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ISLAMABAD: Senate Monday passed The Compulsory Teaching of Arabic Language Bill 2020, a private-member bill moved by Barrister Muhammad Javed Abbasi from Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), which makes teaching of Arabic language compulsory from grades I to V in all the government and private schools in the jurisdiction of Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT).

At the Senate sitting presided over by Chairman Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani, Abbasi presented the bill which was passed by Senate. Speaking on the floor of the House, Abbasi said, the knowledge of Arabic language will help the children understand Islam in a better way. “It will also help the students understand the orders of Allah, the divine message of Holy Quran and the teachings of Holy Prophet (S.A.W),” he said.

The bill also makes teaching Arabic grammar compulsory from grades VI-XII in all government and private schools in ICT.

Speaking on the floor of the House, Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood said, government has already made teaching Quran and Nazra compulsory at the educational institutions from Grade I to V in Arabic language. Steps are being taken to improve educational standards in Pakistan with a number of initiatives being taken to reform the educational curriculum, he said.

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader and former chairman Senate Raza Rabbani said “Introduction of Arabic as compulsory language in curriculum has nothing to do with religion-it has everything to do with state’s policy of furthering political agenda-using Arabic language as a tool.” Rabbani argued against making Arabic a compulsory language for school children in ICT.

Ayesha Raza Farooq from PML-N said “There are a lot of things that can be done in order to be a good Muslim instead of merely learning Arabic language.”

Meanwhile, speaking on the floor of the House, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said, Pakistan would have defaulted when the current federal government took over two-and-a-half years ago had some “friendly countries not come to our rescue.” “The country was at verge of bankruptcy when we took over. We were nearing default. There was a resource gap of $ 20 billion. The agreement with International Monetary Fund (IMF) was not being finalised. Pakistan would have defaulted had some friendly countries not come to our rescue,” he said.

“Foreign policy cannot be seen in isolation, internal situation affects foreign policy. If country is economically stable then diplomatic outreach would be easy achieving foreign policy objectives would be difficult if country is weakened internally,” he said.

On India, he said, “It is dream of India to isolate Pakistan but it has not succeeded; Pakistan recently received historic success at United Nations Human Rights Council had Pakistan been diplomatically isolated this would never have happened; fingers are pointed at India now like they were pointed at Pakistan in the past. The tables have been turned.”

The foreign minister said he wrote another letter on Sunday to UN chief regarding unprovoked Line of Control (LoC) violations by India. “When Indian troops fire, they don’t care whether kids, women or civilians are targeted. They are beasts—but we have to be careful people because people at the other side of LoC love us. We can’t target them. We can’t target civilians. We target military posts. Indians target civilian population.”

On Afghanistan, Qureshi said, “World is recognising that Pakistan is not meddling in internal affairs of Afghanistan. Pakistan is interacting with all ethnic groups in Afghanistan and there has been an improvement in relations with Afghanistan. We know who wants to destabilise Afghanistan.”

The minister said Afghan peace process is a “long difficult role but it has to be initiated.” He said new American President Joe Biden’s approach regarding Afghanistan is “almost same” as was his predecessor’s, to support troops withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The diplomat said the government is ready to dialogue with opposition on foreign policy. Addressing Abdul Ghafoor Haideri from Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazal (JUI-F) he said, “Maulana, where will you invite us for dialogue? In Quetta, D-Chowk, Zero Point? Where? We will be there wherever you want. We are open as far as discussion on Pakistan’s foreign policy is concerned.”

Minister of State on Climate Change Zartaj Gul said vehicular emissions are biggest source of damaging air quality. Vehicular emissions contribute 43 per cent in damaging air quality; she said adding that the government has prioritised this issue. National Electric Vehicles Policy has been approved by federal cabinet to minimise dependency on petrol and diesel, she said.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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