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Punjab University sexual harassment probe

PU body to probe harassment allegations
Lahore, Nov 10: Punjab University Vice-Chancellor Dr Mujahid Kamran has formed a fact-finding committee to probe the alleged sexual harassment involving Prof Dr Iftikhar Baloch.

The four-member committee is headed by Faculty of Islamic Studies Dean Prof Dr Hafiz Mahmood Akhtar, its secretary is Additional Registrar Prof Dr Aurangzeb Alamgir while the other members are Principal College of Arts and Design (CAD) Prof Dr Rahat Naveed and Faculty of Commerce Dean Prof Dr Liaquat Ali.

A PU official said the committee held its first meeting on Monday and was expected to come up with its findings within a week.

Meanwhile, activists of the Islami Jamiat Talaba (IJT) on PU New Campus staged a protest demonstration on Monday demanding immediate removal of Dr Iftikhar Baloch.

The demo was organised at the Institute of Geology as the IJT activists claimed that Dr Baloch, despite being suspended, visited the institute.

It is pertinent to mention here that Dr Baloch was transferred and later suspended by the PU VC recently, following registration of two FIRs against him accusing him of being involved in harassment.

It is also important to note that Dr Baloch was thrashed and badly injured earlier this year when some IJT activists attacked his office as he, being head of the disciplinary committee, had expelled a number of Jamiat activists from the university.

Some PU teachers believe that the recent demos by Jamiat against Dr Baloch are a clear reaction of the said incident, adding that the student group had become quite notorious after thrashing the senior faculty member. They also believe that the alleged incident of sexual harassment demand immediate attention of the PU administration and suggest that the CCTV cameras installed outside offices of the various department heads should be installed inside the offices and connected with a central control room.

The teachers believe that the whole teaching community was embarrassed though so far nothing has been proved regarding the incident. Another worth mentioning point is that Dr Baloch has been denying the incident, terming it a part of conspiracy against him. Meanwhile, it is learnt that PU administration has identified two IJT activists who had allegedly tortured a Sociology Department student, Waqas, a couple of days ago. The student was thrashed and later taken to a hostel by IJT activists just because he was sitting with some female class fellows in a ground near the VCs office.

According to sources, the identified Jamiat activists had already been expelled from the university. A PU official told the reporters that further action would be taken against those involved in thrashing of the innocent student.

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PU revives old PhD scheme to 'accommodate' Badr
Lahore: The Punjab University seems all out to help PPP Secretary General Jehangir Badr do research on slain party chairperson Benazir Bhutto, as the Old PhD Scheme has been revived apparently to accommodate him.

However, the university officials and experts believe approval of Badr's topic of PhD synopsis is in clear violation of the university rules. The topic of the PhD synopsis was approved for the PPP senator, subject to certain conditions, at a meeting of the PU Advance Studies & Research Board (ASRB) on Aug 2010.

According to the university sources, Jehangir Badr's thesis topic, "Political Leadership in South Asia: A Case Study of Benazir Bhutto" falls in the History category, and the plan is being treated under the Old PhD Scheme, on the basis of his 16-year academic career. A number of PU faculty members say the case of PPP leader does not fall in the Old PhD Scheme, as the said plan is meant for professionals only. They also question the eligibility of a politician for placing him in the professionals' category. Quoting the university notification, they argued that only those candidates could be enrolled for higher studies under the scheme who are working as teachers or the R&D personnel. The PU teachers also expressed concerns over approval of the topic of Badr's PhD synopsis with the prospective effects, saying a candidate is required to meet all requirements before approval of the topic.

The PU notification reads: "Candidates with 16 years education (MA or MSc) and serving in an academic institution or an R&D organisation may be enrolled after the entry test, but (they will) have to complete 30 credit condensed theory courses. After completing the course work and qualifying a comprehensive examination with minimum CGPA 3.00, the registration will be converted into the PhD Programme."

According to the sources, the concerns over the issue were also raised by a senior member of the ASRB, Dean Faculty of Education Prof Dr Hafiz Muhammad Iqbal, in the board's meeting, held in October 2010.

It is learnt that PU Doctoral Programme Coordination Committee (DPCC) Chairperson Prof Dr Shahida Hasnain, who is also a member of the ASRB, told the senior faculty member that the candidate had been asked to complete the course work and fulfil other requirements.

Prof Dr Qalb-i-Abid, one of the supervisors of the PPP leader-cum-research scholar, said that the ASRB had approved only the topic of the PhD thesis, adding that Jehangir Badr was now required to get himself enrolled for the PhD after an entry test and complete 30 credit hours course work, followed by a comprehensive examination. He claimed Badr was eligible under the Old PhD Scheme, as the plan covered all such aspects.

Prof Dr Hafiz Muhammad Iqbal confirmed that he had raised the issue in the ASRB meeting. He said the ASRB members were not duly informed whether the candidate had completed the course work or not.

Dr Iqbal said the topic of PhD thesis could not be approved with prospective effect, adding that the sequence of procedure followed in the said case was wrong.

Explaining the procedure, he said a candidate was required to clear an entry test and get registered with the university, adding that afterwards the candidate was required to complete 30 credit hours course work. That is followed by clearance of a comprehensive examination with a minimum CGPA 3.00, he said adding that later on another course work of 18 credit hours is also required to be qualified.

