Islamabad-The National Assembly on Wednesday deferred the COMSATS Institute up-gradation bill after the opposition benches strongly opposed the amended bill for not giving the teaching faculty proper representation in the proposed university act.

The treasury benches had to face defeat when the bill on agenda moved by government came under discussion as per legislative business and the opposition benches strongly objected to passing the bill in haste.

The COMSATS University Islamabad Bill 2017 for the up-gradation of the institute was passed from the senate in December and it was likely to be passed from the lower house of the parliament.

However the opposition parties in the lower house including Pakistan Peoples Party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Muttahida Qaumi Movement and Jamat Islami all opposed the bill for not addressing the concerns of the representation of teaching faculty in the administrative bodies of the university.

In addition, the legislatures from all opposition parties also demanded vetting of the bill from the concerned standing committee of the NA.  Member National Assembly PPP Aijaz Hussain Jakhrani stressed that the bill should include clear clauses for the job protection of the teaching faculty.

PTI legislature Shireen Mazari remarked that bill should be sent to the concerned standing committee of the lower house.

In the same vein, PTI MNA Col. (Retd) Amirullah Marwat also opposed the approval without vetting of the COMSATS university bill from the standing committee.

MQM MNA Sheikh Salahuddin added that the teaching faculty rights have been neglected in the bill drafting and need to be reviewed.

“The bill goes against the 8000 employees working at COMSATS,” he said.

JI MNA, Sher Akbar endorsed the opposition view that concerns of all the stake holders concerns have been not addressed in the bill.

In contrast, the treasury benches argued in support of approving the bill as it was already passed from the senate.

The Deputy Speaker NA Murtaza Javed Abbasi deferred the bill in the on-going proceeding in the house.  The bill will likely be presented on Friday.   Earlier, Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association wrote a letter to the Chairman Standing Committee on Federal Education and Professional Training and Federal Minister for Science and Technology for addressing grievances of the faculty members of the institute and removing lacunas in the proposed bill.

The letter stated that COMSATS, as a public institute of international stature, needed serious attention. It is unfortunate that the bill aimed at converting the institute into a university is having ambiguities and has not fully eradicated the clauses supporting dictatorial mindset.

The letter stressed on including members from judiciary and Human Right Commission of Pakistan in the university senate.

“The job protection of existing COMSATS employees, who have invested years of time and toil, must be ensured. All these employees, after probationary period, must be made permanent,” the letter stated.

The FAPUASA also asked for clearly defining the tenure and credentials for appointment of top officials including rector. The tenure should not be more than three years in any case. The quota for students of less-developed areas must be reserved as in other public-sector universities of the country, the letter said.