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Good bye Arshad Mehmood: Vice chancellor's legacy to stay with Punjab University for long

LAHORE, Sept 24: Lt-Gen (retired) Arshad Mehmood stepped down as the Punjab University vice chancellor on September 22 after reportedly failing to get his term extended for a third time.

Prof Dr Muhammad Arif, a close aide of Gen Mahmood's and a known Islami Jamiat Talaba (IJT) sympathiser, has been given charge of the VC's office for the time being.

University insiders said that Gen Mahmood left behind a legacy that would be remembered for a long time.

Governor Gen (retired) Khalid Maqbool supported Gen Mahmood unconditionally throughout his career as vice chancellor. This was evident when the governor personally visited the campus, called an emergent meeting of the deans and appointed Gen Mahmood as vice chancellor for the second time. This appointment was made even before Gen Mahmood's first term was over. The governor trusted Gen Mahmood completely and never believed a word against him.

Gen Mahmood with the governor's help got the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to give the university lots of grants. He also developed the university infrastructure and increased the number of departments to more than 70.

However, the university later concluded that some departments were not needed while others were merged. Insiders said one of Gen Mahmood's failures included the supposed construction of a 'super computer' by the Centre of High Energy Physics (CHEP). The centre was given a lot of money for the project. A few people working on the project were the same who had been accused of plagiarising the research papers of foreign teachers.

Gen Mahmood's dream of the 'super computer' has not come true, but if it does then tribute should be paid to him for funding the idea even though he has spent many a day rejecting arguments against the CHEP teachers for not working properly.

Former chief minister Shahbaz Sharif appointed Gen Mahmood as vice chancellor in October 1999. University of Engineering and Technology vice chancellor Muhammad Akram Khan was also appointed at the same time. The two men were tasked with improving the education standard of both institutions and getting rid of political elements from campus.

A pamphlet published and distributed by the IJT on the Punjab University campus last Friday, which alleged wrongdoing by Gen Mahmood, suggests his failure in controlling such elements.

The VC's office has never come up with an efficient mechanism to tackle such elements. Gen Mahmood denied backing the IJT, but also appointed IJT sympathisers to key posts on campus. A 'special' person has been going from department to department, urging their heads to host farewell parties for Gen Mahmood. Even though he is no more the vice chancellor, it seems he will stay on campus for some time to attend the parties. Daily Times
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