KARACHI – Differences between the Pakistan People’s Party and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement have further delayed the approval of a bill meant for renaming the Sindh Jinnah Medical University (SJMU), by the Sindh Assembly.

Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah has already approved the summary for renaming the university. After the renaming, it would officially be called as the Jinnah Sindh Medical University. Apart from the differences between the two leading parties, there have been some other forces playing negative role in the development of the SJMU.

According to reports, some Sindh nationalists are also confused over the quota for students belonging to interior Sindh in the SJMU. Also, Sindh Culture Minister Sassui Palijo has raised questions over the quota for students belonging to interior Sindh, and has demanded the assembly to clarify it before the bill is passed. There is a tug of war between the founders of the SMU and the administration of the Dow University of Health Sciences, as the SMU was earlier called the Sindh Medical College and it worked as part of the DUHS.

Conversely, some high-ups of the administration of the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) have expressed reservations regarding the vice-chancellorship of the SMU. When Dr Qaiser Sajjad, one of the founders of the SMU, was contacted by The Nation, he admitted that there were some forces that did not want the government to develop the SMU, while President Asif Ali Zardari had directed the provincial government to elevate the status of the Sindh Medical College to university level.

It may be mentioned here that Dr Sajjad has also been working as treasurer of the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) Centre, general secretary of the SMC Alumni Association and Founding Trustee of SMC Alumni.

He said the Sindh government would soon table a new bill to set up the SJMU, as the SMU ordinance had been issued earlier and could not be extended. He said that earlier the SMC, under the control of DUHS, was deprived of teachers that forced the students to take coaching from outsiders. The college was passing through a crucial time, he said, adding that worse condition of the college forced the SMC Alumni Association to step forward for the betterment of the college that resulted in the setting up of the SMU. Talking about the JPMC, he said that “we have already removed all reservations of the employees of the JPMC, NICH and NICVD”.

SJMU Vice Chancellor Dr Tariq Rafi has already mentioned that once the bill for SJMU was passed by the Sindh Assembly and the university was legally notified, all the employees of the JPMC, NICH and NICVD would be given the option to either affiliate themselves with the university or stay away.

Clarifying the position of the DUHS administration, DUHS Pro-Vice Chancellor Dr Umer Farooq said the DUHS had supported the SMU lot, as it had given a cheque of Rs50 million to the vice-chancellor of SMU, Dr Tariq Rafi. He said that the DUHS was still supporting the SMU, even the students of SMU were being provided transport facility by the DUHS.

Any allegation over the DUHS administration regarding this issue was nothing but a conspiracy. On the other hand, Dr Usman, a member of the JPMC Steering Committee, said the setting up of the SJMU would only benefit senior faculty of the JPMC, NICH and NICVD, while this was not beneficial economically for lower staff of the said institutions.