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ISLAMABAD: The Senate Functional Committee on Less Developed Areas on Wednesday directed 30 ministries and divisions to carry out their correspondence in Urdu, since some committee members cannot read English.

Committee chairman Senator Mohammad Usman Khan Kakar from the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) said it was unfortunate that all correspondence is carried out in English when Urdu is the national language.

The committee members had gathered for a brainstorming session on issues facing less-developed areas in all the provinces and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

However, Jamiat-i-Ulema-Fazl (JUI-F) Senator Maulvi Faiz Mohammad said the correspondence made with him was in English and he had not been able to understand it.

“It has happened to me sometimes, and I could not understand all of what was said in English, so I spoke there in Arabic. I suggest that all the proceedings should only be held in Urdu. I face the same situation in the Senate and cannot understand anything,” he said.

Committee secretary Mughees Ahmad Shaikh said departments usually send responses in Urdu and English, adding that he would ensure that in the future all documents are provided in Urdu.

“Moreover we will direct all the departments that they should submit replies to all the queries in Urdu,” he said.

Mr Kakar said that there are 30 ministries and divisions that usually interact with the committee and suggested that all of them should be directed to follow this as well.

Earlier, committee member Senator Fida Mohammad asked why some areas in the country had been left undeveloped or were less developed.

“There is the same Constitution and law across the country, but some areas have been deliberately left underdeveloped. We need to play our role to ensure that basic facilities would be provided in less developed areas. Though most minerals are extracted from Malakand Division and Balochistan, they are in less developed areas. On the other hand only four out of over 35 districts of Punjab are among the less developed areas. This situation needs to be changed,” he said.

He added that it was unfortunate that most senators did not even want to join this committee because they didn’t find any charm in it. “However, we will make the committee active and will ensure that the problems of common people would be solved,” he said.

Senator Haji Momin Khan Afridi said that are issues related to health, education and water in Fata, which the committee should address.

Mr Kakar added that if members really wanted to address the issues of less developed areas, they need to ensure their attendance.

“In Ramazan we will hold one meeting over the issue of electricity loadshedding and after that we will hold three meetings every month to push the ministries to implement our recommendations,” he said.

Published in Dawn, May 17th, 2018