Campaign against Punjab University VC

Elected PU body intensifies campaign against VC
Lahore, Feb 28: The Punjab University is witnessing heightened politics and a clear divide between faculty members, as the Academic Staff Association’s elected body has intensified its protest against Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Mujahid Kamran. In order to counter this campaign, the pro-administration group has pulled its socks up to rebut every allegation levelled by the elected office-bearers.

The PUASA elected body had humbled the pro-administration group – Teachers Front –as it clean swept the annual elections in January. The elected body consists of Academic Group and Academic Forum that fought elections against each other in the past but joined hands this time to mount pressure on the administration.

Within a month’s time, the PUASA elected body showed up at a press conference and levelled a series of allegations, most of them were rebutted by the university administration. PUASA president Prof Dr Mahr Saeed Akhtar and secretary Iftikhar Tarar also levelled allegations about financial irregularities but could not produce any documents. They did produce a document saying that Prof Kamran had given eight increments to his cousin Prof Dr Mansoor Sarwar, principal of the PU College of Information Technology. However, journalists were later informed that an office-order was issued but never implemented.

They also rebutted association’s claim that the Teachers Front was being given administrative positions and added that they must list the faculty members of their ranks, who were serving on administrative posts as well as members of committees looking after important affairs of the university.

The Teachers Front’s leaders including Resident Officer Javed Sami and Physics Department chairman Prof Dr Shaukat Ali say it is unfortunate that Academic Group and Academic Forum joined hands in elections to protect criminals in their ranks and politicise the university’s environment at faculty and administration level.

The vice-chancellor also became aggressive and vowed at a get-together with education reporters that he would neither compromise on principles and discipline nor succumb to pressure tactics being employed by PUASA leaders. He said that he was facilitating all teachers, sent 62 faculty members abroad to do PhDs at varsity’s expense and exhausted Rs60 million allocated for the purpose.

While the PUASA leadership is stepping up protest against the vice-chancellor, the Teachers Front leadership came up with a new idea and organised a like-minded teachers’ meeting and a rally on varsity’s New Campus to protest against, what they called, “unscrupulous behaviour of PUASA office-bearers”.

A number of faculty members participated in the meeting and the rally and denounced the association’s efforts aimed at protecting black sheep and create unrest in the university.

The Teachers Front meeting condemned the false propaganda launched against the vice-chancellor and senior teachers. The participants were of the view that the PUASA was protecting criminals in its ranks and employees and was involved in a dirty campaign of character assassination against teachers.

The Teachers Front meeting also decided to chalk-out a line of action if PUASA “didn’t stop sheltering drug-sellers and teachers who have libelled the sacred profession of teaching”. The meeting also passed a resolution condemning PUASA’s propaganda, demanding its office-bearers to tender an apology.

Also, PUASA has condemned the vice-chancellor’s involvement in varsity teachers’ politics and stressed that the VC must stay neutral and do justice to all besides creating opportunities for teachers’ development and well-being. PUASA leaders Prof Akhtar and Mr Tarar alleged that the VC was showering all favours on Teachers Front and even pressurising teachers to join the Teachers Front. They say that the VC has not given a positive response to their Charter of Demands.

Besides Punjab University, the University of Education is also witnessing disturbance since the varsity’s acting vice-chancellor Prof Dr Farhat Saleem sacked two teachers.

Following a number of protest demonstrations and boycott of examinations led by students, the UoE Syndicate on the recommendation of a two vice-chancellors’ probe committee reinstated Dr Shaheen Pasha, who was completing her probation period, but did not revert the decision of sacking Division of Science and Technology director Prof Dr Anwaar-ur-Rehman Pasha because being on contract he did not fall in the jurisdiction of the Syndicate.

As the matter has been closed at varsity administration as well as Punjab government’s level, last week some students again tried to disrupt the academic environment of the varsity and forced other departments’ students to quit classes, misbehave with teachers and create panic to disturb academic activities on the campus. A group of students has also joined hands and is protesting against the students who are trying to keep agitation alive.

The UoE administration is now planning to reschedule examinations on Monday (today) so that the academic activity could resume in the university. However, the students Joint Action Committee is still not in a mood to return to their classes until the case registered against them be quashed and Prof Pasha restored as director of UoE’s Division of Science and Technology. Dawn

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