KMC girl student's thrashing takes its toll
Peshawar, Mar 22: The compulsory retirement of Professor Dr Rahim Bangash, a senior faculty member of the Anatomy Department at the Khyber Medical College, by Chief Minister Pervez Khattak for allegedly thrashing a girl student has become a source of concern for many faculty members and exposed the poor administrative skills of the college administration.
Senior government officials were of the view that the chief minister could have posted him somewhere else as recommended by the two-member inquiry committee constituted by the provincial government. It had proposed slashing his increments and transferring him to the Bannu Medical College (BMC).
However, they argued that the government had learnt about serious threats to Dr Bangash's life as some people had fabricated stories and unnecessarily propagated the issue for their vested interest.
A senior official at the Chief Minister's Secretariat noted that the college administration had mishandled the issue. "Its performance was poor as it intentionally or unintentionally allowed people with vested interest to play their game in the college," he added. "Some people in the college administration did not like Dr Bangash and wanted to get rid of him," he contended.
After the submission of report by the initial inquiry committee of members of the college faculty that was formed when the students staged protests, the government constituted a two-member committee, including senior bureaucrat Humayun Khan and head of ophthalmology department of the Lady Reading Hospital Prof Dr Zafar Iqbal.
Sources said the committee was tasked to probe whether Dr Bangash had physically assaulted the girl student and if he was involved in blasphemy or not.
"Nobody was willing to record statement before the inquiry committee due to the fear of religious extremists," the government official recalled. He said the committee could not find evidence to prove that Dr Bangash had committed blasphemy.
"The committee was supposed to exonerate him or recommend action against him on the basis of inquiry. Since there was no video proof of his physical assault on the girl, the committee recommended minor action against him. It proposed to the government to cut his increments and transfer him to the medical college in Bannu," the government official said on condition of anonymity.
He said the girl student had violated the rules by holding a press conference against Dr Bangash. He felt it further damaged his image, though he remained silent during this period.
"The committee heard an audio clip of Dr Bangash, telling the student that there was no toilet during the time of Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him) but it exists now. This didn't mean he was involved in blasphemy," he added.
The student had alleged that after her refusal to remove the veil, there was an exchange of arguments between her and Dr Bangash. She said the teacher lost temper when he failed to argue his case and thrashed her in the class.
"He got infuriated. First he thrashed and then kicked me in the classroom," a college official stated while quoting her written complaint submitted to the college administration.
Dr Bangash's version of events was different. In a statement sent to the media a few months ago, he stated, "I remained silent as I didn't consider it an issue. To me, all students are like my children. But some negative-minded people launched a spiteful propaganda against me."
He said he had been in teaching profession for the last 28 years and had taught a large number of students, including those coming in proper veil and hijab.
"As it is the personal affair of the students, I never interfered or tried to influence anyone. I preferred to teach rather than practice as a surgeon with an aim to benefit the medical students," he stated.
"On the day of the incident, I only wanted to say that medical profession demands lot of physical involvement of doctors with the patients. I told them that those observing purdah find it hard to deal with male patients in our society. Unfortunately, the reaction of one Pakistan-origin foreign student, who is a Canadian national and is unaware of the Pakhtun culture in context of the student-teacher relationship, got involved in a very unruly discussion.
She snatched the microphone from my hand and started addressing the class and exaggerating the issue. I asked her to return the microphone but she was reluctant to do so," he explained.
Faculty members of the college said the incident had damaged the image of the college. "This institution produced hundreds of doctors. Many are serving in different parts of the world and are identity of the college. This incident has hurt all of them as the issue was blown out of proportion by none other but own people of the college," a senior faculty member said.
Principal KMC Prof Dr Ijaz Hasan Khan said he tried his best to save the life and service of Dr Bangash but it was beyond his powers. "I consoled the girl as she was crying and blaming Dr Bangash for beating her.
I persuaded the students not to stage protests outside the college. Trainee medical officers and house officers also protested and demanded termination of Dr Bangash's services. I immediately constituted an inquiry committee of senior faculty members," he recalled.
