LAHORE: The Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (FAPUASA) has condemned the “blatant and threatening” statements of political figures against Government College University Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Asghar Zaidi.
The GCU on Monday became a ‘centre of controversy’ following former prime minister Imran Khan’s hard-hitting speech targeting his political opponents, especially PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz, at the varsity’s Oval ground. A social media trend purportedly generated by the PML-N against the VC for what the party of the Sharifs said “allowing Imran Khan to hold his public meeting at the prestigious institution.”
In a statement on Tuesday, FAPUASA Punjab general secretary Prof Dr Hafiz Muhammad Tahir said if the GCU VC had done something undesirable the officials should adopt an adequate procedure to address the issue. “It is not fair to threaten an academician for serious consequences on the social media,” he said.
The FAPUASA further said the autonomy of universities should be restored. In the last few years, it said political and social dialogue was questioned in academia, which was not a good gesture because we could only cultivate intellectual discourses through meaningful discussions and events in universities.
The GCU Academic Staff Association has also put its weight behind Dr Zaidi, saying that it fully supported him in the face of uncalled for criticism on him. “The academic staff association is standing by the VC for ensuring free speech,” it said in a statement.
It said Monday’s event was organised by the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) in collaboration with the Higher Education Department (HED) of the Punjab government. This was not the first time that any political leader had expressed his political views before students at the GCU, it said, and added in the past, many leaders of other parties also addressed the students about their political perspectives at the GCU.
Meanwhile, Australian High Commission First Secretary Katherine Twomey called on Dr Zaidi and discussed various research and cooperation opportunities of the GCU with Australian universities.
Dr Zaidi told the delegation about the initiatives and research being done by the varsity regarding climate change, and expressed his intention to strengthen research culture in collaboration with Australian researchers.
Later, the delegation also inspected the on-campus groundwater replenishment project launched by the GCU in collaboration with WWF-Pakistan to artificially accelerate the groundwater recharge in Lahore for future generations.
Published in Dawn, September 28th, 2022