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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) secretary-general Ahsan Iqbal has accused the government of damaging the Higher Education Commission (HEC) by revoking its autonomy and slashing its budget. He was talking to media after expressing solidarity with the protesting students of ex-Fata and Balochistan, who are protesting in the federal capital against the termination of quota and scholarships in various public-sector universities.

He warned the government to stop “playing with the future” of the country, adding that the students of ex-Fata and Balochistan have the right of getting quality education as they have suffered a lot due to terrorism in their areas.

“They should be given opportunities by equipping them with quality education so that peace and development and prosperity can prevail in ex-FATA. If there is development and prosperity in erstwhile FATA, then no terrorist organization can succeed to exploit them,” he added.

“They might be forced to become tools for the extremist elements, if they are denied the opportunities,” he further warned.

He asked the government to immediately not only restore the allocated seats but increase the seats for the students belonging to ex-Fata and Balochistan in the medical colleges, adding that all the scholarships should also be restored forthwith.

Iqbal accused the government of sabotaging the HEC, adding that its chairman was sacked, and revoked HEC’s autonomy by converting it into the directorate of higher education.

“They are playing with the future of the country,” he said, adding that the PML-N government had increased its budget from Rs13 billion to Rs46 billion.

He pointed out that the current government has decreased the HEC’s budget from Rs46 billion to Rs29 billion while its current budget has also been slashed due to which the universities are lacking funds for giving salaries.

Resultantly, he added that every public sector university of the country is facing worst economic situation, due to which they have increased their fees, making it impossible for the poor to afford the heavy fees.

“Unfortunately, I have to say that this government is pursuing anti-youth and anti-education policies. One has to give a Nobel Prize to [PM] Imran Khan when he gives lectures, but when it comes on taking practical steps, then there is no person and government more bankrupt than the current premier and his government,” he maintained.

The PML-N government launched a special scholarship programme for students from erstwhile FATA and Balochistan through the Higher Education Commission through which they were to be made agents of development by providing educational opportunities in educational institutions across the country, especially in Punjab.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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