Frailty, thy name is politics May 1, 2017

.. by Islamuddin

Since my return to Chitral in 2004, I have made education as springboard for my efforts to repay my debt of gratitude to my motherland to which I owe so much including my identity as Chitrali-an identity which embodies so many good qualities in us Chitralies. In this crusade there have been moments of glory as well as pain. Politicians promised support but once elected they changed hearts and ganged up with the mafia to maintain the status quo. The present District Nazim during his previous stint set up committee to identify problem areas. My institution also held a seminar to solicit views. There was unanimity that teacher absenteeism in Government schools, cheating in exams and commercialization of education needed to be addressed. The involvement of Government teachers with NGOs drawing monetary benefits was found to be the main culprit. Apart from being violative of the law, it negatively impacted on the overall education scene.

Despite loud promises there was no delivery. In 2013 PTI came to power making education and health sectors as its priority areas. My own appointment as PTI District Monitoring Committee Chairman empowered me to contribute in this effort. My first monitoring report suggesting steps to reform the education sector fell on receptive ears. Ironically some of the stalwarts of the then local government set up who were apparently so enthusiastic about my ideas tried to save some of the culprits against whom I had triggered action. Many of them that I had thought to be men of substance turned out to be men of straw. However I did get recognition from unexpected quarters, Governor KP awarded me certificate of excellence for promoting higher education and the Education Department gave me best Principal award on Salam Teacher Day. At the local level I remained enemy number 1 with Government teachers who were backed by powerful politicians and elected people.

Some of the teachers removed for involvement in NGOs failed to get relief from the courts and decided to approach Services Tribunal. For obvious reasons the concerned officials ignored summons from the Tribunal and did not defend Government action against these teachers. Consequently ex-parte actions were taken and these violators are back in their schools with vengeance while retaining their positions in the NGOs. This abuse of judicial process could not have been possible without political support and corrupt motives. All our efforts and sacrifices have come to nothing and Civil Servants Act has become redundant. Government employees can now work for NGOs and enjoy political patronage on the strength of this Services Tribunal decision. The fact that this abuse of law has taken place in KP with full backing of opposition parties speaks volumes as to how difficult it is to establish rule of law to which PTI is committed. The action of removal of these teachers had been taken at the behest of the Chief Minister but his subordinate officials successfully conspired to make their CM a laughing stock by not defending his orders in the Services Tribunal.

This decision of the Tribunal may well prove to be the first nail in the coffin of the rejuvenated education sector. If not reversed through appeal it will have serious consequences for the reformed education sector and push it back to square one from which it had been retrieved after 2013. Hopefully the Chief Minister’s Office and his Inspection Team would take notice of this lapse on part of all those officials who facilitated this ex-parte decision by not appearing before the Tribunal to defend the decision taken on the orders of the Chief Minister after three independent inquiries during which these teachers admitted their guilt and refused to step down from NGO positions saying that they would choose the lucrative NGO positions rather than teaching. They thought that given their strong political backing nothing can be done against them but it is a measure of PTI commitment to rule of law that actions were taken but only to be negated in the secrecy of power corridors. Without making these people pay for their nefarious actions PTI cannot make KP a model province. It is a sad day for education and rule of law. It not only exposes the bad politicians and their frailties but also demonstrates the amount of leverage that corruption still enjoys in the corridors of power.

As Chairman PTI Monitoring Committee on Education in Chitral District I appeal to the MPAs, Nazim and PTI District President to take notice of this abuse of judicial process and rectify the emerging situation, lest education gets another nose dive and people lose faith in PTI as a harbinger of change and rule of law... Islamuddin, Garm Chashma 01 May2017