Khosa vs Sharif: varsities end losers

The appointment of vice-chancellors (VCs) of public universities is taking inordinately long thanks to a cold war between PML-N`s chief minister and PPP-backed governor. The delayed process is causing strong undercurrents ranging from out-of-merit appointments to character assassination reports.


For almost last four months, six public universities in Punjab are being run without regular VCs and of them two universities are even being run without acting VCs.


Some candidates, who were not called for interviews by the Punjab Higher Education Department`s search committee, have moved courts, while the Punjab government has yet to finalise the appointment of VCs despite the passage of three months since the search committee recommended three-candidate panels for each university to the chief minister.


A cold war is going on as Governor Latif Khosa in capacity of chancellor says that it is his sole prerogative to appoint a VC and quotes an Indian court`s decision to support his stance: “When an act confers powers on the Governor not qua Governor but in a different capacity held by him by virtue of his office as Governor, the powers and duties so conferred are not the powers and duties of the office of the Governor”.


He also said, “The appointment of a VC in terms of section 12 of the ordinance empowers the chancellor so to do on such terms and conditions as he may determine and which office he would hold during the pleasure of the chancellor for a term not exceeding four years. Obviously, therefore, the very language clearly reflects that the appointment would be at the discretion of the chancellor and the chief minister cannot be a judge of the pleasure of the chancellor for retention of the vice-chancellor as postulated in the statutory provisions.”The governor signed the appointment of two VCs of women universities in Lahore and Rawalpindi on June 27, while the chief minister re-sent the summaries regarding the appointment of VCs in six universities.


The Punjab Higher Education Department is, however, still blank about the appointment of Prof Dr Sabiha Mansoor as Lahore College for Women`s University VC and Prof Dr Samina Amin Qadir as Fatima Jinnah Women`s University, Rawalpindi, VC.


Higher Education Secretary Haseeb Athar says, “Neither any summary has been returned nor any order for the notification of the VCs has been delivered to the department so far”.


About the appointment of VCs of the remaining four universities, it is learnt that Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani had recommended that Prof Khwaja Alqama be appointed as Bahauddin Zakariya University VC. Reportedly, the chief minister met Prof Alqama but his fate has yet to be decided.


Another serious issue that came to the surface is that the governor has referred back chief minister`s advice to appoint Prof Dr Muhammad Akram Chaudhry as vice-chancellor of the University of Sargodha for a second term dubbing him a loose moral man. He has quoted a report of the deputy registrar of the Islamia University, Bahawalpur, as well as a letter of Additional Inspector General of Police, Special Branch, Punjab.


Interestingly, a two-page letter by Sargodha University`s Academic Staff Association president Dr Taha Nazir, addressed to the chancellor was also circulated to the media about a week ago that supported Mr Khosa`s stance. However, Dr Nazir denied that he had ever written such a letter as he was residing in Canada and had landed in Pakistan on June 30.


“I am directly writing a letter to the governor and the chief minister that I did not write the letter in question to the governor”.


Prof Chaudhry says the allegations leveled by the governor dates back to 1978, adding that he was twice terminated from service only to be restored. He said he served the Islamia University, Bahawalpur, Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan, Punjab University and then finally served the University of Sargodha as VC for four years. “It is strange that this chancellor`s secretariat had recognised my “exceptionally meritorious services” and granted me BPS-22 in January 2007 and then appointed me Sargodha University VC for four years in February 2007,” he said.


While all these political wrangling are on, the candidates are waiting for justice and fair play with their fingers crossed.Dawn.

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