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PU removals controversy | Minister reading Urdu

Removals in Punjab University spark controversy
Lahore, Feb 18: The abrupt removal of a senior warden and a superintendent of a hostel by the Punjab University (PU) vice chancellor have sparked a heated debate among the faculty members who have alleged it as a pure case of "victimization".

According to sources, the new appointments were not made as per the university rules while those who were removed from the administrative posts were not directly informed about the decision.

PU Vice Chancellor (VC) Prof Dr Mujahid Kamran appointed Dr Muhammad Abdullah, Associate Professor, Sheikh Zayed Islamic Centre (SZIC) as Superintendent of the Sheikh Zayed Islamic Research Centre Hostel (SZIRCH) and Prof Dr Mehmood Akhtar, Director Islamic Centre as Warden SZIRCH for a period of 2 years, each on Feb 16.

Those who have been removed include Dr Mumtaz Ahmad Salik (superintendent) and Prof Dr Shabbir Ahmed Mansoori (warden). The sources said both the senior teachers were not informed that their services for administrative posts were no more required. "They have been merely provided with appointment orders of fresh incumbents", the sources added. A number of senior professors believe that Dr Salik has been removed as he openly opposed the administration when he was head of the PU Academic Staff Association (PUASA).

"Both the warden and superintendent have been performing the duty for the last many years and there had never been a complaint against them", said a teacher, adding, "Their abrupt removal was certainly unjustified." "It is also indecent on part of PU administration not to inform as to why they had been removed", he further observed. The teachers further said it was strange that the VC had not accepted resignation of Chairman Hall Council Dr Saeed Ahmed Nagra despite passage of over a month while he (the VC) abruptly removed the senior officials without mentioning any reason.

It is important to mention here that in early Jan, Dr Nagra, after winning elections of PUASA as its president by defeating Dr Salik, had resigned from his office of the chairmanship of university Hall Council. However, since then his resignation has not been accepted by the VC. There is general feeling among the faculty members that PU VC was allegedly victimizing the former PUASA president and the other senior professor, as both belonged to the opposite camp, in connivance with Chairman Hall Council. They also see present PUASA as "friendly-opposition".

A senior faculty member, on condition of anonymity, said as per the rules administrative posts like warden and superintendent were duly circulated among the teachers and appointments were made after interviews conducted by a committee. PU VC Dr Mujahid Kamran could not be contacted despite repeated attempts. Chairman Hall Council Dr Saeed Nagra said it was sole prerogative of the VC to change any warden or superintendent at any time. He said it was an administrative decision and had nothing to do with PUASA. He refuted the allegation that it was a decision based on victimization. "This is in no way victimization", he emphasized.

Dr Nagra however added the administration had received complaints that some "criminals" were living in the Sheikh Zayed Islamic Research Centre Hostel.

To a question, he said he did not know why the VC was not accepting his resignation from Hall Council chairmanship.

Dr Mumtaz Salik when contacted said it was against the PU traditions that those removed were not informed. "I came to know about the decision through appointment of a fresh incumbent". "Its tradition in PU that appointments against such posts are made once one withdraws himself or herself", he added.

He however rejected the allegation that some "criminals" were living in the hostel. "The administration never informed or nominated any one in writing or verbally in this regard", he added.

Punjab University announced BSc results
Lahore: The Punjab University Examination Department on Tuesday declared the results of BSc Home Economics, Third Year, 2nd Annual Examination 2008 and BSc Home Economics, Final Year, 2nd Annual Examination 2008. Detailed results are available at PU website: www.pu.edu.pk. The News

Lahore International Book Fair 2009: Over 2,000 students participate in painting, calligraphy competitions
Lahore: Over 2,000 students from 250 educational institutions of the province participated in painting and calligraphy competitions at the 23rd Lahore International Book Fair (LIBF) on Tuesday.

The book fair has rapidly gained popularity among the public, as book lovers have expressed satisfaction over the convenience of purchasing all sorts of books at one place at relatively cheaper prices.

