03 July, 2011

NCHD protestors determined to continue struggle

Sana Jamal

Islamabad – More than 100 protestors have been staging a sit-in protest outside the Parliament building, since June 23, braving hot and rainy weather with hopes that Parliament, President and Prime Minister living few yards away will one day answer to their cries. The ill-fated employees of National Commission for Human Development (NCHD) are calling themselves as the victim of newly strengthened democracy in Pakistan as NCHD has been dissolved following the refusal of provinces to own it after the 18th Amendment.
Protestors claim that the dissolution of NCHD has not only affected 16,000 employees and their families in 144 districts but also deprived millions of children in under privileged areas from primary education. “It not just our future but at present 500,000 children are studying in NCHD’s school so their future is also at stake” protestors added.

Qamar Jamal Goreja, a spokesman of NCHD told Pakistan Observer “more than 100 Parliamentarians have signed resolution for supporting NCHD’s continuation which will be presented to the Prime Minister of Pakistan”. He also added that Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Muhammad Aslam Raisani has written letter to Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani asking to provide funds to the province to own NCHD as around 2160 employees of NCHD were terminated in Balochistan.

18th Amendment to the constitution of Pakistan which promises more autonomy to the provinces has also sparked off confusion between the federal and provincial governments on several issues. NCHD’s issue is one of them. During a meeting of Council of Common Interest (CCI) on June 1st, it was decided to wind up NCHD because the provincial governments did not agree to take on NCHD.

The employees of NCHD have been protesting since June 1, 2011 and are demanding to ‘Devolve, not dissolve’ and urging restoration of their jobs and future. The employees have also filed a petition under Article 184(3) for the enforcement of the fundamental rights in the Supreme Court through their lawyer, Barrister Syed Ali Zafar. The protesting employees said that after the protest and sit in Islamabad they will organize protests in all the four provincial capitals reaching up to district and village level till their success.

National Commission for Human Development has been working since 2002 to achieve four out of eight Millennium Development Goals, which are universal primary education, women empowerment, reducing child mortality and improving maternal health. NCHD supported the government in enrolling 11.56 million out-of-school children age 5-7 years; established 13,068 community feeder schools, provided 4,719 feeder teachers in government schools, provided training to 146,225 government teachers on quality education besides establishing 145,411 adult literacy centres.