers in the month of Ramazan. We would gladly help out our displaced brethren according to our means, but not everyone can afford to spare Rs 3,000 at this time. Eid is coming and we have to think about our children as well,” Syed Hamid Ali Shah, a schoolteacher, told Dawn.
EDO allegedly forcing teachers to contribute Rs3,000 to Punjab govt’s IDP fund
He said government employees, who had been promised a 10 per cent raise in the budget, could hardly make ends meet on their meager salaries.
EDO Rawalpindi Qazi Zahoorul Haq told Dawn that he had asked teachers to contribute to the IDPs’ fund, but denied exerting any undue pressure, claiming instead that he was just following orders. “The Lahore EDO collected Rs 3,000 from every schoolteacher in the district, I’m just following their example,” he said.
But former law minister and legal expert S.M. Zafar believes such an action is illegal.
“If the government is forcing teachers to submit donations… this is against the law of the land,” he told Dawn, adding that this was a violation of basic human rights and also contravened Article 4 of the Constitution.
A press statement issued by the Punjab Teachers Union of Rawalpindi (PTU) criticized the education department for coercing teachers to pay Rs 3,000 for the IDPs’ fund. PTU Rawalpindi President Raja Shahid Mubarik said teachers would not follow the “illegal, verbal directives” of the government.
The government has already deducted two days’ salary from the teachers’ paychecks to contribute to the upkeep of IDPs. “We are educated people, we can donate on our own... but we will not follow illegal directives,” PTU General Secretary Azmat Abbasi told Dawn.
Published in Dawn, July 11th, 2014