Competition: The Punjab Text Book Board (PTBB) had organised the competition. Participants were divided into three broad categories at the competition- primary group, middle group, and secondary group. PTBB Chairman Sohail Masood was the chief guest on the occasion. Participants were allowed two hours to paint on topics assigned to them by the judges.

Parallel to the painting competition, the PTBB had also organised a calligraphy competition.

Towards the end, prizes were awarded to the winners. Cash prizes, including Rs 5,000 for first position, Rs 4,000 for second position, Rs 3,000 for third position, and Rs 1,000 for the next ten position holders were distributed among the winners. Daily Times


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Minister gets applause for 'reading' Urdu
Lahore: Disorder prevailed during question hour at the Punjab Assembly on Monday when the speaker failed to keep discipline and his repeated requests for order in the House fell on deaf ear.

The House became more of a co-education like classroom when the PPP's legislator Syed Hassan Murtaza said the opposition has no control over its female members.

Opposition chided Minister for Education Mujtaba Shuja-ur-Rehman by asking him to read written answer, and desk thumping.

The opposition legislator Ijaz Shafi asked the minister to read out a written answer, and when he started reading after insistence, the members started thumping desks to acknowledge his expertise in reading Urdu.

During hooting, the minister tried to turn tables on the Opposition by accusing former Punjab chief minister Ch Pervaiz Elahi of spending over Rs 500 million in his personal advertisement campaign. The opposition legislators strongly reacted to the remarks of the minister and leveled counter allegations. The members from both the sides leveled allegations against each other and their leadership. They paid no heed to the speaker's repeated requests for maintaining order in the House.

The minister said 'the then CM Ch Pervaiz Elahi spent huge amount on his personal advertisement'.

"The amount spent on the personal campaign of Ch Pervaiz Elahi was borrowed money. He (Pervaiz Elahi) replaced picture of Quaid-e-Azam on text books with his own and spent public money on his advertisement campaign".

The opposition legislators said that instead of introducing any policy, the present government was criticising the previous regime.

Earlier, the opposition legislators tried to make fun of the minister by insisting on policy statement during supplementary question on the issue of allowing leave to students from Lahore College for Women University for performing religious rituals.

Muhammad Yar Hiraj insisted the minister to give a statement on the floor of the House that from what date the government was allowing female students to get leave for performing Hajj, Umra and other religious rituals. The minister said that he knew the answer but the member should submit a separate question as this did not fall in the category of supplementary question.

Muhammad Yar Hiraj said that he had no objection if the minister gets information from the secretary education and passes it to the House.

During supplementary question on the issue of recruitment in the education department, PPP legislator Hassan Murtaza said that the opposition was saying the recruitment was delayed because the coalition parties had not reached any consensus. He said that the opposition should answer that for what purpose Moonis Elahi force was made. He asked the speaker to take notice of the abuses from the Q-League female legislators.

"Sir please take action against female members from the Q-League. They are in the habit of offensive gesturing with eyes and hands. The female member has abused him and I request you to take action against her", Hassan Murtaza pleaded. The speaker asked the Q-League legislator that there was no harm in tendering apology if she had uttered harsh words to her any colleague.

Hassan Murtaza said that the previous regime resorted to registration of false cases and even kicked opposition out of the House. He said that despite such treatment, the opposition never uttered objectionable words.

"As opposition, we had good relations with our colleague on treasury benches. Even now we have cordial relations with male opposition members. But the Q-League members have no control over their females", Hassan Murtaza remarked. The Nation

Quran teachers should get Rs500 instead of Rs250: PA
Lahore: The Punjab Assembly on Tuesday passed a resolution to increase the monthly emolument of Quran teachers of the Masjid Maktab primary schools from Rs 250 to Rs 500 per month amidst strong protests from the mover who termed it peanuts.

