• Faculty members say rector was appointed on temporary basis and supposed to run day-to-day affairs only
• University official says changes to statute were made by senate, not by rector

ISLAMABAD: Comsats University Islamabad (CUI), which has been functioning under an interim arrangement, is embroiled in an alleged controversy as a clause of its statute was recently changed by the university syndicate headed by the rector who is working on a look-after basis.

In July last year, following the acceptance of the resignation of rector Dr Mohammad T. Afzal, chancellor of the university, the then president Dr Arif Alvi, gave the look-after charge to senior Dean Prof Dr Sajid Qamar till the appointment of a regular rector.

Moreover, offices of the registrar, treasurer and controller are also being run under the interim arrangement while the position of pro-rector was never filled.

Meanwhile, a group of faculty members have leveled allegations of favoritism against the rector.

Talking to Dawn, they claimed that the look-after rector had been making blatant violations of rules and ignoring merit.

Requesting not to be named, they said Dr Sajid Qamar in order to accommodate his blue-eyed faculty members last month made changes to the statute regarding appointment of heads of departments.

As per the existing rules, a head of department (HOD) is appointed from amongst three senior professors and as many associate professors. The faculty members said the syndicate last month changed the rule and increased the number to 10 senior most professors out of whom one would be picked as the HOD.

In other universities, the senior most faculty member is appointed as the HOD. At CUI, the clause was already questionable under which the HOD would be appointed from amongst three professors and three associate professors.

“This has been done to accommodate the rector’s chosen ones,” they alleged.

The group said Prof Qamar was supposed to deal with day-to-day affairs only, alleging that making an amendment to the rules was beyond his mandate.

To support their claim, the faculty members cited Establishment Division’s letter dated April 9, 2021, regarding look-after charge. They added that the university senate was the competent authority to give financial and administrative powers to anyone and in case of a look-after rector, he was appointed by the chancellor.

The faculty members also alleged that Prof Waqas Masood was appointed the head of the Physics Department on June 18, 2021 for a period of three years, but was replaced by a junior professor in violation of rules by the rector last year.

They said when the matter reached Islamabad High Court, the rector had to reverse the appointment. But instead of appointing a senior professor, he picked an associate professor in February this year as the new head (though as per rules the appointment of an associate professor as the HOD is legitimate).

The faculty members also alleged that CUI in violation of rules allowed the transfer of a student of the Department of Computer Science at the Wah campus to the same department at the Islamabad campus. They also alleged that there had been two harassment cases against a faculty member, who was close to the look-after rector. The cases were supposed to be decided by the university’s harassment committee which was formed in 2023 for a two-year term, but all of a sudden the convener and a member of the committee were removed last month.

They alleged that the rector had been using a PhD student to teach courses originally assigned to him (rector) in bachelor’s course of Physics. “Students filed a complaint against this violation of their rights with the HOD on Jan 13, 2024. Despite several reminders, their complaint has not been taken up,” they added.

Comsat Institute became Comsats University in 2018 under an Act which has not yet been fully implemented.

Registrar Prof Dr Sajjad A. Madani is running the office for the last over five years on a temporary basis whereas treasurer Mohammad Azam was appointed in 2018 for three years when Comsats was an institute, but he is still dealing with finances of the university.

Official version of Comsats

General Manager of Rector Secretariat Naveed Ahmed Khan rejected all allegations of the group and said the incumbent rector took all decisions in accordance with rules and regulations and had full authority to run the affairs of the university like previous interim rector.

“He [rector] has authority to chair meeting of syndicate and take decisions in interest of the university,” he said and added that the syndicate, not the rector, approved changes to the statute related to appointment of HODs subject to approval of the university senate.

He said shifting of a student from Wah to Islamabad was legal and a routine matter.

To a query, he said in the past a selection committee had recommended approval to the appointment of the current registrar for three-year term, but the senate did not approve the same because of an issue, which was later settled down.

Meanwhile, the registrar completed the three years and now his case will be referred to the senate to decide whether he should continue or fresh advertisement should be floated, he said.

He said a regular rector would be hired soon as a search committee was going to start interviews from Monday.

“The treasurer was appointed in 2017 when it was Comsats Institute and the treasurer’s position was in grade OG-IV and the Act says no person will be lowered in rank after passing of the Act from parliament.” He added that the convener and a member of the harassment committee were changed because of a delay on their part in finalising inquiries.

Published in Dawn, April 22nd, 2024

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