‘Parha Likha Punjab’ a fraud, says NA
* House says millions spent on advertising instead of real issues
By Zulfiqar Ghuman
ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Wednesday accused Punjab Chief Minister Pervaiz Elahi of perpetrating a fraud in the name of the “Parha Likha Punjab” scheme and spending millions of rupees on its advertisement campaign instead of on real issues.
The House also expressed lack of confidence in Federal Education Minister Javed Ashraf Qazi, who it said had been given the education ministry after playing havoc in the railways ministry.
The MNAs including Imran Khan of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), Rashid Akbar, Riaz Hussain Pirzada, Farooq Azam and Sardar Tufail of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML), Zamurad Khan, Samina Khalid Ghurki, of Pakistan People’s Party-Parliamentarians (PPP-P), Farid Paracha of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) and Khawaja Saad Rafiq of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) grilled Syed Dewan Jafer Hussain Bukhari, parliamentary secretary for education, who looked nervous most of the time and was unable to answer supplementary questions.
He had only one answer to most of the questions; that it was a provincial issue and the members should contact the provincial government.
Zamurad Khan said the provincial government of Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi had failed to provide many schools with furniture and windows in his constituency, let alone give monthly stipends promised to poor girls.
“Just form a committee to visit these schools and I promise to resign from my position if my claims are proven false,” he challenged the deputy speaker, Sardar Yaqub, who was presiding over the proceedings at the time. Imran Khan in his question claimed that many schools were not operative in his constituency because of lack of teaching staff and other required material such as furniture. “Government of Punjab announced Rs 7 billion to bring girls to school by offering them free books and a Rs 200 stipend per month, but I do not know where that money has gone,” he said. The other members narrated similar tales of lack of basic facilities in their areas.
Riaz Husain Pirzada said that instead of concentrating on their jobs, the governor and chief minister of Punjab were fighting to win a vacant seat for their respective candidates. They all agreed that the Punjab government should spend the money meant for the promotion of education in the province instead of wasting it on advertisement campaigns. Rashid Akbar Khan, an MNA of the ruling party from Bakkhar, said that the absence of both the ministers from the House when their questions were on the agenda reflected their “commitment” to the cause. He said the government had appointed a retired general as education minister, who had caused losses amounting to millions of rupees to the national exchequer as railways minister. The comment received thunderous applause from both sides of the House. Farid Paracha said that the education secretary had earlier himself admitted that his ministry had failed to deliver when he said that government education boards were not working satisfactorily. The whole debate was triggered when the education secretary’s claim - that the literacy rate had risen to 54 percent from 47 over the last four years - was contested by the members.
Earlier, the MMA and PML-N staged a token walkout, claiming that the parliamentary secretary had provided false information about the Aga Khan Education Board and had thus breached the privilege of the National Assembly.