PESHAWAR: National Assembly Standing Committee on States and Frontier Regions (Safron) has summoned the president of Pakistan Medical Commission for discussing the issue of increasing seats for the students of erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas in the medical and dental colleges.

The PMC president has been asked to appear before the committee on Thursday or face privilege motion in National Assembly.

“We are extremely concerned over lack of cooperation by PMC, which is not ready to enhance seats in medical colleges (for tribal students) despite the cabinet’s decision. We demand of PMC to issue a notification before expiry of the deadline. In case of failure, we would submit privilege motion against the PMC president in National Assembly,” Sajid Khan Mohmand, the chairman of National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Safron, told Dawn.

He said that they had called president of PMC to the standing committee on Safron on January 7 to discuss the issue of seat enhancement for students of former Fata but he didn’t turn up.

Lawmaker says commission president to face privilege motion if he fails to turn up

“Now he has again been asked to appear before the committee on Thursday,” he added.

The federal cabinet had approved a summary entitled “Quota of Fata students in education, health and other institutions should be doubled and retained for 10 years after re-integration with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” in 2017.

The prime minister had asked the admitting medical universities to implement the decision only for one year (2019-20) owing to which additional students were enrolled last year.

MNA Sajid Khan said that the committee discussed the issue of doubling of medical seats across the country. He said that members of the committee showed immense concerns over the non-cooperative attitude of PMC.

“Being a federal entity, it is the responsibility of the commission to cooperate and implement the cabinet’s decision but it has been creating obstacles to resolution of the problem,” he said.

Mr Khan said that the committee directed the PMC to issue notification regarding doubling the existing quota for students of erstwhile Fata in medical colleges across the country for the next nine years by January 11 but it didn’t do so. “Now we have given it final warning to do it by January 20,” he added.

Last year, the PMC directed the colleges to double the number seats, noting that it would be one-time decision and from the academic year 2020-21 onwards the additional and all other quota seats should be accommodated within the maximum allocated seats to medical college and not as over and above seats.

Mr Khan said they asked the president of PMC to increase the seats in line with the mechanism adopted last year or face privilege motion in National Assembly.

He said that the meeting of the committee was attended by all MNAs from former Fata besides other members including Safron Minister Sahibzada Mohammad Mahboob Sultan.

They were unanimous to demand doubling of medical seats for tribal students to remove unrest among them, he added.

PMC, according to officials, wants the colleges to increase the seats after a proper inspection.

Last year, the commission, regulator of medical education in the country, allowed medical colleges to induct 272 students, double of their allotted quota of 136 seats, as a one-time decision in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

In other provinces, 78 students instead of 38 were admitted to medical colleges last year.

“The government should immediately build two medical colleges, one each in Bajaur and Kurram districts, to accommodate our students. But there is no progress on the colleges as of now,” said Mr Khan.

He suggested that PMC should allow private medical colleges to accommodate the students and pay for their fee.

“We will never let down our students, who have suffered a lot and want PMC to issue a notification for 10-year regarding doubling of seats. One year has passed and now we need a notification for the remaining nine years,” he said.

The MNA said that admission process was being finalised by January 28 and the elected representatives from former Fata would make every effort to ensure enhancement of medical seats for students of former Fata.

Published in Dawn, January 12th, 2021

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