The principal said the students in the evening blocked the busy Jamrud Road and blamed Dr Bangash for committing blasphemy. "I formed a six-member committee of known religious scholars to probe the allegation. The committee didn't find any evidence that he had committed blasphemy," he added. The news
Most of UoP girls not aware of harassment law
Peshawar: "The professor had allegedly asked the girl student to remove her veil for identification," says one university staffer while narrating what happened at the Centre for Disaster Preparedness and Management (CDPM) of the University of Peshawar (UoP) that led to harassment charges against the former.
The girl student, who had reportedly gone to complain possible misuse of her lost phone's SIM card by a male student, had later also accused the professor of harassing her by asking her to remove her veil in his closed-door office. The girl's parents later reportedly under pressure signed a "Razinama" (compromise) calling the entire incident as mere misunderstanding.
The issue echoed in the provincial assembly and a committee was set up to look into it. The UoP has also set up a committee to probe the matter under its Employee's Efficiency and Discipline Statutes. Over a month has passed since the incident occurred and the committee is yet to complete its findings.
"We wear veil because we feel secure this way," said a number of girls wearing veil, but they looked evasive when asked if girls faced harassment at the hands of male students and university staffers. Only one girl, not wearing a veil, said harassment existed in one form or another. Many were not aware of the law enacted four years ago to protect women against harassment at workplaces and institutions.
Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2010 proposes a speedy and transparent probe yet why the inquiry committee under this law could not be made fully functional in the UoP. Prof Aneesa Qamar, who is the inquiry committee member, says implementation of laws takes time.
"We are trying to make the inquiry committee functional but there is also need for creating awareness of the law," said Prof Aneesa who is also part of the current committee probing the harassment case at CDPM.
Citing reasons for probing all harassment cases under the university's statutes rather than the Act, she said that witnesses were needed and girls often did not come forward due to culturally 'bound society'. All cases were also not about harassment, which were probed. The UoP has so far terminated two teachers after finding them guilty.
"The university is not silent on issues (of harassment), but proof is also needed," said Prof Qamar.
However, an effective mechanism under this Act could not be set up at UoP so that girls could be assured of protection of their confidentiality to encourage them to come up and file complaints in such cases, if any.
In 2011, Nighat Orakzai, an MPA, taking notice of parent's appeal in a local newspaper, raised the issue of harassment of female students at the UoP in the provincial assembly.
"There was no proof; neither Nighat no any victim came forward with evidence," said former minister Sitara Ayaz when asked what became of the inquiry held during the previous government.
Political interference has also often spoiled such investigations. As was observed recently in provincial assembly, when once again Nighat Orakzai highlighted the harassment case at the CDPM, senior minister Sirajul Haq, the Jamaat-i-Islami leader, opposed it citing 'technical reasons'. It was only when opposition leader Mehtab Ahmed Khan called it a serious issue that most of the male members had to lend an ear to it.
However, Nighat Orakzai said that if there was nothing than what was this 'compromise' all about in the recent case. She proposed that the genuineness of the copy of "Razinama" and some text messages should be checked by the committee.
She claimed that a 'powerful mafia' involved in such activities in UoP was the main hurdle in such inquiries. However, she did not mention any names.
When asked, UoP registrar Dr Abul Hadi said that whenever evidence was found the UoP had taken action. He gave details of a number of cases where mostly 'junior teachers' or contract teachers were found guilty of 'misconduct'.
It is often cited that victims or female complainants don't come forward, but in one such case in the history department a teacher, Zahid Ali, was found guilty, but only transferred to another department. Mohsin Shehzad, a lecturer of Institute of Physics and Electronics, found guilty of misconduct was terminated.
Services of a contract teacher Mohammad Saeed at the Institute of Geology were discontinued after misconduct. In a recent case, a female student at the Institute of Education and Research, who happened to be sister of a political activist of a ruling party, complained of harassment against a staffer, but after intervention of the provincial government the accused evaded punishment as he ended up calling the complainant 'sister'.
Dr Hadi did not rule out political interference as one of the hurdles to free and fair inquires into such matters. He said that this was why the university had set up its own probe committees instead of referring such cases to the inquiry committee as proposed under the Act.
"We don't want to create ill will. We feel the university law is more appropriate to probe such matters," said Dr Hadi.
UoP staffers to resist new varsity on botanical garden land
Peshawar: The teaching and non-teaching employees of the University of Peshawar (UoP) on Wednesday strongly reacted to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government's decision to allow construction of a public sector university on the
land of its botanical garden in Azakhel, Nowshera, and warned to start agitation if the decision was not reversed.
