The administration of all 42 cantonment boards across the country including in the Rawalpindi district has stopped sealing of 8,530 educational institutions functioning in residential areas till January 1.
Cantonment boards have so far sealed 31 private schools in their respective jurisdictions across the country including in the Rawalpindi district. However, the operation has been put on hold till December 31. Cantonment boards have decided to carry out the operation on January 1 and wrap up by 3 pm. Five to 10 teams have been formed to carry out evacuation operations within the deadline.
The cantonment board administration has rejected the All-Pakistan Private Schools Association (APPSA) action committee’s request to postpone the operation till January 5 and asked them to close the schools voluntarily by December 31, otherwise, they will not be allowed to be opened from January 1.
Moreover, it has been notified that in case of any resistance during the operation by any school or person, cases of interference in government affairs will be registered against them.
Lists of schools have been handed over to all inspectors of the Rawalpindi and Chaklala Cantonment boards. These teams will have the complete support of the local police.
The private school owners have pinned high hopes on the Lahore High Court Rawalpindi Bench and the Supreme Court who will take up their appeals on December 21 and January 5 respectively.
Meanwhile, APPSA action committee leaders including Raja Ilyas, Irfan Muzaffar Kayani and Amjad Zeb said that they have filed a petition in the high court, challenging the jurisdiction of Rawalpindi and Chaklala Cantonment boards. They have taken the plea that action could only be taken against those schools which are situated in the Cantonment areas according to the 1924 Cantonment Act.
They said that the boundaries of the Cantonment have been extended without any legal justification and requirement.
The petition will be taken up by LHC Rawalpindi bench judge Raheel Kamran on December 21. The high court has also directed the Cantonment boards to provide cantonment maps according to the 1924 Act.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court will hear identical appeals against the closure of schools on January 5. The Supreme Court, after reviewing all the appeals, has issued notices to the federal government, Cantonment boards and the ministry of defence.
According to the APPSA, all private schools will stage protests in their respective schools from 10 am to 12 am from December 20 until January 5.
The APPSA has also announced not to close schools in the winter vacations due to the threat of sealing their premises by the Cantonment boards.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 20th, 2021.