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LAHORE: Punjab University Vice Chancellor Zaffar Mueen Nasar on Friday resigned from his post, apparently over the issue of the university land which the Punjab government wanted to give to a religious party.

Prof Nasar tendered his resignation to Punjab Governor/Chancellor Malik Rafique Rajwana, citing ‘unavoidable circumstances’.

Talking to Dawn, Mr Nasar said he was facing immense pressure from the elements in the Punjab government to hand over two-kanal land of the PU Old Campus sports ground to a religious party for constructing a seminary.

Says prefers quitting over succumbing to govt pressure

“The whole teaching community in the university was against handing over the land to the government; therefore, I preferred to resign instead of giving in to the government pressure,” he said. Mr Nasar had joined the office on Dec 28, 2016.

The Punjab government had acquired the land of the seminary near Chauburji for the Orange Line Train project and was forcing the university to give up its land to compensate the seminary, which belonged to a religiopolitical party.

The PU Academic Staff Association had also passed a resolution against the proposed land plan, saying that under the PU Act, the land could be used only for academic purposes. They also said that teaching community would resist if the PU administration dared hand over the land to the government.

The Punjab government on Jan 1 had asked the PU administration to hand over its prime two kanals to a religiopolitical party.

Adviser to Chief Minister Khwaja Ahmed Hassaan, in a meeting with the PU VC, deans, treasurer and resident officers, held at 90 Shahrah-i-Quaid-i-Azam, had forced the participants to let the government acquire the land without any delay.

A week before this meeting, all the PU deans and principals of constituent colleges, in a meeting held under the chairmanship of the Dr Nasar, had demanded Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif stop snatching the PU land and construct the mosque on the premises of other government offices on the Lake Road (next to Madrassatul Banat).

On the other hand, a tussle was going on between the VC and the Punjab Higher Education Minister Raza Ali Gillani, which, according to some PU senior faculty members, was a reason behind the departure of Dr Nasar.

Mr Gillani had recently written to the chief minister, seeking removal of Dr Nasar, accusing him of committing financial irregularities and violations of rules in various projects and recruitments. He had accused the VC of illegal appointments and exercise of the chancellor’s powers without approval and administrative malpractice.

The minister also suggested in his report that the Chief Minster Inspection Team (CMIT) should look into the serious allegations against Dr Nasar.

Prof Nasar had earlier said that the provincial minister had pressurised him to make illegal postings and give admissions to students against merit and that his denial had turned the minister against him. He also said that he would move the court against the minister for leveling baseless allegations of financial corruption against him.

The minister’s spokesman had denied the allegations regarding pressurising Dr Nasar for illegal postings and admissions.

PU Teachers Front, in its statement, disputed with the claim of the VC that he resigned on the land issue. It repeated the similar allegations that of the higher education minister. The VC was also accused of supporting the Islami Jamiat Talaba (IJT) by his opponents. Pro Nasar termed the allegation baseless.

The IJT spokesman condemned the Punjab government for grabbing PU land and pressurising Dr Nasar in this regard.

“We students of PU fully support Dr Nasar on taking stand in front of the Punjab government on the land issue and would go to any extent to save the university assets for academic future,” he concluded.

Academic Staff Association (ASA) president Javed Sami urged the CM to appoint full-time vice chancellor after advertising the post.

In 1997, the then PU VC Prof Dr Khalid Hameed Sheikh had preferred quitting the post, instead of giving four marlas to the government for a slip road at the Barkat Market crossing.

Published in Dawn, January 6th, 2018