Speaking at a press conference at Peshawar Press Club, Peshawar University Teachers Association (Puta) president Dr Fazal Nisar said that the botanical garden spread over 677 kanals had been acquired by UoP in 2005 on a lease for 99 years from the provincial government.
He said that the government wanted to give the garden for establishment of a campus of Islamabad-based Air University, but the UoP employees and students would not allow anyone to encroach upon its land.
Dr Nisar was flanked by Federation of All Pakistan Academic Staff Association general secretary Dr Jamil Ahmad and the UoP's Class-III and IV employees associations' presidents Muzakar Shah and Imadad respectively.
The Puta president said that the administrative control of the garden was with the UoP as agreement had already been signed by Nowshera district's former nazim and the UoP vice-chancellor where academic activities were being carried out for last nine years.
He said that even one of the students had completed his PhD working on plants in the botanical garden and many others were busy in research work.
Dr Nisar said that the provincial government had now decided to hand over 300 kanals of the garden to the Air University and another 250 kanals for establishment of a technical university.
He said that if the government implemented the decision the size of botanical garden would shrink to only 100 kanals.
He said that establishment of both universities was against the lease agreement, signed between the then government, district administration and UoP.
He said that the UoP administration had spent Rs37million on development of this internationally ranked botanical park with the support of federal government.
Dr Nisar said that the establishment of universities on the garden's land was also against the judgments of Supreme Court and international rules.
He said that a general body meeting of the employees would be held on Thursday (today) to decide future line of action for protection of the garden.
He demanded of Chief Minister Pervez Khattak to save the botanical garden and allot land to new universities somewhere else. Dawn
Appointment process of two VCs questioned
Peshawar: Alleging violation of merit in the appointment of the vice-chancellors of two public sector universities, certain candidates who failed to make it have asked Chief Minister Pervez Khattak to take notice of the situation and ensure transparency in the selection process.
Some candidates accused the Higher Education Department (HED) and the search committee for appointment of vice-chancellors of gross violation of merit in the process for appointment of vice-chancellor of the Islamia College University (ICU) and the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women University (SBBWU).
Advisor to Chief Minister on Higher Education Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani could not be reached to seek his comment despite attempts over the past two days. However, according to media reports he rejected the allegations as baseless.
When contacted, deputy secretary HED for universities, Abdur Rahman, said the entire process was completed in the most transparent manner. "It is not something new for a left-out candidate to level such allegations," he argued.
However, sources in the HED alleged that irregularities were committed in the scrutiny for which some senior officials of the department including the deputy secretary (universities) were solely responsible.
He was of the opinion that all the people included in the search committee were persons of high calibre and nobody could expect any unfair practice from them. He said it was not the search committee but the HED that scrutinized the applications for which they had set criteria like 10 marks for PhD, five for winning gold medal, five for master's level teaching. "Nothing wrong has been done in the scrutiny. If anyone has any doubts about the scrutiny, he should come and we would show the process to him in front of the media," he remarked.
But, the sources said: "It is true that there is a set criterion for scrutiny. But a person less than a professor with a tampered PhD degree and a fake experience certificate, whose case is pending before the university syndicate and the court, can never meet the required criteria."
The two positions of vice-chancellors were advertised in December last year and for each one more than 70 candidates had applied. Of these, 15 each were shortlisted and were interviewed by the search committee on March 6, 2013.
The search committee, headed by adviser to chief minister for higher education Mushtaq Ghani, included former chief secretaries Azam Khan, Ejaz Qureshi and Ghulam Dastageer, former vice-chancellor University of Peshawar Prof Dr Qasim Jan, former principal Khyber Medical College Dr Nasiruddin Azam Khan, secretary establishment Sikandar Qayyum and secretary higher education Farah Hamid Khan.
One of the candidates for the SBBWU accused the HED of playing the same role it used to play in appointment of vice-chancellors of other public sector universities in the previous ANP-PPP coalition government. "In the selection process a candidate of calibre having PhD from University of London and research experience of post-doctoral fellowship from UK, vast research contribution in the form of international publications as well academic strengthening of postgraduate department at the university level was marginalized to create grounds for selection of the blue-eyed candidates," she said.
