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NA assails militants’ ‘ban’ on girls’ education

ISLAMABAD, Jan 20: The National Assembly on Tuesday unanimously adopted a resolution condemning the ‘ban’ imposed by militants on girls’ education and destruction of schools in Swat.

The resolution, moved by Information and Broadcasting Minister Sherry Rehman, called for rebuilding the schools and protecting schoolgoing children.

Observers, however, noted that the resolution contained no plan to combat extremists, who have destroyed more than 200 schools so far.

Taliban started torching girls’ schools before imposing a sweeping ‘ban’ on girls’ education. At the start of their campaign, parents had been warned against sending their daughters to ‘un-Islamic’ schools.

Expressing concern over the situation in Swat and tribal areas, the resolution urged the government to curb militancy and terrorism by developing these areas and creating jobs.

The assembly expressed concern over continuous violation of human rights, especially, the rights of women, in Swat and stressed that the people of Swat had inalienable rights, including protection of their lives.

Terming the violation of women’s rights and burning of girls’ schools un-Islamic, unjustified and unconstitutional, the resolution described the militants’ action as a direct threat to Pakistan’s integrity. It urged the government to provide security to students, particularly girls, and take action to rebuild the schools.

The resolution also urged the government to provide security to people, especially women, living in fear in the troubled areas and take appropriate measures to overcome insurgency in Swat.Members of the house condemned militants’ attempts to oppress the people of Swat in the name of religion and noted with concern that the people, particularly women, of Swat lived in a constant state of fear and were unable to lead a normal life because of inhuman restrictions imposed by militants through violence and terror.

Some members said that merely passing resolutions was not enough and the government should immediately take action to redress the situation.

Replying to a point of order raised by MNA Rana Tanveer, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani requested the Speaker of the National Assembly to expedite the formation of Public Rights Assurance Committee of the House and ensure proper implementation of human rights resolutions.

The prime minister informed the house that the government had already appointed the Leader of the House, constituted committees for Public Accounts, Foreign Affairs and Kashmir. “Some other committees have also been constituted and election of their chairmen will be held soon,” he said.

He said that a matter pending with a committee could not be raised in the assembly.

Adviser to Prime Minister and Chairperson of Higher Education Commission Begum Shehnaz Wazir Ali informed the house that the government had decided to suspend the setting up of nine engineering universities because of financial constraints.

She said the plan to set up the universities had been reviewed by a cabinet committee formed by the prime minister and it was found that the plan had been made in a hurry and without taking into consideration its financial impact on the national economy. She said that the establishment of each university would cost Rs45 billion.

She said that instead of spending huge amounts on universities and keeping in view the country’s financial position, the government had decided to strengthen existing universities and other institutions.

Ms Wazir Ali said the government did not want to use resources at this stage on ‘glamorous education schemes’.

Minister for Agriculture Nazar Mohammad Gondal said the government had increased wheat support price to enhance productivity and increase small growers’ income.

Minister for Commerce Makhdoom Amin Fahim informed the house the country was expecting a bumper rice crop this year that would lead to a reduction in its domestic price.

Responding a call-attention notice on procurement of rice at high rates by the Trading Corporation of Pakistan, he said the government was trying to enhance agricultural yield to provide relief to the common man.

About high price of rice, he said that a committee had been formed to take appropriate action against people found guilty of profiteering.
Source: Dawn
Date:1/21/2009

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