ISLAMABAD: Over two dozen students from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas(FATA) and Balochistan have been protesting in the federal capital for the last two weeks, alleging that they are being denied admission to the medical and dental colleges despite the fact that the Higher Education Commission (HEC) has introduced a special project for provision of higher education opportunities to the students of these regions. According to THE protestors, the HEC conducted a test under the project titled ‘Provision of Higher Education Opportunities for Students of FATA and Balochistan (Phase II)’in September last year. Under the project, every public sector medical and dental college of the country is supposed to offer three seats each to the students from FATA and Balochistan. Ismail Afridi, a protesting student from Khyber Agency, maintained that under the project medical colleges in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) have 29 seats, with 14 for FATA and 15 for students from Balochistan province.”We are fruitlessly running from one department to the other, thanks to the HEC and the KP health department. It has already wasted six months of our academic year,” said Afridi, who along with his around two dozen fellows is protesting in Islamabad against the HEC and the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC). The protestors recalled that the PMDC in its 156th meeting had decided to reserve three seats in each public-sector medical and dental college of the country onwards 2017-2018 session for the FATA and Balochistan students. The PMDC council meeting was attended by health secretaries from all the provinces. The total number of reserved seats for FATA and Balochistan students amounts to 194 across country. Afridi said they received emails from the HEC, asking each of the aspirants to point out at least five colleges of his choice from the attached list of 55 medical and dental colleges from across the country. “We replied to that email and the HEC as per its procedure sent names of three students to each of the colleges. But the Khyber Medical College (KMC) and colleges from Punjab didn’t adhere to the agreed policy,” he claimed. The protestors said they have been visiting the offices of PMDC, HEC and KP health secretary but to no avail. “Officials concerned say that they haven’t received directions in this regard from the higher authorities. Now, we don’t know whom should we approach. We are left with no option but to knock the door of the Supreme Court to get justice,” they concluded. Published in Daily Times, March 21st 2018.