Friday, 13 January 2012

AJK Government may go back on Medical College admission policy

MUZAFFARABAD, Jan 7 2012: The AJK government may go back on its repeated affirmations regarding admissions to the two budding medical colleges, allegedly under the pressure of some cabinet members who want to please their electorate at the cost of merit, Dawn has learnt.

The two medical colleges – recently opened in Muzaffarabad and Mirpur – have a total of 200 seats. Of them, the executive committee of both colleges, headed by the AJK chief secretary, had reserved 150 seats for candidates from AJK to be filled through open merit. The remaining 50 seats were reserved for candidates hailing from the four provinces, Gilgit-Baltistan, Fata, Islamabad territory, Indian-held Kashmir, and overseas Kashmiris.

AJK Prime Minister Chaudhry Abdul Majeed had himself constantly declared that admissions would be given on ‘open merit’ and there would not be any special quota for any area or government functionary. However, according to sources, some ministers had pressurised him to back-pedal on the issue and introduce quota system for admissions.

“The U-turn has been precipitated by intense pressure from the ministers who want to gratify their voters at the cost of merit,” said the sources.According to the new proposal, 10 seats in each college would be filled through ‘open merit’ and the remaining 130 seats allocated for AJK nationals would be distributed among all its districts under the quota system. The proposal, which is yet to be notified, has sent shock waves among students who have secured more than 80 per cent marks in FSc but are losing hope of securing admission under the quota system.

On Friday, a delegation of these students met Chief Secretary Mohammad Shehzad Arbab and called upon him to ensure that merit reigned supreme in admissions in accordance with a landmark decision of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. According to Fatima Abdullah, one of the students, the chief secretary appeared to be in agreement with their viewpoint but expressed his helplessness in the face of alleged political pressure. “The government has been claiming day in, day out that admissions will be given purely on merit. It is strange why it is going back on its words,” she said.

Another student, Komal Manzoor, said: “We are not demanding any extraordinary favour but something which is our fundamental right.” The meeting of pro-merit students with the chief secretary coincided with a demonstration by nearly three dozen students from Neelum valley against the ‘open merit’ admission policy for the medical colleges. “We want allocation of quota for Neelum valley and other areas in medical colleges,” they demanded. However, pro-merit students pointed out that most of the pro-quota demonstrators were living or studying in urban areas and hence did not deserve admissions through the back door.

“In our class alone there were nearly two dozen students from Neelum and Hattian districts who enjoyed same educational facilities and it will not be fair to give them admissions under the cover of quota system,” said Madeeha Ijaz, a student of Science Model College. Fatima Abdullah told Dawn that pro-merit students would stage a rally on Monday to highlight their viewpoints. “If we deem it necessary, we will also file a petition in the AJK High Court to seek directions for the government to abolish quota system,” she said. It has been learnt that the medical colleges’ executive committee was also scheduled to meet on Monday to discuss the issue.

When contacted, AJK prime minister’s spokesperson Murtaza Durrani confirmed that the government had decided to introduce district-wise quota system to accommodate students from all areas of Azad Kashmir and Kashmiri refugees.

“However, 10 per cent of total seats would be given on open merit,” he said.— Tariq Naqqash

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