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King Edward Medical University VC appointment issue

Seniority no more needed for KEMU VC
Lahore, Sept 16: The Punjab governmentís freshly incorporated amendments to the newly-promulgated King Edward Medical University (Amendment) Act 2010 have removed seniority as key condition for the appointment of vice-chancellor of the varsity.

The section 13(5) of KEMU (Amendment) Act 2010, effective July 23, says: "A person shall not be eligible for the post of the vice-chancellor unless he is, at least, qualified to be a professor in a medical college, institute or university."

This has replaced the original provisions in KEMU Act 2005, as section 13(1) says: ìThe vice-chancellor shall be appointed by the chancellor on the advice of the chief minister of the province for a term not exceeding four years from amongst the eminent medical professors, who have worked for at least three years in the province of Punjab, provided that such advice shall be made by the chief minister on the recommendation of the Search Committee notified by the government.

It may further be mentioned that an attempt was also made earlier in 2008 to amend section 13 as the then Punjab governor, in exercise of powers conferred by clause (1) of Article 128 of the Constitution when the Punjab Assembly was not in session, promulgated King Edward Medical University (Amendment) Ordinance 2008, which in section 13(1) says, "The vice-chancellor shall be appointed by the chancellor on the recommendation of the chief minister of the province for a term not exceeding four years. Provided that such advice shall be made by the chief minister on the recommendation of the Search Committee notified by the government; whereby the Search Committee after advertising the post in national and international press may call person/persons for interview whose credentials, in the collective assessment of the Committee, or more compatible with the requirement of the job."

This amendment aimed to accommodate candidates from any other field in addition to the medical community, which faced tough resistance from within the medical community and was enforced only in letter but not in spirit.

However, the fresh amendments have created an upheaval within the medical community as it allows an associate professor who is eligible to become a professor, could become vice chancellor of KEMU. The senior medical teachers alleged that the fresh amendments were based on malafide intentions, which had been introduced just to accommodate the 'favourites'. "The amendments have allowed a student to become a boss of even senior most teachers," commented a senior professor of the varsity. There would be more than 10,000 eligible candidates for the post, he added.

Senior medical teachers further claimed that the provincial government had wasted precious national exchequer by frequently publishing advertisements in national and international press for seeking applications from suitable candidates, when it had not even held interviews of the short-listed candidates. The government, now, would have to again publicize the post to allow all eligible candidates to compete under the newly-promulgated KEMU (Amendment) Act 2010, inflicting further damage to the national exchequer.

The other professors term the move a conspiracy, saying another medical varsity in connivance with top bureaucrats of the Health Department wanted to deprive the KEMU of its university status, in order to affiliate the 150-year-old premier medical institution with a nascent medical university, whose performance was also questionable, especially in the absence of an attached medical college and a hospital. Meanwhile, it has also been learnt that the status of both the vice-chancellors, who had previously served on the post on ëacting-chargeí basis in the university, was stated to be 'illegal' as there was no provision of an Acting Vice Chancellor in the KEMU Act 2005.

However, the Punjab Health Department, through a notification under section 13(7) of the KEMU (Amendment) Act 2010, which says, "If the office of the vice-chancellor is vacant or the vice-chancellor is absent or unable to perform the functions of his office due to illness or some other cause, the pro vice-chancellor shall perform the duties of vice-chancellor" assigned Prof Asad Aslam Khan, KEMU Pro-VC, to perform the duties of the vice-chancellor with immediate effect till such time the appointment of the VC is made by the competent authority.

An official of the Health Department confirmed that Pro-VC's appointment "to perform the duties of Vice Chancellor" was first legal appointment of a VC in the university as per the provision 13(7) in the Act, suggesting now the Pro-VC, performing the duties of VC, would be purely an interim arrangement, rather than taken as an appointment of a full-fledged VC on acting charge basis, as in previous two cases.

Similarly, he said, Prof Asad Aslam Khan's appointment as Pro-VC was also as per provision of the Act because there was no provision of seniority for eligibility of the post either, quoting section 15(1) of the Act, which says: "The Pro-Vice Chancellor shall be appointed by the Chancellor on the recommendation of the government and in consultation with the Vice Chancellor from amongst the professors of the university and shall hold the office during the pleasure of the Chancellor for a term not exceeding four years." When contacted, Health secretary Fawad Hassan Fawad was not available for comments.

