Allegations against GCU VC | PU expulsion probe

Allegations against GCU VC refuted
Lahore, Jan 13: The registrar of the Government College University (GCU) has said the outstanding rent for the official residence at GOR-I being used by GCU VC Prof Dr Khalid Aftab has been deposited and he now owes nothing.

Addressing a press conference on Monday, GCU Registrar Sahibzada Faisal Khurshid said that the allegations levelled by the president of the 'so-called' Old Ravians Teachers and Students Association were based on malafide intensions. He said there was no such association registered with the name of Old Ravians Teachers and Students Association.

He refuted the allegations levelled against Dr Khalid by Prof Tauqeer Ahmed Sheikh, the president of Old Ravians Teachers and Students Association. The registrar said Prof Tauqeer was involved in a malicious propaganda campaign against the university. "Dr Khalid had applied for the post of GCU VC and his appointment was made on merit," he said refuting Prof Tauqeer's allegations.

To a question about recovery of Rs 1.7 million by the Punjab government from Dr Khalid Aftab as penal rent for his accommodation at GOR-I, the registrar said nothing unlawful was committed in this regard.

He said Dr Khalid, the principal of the Government College Lahore was appointed as vice-chancellor GCU (BPS-22) on September 10, 2002 and as per terms and conditions approved by the governor/chancellor, he was entitled to accommodation on the condition that if provided with furnished accommodation, rent equal to 10 per cent of his pay will be charged and for unfurnished accommodation, rent equal to 5 per cent of his pay will be charged. If no accommodation is provided by the university, he will be entitled to House Rent Allowance as allowed to a BPS-22 officer of the Punjab government. He said Dr Khalid was occupying a government residence at 4-Club Lane, GOR-1 Lahore prior to his appointment as the vice-chancellor as he was a government servant (Professor of Economics, Education Department/government employee being entitled to government accommodation). He said Dr Khalid as per terms and conditions was regularly paying house rent plus 5 per cent of his pay to the government of Punjab since his appointment as the GCU VC and he never took house rent in lieu of the accommodation retained by him.

"Dr Khalid Aftab was again appointed as vice-chancellor on February 26, 2007 and his terms and conditions were settled in MP-II. He was entitled to Rs 63,570 per month as admissible in MP-II Grade i.e. 60 per cent of the pay in lieu of accommodation. He is not drawing accommodation allowance of Rs 63,570 per month and is regularly subscribing the same amount in lieu of having the government accommodation at 4-Club Lane, GOR-I, Lahore. As per the terms and conditions of vice-chancellor, the university had been deducting regularly the house rent from the salary of the VC", he said.

"After a lapse of almost 4 years, a letter of SGAD was received on November 18, 2008 vide and it was requested that the amount deducted from the pay of the GCU Lahore vice-chancellor in lieu of house rent amounting to Rs 17,88,177.58 may be transferred to the National Bank of Pakistan, Civil Secretariat, Punjab Pakistan and further advise the vice-chancellor to retain the residence by deducting the same house rent i.e. 63,570/- (i.e. 60 per cent of the pay) till the vacation of the house," the registrar added.

The SGAD letter with the subject "Recovery of Rent/Penal Rent of Government Residence # 4-Club Lane, GOR-I, Lahore," a copy available with The News, does not simply ask the university that the amount deducted from the pay of the Vice Chancellor, GCU Lahore in lieu of house rent amounting to Rs 1,788,177.58 be transferred. Rather, the letter is directly addressed to Dr Khalid Aftab and reads "You (Dr Khalid Aftab) are requested to deposit the outstanding amount of Rs 1,788,177.58 in the National Bank of Pakistan, Civil Secretariat Brach, Lahore." "You are further requested to please deposit penal rent @ 60% of your pay till the vacation of the house."

To a question, the registrar said the VC's house rent had been regularly deducted by the GCU adding it was until the SGAD letter it was known that the rent had to be deposited in the Punjab government's account. "The amount has accordingly been deposited with the National Bank, as per the instructions of the SGAD," he said and added "nothing is due on the part of the vice-chancellor."

To another question, the registrar said the FIR registered against the students of GCU had been quashed.

Meanwhile, the Old Ravian Union (ORU) has taken serious notice of news published in some newspapers on January 11, 2009 in which Tauqeer Ahmad Sheikh, a former GCU Assistant Professor, presented himself as the president of "Old Ravians Teachers and Students Association".

In a press statement issued on Monday, ORU secretary Khalid Manzoor Butt said "the Old Ravians Teachers and Students Association is a fake organisation." "Neither this organisation exits nor it has any credibility," he said.

He alleged Tauqeer does not represent any Old Ravians organisation. "Tauqeer has been working against the interests of the Government College University (GCU) and therefore his entry is banned," he said. "He (Prof Tauqeer) is the same person who never let any opportunity to malign GCU and its administration for personal reasons. To satisfy his ego and frustration, he has been undertaking a consistent campaign of mudslinging for the last so many years. We believe that an Old Ravian cannot undertake such nefarious activities which bring a bad name to the great institution of Pakistan," the statement said.

