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Pakistani Christian student sues premier college for Islamic bias

Amir Mir

Daily News and Analysis ( India )

ISLAMABAD : A female Christian student in Pakistan has filed a writ petition before the Lahore High Court (LHC) challenging the government policy of awarding 20 additional marks to every Muslim Hafiz-e-Quran, which means a Muslim who has learnt the Quran by heart.

The petition, which is the first of its kind, demands that the LHC either abolishes the policy or make a parallel policy of awarding 20 additional marks to minority students for MBBS admission on the basis of their religious knowledge study. The student, who failed to get admission in Lahore’s premier King Edward Medical College because a Muslim student bypassed her on the basis of the 20 additional marks granted to him for being a Hafiz-e-Quran, said in her petition that the policy discriminated against non-Muslim students, and so violated the fundamental rights granted by the Constitution of Pakistan to all citizens regardless of their religion.

Qandeel has filed the petition against Principal King Edward Medical College , who is also the chairman of the admissions board. She has asked the LHC to grant her a stay and restrain the government as well as the admission board from commencing MBBS 2005-06 academic session classes in the medical colleges of Punjab till the final disposal of the petition because the selection of students for admission in medical colleges had been made on basis of discrimination and ignoring the rights of the petitioner (minority representative).

Qandeel says she has merit certificates to prove her proficiency and knowledge of Christianity and thus she should be given 20 additional marks for her selection in a medical college on an open merit seat. “The Punjab government should make a permanent policy under the law of the land to award additional marks on the basis of equality to both Muslim and non-Muslim students”, pleads Qandeel who wants the court to declare her a selected candidate for appearing in the MBBS exams.

According to the court documents, Qandeel is a brilliant student having scored A+ and A grades in exams conducted by the Punjab education board. She scored 820 marks out of a total 1,100 in the intermediate examination (FSc) and qualified for the entry test (for admissions in MBBSBDS) in Punjab ’s medical colleges. She got a total of 77.97 percent in the final selection merit but the last seat on the open merit was given to a Muslim Hafiz-e-Quran student with 78.51 per cent marks, depriving her from admission because of a marginal difference of 0.538 percent marks. Qandeel says being a Pakistani citizen she has every right to be treated equally under the Constitution.

“Islam teaches equality and equal rights to minorities which should have been protected even otherwise under Article 36 of the 1973 Pakistani Constitution, which bounds the state to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of the minorities. Therefore, there should be an equal education policy for all citizens without discriminating them on the basis of sex, religion, creed or caste,” she pleads.