PPP leader Sherry Rehman visited the protesting students from erstwhile-FATA and Balochistan in Islamabad outside the Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC). The students have been protesting against the revocation of scholarships and quota seats in medical institutions in the country for the last 12 days.
The commission had previously granted the students from erstwhile FATA and BAlochistan a total of 265 reserved seats in medical universities and colleges around the country. The commission had allowed universities and colleges to admit students above their respective institutional capacity to accommodate these reserved seats in the 2020 intake. Recently however, the reserved seats have been decreased from 265 to 29.
Rehman’s visit to these students comes amidst their hunger-strike, which has been going on for the last few days. “These students have been asking for months to be allowed to study on existing scholarships, but r being tossed around from dept to dept. Tabahisarkar is ruthlessly ignoring their legitimate demands, while smashing institutions like HEC with the hammer of ordinances,” Rehman tweeted about her visit to the protest camp.
As of now no officials or authorities have negotiated with the students. A student from Bannu, identified as Arif, fainted today due to the hunger strike and was provided the necessary medical attention.
PMC President Dr. Arshad Taqi had earlier commented that the commission had allowed additional seats above the allocated seats in public colleges for the 2020 intake. He has also said that the commission had informed the admitting universities and provincial governments that for the 2021 intake session, these additional and all other quota seats will have to be accommodated within the maximum allocated seats of the college.
The PMC president said admitting students over the allocated admission capacity of the individual medical universities and colleges compromises the standards and quality education and training being provided.
He advised that instead of forcing private colleges to admit students above capacity to accommodate students from FATA and Balochistan, the provincial governments must raise the capacity of their public sector colleges to accommodate these students to allow a better mechanism to keep the quality of education intact and still allow reserved seats to uplift students from these areas.
Similarly, PMC Vice President Ali Raza had commented in late January, when the PMC was reviewing its policy, that the directive to accommodate students from FATA and Balochistan was issued from the federal cabinet but there were no directions to allocate these seats over and above the allocated admissions capacity of the college.
He said since public sector colleges were owned by the provincial governments, any quota for public colleges was to be issued by the provincial governments in consultation with the federal government.
In addition, as admissions to public medical and dental colleges are carried out by each provincial government through its designated university, it is, therefore, the responsibility of the provincial governments to implement any quota notified by the federal government.
Ali Raza said the PMC was not the admitting agency for admissions to public medical and dental colleges and therefore, it had no role to play in such admissions or in the enforcement of any quotas. The PMC decided that it had no objection to any FATA quota established by the federal government or implemented by the provincial governments subject to said admissions not being over and above the allocated strength of each student, with the students admitted, having fulfilled the minimum FSc and MDCAT merit benchmark for admission.
As of now the students have been protesting for 12 days, and are yet to be heard. Last week students from FATA protested against the Punjab government’s decision to reduce reserved seats in universities across the province. After nearly a month of protesting, Governor Punjab reinstated the reserved seats for students from erstwhile-FATA.