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KARACHI: The administrative crisis plaguing the Federal Urdu University for Arts, Science and Technology for the past two years worsened on Friday as the Rangers had to intervene to defuse the tension between the university administration and a group of teachers, sources told Dawn.

The situation, they said, developed when a university teacher (Prof Mohammed Asif) recently appointed as registrar from the Islamabad campus of the university reported at the Gulshan campus in Karachi along with a teachers’ group to take his charge.

“The administrative staff [backed by Vice Chancellor Prof Zafar Iqbal] stopped the official from taking the charge. As heated arguments ensued between the two groups and the Rangers were called in by the administration for assistance,” said a source, adding that the Rangers requested the teachers to resolve the matter at a proper forum and defer if for a few days.

It is worth noting that the Urdu university that has three campuses in Pakistan (two in Karachi and one in Islamabad) has been facing administrative trouble for a long time. The latest was created after Vice Chancellor Prof Zafar Iqbal against whom teachers had lodged many complaints of alleged administrative and financial malpractices didn’t hold a single session of the senate in a year, which is mandatory under university rules.

The absence of a senate session, the sources said, had given arbitrary powers to the vice chancellor to take administrative decisions, which were being resisted by teachers. They also communicated their grievances to the Higher Education Commission and the chancellor [President Mamoon Hussain].

The latter in his capacity as the university chancellor called a meeting of the senate last year in which Prof Iqbal was sent on a three-month forced leave while Prof Mohammad Qaiser, the vice chancellor of Karachi University, was made acting vice chancellor of the university.

Prof Iqbal, who didn’t participate in the meeting, went to court and got a stay order against the meeting’s decisions. The court vacated the stay order for a day on March 11 during which Prof Qaiser submitted his joining report as acting vice chancellor of the Urdu university to the HEC.

Later, Prof Qaiser tried to take his charge at the Gulshan campus in Karachi, but couldn’t do so in the presence of Prof Iqbal, who got registered an FIR against teachers supporting Prof Qaiser.

Later, Prof Qaiser went abroad and the chancellor appointed Prof Suleman D. Mohammad as acting vice chancellor, who is currently serving on the Islamabad campus of the university, as he believed he wouldn’t be allowed to take his charge in Karachi.

“Prof Suleman has appointed Prof Mohammad Asif as registrar of the university. But he couldn’t take his charge today on the Gulshan campus due to resistance shown by Prof Iqbal,” explained Prof Seema Naz, a senior teacher and former senate member of the Urdu university.

She severely criticised registration of an FIR against her colleagues and said that the action was highly unjustified as teachers didn’t indulge in any illegal activity.

Speaking to Dawn, Prof Iqbal said that the chancellor had no authority to call a meeting of the university senate under rules and regulations and that the court still had to decide the case.

“It was a contaminated [senate] meeting. I was told just eight hours before the meeting that a session was being held that is against rules and regulations,” he said, adding that the chancellor should have consulted him for calling the meeting.

“There is no provision under the university law that allows the chancellor to call a senate meeting,” he said.

Regarding delay on his part in calling the senate meeting, he argued that there was no nominating committee and once members of the nominating committee were elected, the term of the senate members expired.

According to Prof Iqbal, the court has declared all actions taken between March 11 and March 12 as null and void regarding the university.

“The case is still in court and everyone should wait for the final verdict. Prof Suleman has the support of the establishment and some forces,” he alleged.

Published in Dawn, April 18th, 2015

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