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Commission on women under fire in PA

PESHAWAR: The women legislators in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Friday questioned the performance of the Provincial Commission on the Status of Women and demanded appointment of professional and dedicated women in the forum.

During the question-answer session, the Mutahidda Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) lawmakers Zarqa Bibi and Uzma Khan demanded immediate dissolution of the body and alleged that the provincial government had inducted its blue-eyed women in the commission.

“The commission is a one-woman show and has confined itself to meetings,” remarked Zarqa Bibi. She said that the commission, constituted in May 2010 to work for the empowerment of women in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, had also failed to set up its district level committees.

She informed the House that a car provided to the commission’s chairperson had been stolen from her residence though she was not entitled to an official vehicle. She also demanded an inquiry into the matter.

MPA Uzma said that the government had inducted like-minded women in the commission and majority of them belonged to Peshawar. The lawmaker demanded dissolution of the body and appointment of professional women in the commission.

Shazia Tehmash of Pakistan People’s Party suggested that the commission should arrange briefing for the female lawmakers to elaborate its activities.

MPA Musarat Shafi, who is member of the commission, brushed aside the allegations against the commission members.

Similarly, Minister for Social Welfare Sitara Ayaz, responding to questions, also strongly defended performance of the commission. She said that the commission members had been appointed on merit. She said that the provincial government had sanctioned grant-in-aid of Rs27 million for the commission for fiscal 2010-11 of which Rs2.3 million were spent on the establishment of office, purchase of car for the chairperson and salaries.

The minister said that the commission was an advisory body and it could only give recommendations to the government concerning women-related issues.

Speaker Kiramatullah Khan Chagharmati directed the minister concerned to arrange special briefing for the lawmakers about the activities of the commission.

MPA Israrullah Khan Gandapur pointed out that the provincial government had abolished the right of pension and gratuity for those civil servants who were appointed after an amendment in the provincial Civil Servants Act in 2005.

However, according to the mover employees of the police, excise, prisons departments and judiciary were still getting pension and gratuity while civil servants in others departments had been deprived of this benefit.

He said that the government had admitted that Section 19 (amended) of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Civil Servants Act, 1973 was applicable to all civil servants in the province and if any department did not act upon the amended law then it would be considered violation of rules.

“Of the total 375,000 civil servants in the province only 80,000 employees of the police, excise, prisons departments and judiciary are still getting pension and gratuity,” he maintained, adding that the remaining employees were receiving only contributory provident fund.

MPAs Abdul Akbar Khan and Khushdil Khan also supported the mover and requested the chair to refer the issue to the committee concerned. Abdul Akbar said that he would soon table a bill in the House to abolish Section 19. Law Minister
Arshad did not oppose the move.

The House was also informed that the provincial government had spent Rs14.3 million on medical treatment of the provincial ministers and their family members from May 2008 to April 2011.

The law minister on behalf of chief minister introduced ‘The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Highways Authority (amendment) Bill 2011’ in the House. The speaker adjourned the proceedings till 6.30pm on Monday.

Source: Dawn