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Punjab University students suffering & IJT activists

Nearly 30,000 PU students paying for Punjab govt's stubbornness
Lahore, Apr 12: The Punjab government's stubbornness in playing the part of a silent spectator – despite several appeals by Punjab University Vice Chancellor Dr Mujahid Kamran to the Punjab chief minister – has at last forced the country's largest seat of learning to shut its doors on nearly 30,000 students.

More than 30,000 PU students and hundreds of teachers have been forced to acknowledge that the Islami Jamiat Taliba (IJT) is not only above the law, but it is also above Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. Even 11 days after the brutal attack on PU Disciplinary Committee Chairman Iftikhar Baloch, the government has not arrested a single IJT activist who had been nominated in the first information report of the case. Interestingly, IJT activists are still threatening the victim professor and his colleagues. It is sad that at a time when the whole world condemned the incident and termed it a 'black day in the teaching profession's history', the CM did not even bother to visit the university.

Escape arrest: The government tried to score some points and prove its critics wrong by launching a search operation in the varsity, however, the culprits 'miraculously' managed to escape from the police party.

Black day: Separately, the Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (FAPUSA) – which has its representatives in 55 universities of the country – are observing a black day to condemned the Punjab government for not acting against the IJT activists who had attacked Dr Iftikhar. According to the association, the provincial government's lack of interest was responsible for forcing PU to shut its doors for thousands of students and for forcing the teachers to boycott all academic activities. They also blamed the government as being responsible for the postponement of exams in around 72 departments of the varsity. "Today, teachers from around 55 public sector universities of the country, by observing a black day, showed the Punjab CM that teachers would not let the issue go until the UJT activists responsible for the arrest on the professor," FAPUSA President Dr Maher Saeed Akhtar said. The incident in question took place on April 1, when around two dozes IJT activists attacked Dr Iftikhar in his office.

The IJT's – a wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) – has had a history of violence since the creation of Pakistan. The most notorious time in the group's history was during the reign of General Ziaul Haq, which saw IJT activists setting up torture cells in PU for those who opposed their 'Islamic agenda'. These activists were so influential during that time that having taken up jobs in PU departments and administration, we now see that around 70 percent of the teachers at the university are affiliated with the IJT. These activists are actively promoting Talibanisation by forcefully closing down shops during prayer times, banning the sale of multinational items in canteens, using weapons against students, banning any musical activity in the varsity and attacking any male student who 'dares' sit with any girl. Several governments have come and gone, but none tried to cap the IJT's activities. Those who actually tried eventually failed since the group has the backing of the JI. With no hope left, students have decided to take the matter into their own hands and have decided that the attack on Dr Iftikhar was the last straw. Two years ago, a group of students came together and formed the University Students Federation (USF), consisting of elements of the Imamia Students Organisation (ISF), National Students Federation (NSF), Anjuman Taliba Islam and some students from Gilgit-Baltistan. They all stood united with an aim to rid the varsity of the IJT.

The movement gained significant momentum soon afterwards, when hundreds of students took out a rally against the IJT for manhandling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf chief Imran Khan on his arrival at the varsity. The students' movement woke a slumbering giant, as soon afterwards they were joined by several organizations of various institutes as well as the civil society. Meanwhile, the IJT activists responded by inviting its activists from the tribal areas, who resorted to using arms and weapons against USF members, but the students continued their movement, prompting the PU administration to expel a number of IJT activists who were involved in various cases. The university also prepared profiles of IJT's culprits and lodged first information reports. It is a positive sign that teachers, known to be affiliated with the IJT, have distanced themselves from the group and have condemned their activities. Now in these circumstances, when teachers are observing a black day against the IJT, it falls on the CM to decide as to whether he will address this concern or hand over the varsity to IJT activists who assault teachers.

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Scandal-prone PU readmits IJT activist expelled in 2006
Lahore: Seemingly, making headlines is the least of the Punjab University's (PU) concerns, as the varsity has been hit by yet another scandal that has exposed its faculty members illegally promoting Islami Jamiat Talba (IJT) activists. A seven-member committee of the PU Institute of Communication Studies (ICS) has readmitted a former nazim of the IJT who was dropped from the programme in 2006.

By readmitting former IJT nazim Ahmad Abu Bakar to the ICS programme, the ICS committee blatantly violated the PU semester rules and went against the university calendar regulations, which state that " In case of a valid reason, the period of the study will be extended for one additional year and the students who do not complete studies within the stated period shall be automatically dropped from the programme".