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Governor forms body to review expulsion of 80 PU students
Lahore: Governor Punjab Salman Taseer has constituted a committee headed by Punjab Labour Minister Ashraf Khan Sohna to review the expulsion of 80 students after the firing incident at Punjab University.

Salman constituted the committee during a meeting with a five-member Jamat-e-Islami delegation that called on him here at Governors' House on Monday.

The JI delegation comprising Hafiz Salman Butt, Sh Fazal Mehmood, Shahid Hameed, Azhar Mahmood and Hasan Bin Salman discussed with the governor the prevailing political situation and matters relating to the Punjab University. Minister for Labour Ashraf Sohna and Haji Eshaq were also present.

The meeting agreed in principle to free Punjab University from weapon and eviction of outsiders from varsity hostels.

The governor said that tension in educational institutions was against the interests of students. He said that the government would promote extra curricular activities in educational institutions. He said both the PPP and the JI were ideological parties. Both the parties adhered to different ideologies, but could not afford domination of ideological politics by regional politics, he said. He said that the prevailing situation in the region called for a dialogue between the political parties for an end to unnecessary confrontation. He said the government respected all political parties and believed that all of them had the right of difference of opinion. The government had never desired to push those believing in ideological politics in the anti-PPP camp. The PPP leadership considered maintaining working relationship between the leadership of different political parties necessary for the survival of system and the country. President Asif Zardari had also the credit of promoting national reconciliation in the country, the governor said. Talking to the newsmen after the meeting, Hafiz Salman Butt said the PPP and the JI had always played an effective role in politics, particularly in ideological politics. He said that the situation prevailing in the region called for cooperation between the ideological forces.

He said that the JI wanted the elected government to complete its tenure so that the people start respecting the public mandate. He said that there was no justification for the presence of weapons in the universities and non-students in the hostels.

Ashraf Sohna said the governor was sympathetic towards the students but the government also wanted to end violence in the universities. He said that the committee would examine the cases of all the students expelled from the PU to decide the matter on merit. The Nation

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KEMU wins quiz competition at GCU
Lahore: The Ravians Quiz Society of Government College University Lahore organised 'The All Pakistan Quiz Competition 2009' in Bokhari Auditorium on Monday. According to a press release issued by the university, Sidra Anwar and Saba Mumtaz of King Edward Medical University won the competition. Lahore Grammar School (LGS) and Lahore College for Women University won the second and the third positions respectively. According to Quiz Society President Nida Tahseen, eight teams participated in the competition. Dr Sohail Ahmed Khan, dean of Languages of Islamic and Oriental Learning, was the chief guest. Later, he distributed the prizes. He appreciated the efforts of the participants and praised the society for organising the competition.

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VC, director conflict delays project at UHS
Lahore: The construction of Centre for Research in Endocrinology and Reproductive Sciences (CRERS), a two-year project funded by the Higher Education Commission at University of Health Sciences, may lapse with little progress due to differences between the project director and the vice-chancellor.

The HEC-approved CRERS project, launched in June 2007 at a cost of Rs 31.7 million and supposed to be completed by June this year, has been delayed due to the tussle between project director Prof Muhammad Arslan and UHS vice-chancellor Prof Mubashar H Malik as Prof Arslan reportedly refused to 'accommodate' the VC's close associates at the expense of the project.

'Defiance' not only cost Prof Arslan, the HEC foreign faculty professor serving at UHS' physiology and cell biology department, his job at the university but he also suffered humiliation at the twilight of his career for being charged for 'moral corruption' on the basis of applications submitted by his students. He also complained to the HEC and the Punjab governor/ chancellor that the UHS VC was trying to blackmail him for not accommodating his close associates.

Prof Arslan, the former vice-chancellor of the Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad, had written a letter to the HEC that the project to develop and strengthen basic medical sciences was not taking off the ground alleging that the vice-chancellor himself and his administration were showing disregard to research and research training in basic medical sciences. "The main difficulty in the project taking off has been caused by inordinate and unjustifiable delays in approval of the appointment of staff and procurement of material that has been pending with the administration, in many cases, for as long as 10 months," he informed the commission.

He said that he sent a request to the UHS VC for procurement of office and lab furniture and other items, including equipment and consumables, on October 3, 2007, which kept on circulating in various varsity sections for as many as 38 times until September 20, 2008, as shown in a chart attached with the letter. He alleged that up to 80 per cent of the staff and material was not provided to the department and that the project was to expire in June 2009. "Due to prolonged delays, the cost of equipment, reagents and other items has escalated by at least 50 per cent resulting in substantial financial loss to the project," he said.

In subsequent reminders to the HEC, Prof Arslan said that he had requested as early as in November 2007 to transfer his services and relocate the newly-funded HEC project to the Punjab University because of "prevailing counterproductive and suffocating atmosphere at the UHS". He claimed that the Punjab University vice-chancellor would readily accept this arrangement.