The three candidates recommended for the university are Dr. Ghazala Nizam, of College of Home Economics, University of Peshawar, Shazia Yaseen of the ICU and Razia Sultana of the Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad.
The candidate alleged that all the three recommended candidates were having far less experience, research papers and other qualification than the ones who were ignored in the process. One of the candidates, Shazia Yaseen, is not even a full professor and her appointment as an associate professor has been challenged in the court on the charges of having a tampered PhD degree, she alleged.
Similar allegations were made about the process for appointment of the acting vice-chancellor for the ICU. The search committee recommended Prof Dr Mohammad Asif from the Centre of Excellence of Geology, University of Peshawar, Dr Mansoor Akbaar Kundi, a former vice-chancellor of the Gomal University, and Prof Qibla Ayaz, a former acting vice-chancellor University of Peshawar, for the office.
Three candidates from the ICU were interviewed by the search committee, but none was recommended for the prized office. It caused concern among the faculty members of the university. The ICU faculty members oppose appointment of an outsider as vice-chancellor of the university as they believe there is no dearth of senior, competent and experienced teachers in the institution to take up this job.
Asked about possible resistance from ICU faculty over appointment of an outsider as vice-chancellor, the deputy secretary universities at the HED, Abdur Rahman, said that there was no such rule that only faculty members of the same institution could be appointed as vice-chancellors. "The cases of almost all the universities are before you where nobody from the same institution has been appointed as vice-chancellor," he pointed out. The news
AIOU campus in Mianwali opens
Mianwali: Allama Iqbal Open University Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Nazir Ahmed Sangi inaugurated regional campus of AIOU here on Wednesday.
The campus building spreading over 13,800 sq-ft has been completed at a cost of Rs92 million within 15 months instead of 24-month time frame.
It is one of the beautiful buildings in the district having facilities of conference rooms, video conference, media library, training centre hall, student survey desk, project labs for students, digital library, media research centre, workshop rooms and data management. In his address, the vice chancellor said: "Our mission is to spread education in every nook and corner of Pakistan because educational growth plays an important role in the progress of any country.
"This is the 42nd regional office in Pakistan and we are to build such offices in each district of the country subject to availability of land by the government."
He said all regional centres were being built with AIOU's own resources without any financial help from the government.
Dr Songi said the campus would cater to educational needs of Mianwali, Bhakkar and Khushab districts. "The Open University is among top 10 universities of the world and we have introduced an interest-free loan programme worth Rs20m for poor students."
He said the computerised system would be introduced for students to get queries about their results and certificates through computer instead of travelling to Islamabad.
In his welcome address, Mianwali Campus Regional Director Hashim Khan said 60,000 students had been enrolled here and a separate campus was the need of the hour. Dawn
Convocation of IMSciences held
Peshawar: Special Assistant to Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for Higher Education, Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani, has said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led provincial coalition government is determined to free the province from corruption, mismanagement, nepotism, injustice and other social evils.
He said this while addressing the 3rd convocation ceremony of Institute of Management Sciences Peshawar.The adviser said it was a great challenge for the government but under the dynamic and courageous leadership of Imran Khan and committed cooperation and participation by the youth, the government would eliminate all the evils from the society.
Director of IMSciences Dr Muhammad Mohsin Khan said merit, transparency and open-door policy was the hallmark of the institution. He said team work, innovation and knowledge exchange was highly valued in the institution. The news
Mardan to have women university
Mardan: Special assistant to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister on higher education Mushtaq Ghani has said that a woman university would be established in Mardan.
He said the provincial government had been taking measures to end the prevalent education system, which divided the society into different classes.
Addressing a ceremony in connection with the fifth foundation day of the Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan here the other day, he said the provincial government had planned to give away scholarships to poor bright students.
Mr Ghani said that the government would provide quality education in medical, engineering, law and other professions to create true professionals.
The PTI lawmaker lauded the services of the vice chancellor Professor Ihsan Ali and administration of the Abdul Wali Khan University for establishing its campuses in other districts as well, promotion higher education in the province.
"Keeping in view the PTI chief Imran Khan's focus on promotion of education in the province, the government has been taking measures to establish colleges and universities in very tehsil of the province," he said. Dawn