Bakar's readmission came as a shock to PU teachers and students, who said the decision was made by 'bypassing' concerned authorities. In violation of university rules, the ICS – through a planned committee – has allowed Bakar to rejoin the ICS programme in the 2010 session when he had dropped from the same programme during the 3rd semester of the 2007-08 session. Further, the IJT activist is pursuing a Masters degree at the PU Political Science Department at the same time. PU rules clearly state that no student can pursue two different courses in the same year.

Tricked: Dr Afirah Hamid – the ICS examination coordinator and one of those who approved Bakar's readmission – accepted that the student had been readmitted in violation of university rules and alleged that the ICS director had 'tricked her' into signing Bakar's readmission papers. She claimed that the former nazim's name was not on the meeting agenda and she found out later that the papers signed by her and the committee members were Bakar's readmission documents. Afirah said all three female members of the committee were against his readmission and had strongly protested against it. She claimed she had even gotten into an argument with the ICS director who said, "He had the authority to do anything he wanted". However, ICS Director Dr Ahsan Akhtar Naz claimed that all members of the committee discussed the issue and approved the admission of the former IJT nazim.

Cheating: Bakar was dropped during the 3rd semester in 2006 because he was found guilty of cheating during exams. He was supposed to join the programme the following year but he did not do so, citing medical reasons. A semester committee held on March 6, 2008 reviewed Bakar's application, in which he requested that he be allowed to re-sit the examination. After a thorough analysis of the case, the committee decided to drop Bakar from the institute and cancelled his enrollment due to 'non-serious attitude' towards studies.

According to sources, after the decision, Bakar sued the university in the Lahore High Court (LHC) on June 26, 2009. Sources said the ICS administration was worried over the case, and therefore struck a verbal deal, allowing Bakar to rejoin the ICS programme in exchange of his withdrawing the case.

The ICS Examination Committee meeting that formally allowed Bakar to rejoin the programme was held on January 30, 2010 in the office of the ICS director. Naz was the committee chairman and other members included Dr Bushra Rehman, Dr Nosheen Saleem, Abida Ejaz, Shafique Ahmad Kamboh, Khalid Rashid and Muhammad Jamil. All the members signed Bakar's readmission papers including Afirah, the convener of the previous committee meeting where the student was dropped from the institute.

Action: PU Public Relations Director Khawaja Tahir Jamil claimed he had no knowledge of the issue and was not a competent authority to comment on the matter. However, a PU official said the PU vice chancellor had taken notice of the issue and would soon take action. The official, requesting anonymity, said Bakar's readmission might lead to hundreds of expelled students demanding the varsity to grant them the same ' illegal favour' and readmit them to the university. Daily times

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IJT-police nexus behind PU unrest
Lahore: "The government will ensure the sanctity of teachers and educational institutions."

"The teachers are an asset to the nation and the government is taking measures for the welfare of teachers."

"Every effort will be made to bring about a positive change in the lives of teachers and ensuring them due status in the society."

Such are the statements made quite frequently by our rulers and politicians. However, they seem empty rhetoric when we see the treatment meted out to teachers in real life.

The latest unfortunate episode involving the thrashing of a senior teacher of the Punjab University (PU) by the activists of the Islami Jamiat Talaba (IJT) not only exposed Jamiat's brutality yet again but also unearthed the alleged nexus between the Punjab Police (PP) and culprits.

This is what one exactly understands from a letter written by PU Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Mujahid Kamran to Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif on April 2, 2010, a day after Prof Dr Iftikhar Hussain Baloch, Principal PU College of Earth and Environmental Sciences, also the chairman of university's Disciplinary Committee, was attacked, thrashed and injured by the IJT activists. The VC even talked about the nexus between police and the IJT on different news channels after the tragic incident which took place at the PU New Campus on April 1, 2010, the day Turkish President Abdullah Gul was on a visit to Lahore.

The letter obtained is certainly an eye-opener which exposes how those in the power can ëretaliate' if they are ëhurt'.

The document while apprising the CM of the whole situation reads: "This incident is the part of a series of such violent incidents that were not pursued by police despite the FIRs. In December 2008, IJT activists deliberately shot at and wounded two law college students very seriously but the culprits were never arrested. This emboldened the IJT."

The letter, written by the PU VC, further reads: "Our present phase of difficulties began on November 24, 2009 when we were unable to give admission to the nephew of Mr Shafeeq Gujjar, SSP Operations. The SSP misbehaved with me in the VC Office and was told that his language, tone and content was not worthy of his rank. I informed the IG Police about this incident on the telephone. The IG Police was most kind and understanding." But the crux and thrust of the PU VC's letter comes when he writes: "Soon afterwards, we sensed a change in the IJT. During December vacations in 2009, the IJT attempted to forcibly occupy one of their old offices. We were able to thwart the attempt but the police never came to our assistance despite repeated requests. The IJT activists kept taunting/insulting the teachers and administrative officials that police will not come, indicating that they were in union with the police and had their tacit support, and even encouragement."

