Sindh PA passes bill for private university
Karachi: The Provincial Assembly of Sindh on Thursday unanimously passed a bill for the establishment of Habib University, a private university in the city, to be run by the Habib Foundation.
Education minister Pir Mazhar-ul-Haq told the House that the Habib Foundation had been given this opportunity because of its excellent performance in the social sector.
Haq noted that the establishment of Habib University was part of the provincial government’s plan to encourage private sector participation in the education sector in general and in the higher education sector in particular.
During a general discussion on the university bill, Marvi Rashdi, Humera Alwani, Nusrat Abbasi and Farheen Mughal spoke out against the “unjust” admission policies of Karachi’s universities, which, they said, “discriminated against students from the rural areas”.
They pointed out that the University of Karachi had reserved only 33 seats for the rural students, which was far too low.
Zubair Ahmed, MQM’s minister for rural development, took strong exception to these remarks, and pointed out that there were other students in other universities of Sindh who were being subjected to similar discrimination.
Ahmed advised that discussions which pointed towards discrimination should be avoided, “otherwise, peace would not be possible in Sindh”.
Speaker Nisar Ahmed Khuhro then reminded the House that it had passed a resolution asking the KU to set up at least two additional campuses in other districts.
He also noted that the Assembly secretariat had written a letter to this effect, and that any flaws in KU’s admission policy would be rectified at the government level or by the assembly.
Meanwhile, finance minister Murad Ali Shah suggested that the legislators restricted their debate to the aims and objectives of the proposed Habib University, and that if they wanted to raise other issues, they could do so through appropriate procedures.
Senior education minister Pir Mazhar-ul-Haq regretted that certain elements spoke of Sindh and Karachi as if they were completely separate entities.
When he said Karachi was part of Sindh and its capital, a number of lawmakers thumped their desks.
He said those who indulged in “opposition for the sake of opposition” and talked on such lines, perhaps, they did not realize that they were committing a “major sin”.
In an apparent reference to the recent demands for division of Sindh, Mazhar said that a conspiracy was being hatched to instigate hatred, but that it had been foiled by the allies’ unity.
Haq praised the bill and said it should not be subjected to partisan politics.
Earlier, MQM’s Faisal Sabzwari said that the Habib Group had promised that admissions to Habib University would be given on merit, and that admission fees would be kept low to promote higher education among poor and middle class students.
PPP’s Dr. Ahmed Ali Shah said it was good to see that business groups were interested in setting up higher education institutions.
The PA unanimously passed the Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (amendment) bill, 2012, into law.
Law minister Ayaz Soomro said these amendments were aimed at giving more powers to the institute’s board in running SZABIST affairs more effectively. No other MPA spoke on the bill.
Revival of Lyari, Malir bodies
The Lyari and Malir Development Authorities (revival and amendment) Bill, 2009, was taken up for consideration in the House.
The law minister said former president Pervez Musharraf had dissolved the two bodies without any reason through an ordinance.
Subsequently, Ayaz Soomro claimed that uplift work had stopped in the underdeveloped areas of Karachi and that the two authorities were being revived for this purpose.
PPP’s Munawar Abbasi said the Sehwan Development Authority was revived in 2009 but that the Lyari and Malir bodies had not been revived because “our friends had certain objections against its revival”.
He said rural areas of Karachi needed special attention in provision of infrastructure and other facilities.
Abbasi said the former Nazim of Karachi had publicly stated that he had spent Rs300 billion on development works, but that none of the money had been spent on providing drinking water and roads in Karachi’s rural areas.
He advised his party not to leave the rural areas to the “mercy of others”.
However, during a general discussion on the bill, the law minister requested the Speaker to defer the bill for Friday because the LG minister was not available and because their allies also wanted to bring amendments to the bill. Bills for an Education City and Sindh Coal were also introduced in the House.