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The move followed unconfirmed reports that the university had organised an “Israeli cultural stall”, which began circulating on the Internet and via social media.
The move followed unconfirmed reports that the university had organised an “Israeli cultural stall”, which began circulating on the Internet and via social media.

ISLAMABAD: The International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI), on Sunday, removed the dean of the Faculty of Management Sciences (FMS) and a student adviser who were responsible for a three-day Model United Nations (MUN) event, which began on Friday.

The move followed unconfirmed reports that the university had organised an “Israeli cultural stall”, which began circulating on the Internet and via social media. This drew the ire of right-wing organisations, including the IIUI chapter of the Islami Jamiat Talaba (IJT), which staged a demonstration outside the National Press Club on Sunday to condemn the stall.

The stall in question, photographs of which were circulated on social media, was organised by students of the FMS as part of the MUN event. MUNs held around the world feature several debates, committee sessions, as well as social events where teams are expected to showcase the culture of the countries they are representing. This exercise is aimed at contributing to students’ understanding of other peoples and countries around the world, while the debate portion of the event allows them to discuss and thrash out questions of global political significance amongst each other.

A statement issued by the university’s spokesperson, Mr Hairan Khattak, on Sunday, disowned responsibility for the event, saying “a few students arranged a stall for Israel without the knowledge and permission of the university authorities. IIUI strongly condemns the incident and no sooner did they come to know about the matter than the programme was cancelled without any further delay.”

Educationists worried by ‘intolerance’ of other cultures at educational events

The IIUI, in an apparent response to criticism from right-wing quarters, suspended FMS Dean Dr Bashir Khan and Student Adviser Tasneem Fatima. Dr Azizur Rehman, an assistant professor at the IIUI's Faculty of Law and also adviser to the IIUI president, confirmed to Dawn that punitive action was being taken against the two individuals.

Mr Rehman told Dawn that although the university administration was informed that the MUN event would be taking place, he maintained that the organisers had not provided details regarding the cultural event, nor had they sought permission to set up a stall depicting Israel.

“Since Pakistan does not have diplomatic ties with Israel and any mention of the country is a sensitive issue for the public at large, the administration feels that such a stall should not have been allowed at the event,” Dr Rehman said.

Both Dr Khan and Ms Fatima were not available for comment, despite repeated attempts.

Commenting on the issue, noted educationist Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy told Dawn that having a model United Nations event was a step towards integration, while fully recognizing defects existing in the international world order.

“Sadly, what happened at IIUI indicates that we are bent upon emphasizing our differences with other cultures and nations, and that we shall not tolerate any that are different from ours. This rigidity will not win us friends internationally, nor will this lead to a more internally peaceful Pakistan,” he said.

Saim Sadiq, an alumnus of the Lahore University of Management Sciences and former director general of Lumun, the Lums MUN society, told Dawn that freedom of speech is already a rare thing in Pakistan. “MUNs are one of the few forums where students can learn about the world and absorb differing world views without being bullied into accepting just one side of the story as the absolute truth. The unfortunate mix-up at IIUI should not be misconstrued to affect other such conferences in the future,” he said.

Mr Sadiq, who was declared ‘Best Delegate’ at the 2014 Harvard MUN, held in Brussels this year, said that debates, MUNs and legal moots are very important to the development of students and makes them well-rounded individuals. “Curbing such events will put students of our generation a step behind every other country competing at the global level,” he concluded.

Published in Dawn, October 27th, 2014

Comments (47) Closed

Masroof Oct 27, 2014 07:29am

Intolerance is the major cause of all ills that Pakistan faces. The knowledge and achievement of Jewish people can not be denied. Jewish people have given the World a lot of things. We are all Jewish to begin with so why this intolerance? Pakistan should establish diplomatic relation with Israel as soon as possible. All Afridis and Yusufzai are the two of the well known 12 of the tribes of Israel. How can you deny that fact. Google it if you don't take my word for it.

Winnerman Oct 27, 2014 07:29am

How about a stall about Gazah children and their plight? I guess these students are looking for another Nobel Prize!

