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Body formed to probe ‘sexual harassment’ of UoP girl students

Body formed to probe ‘sexual harassment’ of UoP girl students

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly here Tuesday constituted a special committee to probe the alleged sexual harassment of girl students by the teachers at the University of Peshawar (UoP) and award exemplary punishment to the “black sheep” earning a bad name for their noble profession.

Deputy Speaker Imtiaz Shahid Qureshi announced the names of the special committee members headed by the Chief Minister’s Adviser on Higher Education Mushtaq Ghani. He made the announcement after a threadbare discussion on the adjournment motion of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)’s Nighat Orakzai.

Nighat Orakzai, Qaumi Watan Party (QWP)’s Anisa Zeb Tahirkheli, Information Minister Shah Farman, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-Nawaz)’s Sofia Shahid, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)’s Rashida Riffat, Ayesha Naeem and Deena Naz will be the members of the committee.

The mover, Nighat Orakzai, observed that the girl students were being sexually harassed by the teachers at the University of Peshawar. She said this was causing concern to the parents as the harassment had been taking place for the last several years.

She recalled that she had raised this issue in 2011 as it was ruining universities and the girl students were saying goodbye to education. The PPP lawmaker reminded that the issue was discussed during the tenure of the previous ANP-PPP government, but action couldn’t be taken against the accused as by then the assembly’s term had expired.

She asked the PTI-led government to take strict action against the “black sheep” in the teaching profession and save the future of the innocent students. The lawmaker and the entire opposition were not satisfied with the reply given by Mushtaq Ghani, Adviser to Chief Minister on Higher Education.

Senior Minister Sirajul Haq argued that since no particular case had been mentioned in the motion, it would be advisable for the adviser and the mover to hold joint investigation into the issue and take action against the criminals.

PPP’s parliamentary leader Mohammad Ali Shah Bacha, QWP’s parliamentary leader Sikandar Sherpao and its lawmakers Anisa Zeb Tahirkheli, Sultan Mohammad Khan and Meraj Humayun Khan and JUI-F’s Munawar Khan Marwat termed the matter serious and urged the chair to refer it to the assembly’s standing committee.

Minister for Information Shah Farman supported the opposition’s stance and said such incidents were unacceptable. “Keeping in view the worsening law and order situation in the province, we would have to be extra vigilant. The chair should constitute a special committee of women legislators to seek details of the incidents from the victims,” he added.

Leader of the opposition Sardar Mehtab Ahmad Khan in an emotional speech said it was a painful and sensitive issue and should be taken seriously. “This is a very serious issue. It does exist and let us tackle it as our daughters and sisters are getting education here (UoP),” he stressed.

He suggested holding of an in-camera session and said its report should be kept secret. He added they would have to stop this injustice being meted out to the daughters of the nation. Nighat Orakzai said she had proof, but intentionally kept some names secret. “If the government was not serious about it, I would mention the names and then the government would be responsible for the consequences,” she warned.

Mushtaq Ghani said he wanted to take action against the criminals and referring the maters to the assembly’s standing committee would delay action. The joint opposition postponed discussion on the law and order situation as a mark of protest against the absence of the chief minister, chief secretary, IGP, and home secretary in the assembly. Opposition lawmakers said the responsible officers should have been there during the debate on law and order situation in the province.

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