ISLAMABAD, March 27: The general manager of the Aga Khan Education Service (AKES) had to run back to Chitral town from Mastuj after enraged protesters from Khuz and Laspur stopped him from proceeding to the Yarkhun valley. They were protesting the AKES plan to shut down two girls schools in their areas.
Mir Zaman Shah, the general manager AKES Chitral, was on his way to Yarkhun valley to inaugurate two primary schools at Chapari and Miragram II. He had reportedly kept his visit secret to avoid the wrath of enraged people of Khuz and Laspur who have been up in arms against the closure of some AKES schools. This is pertinent to note that both the villages – Chapari and Miragram II – where the AKES management was opening new schools after shutting down the schools in remote villages like Khuz and Laspur, have already got well-established high schools for girls, both run by the AKES and the government.
The general manager was intercepted by hundreds of angry protesters at Mastuj, where he was forced to go return to Chitral, cancelling all his engagements in the area, after he expressed his inability to meet the demands of the people during hour-long negotiations. The protesters led by Bahader Ali Khan, former chairman union council Yarkhun, made it crystal clear to Mr Shah to give them in writing that he would not shut down the schools. But the toothless general manager showed his inability, saying he had no authority to do so.
The protesters told this correspondent from Mastuj that Mr Shah acknowledged that the AKES was solely there to facilitate the mighty and resourceful people while it had no room for the children of the downtrodden and the poor. This further infuriated the protesting parents who immediately started shouting slogans against the general manager. “Umara ka jo yar hei ghaddar hai (facilitator of the rich is a traitor).”
However, the protesters made it clear to him that if he closed the schools he will be greeted with rotten eggs and tomatoes besides permanently banning his entry to the Yarkhun area. Besides, more shocking for the people was that the GM was spotted along with former AKES general manager Zuhran Shah who had been shown the door by the AKES management on the charges of his involvement in irregularities and corruption.
The protesters said the GM along with Zuhran Shah was going to inaugurate new schools in upper Chitral which indicated that there are some hidden hands out to spoil the image of AKES after they were removed for massive corruption charges. The protesters demanded the top management of AKES in Karachi to immediately replace Mir Zaman Shah with a foreigner general manager to run the prestigious AKES in the district, who can at least discourage nepotism and favouritism besides upholding merit in identifying places while schools need to be established.
They also threatened to expand the ongoing series of protest demonstrations to other areas along with people of other communities if the AKES management did not rein in the AKES boss.