GCU sends teacher home for being ‘political’

Published March 14, 2020
Zaigham Abbas — Photo from GCU website
Zaigham Abbas — Photo from GCU website

LAHORE: The Government College University (GCU) has not extended the contract of a lecturer in Political Science allegedly for actively advocating students’ rights and their progressive ideas.

Zaigham Abbas of Gilgit-Baltistan was appointed as a lecturer in Political Science Department of the GCU four years ago on a six months contract, which was continuously extended without any hassle.

However, he went to give his lecture as per routine on March 2 and found another teacher already giving lecture in his place. He inquired about the presence of other teacher and was told that the administration had not extended his service contract.

“I was astonished to know that the administration had ended my contract without telling me,” Mr Zaigham told Dawn.

He said he tried to meet GCU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Asghar Zaidi to know and report about the problem but the VC refused to meet him. He said universities administrations were playing the tricks with the teaching faculties and did not giving them contract more than six months.

University refutes allegation

“Anyone hired on yearly contract would have to be given a permanent position (after a certain period) under the law,” he said.

Mr Abbas alleged that the administration had not extended his job contract because he had supported the recently held the Aurat March and previously Student Solidarity March for revival of student unions. He said he was receiving information from different channels that his contract would not be extended due to his point of view for women and students.

He claimed that he had organised a political discussion at the university about Kashmir issue and followed open mic policy where the students had spoken their minds and it had also enraged the administration.

In his social media post some days back, Zaigham Abbas had written, “I was recently verbally informed that my contract would not be renewed as I am “political” and speak openly about the issues and problems that students and faculty face every day on campus. (Apparently, they expected me to teach Political Science without being political at all)”.

VC Zaidi said Mr Abbas was not fired at all.

“Contract appointments are subject to available workload and classes as determined by department heads. Currently, Political Science has no workload and there is no need for extra staff,” he said.

However, Abbas claimed the teacher who was teaching in his place was also hired by the university on contract.

The VC said Mr Abbas was welcomed to apply for a regular appointment at the GCU whenever a post would be advertised.

“If he has any constructive suggestions for improving the working conditions of contract employees, he is encouraged to provide this feedback directly to me.”

Mr Zaidi also refuted the allegations that Mr Abbas was relieved of his job due to his political views or dissent.

Published in Dawn, March 14th, 2020

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