‘Favouritism’ deprives 23 students of BD medical scholarships
MIANWALI: At least 23 eligible Pakistani students have been deprived of an opportunity to pursue their medical education in Bangladesh under a Saarc scholarship programme allegedly because of favouritism going on unchecked in the relevant sections of the Ministry of Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) and the Foreign Office (FO).
The case of Ms Mah Noor, a local student who scored 971/1100 marks in the FSc exam and 987/1050 in matriculation, besides securing 2nd position in the NTS test conducted by the IPC ministry, topping in the aggregate merit, epitomises the plight of many others.
Ms Noor (17), daughter of Mohammad Arshad, a local, told Dawn that she was among the candidates vying for the yearly Saarc MBBS/BDS scholarships offered by Bangladesh. The number of the scholarships offered for Pakistani students for 2016-17 was 23, she said.
Since the scholarship seats were limited, the IPC ministry had invited applications from eligible students for appearing in NTS test which was held on Oct 9, 2016, she said.
She said that she came to know about the ‘scam’ through the official website of the Director General Health, Bangladesh, that displayed the names of four Pakistani students who got admission to the MBBS/BDS there.
She said what was more shocking, was that the four students who got admissions in Bangladesh did not even appear in the NTS test. She said it was also surprising that all these students belonged to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa namely Mohammad Arif of Chikasri, Swat, Aimal Khan of Takht Bai, Mardan, Noor Islam of Chimari, Takht Bai and Mohammad Aziz of Timergara, Lower Dir.
On contacting foreign scholarship office, Noor’s father was told that the ministry was unaware of such admissions and that if such an irregularity was confirmed the admissions would be cancelled.
The dejected father of Ms Noor told Dawn after persistent queries he came to know that all the information about the admissions was being disseminated by Foreign Office in violation of rules and regulations.
He demanded a strict action against those responsible for such blatant disregard of rules and regulations.
The parents of the effected students have requested Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to order an inquiry into the whole affair to save the future of hard working and brilliant students.
On contacting the ministry’s foreign scholarship office at Islamabad, this scribe was told by an office assistant, who introduced herself as Ms Misbah, that every year the office prepared a merit list after conducting NTS test prior to receipt of admission offer from Saarc countries to save time.
However, she said, this year the Saarc offer letter was ‘mistakenly’ dispatched/emailed to the FO instead of the ministry’s office dealing with the scholarships.
“When candidates approached us and we investigated, traced the lacuna and finally received the letter, it was too late as the MBBS classes had already started in Bangladesh by then,” she said.
She said the office tried its best to get rectified the “error”, but Bangladesh Embassy refused to entertain the request.
About the “wrongful” admission of the four KP students in Bangladesh, she said that they were recommended by FO in violation of rules and “we (have) informed the concerned ministry of Bangladesh (about it) and reportedly their admissions were cancelled because they bypassed the concerned office”.
“We are trying to secure admissions for the students who had qualified for the slots. In case of failure, these students would be considered next year,” she added.
But the ministry reply can’t console Mah Noor, who despite her outstanding academic record, was denied the scholarship and consequently better future prospect.