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Senate committee passes NUMS bill

September 28, 2015

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Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Defence, Mushahid Hussain Syed. — APP/File
Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Defence, Mushahid Hussain Syed. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Senate defence committee on Monday passed the National University of Medical Sciences (NUMS) bill giving sweeping powers to the army-run medical university.

The bill makes NUMS an autonomous body in setting standards of medical education bypassing the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC), the federal watch dog and regulatory body of medical education throughout the country.

The committee meeting was presided over by chairman Mushahid Hussain Syed and was attended by secretary defence, deputy surgeon general of the Pakistan Army and other senior officers of defence ministry and proposed NUMS board other than committee members senator Farhatullah Babar, Maulana Ataur Rehman, Lieutenant General (retired) Abdul Qayyum, Lt Gen (retd) Salahuddin Tirmizi and Brigadier (retd) John Kenneth Williams.

Dissenting note by PPP's Farhatullah Babar

Objecting to the Bill in its present form, committee member and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Farhatullah Babar suggested that a clause be added making it mandatory for NUMS to follow PMDC laws and regulations in matters of prescribing a uniform, minimum standards of courses and minimum qualifications and experience required for medical professors and teachers.

“NUMS may become a world class medical university but it cannot be allowed to become its own regulator just because it is run and operated by military,” said Babar.

Babar's proposal was not accepted on the ground that the amendment would have to be referred back to the National Assembly delaying the passage of bill.

The PPP senator then recorded his dissenting note which read in part, “The space of the civilian institutions has already shrunk shockingly and disturbingly. It would be most unfortunate if we fail to arrest this free fall of the civilian institutions and continue to abdicate legitimate civilian space in matters of governance and regulation to the military authorities."

He added, "It is in the military’s interest that the perception of driving from the back seat but never letting off the control of the wheel is not allowed to strengthen any further. We must raise our voice against this onslaught. Let the NUMS Bill be the litmus test in this regard and hence this note of dissent,"

JIT investigating PAF attack

Secretary Defence, Lt Gen Alam Khattak told the committee that a joint investigation team is investigating the terrorist attack on a PAF camp in Badaber.

The committee members condemned the terrorist attack while eulogising the services of armed forces personnel who lost their lives while defending the airbase and fighting the terrorists.