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College in school building irks children
Lahore: The Punjab government's failure to shift a college from school premises, situated in constituency of provincial education minister, has become a constant nuisance for school administration and for innocent students some of whom were manhandled by the college staff on Wednesday.

The unfortunate incident took place when, owing to paucity of space, administration of Government Muhammadia Girls High School, Data Nagar, Badami Bagh, tried to accommodate the students in the school's veranda.

However, staff of the Government Inter College (Ravi Road), which has been occupying a portion of school building, did not welcome the move and even manhandled innocent students and a female teacher by forcing them to leave the place, which is originally owned by the school.

According to documents available, the college has been occupying a portion of school building, which was given temporarily, for 27 years now. Over the years, the district administration issued notices to the college authorities on a number of occasions to vacate the school building but to no avail.

The seriousness of problems being faced by the administration of Government Muhammadia Girls High School, situated in constituency of Punjab Education Minister Mujtaba Shuja ur Rehman, can be gauged from the fact that the school has over 2100 students for whom there are only around 20 rooms while eight classes are managed in the corridors and open courtyard. On the other hand, the college has merely around 200 students.

According to the documents, locals of the area have also written to the government that owing to the reluctance of the college administration to vacate the building, it is becoming difficult for their children to continue education.

A number of locals said that Wednesday's incident was height of government's insensitive attitude saying it seemed as if the government was not interested in solving the problem faced by people of the area over the years.

Haji Salahuddin Malik, a local, said he had made efforts to provide a portion of the school building as temporary camp for the college some 27 years back. He added it was unfortunate that, despite the lapse of many years, no government could ever ensure a permanent and separate building for the college.

Sources in the office of EDO Education Lahore said since no government land was available in nearby area, a number of places had been identified for shifting of the college to rented building but to no avail. They said the college administration demanded time on a number of occasions to shift the college but no shifting took place. They said the recent meeting was held before summer vacation in the presence of Education Minister so that shifting process could be completed in holidays but this could not happen too.

The locals of the area, including school students and their parents, have demanded Chief Minister Punjab Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif take serious notice of the issue and arrange a separate building for the college as early as possible to ensure peaceful academic atmosphere.

Zafar Inayat who is having additional charge of District Officer (Ravi Town/Shalimar Town) when contacted said it was a congested area and no suitable place was available nearby. He said the college could not be shifted far off, as the locals would suffer. He claimed efforts were being made to find some suitable place for the college, adding the issue would be resolved soon amicably.

When contacted, EDO Lahore Dr Muhammad Arshad confirmed receiving of the report of manhandling of the students and a teacher by the college staff. He said the college authorities had been issued notices on various occasions but to no avail.

We could not contact Mujtaba Shuja-ur-Rehman for comments despite repeated attempts on cell phone. The news

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Pak students' picture grabs UNDP award
Islamabad: A photograph of female and male students in Pakistan working together on a circuit board in their engineering class was one of the three winning photographs of a global anti-poverty photo contest, UNDP said on Wednesday.

The second annual "Picture This: We Can End Poverty" photo contest was organised earlier this year by the UNDP in partnership with Olympus Corporation and The Agence France-Presse (AFP) Foundation. Nearly 1,400 contestants submitted more than 3,000 photos in both the professional and amateur categories, and three top prizes were awarded in each of these categories.

Additionally, the public voted online for a People's Choice award. The first prize winners are Prakash Hatvalne, an Indian photojournalist, in the professional category; Tran Vinh Nghia, a videographer from Viet Nam, in the amateur category; and Agha Rizwan Ali from Pakistan in the People's Choice category. The other two winners, judged by UNDP Goodwill Ambassador and internationally-acclaimed actor Antonio Banderas and four photo journalists, feature a boy on his way to school in India and fishermen in Viet Nam bringing in the day's catch.

"By showing what people around the world are doing to eradicate extreme poverty in their communities, we see that the Millennium Development Goals are not just abstract targets, but are about making a tangible difference in people's lives," said Helen Clark, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator. "It is our hope that through showcasing these real and positive actions, more people will be motivated to contribute to this effort," he said. The nation

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