Punishing Muslims of Pakistan in a democratic way

File Photo: Holy Quran-e-Majeed File Photo: Holy Quran-e-Majeed

By Afshain Afzal

The history of medical colleges in Balochistan takes back us to 1952 when Amin-ud-Din Medical School was started in Balochistan. It worked for seven years and was closed as a matter of policy when it was felt that this category of Doctors were no more required and instead it was decided that more medical colleges to be opened to train fully qualified doctors in the country, at the level of MBBS and beyond. Balochistan got the status of a separate Province in 1970 and accordingly, in 1972, the Government of Pakistan formally decided to set-up a Medical College at Quetta and agreed to run it as a Federally Funded Project. For the admission in educational institution in the provinces of Pakistan, holding domicile of that province was a prerequisite. An affidavit duly attested by a 1st Class Magistrate to the effect that the candidate or his/her father / mother is in possession of only domicile certificate of that province otherwise, he/ she shall not be considered for admission. In addition, the Government notification allowed 20 additional marks to those who have successfully completed National Cadet Corps and or certified Hifz-e-Quran.

Pakistan Medical and Dental Council under sub-section (2) of section 33 of the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council Ordinance, 1962 (XXXII of 1962), issued regulations, the ‘MBBS and BDS (Admissions, House job and Internship) Regulations, 2018’, amended on 30th May, 2019, which is now applicable to all recognized medical and dental institutions, hospitals and institutions and all admissions into their MBBS and BDS courses. The regulation allows all those having completed their last two years of schooling from abroad in taking admission in MBBS or BDS courses against open merit or foreign quota seat in any public or private institution of Pakistan. In case of those applying foreign seats quota, National University of Modern Languages (NUML) has be made sole authority to certify their proficiency in English while National University of Medical Sciences (NUMS) will be ‘Admitting University’ responsible for the military medical and military dental constituent/ affiliated colleges that are attached with military teaching hospitals. The regulation allows private medical and dental institutions to admit students on foreign seats quota upto fifteen percent of their total annual seats allocated by the Council purely on merit. The above regulation is in violation of PMC Medical and Dental Undergraduates Education Regulations 2021 (amended) which has defined foreign and Pakistani students in Section 2 (e) “foreign students means a student who is not a Pakistani national and holds only a foreign nationality: 2 (i) Pakistani student means a student who is a Pakistani national or defined as Overseas Pakistani and may hold dual nationality…

The same regulation provides that a Hafiz-e-Quran certified as such by the appropriate body/authority shall be entitled to addition of twenty marks to his marks obtained in HSSC or, as the case may be, F.Sc / equivalent, provided he/she passes Hifz-e-Quran test conducted by the Admitting University for the purpose of these regulations. However, this is not being followed. A medical college and institute of dentistry, recognized by Pakistan Medical and Dental Council announcing admission for MBBS and BDS set criteria of F.Sc. / qualification equivalent to F.Sc. from a foreign university or foreign education system with a minimum of 70% marks in aggregate (without marks of NCC or Hifz-e-Quran). Many Baloch are still ignorant what has been done to the future generation through series of policy changes. We cannot allow these changes to go unchecked.

On 9 January 2022, Supreme Court of Pakistan issued notices to the Pakistan Medical Commission and others to submit replies on a court query as to why an additional 20 marks should be given to students applying to medical colleges and universities on the basis of their being Hafiz-e-Quran for admission purposes. The Supreme Court issued notice on the basis of petition filed by a girl student against denial of admission in the Bolan University of Medical and Health Sciences, Quetta. It was clarified that allocation of 20 marks to Hafiz-e-Quran candidates for MBBS/BDS admission is under Regulation 9(9) of the MBBS and BDS (Admissions, House Job, and Internship) Regulations, 2018.

