LAHORE, Oct 23 (APP): Redressing grievances of the protesting students, Punjab Governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar has restored old admissions quota and scholarships for students from Balochistan, merged districts of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB).
Addressing a press conference at the Governor’s House here on Friday, he also announced new scholarship policy for these students with financial assistance from the provincial governments and the philanthropists.
A large number of students from Islamia University Bahawalpur, Bahauddin Zakariya University (BZU) Multan, Government College University (GCU) Lahore and other universities, besides the government functionaries, attended the press conference.
They asked the governor various questions, expressing their apprehensions.
The Baloch, FATA and GB students from BZU Multan and Islamia University Bahawalur had staged a sit-in at the Charing Cross in front of the Punjab Assembly and were demanding restoration of the admission quota and scholarships, which the universities administrations had withdrawn in the wake of financial challenges due to non-provision of financial assistance from the governments and the Higher Education Commission (HEC).
Earlier, Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz Sharif visited the sit-in camp to express solidarity with the protesting students. The opposition leader criticised the government for withdrawing admission quota for the smaller provinces.
Later, the Punjab governor told a press conference that the previous governments were responsible for the problems being faced by students, adding that no government had allocated any funds for these students.
“For the last 10 years, different governments announced new admission quotas but did not provide any funds to the universities which had left the universities in a financial crisis,” he said adding that the syndicates of these universities had taken decision without intimation to the chancellor’s office, but he had stopped them from implementing the decision.
To a question by a student, he said all previous scholarships of students had been restored by him while the new students, who were refused admission in the new session, would be called back to join the universities.
Governor Ch Sarwar said that on his intervention, Chief Minister Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar has earmarked Rs 20 million annually for the BZU Multan students, which will be increased to Rs 80 million in four years while another Rs 20 million has been announced by the philanthropist organisations like Akhuwat, Friends of Lahore, and people like Ijaz Gohar and others.
The governor, to another query, said it is for the first time in the last 72 years that the government had announced 20,052 scholarships for deserving students of Balochistan, ex-FATA and GB for a period of next four years, adding that out of these scholarships, 3,220 scholarships would be of 100 per cent amount, while the rest would be of 50 per cent amounts.
Mohammad Sarwar, to a query, elaborated that the Balochistan government had promised to pay the rest of the 50 per cent of the scholarship amounts from its resources.
The governor, as chancellor of all provincial universities, dispelled the impression that the old students would be stripped of scholarships, adding that all vice chancellors had been directed to restore the previous status of the old students while new students would be awarded 50 per cent amount of the scholarships.
about merit, he said merit would be decided by the respective provinces, adding that open merit of Punjab or Pakistan would not apply on the students from these ex-FATA, Balochistan and GB provinces.
The governor asked the students to end their protest camp as their demands had been met by the government.
He also formed a committee comprising nine students representatives to take up their problems with the higher education department and the governor’s representatives.