In appointments of VCs, still no progress

LAHORE:29 May: No progress has been made so far in the pending appointments of vice-chancellors at four public universities in Punjab. The issue seems to have hit a roadblock as a summary has been pending with the chief minister’s office since May 19. The four universities are Punjab University, Lahore College for Women University (LCWU), University of Sargodha (UoS) and Muhammad Nawaz Sharif University of Engineering and Technology (MNSUET) Multan. Appointments at these four varsities were delayed due to a case that was being heard in the Lahore High Court (LHC). When contacted, several officials concerned expressed ignorance over the status of the appointments and said that the decision was pending with chief minister’s office. However, one official said that almost all the candidates at two of the four universities had become controversial. He added that cases in National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the LHC and ineligibility references filed at the Punjab Higher Education Commission (PHEC) could further delay the appointments. “Political influence is being used to secure the VC position at Punjab University and LCWU, and that is another reason why the appointment is being delayed.” The LHC, in its verdict on April 27, had given the go-ahead to the Punjab government to appointment VCs at these four universities on the recommendations of a search committee. After the verdict, candidates at two universities are becoming controversial. Mardan university reopens after Mashal lynching; weapons seized during search The candidates for the vice-chancellor’s slot at PU include incumbent acting VC Dr Zafar Mueen Nasir, Dr Zakaria Zakar and Dr Mujahid Kamran, who had served nine years at the university including two terms as the VC. For PU, a writ had been filed in the LHC, which stated that the incumbent VC did not fulfil the minimum criteria set by the PHEC. Another alleged financial misappropriation had been unearthed at PU in the incumbent’s tenure. For the former VC, Mujahid Kamran, a NAB inquiry is also looking into financial embezzlement during his nine-year tenure. For the LCWU, the contest is between acting VC Dr Rukhsana Kausar, Dr Uzma Qureshi and Dr Shahida Hasnain. Dr Kausar has filed a representation at the Punjab Higher Education Department (HED) against the eligibility of the other two shortlisted candidates. Meanwhile, a writ, similar to that against the eligibility of the Dr Zafar Mueen at PU, had been filed against Dr Uzma Qureshi, which maintained that she did not fulfil the minimum requirement to hold the VC position. At UoS, the candidates include Dr Ishtiaq Ahmad, Dr Tahir Kamran, and Dr Zafar Mueen Nasir, who is currently the acting VC of PU. For MNSUET, Dr Aamir Ijaz, Dr Mohammad Zubair and Dr Shahid Munir are the candidates for the VC slot. Academic circles had been asking the government to appoint VCs at the earliest as these varsities face many administrative problems because of the makeshift arrangements, and with the LHC verdict in, there is no reason for the appointments to be deferred further.Published in The Express Tribune, May 29th, 2017.

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