The PU Dean of Education further said the next was the stage of submission of synopsis and approval of the topic, adding that afterwards the candidate had to do research work. And after this, the thesis is submitted which is evaluated by two foreign referees, he added.

To another question, he said he was also confused as to how a politician could be placed in the category of professionals.

According to the Higher Education Commission's Adviser on HRD & Scholarship, Dr Riaz Hussain Qureshi, who had been the Commission's Advisor on Quality Assurance & Learning Innovation for many years, a candidate having 16 years of education was required to complete 30 credit hours course, equivalent to the MPhil, for conversion into the PhD programme.

He said the topic of PhD synopsis could not be approved unless a candidate had completed 30 credit hours course work.

When contacted, PU Pro-Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Jamil Anwar, who had been quite active for revival of the Old PhD Scheme, said the programme was approved by the Academic Council as well as the University Syndicate.

He said he could not attend the meeting that approved Badr's topic of the PhD synopsis. However, he claimed that a candidate could get himself/herself registered for the PhD after the approval of topic of his/her thesis by the ASRB. He said a politician could also be enrolled under the Old PhD Scheme.

The News could not contact Jehangir Badr to seek his version, despite several attempts to call him on his cell-phone. An SMS was also sent to him, which was not replied by him. However, his son said Jehangir Badr was out of city and he would contact when he returns home.

Sources close to Jehangir Badr, however, said the PPP senator was a scholarly person and he could never use his influence or pressurise the Punjab University to get himself registered as a research scholar. Ruling out any foul play, they said the approval was purely on merit.

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PU, GCU pay homage to Allama Iqbal
Lahore: Our national poet Allama Muhammad Iqbal through his soul-lifting poetry paved the way for bringing into existence Pakistan, now the first atomic power of the Muslim world, for which the entire nation will ever remain indebted to the poet of the East.

Punjab University Vice Chancellor Dr Mujahid Kamran said this while talking to the media after offering Fateha and laying floral wreath at the mausoleum of Allama Muhammad Iqbal on his birth anniversary here on Tuesday.

Dr Kamran said Shair-i-Mashraq (poet of the east) had realised through his far-sightedness that Pakistan and Afghanistan, owing to their strategic geographical location, represented the very heart of Asia. As such the survival of Pakistan and Afghanistan as independent countries is a must for the glory of Islam and rise of the Muslim Ummah.

The PU VC said the philosopher father of Pakistan infused the Muslims of subcontinent with the passion to acquire freedom and independence from the yoke of the British and Hindu rule.

The VC observed that perpetual competition and struggle for supremacy and superiority continued among the world nations.

"Therefore if we want our coming generations to attain ascendancy in the comity of nations, the country's youth must focus on acquisition of knowledge and passion for domination to take Pakistan to the heights it deserves and restore the departed glory of Islam," he said.

Earlier, VC Dr Mujahid Kamran along with Pro VC Prof Dr Jamil Anwar Ch, other officials, senior faculty members, scholars and students of the university offered Fateha and laid floral wreath at the grave of Allama Muhammad Iqbal.

Dr Kamran also recorded his impressions about the supreme services and poetry of Allama Iqbal in the visitors' book.

Earlier the PU delegation led by VC Dr Mujahid Kamran left Faisal Auditorium, New Campus, at 7:45am for Old Campus from where more teachers, employees and students joined the delegation and left for Iqbal mausoleum at 8:30am.

Meanwhile, a delegation of students and teachers of the Government College University (GCU) led by Prof Tariq Zaidi visited Allama Muhammad Iqbal's mausoleum and laid a floral wreath there.

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PU employees protest curbs on medical facility
Lahore: Punjab University (PU) on Monday witnessed a mess again as the varsity employees protested against the administration for restricting medical facilities.

The administration blocked paths to the administrative block on the occasion to stop the employees from taking out a rally; however, this added to miseries of the visitors especially students.

The employees strongly protested and chanted slogans against the administration maintaining that the medical facility had been restricted for them as proper medicines were not being provided to them while medical bills were also not being reimbursed.

They also alleged the facility was being enjoyed by top officials while lower scale employees were being denied the same. The employees had planned to take out a rally from the Vice Chancellor Office to varsity's medical centre but could not do so as the entry points were blocked. A PU official said the varsity employees were drawing medical allowance and were not supposed to get reimbursement of medical bills as well.

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All IPP issues resolved: PU
Lahore: Punjab University (PU) administration has claimed that all the academic issues of Institute of Plant Pathology (IPP) students have been amicably resolved while services of expert faculty members to teach relevant courses have also been acquired.

A press statement said that in addition, more agrarian experts from Agriculture University Faisalabad would soon be appointed at the Institute. The students are, therefore, advised in their own interest to ensure their regular attendance in the classes which have already started.

Meanwhile, another statement said PU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Mujahid Kamran along with teachers, administrative officers, employees and students would offer Fateha and lay a floral wreath at the mausoleum of Allama Muhammad Iqbal on the eve of Iqbal Day on Tuesday morning November 9, 2010.

To facilitate teachers, employees and students, special buses from Faisal Auditorium New Campus will leave for Allama Iqbal (Old) Campus at 7:45a.m on November 9. The news

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