One wonders why the Punjab government did not order any inquiry into the allegations levelled by none other than the vice-chancellor of the Punjab University, which is considered as mother of all universities of the country.

The situation raises another question as well that why the government is reluctant to take drastic measures to flush out the student organisation from the PU when the same does not exist at the Government College University (GCU) Lahore, the University of Engineering and Technology (UET) and many other institutions of higher learning.

The UET, Lahore, was once the hub of various student organizations and violence was the order of the day but the situation changed altogether now. It shows that if the government is sincere and wants to do something, it can eliminate this menace from the colleges and universities.

The academic activities have been suspended at the PU by the teachers since April 2, 2010 who say no classes will be held till the arrest of those involved in thrashing of the faculty member.

A number of PU teachers said time had come when government should act to flush out all the student organisations from the campus, adding that if the government did not realise the situation now, the dream of peaceful academic campuses could not be materialised.

"The student organisations do not have an encouraging history in our country as violence at campuses is always attached to such groups," said a senior PU teacher while demanding the government help the administration of universities and colleges, "hijacked" by different student organisations so that peaceful academic atmosphere could be ensured. The news

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107 IJT students expelled: JI
LAHROE – JI Punjab Secretary General Nazeer Janjua on Sunday alleged that PU VC Dr Mujahid Kamran was responsible for the situation prevailing in the varsity.

He said the VC had failed to run the university, adding the revengeful attitude of VC against Islami Jamiat Talba (IJT) was beyond the reason while IJT had taken decision against two of its members.

He said future of 31 thousands students was at risk, adding 107 students of IJT had been expelled due to dictatorship of the VC.

He also demanded start of classes in the university without any further delay. The nation

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Probe into expulsion of students sought
Lahore: A citizen who claimed to be uncle of a rusticated student of the Punjab University (PU) has demanded the government to initiate a judicial inquiry into expulsion and rustication of students by the varsity administration.

Sheikh Azhar Mahmood who claimed to be president of "Parents Association" of rusticated and expelled students of the PU addressing a press conference at Lahore Press Club on Sunday strongly criticised the university administration for allegedly playing with future of over 100 students expelled/rusticated over a period of time. He said a committee was formed over the issue by Punjab Governor/Chancellor Salman Taseer over a year ago but owing to alleged reluctance of the PU VC Prof Mujahid Kamran, it could not be resolved yet. "Over 100 students have been rusticated/expelled so far", he said alleging "The PU admin was playing with future of students." Sheikh Azhar who claimed to be the uncle of a Hafiz Tauseef alleged students were expelled and rusticated over issues such as organising book fairs and other positive and healthy academic activities.

To a question, Sheikh Azhar said he belonged to Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and had been affiliated with Islami Jamiat Talaba (IJT) during his student life. He also alleged the PU administration wanted to foil successful visit of Turkish President Abdullah Gul saying the varsity had announced closure on April 1, 2010. The news

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PU 'no sport' for sports
Lahore: Punjab University students are not the only ones suffering from the campus' closure: dozens of sportsmen from all over the city, who converge on the PU hostels for Sunday morning football, cricket and hockey matches, were left high and dry after university guards denied them entry. Although not students or employees of the PU, these sportsmen – who come from all walks of life and all age groups – have been coming to the playgrounds situated in the PU hostels compound for years now. They include professionals such as doctors, engineers and bankers; government employees; youngsters and even professional sportsmen. In addition, many senior citizens also visit these playgrounds with their children and grandchildren, looking forward to a good game on Sunday morning. On Sunday morning, at around 6am, when the first of these sportsmen began to arrive at the PU hostels, they were greeted with the sight of their stranded comrades. Many of them had no idea what was going on at the university, and were told by the guards on arrival that the campus was under lockdown. Khalil, a football player, said that he did not know that the PU campus was under lockdown. When asked if they had any special permission to come play here, he said, "We've been coming here for years now. The Sunday morning football match is a weekly ritual for all of these people here, and in many cases it is the only recreation we have all week". Daily times

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Distinction for ICS students
Lahore: Two students of the Punjab University's Institute of Communication Studies (ICS) have been selected for the London International Documentary Festival, starting from April 23. According to a press statement, a group of 30 students from Pakistan participated in the documentary competition and 11 were selected to represent their respective institutions in London International Documentary Festival. Muhammad Umar Saeed and Awais Ahmad will represent the ICS. The news

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