ISLAMABAD: There is a need to give foreign scholarships to students from underdeveloped and terrorism-affected areas in the country, said Leader of the House in the Senate, Raja Zafarul Haq, on Friday.
According to Senator Zafarul Haq, priority should be given to students from Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and underdeveloped areas of Punjab.
On a motion moved by Mohammad Daud Khan Achakzai, a report of the special committee on the issue of the lapse of various foreign scholarships for Pakistani students, Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed said that there were some flaws in the system. He added that it was unfortunate when in some cases the countries offering the scholarship also sent name of the students along with the scholarships.
Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani said recommendations of the committee would help improve and streamline the existing scholarship system. He added that the education ministry should monitor the process and coordinate with the Higher Education Commission of Pakis-tan. It was also suggested that there should be a focal ministry to monitor the scholarships. Foreign countries, the chairman added, should send scholarships directly to the education ministry.
While Senator Mushahid Hussain suggested that a website should be developed for the scholarships so that students benefit from it. The House adopted the motion with consensus.
Merit and eligibility: Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastagir Khan told the Senate that 50 commercial counsellors and attaches had been appointed at Pakistani Missions abroad in the last five years.
He said such appointments were made on the basis of open merit and eligible candidates from all service groups were invited to sit for the test and interview for the postings abroad.
The minister claimed the provincial quota was observed while recruiting and foreign postings were made purely on merit. He added that the new attaches would be sent to the country’s missions abroad soon.
Summit postponed: The minister for science and technology, Rana Tanveer dismissed the impression that the secretariat of the Comstech General Assembly was shifting from Islamabad to another country.
Responding to a call attention notice regarding the postponement of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation summit scheduled to be held in Islamabad from Nov 9 to 11, he said the moot and 15th session of the Comstech General Assembly was postponed due to security reasons. He added that a new date would be announced later. Free medicine at PIMS: Minister Incharge of Capital Administration and Development Division Usman Ibrahim informed the Senate that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had allocated Rs 500 million for setting up a facility for treatment of cancer patients.
He said that efforts were being made to set up a cancer treatment facility at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS). He added that free medicines would be provided to patients in the emergency department.
The minister claimed that during the last nine months over 560,000 patients were provided with free medicines. He said, one pharmacy was already functioning at the hospital while two more would be set up to facilitate patients, adding that records of the medicine distribution were being computerised to ensure transparency.
Advertising posts: According to the minister for information technology and telecommunication Anusha Rehman, the post of executive director at the National Information Technology Board (NITB) MP-I scale would be advertised in national dailies again.
“Criteria for the post will be BSc plus experience,” she said, adding that three rounds of interviews were conducted for the post but the ministry could not find a suitable candidate.
She claimed no appointment had been made in the board during the last three years. The minister said as many as 18 posts in different scales, including executive director, were lying vacant. She added that nine other posts were also lying vacant in the ministry.
Replying to another question, the minister said the Universal Service Fund (USF) was utilised exclusively for providing access to telecommunication services to people in the un-served, under-served, rural and remote areas.
Elaborating, she said Rural Telephony and e-Services (RTeS), Optical Fiber Cable, Broadband and special projects were being executed under the USF.
A subsidy of Rs 36.71 billion till Sept 2015 had been utilised for USF projects all over the country, adding that during the last three years, projects worth Rs 20.33 bn had been undertaken in the Broadband and RTeS categories.
Going green: The state minister for parliamentary affairs, Sheikh Aftab Ahmed, said 28,000 saplings would be planted along the signal-free Islamabad Expressway to keep the surrounding environment-friendly, clean and green.
He said a total of 319 trees were removed from the site of construction, which included 256 Paper Mulberry trees that were not considered environment-friendly.
Published in Dawn, November 7th, 2015