For being hard-pressed by the VC, Prof Arslan wrote another letter to the Punjab chief minister and alleged that "an all-out systematic campaign, apparently organised and supported by the UHS VC and his staff, was on ground since October 2007 to malign him personally, tarnish the image of the department and hamper the work of his students as he did not share his (the VC's) views". He alleged the VC instigated his research students to write against him, promising them an "easy pass" in their final thesis examination. Prof Arslan said the VC succeeded in alienating a few of his the students who accused him of being 'morally corrupt'. These students lagged behind in their research work, he claimed. "I offered to hold an inquiry into these allegations against me but the vice-chancellor never agreed to it," he claimed.

Prof Arslan claimed that he later received duly signed letters from a couple of his students, who apologised for making totally false insinuations against him as well as physiology department staff against their free will on the explicit 'instructions' of the university administration. "I was offered speedy processing of my M.Phil thesis provided I apply for a change of supervisor before the submission of my thesis," one of the students wrote in his letter.

In return for writing against him, Prof Arslan said the VC replaced their supervisors without approval of the department, which was unprecedented and a clear violation of the university statutes and regulations. "The newly appointed supervisors, who were employed elsewhere, were in no way qualified to act as research supervisors," he claimed.

Citing an example, Prof Arslan alleged that the VC admitted PhD thesis of a female student under a new supervisor who had nothing to do with the student's research work. He said the VC also appointed an examiner who had only M.Phil at the time of viva voce examination, and awarded her the degree. He said the particular examiner, a medical teacher at Services Institute of Medical Sciences, was most frequently appointed examiner for M.Phil theory and thesis examinations. "The process of PhD degrees, awarded to at least a couple of students, in anatomy and physiology needs to be re-checked," he alleged.

Prof Arslan also alleged that the UHS administration also victimised serious students who wanted to carry on their studies and research work with him instead of indulging in petty politics. "Three students of my department acted according to the wishes of the VC and bagged their degrees while others who submitted their theses much earlier are waiting for months for their final oral examinations," he alleged.

In his letter to the chief minister, Prof Arslan also alleged that his personal e-mails and cell phone accounts were hacked by VC's staff and certain letters and messages were interposed in his mailbox to be printed and circulated as a tactic to blackmail him.

Stating that an environment of fear was prevailing at the university, he claimed that the VC's staff downloaded personal e-mails of various staff members several times. They also behaved rudely with faculty members and harassed them by spying on their activities for the information of the VC on a day-to-day basis.

During the last 30 months, he said that eight professors and one associate professor were compelled to leave the university due to hostile service conditions at the university. He also mentioned in his letter that the VC terminated the services of the former controller of examinations in 2007 for objecting to VC's frequent visits to the secrecy branch without his knowledge, appointment of too many examiners from Wah Medical College where the VC's son was enrolled as an MBBS student and refusal to comply with the VC's 'verbal orders'. He also alleged that the vice-chancellor implemented his decisions in a dictatorial manner instead of seeking approval of appropriate bodies after routed through Boards of Studies, Board of Faculty, Academic Council and Syndicate for implementation.

Prof Arslan urged Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to hold an external impartial inquiry into the university's affairs as well as false allegations levelled against him at the twilight of his unblemished career that also resulted in the termination of his university service.

Meanwhile, a couple of former senior faculty members who had quit or were forced to quit, seeking anonymity, vindicated the views of Prof Arslan, saying that the present vice-chancellor was totally ignorant of requirements and culture of a postgraduate research institution and hardly had any concept of the basic academic research and administrative framework of a university, which was being managed as a personal empire. They said that the vice-chancellor's four-year term had expired and he retired in April 2007 and was working in the present capacity "until further orders". They said the VC's continuation will be detrimental to the academic life of the university and therefore the position needs to be filled by a competent person, who is well-conversant with the objectives of university education and research. "Now, it's a matter of saving this institution," they asserted.

When contacted, UHS VC Prof Mubashar H Malik claimed that there were some serious allegations of moral corruption against Prof Arslan as at least nine students had requested in writing for a change of supervisor due to unmentionable reasons. "The university administration has adopted its due process and changed their supervisors after thorough investigation into these charges," he said.

The VC also claimed that the varsity's Board of Governors had conducted an inquiry in which allegations of moral corruption against Prof Arslan were proved. Although, the VC reluctantly showed the letters written by students against Prof Arslan yet he did not show any inquiry report.

Responding to Prof Arslan's allegations of instigating students against him in return for an "easy pass" incentive, he refuted the charge saying that there was no "easy pass" at the university.

Replying to another question about the fear of lapse of the HEC project, he said the commission had awarded the project of establishment of CRERS to the university and not to any individual. He claimed that the university was successfully running the project and there was no question of lapse of the project. He also alleged that the project director was not serious in implementing the project despite provision of all relevant material and staff by the university administration.

The UHS VC also observed that the HEC was taking great initiatives to promote postgraduate education but the commission's foreign faculty programme, particularly in medical institutions, had miserably failed. The News

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