The mover, Ms Nighat Nasir Sheikh, had demanded raise in salaries of Quran teachers from Rs 250 to Rs 1,000 per month when the House was discussing Public Interest Resolutions during the private members day, but Law Minister Rana Sanaullah opposed the resolution, saying it would incur a burden of Rs 9 million per month on provincial exchequer. He said the Quran teachers were part time employees and government would not oppose the resolution if their emolument was fixed at Rs 500 instead of Rs 1,000 per month.

PA Speaker Rana Iqbal asked Nighat Nasir Sheikh to agree to the law minister's proposal otherwise her resolution would not be passed. She said even Rs 1,000 were a token amount as it was peanuts, but was proposed because teachers were getting shameful monthly salary of Rs 250. She wondered why the government was opposing it when the teachers of English and other subjects were given comparatively huge emoluments. She said no knowledge is better than of Quran but it was a pity that rulers preferred other knowledge on it. The News

Exhibition at NCA's Zahoorul Akhlaque Gallery : Of cows, trees and archives…
Lahore: An exhibition of paintings by Huma Mulji and David Alesworth is being held at the Zahoorul Akhlaque Gallery of the National College of Arts (NCA). The exhibition was inaugurated on February 16.

Both artists' work was contemporary, bordering on the radical.

Amalgamation: Huma Mulji's work was an amalgamation of the grotesque and the humourous. Her work dealt with the urban development of Lahore and how the city still is a surreal combination of the ancient agrarian society and aspirations of modernisation. The work was a rather humourous take on how Lahore is a city of these two extremes. The cow was the main 'object' that was used as a series in all the pictures and the two sculptures she had displayed in the gallery. What made Huma's work morbid was that she had used real cows stuffed through taxidermy as her sculptures. One cow was projected on an electricity pole, which was bending under the cow's weight. Another sculpture depicted a cow stuck in a PVC pipe with its head projecting on one end of the pipe and the rest of the body of the cow emerging from the other end. The rest of the work was digital prints with urban and some rural settings with cows placed in odd and unlikely places. In her images, she had taken pictures of these settings and inserted cows in them by using 'photo-shop'. The cow connoted the typical agrarian Pakistani society.

Huma said, "My work is about the conflict between old and new Lahore. We live in the past and the future at the same time." She added that, " People in our local cities like to collect wealth in the form of property and that in turn, turns against you because to safeguard your wealth is an added burden in our commodity hungry society."

One of the images, titled 'Pardesi Pride', which was a digital C-print in black and white, showed how a pair of towers were bending in an 'M' shape in front of a pair of cows who posed as onlookers. In another image, cows were seen peeping from a high-rise building still under construction. There was an image in which cows were seen leaping over a lush green field – almost as if they were weightless. In Huma's work, the cow was the one particular character that added substance, humour, pathos and even abjectness to her entire show.

Huma teaches at the Beaconhouse National University and has graduated from the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, Karachi.

Nostalgia: David Alesworth work had a reminiscent quality to it. He had taken multiple black and white pictures of archival records of old vehicles. His pictures captured different angles of piles and piles of the neglected archives that he came across in Karachi. The aim of these repetitive pictures was show how man's efforts become futile. The archives probably connoted man's efforts to work in a systematic and an organised manner to try and prevent mistakes and loss. Eventually, however, all man's attempts come to naught. David said, "When I went to this archive I even found my own records."

The pictures had a very nostalgic quality to them and there was a certain rhythm – as one's eyes shifted one could fathom how gradually but systematically the archives disintegrated.

Another image showed botanical names of various trees and plants the artist had collected from across the world. The colloquial or local names of the trees were also written. The artist said, "Through the series of these plant tags, I meant to depict a graveyard of nature. The signs with the names are like the epitaphs of graves."

A huge installation covered the centre of the gallery. It was titled "12.2.42" which was the date when the first nuclear pile was dumped in a tennis court. The edifice was made of 180 steel blocks piled together and it appeared as a colossal structure made to commemorate the time when the mishap first took place. The artist meant to depict how man interferes with Nature.

On the whole, David's work had a solemn and ominous quality to it. David Alesworth hails from Wimbledon, UK and is currently teaching at BNU and heads the Fine Arts Department. Daily Times


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