One man’s struggle ensures pensions for G-B teachers

Abdul Qayyum’s struggle led to FST ruling guaranteeing retirement benefits


Shabbir Mir December 09, 2016
PHOTO: EXPRESS

GILGIT: After serving for over 20 years at a public school in Gilgit, an English teacher was given a rude shock when he was told that he would not get any pension.

The teacher had subsequently approached the federal service tribunal which decided earlier this year that teachers at one of Gilgit’s largest educational institutions, both serving and retired, will be entitled to the same pensions as ‘regular’ government teachers.

Abdul Qayyum had been working as an upper divisional clerk in the then Armed Forces Medical College (later renamed as Armed Forces Postgraduate Medical Institute) in Rawalpindi in 1987 when he saw an advertisement for English language teachers in the then-Federal Government Public School Jutial in Gilgit. The advertised post was for a basic pay scale of grade-16.

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Qayyum applied for the post and cleared the subsequent test and interview. The appointment letter he received read “service was likely to be pensionable in the very near future.”

The teacher served at the school for 22 years before retiring in 2009. During this time, the school became one of the largest educational institutions in Gilgit-Baltistan, with over 6,000 students and around 200 teachers.

The school, sprawling over 100 kanals, was also renamed during this time to Public Schools and Colleges Jutial Gilgit (PSCJG), with the words “federal government” omitted from the school’s name.

Upon retiring, Qayyum asked about his pension, anticipating that it would be a reasonable amount due to the length of his service. But to his shock, he was told that he was not entitled to a pension.

Perturbed, Qayyum filed an appeal in the federal service tribunal in Islamabad in 2013. The tribunal accepted his appeal and included the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan and PSCJG as respondents.

According to a copy of the tribunal’s judgement, the retired teacher appealed that he had left his regular job in AFPMI for a job in FG public school since the advertisement promised the jobs would soon be regularised.

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Qayyum thus argued that he deserves full pension as per rules for federal government servants. He also referred to a letter provided to him by AFPMI which agreed to pay him a pension for the time he served there as a regular staffer.

After spending three years in litigation, the tribunal finally gave a decision earlier this year ruling that the Qayyum had long served in the school. The tribunal further ruled that the status of the school was under the federal government.

Additionally, the tribunal noted that the school and the government had assured the teacher several times that his service would be pensionable.

“The appellant, being a civil servant, is entitled to all pensionary benefits for the period he worked in the school,” read the judgment.

“Thank God, justice was finally delivered,” Qayyum told The Express Tribune recently.

“I suffered a lot – mentally and physically – over the years,” said the man whose meagre financial resources have taken its toll on his health.

“The decision is something like a dream for many of us who served or are serving,” said a teacher working at the school adding that it would ensure pension for those who had retired and the hundreds of others currently serving in the school.

While the decision may be ‘a dream come true’ for the teachers, parents are apprehensive whether fees at the school could be reduced and brought at par with other government schools in the region without affecting the standard of education.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 10th, 2016.

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