Senate of Pakistan


September 28, 2015

1. A meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Defence was held on 28th September, 2015 at 10.30 am in Committee Room No. 1, Parliament House, Islamabad under the Chairmanship of Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed.

2. The agenda before the Committee was as under:-

  •  The National University of Medical Sciences (NUMS) Bill, 2015.
  • Any other item with permission of the Chair.

3. The following members of the Committee attended the meeting:-

  • Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed – in Chair
  • Senator Atta Ur Rehman
  • Senator Lt. Gen. (R) Abdul Qayyum
  • Senator Farhatullah Babar           
  • Senator Lt. Gen. (R) Salahuddin Tirmizi                        
  • Senator Brig. (R) John Kenneth Williams

 4. The meeting started with recitation from the Holy Quran by Senator Atta Ur Rehman.

Agenda Item i: The National University of Medical Sciences (NUMS) Bill, 2015.

1. Brig. Dr. Aamir Ikram, Assistant Commandant of Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP), gave a detailed presentation addressing the 10 points raised by Senator Farhatullah Babar in the previous meeting.  

  • Brig. Ikram said the NUMS Bill 2015 was drafted in accordance with the Federal University Ordinance 2002 and the wording used was similar to existing approved university charters that were HEC recognized.
  • Senator Farhatullah Babar appreciated the efforts made by Brig. Ikram in addressing his objections and said most of the observations made in the presentation were valid.
  • Senator Babar, however, raised a fresh objection and stated that the proposed bill does not have an external watchdog over the NUMS institution. The role of Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) was missing in this regard and that NUMS had ‘divorced’ itself from PMDC.
  • He questioned, why the law of oversight by PMDC was being ignored?
  • The Chairman then proceeded to get views of other members of the Senate Defence Committee.
  • Senator Lt. Gen. (R) Tirmizi endorsed the bill and proposed that a Private Member Bill to amend the Act may be moved later if need be.
  •  Senator Brig. (R) Williams supported that the bill be passed.
  • Senator Lt. Gen (R) Qayyum stated that NUMS would be a blessing to the nation. He further went on to say that the points raised by Senator Babar were genuine and supported Senator Tirmizi’s option. He said the bill should be passed and not delayed any further.
  • Senator Atta Ur Rehman endorsed the point of view as presented by Senator Farhatullah Babar, but abstained from either endorsing or rejecting the NUMS Bill 2015.
  • Senator Babar then presented his note of dissent, which is reproduced as follows:

Note of Dissent by Senator Farhatullah Babar

The oversight role in medical education comprising, inter-alia, prescribing a minimum standards of courses and minimum qualifications and experience required for teachers is the exclusive role and domain of the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC).  These roles have been laid down in the PMDC Ordinance 1962 amended from time to time, the last amendment made in August 2015.

The NUMS bill, however, in its present form, gives the dual role of administrating as well as oversight of medical education in all affiliated colleges to the university authorities without the necessary oversight role of PMDC.

I strongly suggest that the NUMS bill should also acknowledge and implement the oversight role of the PMDC.  NUMS hopefully will become a world class university in medical sciences manned by men and women of exceptionally high qualifications but it should not be allowed to become its own regulator.

The space for civilian institutions has already shrunk shockingly.  It would be unfortunate if we fail to arrest this free fall of the civilian institutions and continue to abdicate the legitimate civilian space to the military authorities.  It is also in the military’s interest to dispel the perception of driving from the backseat but never letting off the control of the wheel.  Let the NUMS bill be a litmus test in this regard, and thus my note of dissent.

  • The Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Defence Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed then presented his observations, as follows:

Chairman’s Observation

The Senate Defence Committee places on record its appreciation of the due diligence done by the honourable member of the Senate Defence Committee, Senator Farhatullah Babar as well as other distinguished colleagues to improve the bill and to ensure oversight, professionalism and high quality academic experience.  In this regard, the Committee also appreciates the positive response of the NUMS administration to the points raised by Senator Farhatullah Babar and their commitment to ensure that these points, which are relevant and which are justified, are incorporated in the statutes and these will then be referred back to the Senate Defence Committee for perusal and approval.

The Chairman also directed that in the composition of the Board of Governors of the NUMS, referring to clause 17(L), a parliamentarian, preferably a member of the Senate Defence Committee or a member of the National Assembly Defence Committee, may be included in the list of those 4 persons who are supposed to be from ‘society at large’ on the Board of Governor which will oversee and run this proposed academic institution.

Finally, the Chairman said that when it comes to Civil-Military Relations, the litmus test is not just the clauses in the constitution but also that the parliament should deliver and perform and lead with ideas and issues and initiatives, so that the requisite information and input is provided, which in this case has been duly done by the Senate Defence Committee.

  • The NUMS Bill 2015 was cleared by the Senate Standing Committee on Defence on 28th September, 2015 for laying before the Senate of Pakistan.

Agenda Item ii: Any other item with permission of the Chair.

  • Senator Lt. Gen. (R) Tirmizi then presented the sub-committee’s report in response to the Calling Attention Notice of Senator Muhammad Javed Abbasi referred by the House on August 7, 2015 regarding cordoning off of a playground-cum-funeral place by security forces.
  • Senator Tirmzi, acting as conveyer of the sub-committee, presented his findings to the committee.
  • He said the sub-committee met on 16th September, 2015 and was accompanied by DG MLC and other military officials.
  • It was determined that the villagers had already encroached 5 acres of land belonging to the Baloch Regiment. Despite various written agreements, they had not yet vacated the said 5 acres.
  •  The Baloch Regiment agreed to accommodate the villagers, by providing access through a door in the fence, thus allowing them to use the area for funeral prayers.
  • Adjacent to this area there was an empty plot belonging to the Local Government which could be acquired for this purpose. In this regard, Senator Farhatullah Babar proposed that a recommendation be sent to the Provincial Government of KPK, requesting them to allot the said land.
  • The petition was disposed of, with the recommendation that Senator Javed Abbasi may raise the issue of the District Council Land with the Provincial Government of KPK for allotment to be used as Janazzgah.
  • The provision of the door by the Baloch Regiment was endorsed by the committee.

An informal discussion ensued on the growing US-India relations and its repercussions on Pakistan. Also the Badaber attack was discussed. The committee appreciated the quick response of the security forces and the high level of coordination between the Pakistan Army and Air Force. It was decided to have a detailed brief on these issues by the Ministry of Defence in the next meeting. 

  • Senator Atta Ur Rehman led a Fateha prayer for the Mina Shuhada.
  • The meeting ended with a vote of thanks for the committee.

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