ISLAMABAD – The Senate on gave a go ahead to the government to upgrade Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) to a full-fledged university by passing ‘Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Medical University (SZABMU), Islamabad Bill, 2013’ amid uproar by the opposition who said the house was short of quorum and also protested naming the university after PPP founder.Minister for Capital Administration and Development Nazar Muhammad Gondal moved the bill on Friday that proposed upgrading PIMS to a medical university empowered to issue degrees, diplomas and certificates. It also proposed naming the new university after PPP founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. The bill was passed clause by clause with majority vote after opposition failed to convince Senate chairman about its assertion that the house lacked quorum.Amid the hue and cry of the opposition parties, Gondal told the Senate that the bill was proposed by the government to standardise medical education in general and particularly in the federal capital territory to encourage quality research in the field of medical sciences in country. Gondal said that the bill was in line with the education policy 2009. “SZABMU will impart quality medical education, provide better healthcare and carry out extensive research in medical sciences," the PPP minister said.According to the bill, all medical colleges and health institutions located in the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), excluding the constituent colleges of a university, will be affiliated with SZABMU. The bill has proposed the government transfer faculty of medicine of Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) to SZABMU which will then cease to exist and all students thereafter will be transferred to the new university in six months time.Requesting the chairman to defer the bill, PML-N’s Raja Zafarul Haq argued the bill must not be passed in haste and should be referred to relevant committee to review it as it carried contradictions. His party colleague Syed Zafar Ali Shah tried to convince the chairman that quorum of house was short so the voting must be deferred. But, following a 15-minute break the chairman announced that the house was in order and asked the senators to vote for the bill. Tahir Hussain Mashhadi of MQM asked the chairman to name the university after father of the nation Qaid-I-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah instead of late PPP Prime Minister Zulfikar Bhutto. “A separate university should be established in the name of ZAB, if the PPP wanted so," he said. Mushahid Hussain Syed of PML-Q said the establishment of university cannot be opposed but there were reservations about the name which should be addressed.The PIMS is providing quality education and offering specialist training in 28 disciplines of medicine, surgery and dentistry. Senate was told on Friday that 550 resident doctors were currently under training at this institute that is providing postgraduate training to the nurses and basic nursing education.As the senate resumed hearing of senate proceedings on Friday, absence of a federal minister from the house perturb the chairman. After the chairman discussed the matter with Leader of the House Jehangir Badar, it was agreed to issue a strong directive to the ministers and government officials warning them against showing such irresponsible behaviour.During the proceedings, Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said that subsidy offered to agriculture sector by the cabinet would help boost the sector. He said Pakistan was offering lesser subsidy to this sector than many other countries of the region. Zafar Ali Shah of PML-N protested the subsidy saying it would benefit the feudal.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 09-Mar-2013 here.