Masroof Oct 27, 2014 07:30am

When the same bigoted people go abroad they ask for Jewish doctors, lawyers and teachers. Respect knowledge and creativity and stop all intolerance in the country.

Kublai Oct 27, 2014 07:43am

This is a very very sick country. Run by extremists and mullahs. And illiterate ideologues. Backed by the Govt. of Nawaz.

Naeem Qureshi Oct 27, 2014 07:44am

What a shame. We are limiting free discussion and debate. Several Arab countries has recognized and have diplomatic relations with Israel. Our bigoted right wing cannot wish away Israel.

Moby Oct 27, 2014 07:57am

Pakistan recognized Israel during Musharraf's reign...did the unrecognize it now?

yash Oct 27, 2014 08:04am

The moment a society starts becoming intolrent. It is the beginning of the end of that society. In this case it seems the society is Pakistan education society. It is at these time it's the duty of their leaders to correct there masses. Direct them to the right path. It is their duty to guide them. So that they can survive in the coming generations.

Sudhakar Oct 27, 2014 08:05am

Intolerant bunch of illiterates!

reality bites Oct 27, 2014 08:14am

Knowing other cultures and learning about them, expands our mental capacities to interact with them. Even if we don't agree with their policies and tactics it is fundamental to separate the politics and religion from human understanding. The Islamic groups will take this country to stone age if we let them.

Its a shame, that the dean and student advisor was suspended for doing their job. The university should have stood behind their own. But then again, we cannot expect anything extraordinary from a religion based institution these days.

Tamilselvan Oct 27, 2014 08:17am

O kashmiris, do you really want to be a part of "land of Pure" where even model UN in schools are getting banned and army is on alert for Muharam as they expect killing between sects. is this the land you guys want to join? Look at the pathetic lives of various sects and minorities. Why leave a secular land where you are treated as equals. Muslims of other parts of India have realised it and it's time for you to some soul searching and live peacefully among the pandits, Sikhs, Buddhists and everyone else. Look at the lives of people across the border and see if this is what you want to be!

Ahmed Khan Oct 27, 2014 08:17am

How can the Pakistani culture, that does not tolerate any other culture, will ever become a model UN member? Never, as long as we focus only on differences and intolerance.

Gaurav Arya Oct 27, 2014 08:20am

Does Pakistan not have diplomatic ties with Israel because of the Palestine issue? This is really sad. Palestine has full diplomatic relations with India in spite of the Kashmir issue. Yasser Arafat used to visit India very often and our PM would go and meet them there. Why is Pakistan the "thekeydaar" of all Islam related issues? Israel is far ahead of Pakistan in all parameters - economy, military, education, social, human capital etc. How does it matter to Israel if you don't recognize them? The loss is yours. So many OIC members have full diplomatic relations with Israel...those countries that actually have something to do directly with the Palestine issue. Pakistan should wake up and understand the ground realities. Foreign policy is not conducted on emotion. You need to be practical and think of the benefit to Pakistan. You should consider Pakistan first rather than getting involved in issues of zero practical benefit to you.

1947 ka Pakistani Oct 27, 2014 08:35am

Our Students are already just RATTA machines, and our teachers (even Ph.D Professors) are NOTHING (I wonder how they got the degrees from abroad)... Our university rankings are based on number of papers published, which any idiot too can do easily. The quality of research is nothing. And we are further pushing ourselves to an educational collapse.

Amjad Wyne Oct 27, 2014 08:42am

There is nothing that works in this country - it is badly broken and it needs whipping.

Shaheen Oct 27, 2014 08:43am

Well Israel is not a culture it is a state and may not be "promoted" in Pakistan. However there should not be any issue with the Jewish culture. Jewish people live around the world and are closely related to Islamic culture. In fact their holy book Torah (Al Toraad) is also one of the 5 books that Muslims believe in. They are in fact the "people of the book". One of the Jewish tribes also migrated to western Pakistan centuries ago. They eventually converted to Islam and are among the today's Pukhtoon tribes

DarHaqiqat Oct 27, 2014 08:48am

I wonder if the same event was allowed or banned in any other muslim country that doesn't recognize Israel ?