In 2012, a Christian student, Haroon applied for admission in MBBS in The University of Health Sciences and claimed 20 additional marks awarded to Hafiz-e-Quran but was not entertained and could not be selected. Haroon was critical to award of 20 additional marks to Muslims Hafiz-e-Quran. In the same regard, Church of Pakistan and Bishop of Islamabad on the behalf of Haroon approached The University of Health Sciences and Punjab’s education minister, stating that Haroon’s religious education is at par with any Islamic education. But they were not heard. In the recent past, Minister of State for Climate Change Zartaj Gul announced in June 2021 that in order to integrate the youth of the country in the Prime Minister’s Ten Billion Tree Tsunami plantation project, a special legislation allowing 20 additional marks on planting 20 trees during their studies was underway.

Later, another candidate challenged the award of 20 marks to Hafiz-e-Quarn filed a petition in Supreme Court of Pakistan. In January 2021, a bench led by Justice Isa while hearing a matter had questioned the grant of additional 20 marks to Hafiz-e-Quran students. The apex court on 8 January 2022, had dismissed the petition but decided to hold a separate hearing to discuss the matter in order to sought clarity on the issue. Justice inquired, “Whether the memorization of the Holy Quran is relevant criteria for determination of the candidates for an MBBS or BDS degree needs consideration.”, “Whether regulation 9 (9) of the Regulations confirms with Article 25 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan” “How are admissions into medical and other colleges linked to being a Hafiz-e-Quran? Why should 20 marks extra be given on this basis?” “We believe that memorizing the Quran is sacred. And it is a plus point when someone wants to become the imam of a mosque or a religious lecturer but how can a Hafiz-e-Quran be a better doctor?”

On 30 March, Justice Isa, along with Justice Aminuddin Khan and Justice Shahid Waheed, constituted a three-member bench that issued a majority order of 2-1 in a suo moto case involving the allocation of 20 marks to Hafiz-e-Quran candidates for MBBS/BDS admission. The bench ordered the suspension of cases heard under Article 184(3) of the Constitution until changes were made to the Supreme Court Rules 1980 concerning the Chief Justice of Pakistan’s discretionary powers to establish benches. Supreme Court of Pakistan’s (SCP) established six-member bench which examined Justice Qazi Faez Isa’s ruling freezing all suo moto notices and disposed of the matter after hearing.

Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan dated 4 April 2023 on Suo Moto Case No. 04 of 2022 (Grant of additional 20 marks to Hafiz-Quran while admission in MBBS/BDS under Regulation 9 (9) of MBBS and BDS (Admission house jobs and internship) Regulations, 2018, is unique in nature and seems to be a case of ‘Judicial Review’ due to an oversight. The decision of honourable larger bench is based on misleading stance taken by the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council’s report that “the MBBS and BDS (Admissions, Examinations, House Job or Internship) Regulations, 2018 and amended in 2019 which allowed grant of 20 additional marks for Hafiz e Quran for admission in Medical and Dental Colleges are not in force and the current Regulations namely Medical and Dental Undergraduate Education (Admissions, Curriculum and Conduct) Regulations, 2021 do not grant any additional marks to students who are Hafiz e Quran, no further proceedings in this suo motu case are required.” There is no doubt that it is a great injustice to the  students who were earlier guaranteed for 20 Marks of completing Hifzul Quran. Now they will be deprived of admission and decent jobs, The Court oversight that the character of Hafizul Quran is very high as comparted to most of  other students. 

One wonders that there are thousand of Madaris operations throughout the country engaged in free Hifz-ul-Quran and other education without any discrimination of religion, caste, creed, and social status. Most of the students are orphans or very poor to afford education. All these Madaris provide free boarding and three times meals per day to all the students. Do we have precedent anywhere in the world that any International Non-Government Organization or International Organization posses such a tremendous capacity for the welfare of poor students? The Government of Pakistan should fully fund them from the Zakat they collect to the billions of rupees each year rather than discouraging them to undertake religious studies. Hounourable Courts of Pakistan should never forget that Article 2 A of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan provides that State would ensure that Muslims shall be enabled to order their lives in the individual and collective spheres in accordance with the teachings and requirements of Islam as set out in the Holy Quran and Sunnah. One wonders does this article means closing down all Madaris under the garb of terrorism and backing out from 20 marks, which Government guaranteed, to each Hafiz ul Quran.

Rate this item
(0 votes)
Login to post comments
Go to top