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LAHORE: The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Religious Affairs and Inter-Faith Harmony has expressed concern over shelving of the Baba Guru Nanak University project allegedly by the Evacuee Trust Property Board.

One of the committee members also decided to raise the issue at the floor of the assembly after she didn’t find a satisfactory reply from ETPB Chairman Siddqul Farooq in a meeting that was presided over by committee chairman Hafiz Dr Abdul Karim at a local hotel on Friday.

Since the core objective of the committee’s meeting was to brief the members about the organisation of ETPB, its functioning, performance and budget etc, some of the participants were keen to know about the Guru Nanak University project that was prepared and reportedly approved by the ministry during the last tenure of the PPP-led coalition government. Another issue, which was related to on-going exercise to sack all those employees recruited in ETPB during the PPP government’s tenure, was also a critical one at it attracted criticism from some of the committee members.

“We are surprised that why the Gurunanak University project was shelved. And why the PML-N government or its subordinate ETPB is not making efforts to revive it,” MNA Shagufta Jumani, a committee member, told Dawn. She said since the project was so important in view of the promotion of educational activities and the country’s soft image, the ETPB should have launched and completed it as soon as possible. “Though I raised this issue in the meeting, but I didn’t find a satisfactory reply from the ETPB chairman. He (Mr Farooq) just said that he would make efforts in this regard,” Ms Jumani quoted the chairman as having said during the briefing and question/answer hour.

She said keeping in view the unsatisfactory response by the ETPB, she would surely now raise the issue in the NA. She said she also expressed concern over the reported ETPB efforts leading to dismissal of all those employees recruited in the board during the last regime of the PPP. In the meeting, the participants were told that the ETPB was facing financial deficit owing to unnecessary recruitment during the last government’s tenure.

“It is a problem with the PML-N government that whenever it comes into power, it always tries first to dismiss the employees recruited in the PPP tenure. But we will foil the ETPB bid, because we don’t want unemployment,” she deplored. She said she wouldn’t oppose the move if the documents of the recruited employees proved to be fake.

She said though Mr Farooq assumed charge of the ETPB chairman’s office a month ago, she expected he would do his best to take out the board from financial deficit. “As the chairman has claimed to take out the board from financial deficit by May 31, we pray for his success,” she added.

Earlier, the ETPB chairman, briefing the standing committee members, said he would make sincere efforts for completing the Gurunanak University project besides solving board’s financial issues.

Published in Dawn, February 28th, 2015

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