Jawad U Rahman Oct 27, 2014 08:55am

So, Jordanians, Egyptians, and Palestinians themselves recognise and deal with Israel, and we refuse to acknowledge its existence even for an academic debate?

M. Ahmed Oct 27, 2014 09:03am

Israel has committed massive crimes against humanity, it must be shunned.

ammar Oct 27, 2014 09:05am

UN recognizes the state of Israel and it was a model united nation .....point .

Asim Oct 27, 2014 09:19am

We cannot afford to have a country representing her Culture on our land who is killing innocent children and grabbing land of local Palestinians through Force ` All you who are supporting display of this barbaric country's culture, just go and visit Gaza and then you will realize should we displaying their culture or tell them to first care about humanity

Saad khan Oct 27, 2014 09:21am

In contrast all right wing parties like jamiat should be banned.

Ali Oct 27, 2014 09:22am

Don't we love to rub salt on the wounds and create controversies.

saleem Oct 27, 2014 09:41am

Now some Isreali university should hold a model UN event and have a Pakistani stall and then their "fanatics" should distrupt is as well... Belive me our fanatics will love it here ....

Waheed Iqbal Oct 27, 2014 09:50am

@Sudhakar Hope you are also aware of the 'tolerance' shown by Israel towards Palestinians every now and then.

Old Ravian Oct 27, 2014 09:55am

The organisers should have been more considerate. The event would have gone ahead even if there was no isreali participation. Intolerance is high in this society, which needs to be de-escalated, this can only be done by starting from a low level and touching upon issues which all are willing to talk about.

Waheed Iqbal Oct 27, 2014 10:09am

Dr Rehman has aptly stated that "Since Pakistan does not have diplomatic ties with Israel and any mention of the country is a sensitive issue for the public at large, the administration feels that such a stall should not have been allowed at the event”

To suggest that the 'right-wing quarters' were responsible for creating all the fuss about the incident is biased reporting. A vast majority of Pakistanis do not like Israel and will not like to have anything to do with Israel. We should also keep in mind the plight of Palestinians at the hands of Israel and should snub Israel at every forum where possible. And if we do so, it will not be strange at all as Israel, and its backers, publicly boycott and use diplomatic pressures, to sabotage all the events (cultural, political or others) which are held to highlight issue of Palestine-Israel conflict or right of Palestinians to have a state.

Sohail Oct 27, 2014 11:13am

Anything which is against the policies of Pakistan must be treated as same. and if they want to show our exhibit the culture of Israeil, then they must also exhibit what are the differences and why Pakistan are opposing them from very first day.

Sohail Oct 27, 2014 12:13pm

Good move by the university administration to exhibit the policies of Pakistan.

Jani Oct 27, 2014 12:28pm

I think worst come to worst, The Dean and Adviser should have been warned but suspending them was a very harsh decision. This is not such a big mistake.....

Hena Khan Oct 27, 2014 03:25pm

@Waheed Iqbal I hardly see anyone keeping in mind the 'plight of Palestinians at the hands of Israel', when they are drinking coke or pepsi. Why keep it in mind here? Plus, all other MUN Conferences in Pakistan have an Israeli stall. Why is it a big deal when it happens in IIUI?

Sanam Abbas Oct 27, 2014 08:36pm

The stall should not have been allowed because Pakistan supports Palestinian cause and condemns Israeli atrocities against the Palestinians. The Palestine Cause and the creation of Pakistan have a lot in common.Two ideological states emerged on the map of world during that period, one being fought hard for by the Muslims of sub-continent and the other being gifted to a mere small proportion of jews who were gathered in Palestine from all over the world. A cultural stall is not only about promoting the values,norms and tradition of a country but it is a mean of advocating your narrative to others through soft-image building that is not acceptable to the vast majority of Pakistanis in case of Israel. The brutalities and massacres can not be white-washed through CBMs and thus until the core issues are addressed in the right spirit ; all such activities will only instigate more detestation and wide-spread hatred. Those who are concerned with the tolerance issue must also be concerned with world peace being destroyed by the Zionist lobbies around the world especially in Middle East.

