PESHAWAR: Poor attendance marred the proceedings of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Friday forcing the chair to adjourn the session until Monday as the agenda for the day remained unfinished.
After the recitation from the Holy Quran in the sitting chaired by Deputy Speaker Mahmood Jan, MPA Shafiq Afridi of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf from Khyber tribal district spoke on a calling attention notice about the closure of 90 schools in his constituency for many years.
He said the people’s expectations about Fata-KP merger hadn’t been realised as no attention was being paid to the improvement of education in tribal districts.
Mr Afridi said around 90 schools in his constituency were destroyed during militancy and their building had been lying in ruins for many years.
Headcount done thrice but house didn’t have required number of 37 members
He said the destruction of schools had denied an entire generation of children the right to education.
The PTI lawmaker said the government held negotiations with the China Aid in 2012 for the reconstruction of educational institution in ex-Fata but the talks didn’t succeed.
Over 1,100 education institutions, mostly schools, were damaged in tribal districts during militancy. The respective governments were negotiating with international donor agencies to provide cash grants for reconstruction of damaged schools in the militancy-stricken region.
Mr Afridi said he brought the issue to the notice of the chief minister after the Fata-KP merger and the latter ordered the start of work on those schools within a fortnight.
He, however, said nothing had come out of the order more than two years later.
The lawmaker said bureaucracy ignored the chief minister’s directions regarding the reconstruction of damaged schools.
He said the buildings of 43 schools had been ready in the remote Tirah valley of Khyber district since 2008 but the government only provided staff to two of them. “Rest of them [schools] are still awaiting staff members,” he said.
Mr Afridi said the schools projects included in the annual development programme of the 2019-20 also didn’t materialise and work was yet to be started on them.
He said the same situation prevailed in all seven tribal districts.
“This is depriving our entire generation of their right to education,” he said, adding that thousands of children currently attend classes in worn-out tents.
As Mr Afridi was making his speech, another member pointed out a lack of quorum. The chair ordered the assembly’s staff members for a headcount, which showed the presence of only 19 members in the 145-strong house.
He adjourned the sitting for five minutes and ordered the ringing of the bells.
Another headcount was held after five minutes but again, the present members totalled less than the required ones forcing the deputy speaker to order the ringing of the bells for five more minutes.
However, the required number of 37 lawmakers did not make it to the house. The bells were rung again but only 29 members were there.
Deputy Speaker Mahmood Jan was also irked by an empty officers gallery. He ordered the secretary of the assembly to write a note of displeasure to the chief secretary over the absence of officers from the house.
The chair also bemoaned the lawmakers’ disinterest in the house proceedings and said such a conduct was costing the exchequer dearly.
The session was later adjourned until Monday afternoon.
Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2022