ISLAMABAD: An opposition lawmaker in the Senate yesterday said that society was being transformed into two-track basis, one is military backed and the other is civilian backed before the house passed the bill for setting up of a military-run medical university. The remarks of PPP Senator Osman Saifullah Khan came before the house unanimously passed the bill for setting up of military run medical university - the National University of Medical Sciences (NUMS) - without having oversight umbrella of Pakistan Medical and Dental Council on it. “Then there will be two tracks-military backed and civilian backed - and this does not exist anywhere in the world,” he said. The Parliament should not accept the bill in the present form, he added.

The bill caused complete division within the ranks of opposition benches as PPP wanted an amendment in the bill that suggested an over arching oversight role of PMDC on the military-run university while PTI and PML-Q wanted to get the bill passed from the Senate in the same form as adopted by the National Assembly. The PMDC is a body set up by the Parliament to regulate all aspects of medical education ranging from academic standards to qualifications of academics in all medical institutions in the country.

The lawmakers of PPP and Balochistan National Party (BNP Mengal) from opposition and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PMAP) from treasury benches supported the amendment moved by Farhatullah Babar of PPP and Moulana Attaur Rehman of JUI-F. They said that it was discrimination with other medical institutions in the country that they should be under the oversight umbrella of PMDC and a military run institution should not. They said that other institutions would make this demand also. They said that it was the duty of the Parliament to reform PMDC. Opposition senators of PTI and PML-Q claimed that the PMDC was corrupt institution and had become redundant. PPP senators rejected the argument and said that any institution cannot be absolved of its duties only because of allegations of corruption. People say that Parliament was corrupt then its role of making legislation should be ended, Saeed Ghani said.

Farhatullah Babar and Talha Mahmood on behalf of Moulana Ataur Rehman of JUI-F, the movers, later withdrew the amendment on the assurance of Defence Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif that the government would support the amendment if it would brought in the form of separate private member bill. Farhatullah speaking on his amendment said, “the role of PMDC as a regulator had been ended in the NUMS bill”. He added that the operator could not be freed from the regulator. You cannot end the role of PMDC as watchdog. “The question is whether the military run medical university is being completely absolved of the oversight role of PMDC,” he said.

Noman Wazir Khattak of PTI opposed the amendment and said that PMDC had become a den of corruption and it should be re-organized. Mushahid Hussain Syed said that the bill should be passed as adopted by the National Assembly as it would have to be sent back to the Lower House if an amendment was adopted. This would cause unnecessary delay. He pointed out bad affairs in PMDC and said, “Who will guard the guards”. Khawaja Asif said that a representative of PMDC was among the board of governors of the university but if the Senate wanted to strengthen the role of the council, the government had no objection over it.

Responding to a call attention notice regarding the non-issuance of allotment letters of plots in Bhara Kahu Housing Scheme to the employees of constitutional bodies whereas the allotment letters have been issued to the employees of other federal government departments, Minister for Housing and Works Akram Khan Durrani said that 49 offer letters would be issued to Senate and National Assembly employees soon after due verification. Information Minister Pervez Rasheed replying to another call attention of Chaudhry Tanveer’s notice towards failure of Pemara to ban the recent insulting remarks about political personalities telecast on different TV channels, said that the authority could not stifle freedom of expression. There is the Council of Complaints under Pemra and the lawmakers should contact it for redressal of his apprehensions.

There is a need that Parliament should frame such effective law that could bar such irresponsible discussion. A number of lawmakers discussing on the adjournment motion recent report of Nepra pointed out inefficiency of the Ministry of Water and Power as pointed out in the report. They pointed out issues including inflated bills, line losses, circular debt, load shedding and lack of transparency n the power sector. Farhatullah Babar demanded NAB investigations and refund of the inflated bills.