Ibrahim Khalil Majid Oct 27, 2014 08:39pm

3000 Palestinians get killed, thousands handicapped and millions displaced and still we are advocating and begging for tolerance and more tolerance. We are the best advocates of abolition of war but war can only be prevented through war and in order to get rid of the gun you have to take up the gun!!! as simple as that!

Moon BD Oct 28, 2014 12:57am

I would really like to know what the "liberals" dying in favor of free speech and love of Israel, here would have to say if a Pakistani stall was to be erected in a "Zionist" university in Israel and is taken down like this.

Once an enemy, always an enemy. That is what Israel is to Muslims in general and Pakistan in particular. So, two thumbs up for kicking the idiocy out of ignorant at IIUI.

Waqar Oct 28, 2014 01:29am

Tragedy is that this thing has become an issue.

ali Oct 28, 2014 04:07am

@Masroof I agree with you to show the world their achievements but why dont show what harm they have caused to Palestinians?????????? Just to show one side WHY???????????

Ashish Oct 28, 2014 05:28am

Great. Now, how about NOT using any of the Israeli/jewish inventions in your daily life: WIFI, Instant Messaging, Polio vaccinations, ....

Winnerman Oct 28, 2014 07:54am

@Jawad U Rahman They are getting billions of dollars in return.

Oct 28, 2014 03:11pm

@Shaheen We only know about 4 books. Interest to know about the fifth book.

Anjum Oct 28, 2014 05:39pm

@Tamilselvan Hahaha you must be living somewhere else bro! Go check media even in India minorities are not treated equally. New delhi Imam masjid is attacked and situation is worse there from last 5 days... com'n be sensible and non biased

bilaloqabi Oct 28, 2014 07:58pm

There should b a trial in cort for responsible faculty for allowing israeli terrorist criminal states who killed thousand of innocent palestine kids and women.

Jawad U Rahman Oct 28, 2014 09:54pm

@Winnerman: You missed the point. Are we trying to be more Palestinian than the Palestinians themselves? They recognize and talk to Israel all the time. We will not gain anything by closing our eyes and pretending Israel does not exist.

Afaq Ayub Oct 29, 2014 01:36am

This is not the matter of intolerence, why should we promote the cullture of Israel? A country which had no sympathy for muslims.. Don't you remember Gaza? Their conspiracies agaist the muslim world? I think this could take the form of protest.

Pakistani Oct 29, 2014 03:47am

Ah thats the sad part of the story , now they hav ignited the issue and our so called burger class and open minded youth is going to say in the favour and in the name of freedom of speech that the isreal should be accepted . But let's see the bigger picture , how diplomacy and media flares the issue. Now adays a lot of things are happening alot of issues are popping up because some main stream influential people are being paid to influence the minds of the people and inject a new idea through soft image or shatter their beliefs by asking questions just like "Geo" did then those people who are getting paid find some people who are advocate of the idea and is a common man and motivate them to do the rest of the work and then the rest of the work is being done by the media to aggravate the situation

Sarfaraz Oct 29, 2014 10:00am

We must know if the Palestinians have similar rights in Tel Aviv universities to hold cultural stalls. Beware there are too many paid-Israeli people out there to influence people's minds. Just like the commenter "Masroof" has commented above. It is full of ignorance.

yasmin eliaz Oct 29, 2014 10:27pm

@Naeem Qureshi It's really a shame. Im from Israel, and i was amazed by these photos!!!!!!!!!!! Inshallah we'll have some formal relations in some of the days...

yasmin eliaz Oct 29, 2014 10:31pm

As Israeli Jew i feel to bad for those two. On the other hand, hey- we're on Pakistan's map! cool!

Jewswalla Oct 30, 2014 01:13am

@yasmin eliaz - Wow! your are the 11th Urdu speaking Jew I have heard of from Israel and so much concerned about your homeland Pakistan? Am I assuming you are real or are you not one of our Ahemedi/Qadini sisters from Israel?