The Lahore High Court on Thursday again summoned a representative of Bargad, a youth development NGO, to answer allegations that they had provided “objectionable books” for girls’ schools.
The petitioner has asked the court to take action against the NGO and government officials for making the book Ba Ikhtiar Larkian, Badla Hua Samaaj (Empowered Girls, A Changed Society) – mandatory for girls in classes six to eight in government schools in Gujranwala.
At the last hearing, Justice Nasir Saeed Sheikh had summoned the coordinator of the NGO’s programme under which the books were circulated in schools.
Khurram Shehzad, a representative of the NGO, informed the court on Thursday that the coordinator was in Balochistan and could not be informed about the summons.
He asked for more time for her appearance. At this the judge adjourned the hearing till November 7.
Advocate Azam Nazir Tarar filed a letter of attorney on behalf of the NGO and will represent it at the next hearing.
The judge had summoned the Bargad coordinator after hearing the statements of two former Gujranwala executive district officers for education at the last hearing on October 9.
Former EDO Ghazanfar Ali Sani told the court that while the books were circulated in schools during his tenure, the memorandum of understanding under which this was done was signed while Chaudhy Riaz was EDO. Riaz confirmed this. He said that the memorandum was for the NGO to initiate a programme to teach “life skills” at schools.
The petitioner said that the book contained material telling girls about the use of contraceptives and “how to have friendships with boys”. He said in a Muslim society, these things could not be taught at schools. He said that in signing the memorandum with the NGO, government officials were guilty of misconduct and should be punished.
He said that he had complained to government officials after learning about the book and the chief minister had set up an inquiry committee headed by Punjab Education Foundation Chairman Raja Anwar.
He said the committee’s findings had not been made public.
He said that the only action apparently taken on the committee’s findings had been the transfer of Sani, the former EDO. He said that the inquiry report must be made public.
Former Gujranwala district coordination officer Nabeel Ahmed Awan, the serving DCO, the education secretary, the PEF chairman, and the Gujranwala EDO (education) are named as respondents in the petition.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 19th, 2012.