KARACHI: As the chief minister is set to appoint a vice chancellor at Karachi University (KU), the Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (Fapuasa), Sindh chapter, announced on Wednesday that a ‘black day’ would be observed at public sector universities on Thursday (today) to register their protest against the government for “making a mockery of the selection process for the post of vice chancellor”.
The announcement, sources said, had come in reaction to reports in a section of the media that the government-notified search committee tasked to recommend three names for the post of vice chancellor at the KU had suggested two candidates: acting Vice Chancellor of KU Prof Khalid Mahmood Iraqi and Vice Chancellor of Sindh University (SU) Prof Fateh Mohammad Burfat.
Both candidates, the sources claimed, did not qualify to head a university. Prof Iraqi currently ranks 27th in the list of seniority at KU whereas Prof Burfat’s professional record is marred by multiple inquiries. The incumbent SU vice chancellor was suspended by the chief minister last year to facilitate an investigation by the Anti-Corruption Establishment. He, however, resumed the charge on court orders.
“The entire process from the publication of advertisements to recommendation of candidates to the chief minister lacked transparency and violated the basic principles of merit,” said Fapuasa Sindh president Dr Nek Mohammad.
“Nepotism being encouraged by the government is ruining universities. At least educational institutions should be left alone as these places are meant to groom future generations,” he added.
Dr Arfana Mallah, representing the Sindh University Teachers Association, said that changing the selection criteria after four months clearly indicated that the government had already decided about a candidate.
“Has this province become so deprived of professional and academic excellence that no individual of undisputed integrity is left to assume this office?” she said.
Notwithstanding the widely circulated reports and speculations about the two suggested names of the search committee (for the post of KU vice chancellor), sources said the body also recommended the name of Prof Abid Hasnain who, unlike the two other candidates, had a sound academic and administrative experience at KU.
The committee included Prof Pirzada Qasim Raza Siddiqui and Prof Mohammad Qaiser, both having served as VCs of KU.
Earlier six academics whose names were not shortlisted for an interview had written a letter to the chief minister and the governor, asking for their intervention to declare the process of vice chancellor’s selection void.
Sources said the government initially advertised the vacant posts of a vice chancellor at Shaheed Benazir Bhutto University, Shaheed Benazirabad, and Shaikh Ayaz University, Shikarpur, in February last year and later in June advertised the same vacant position at the KU.
What made the process of filling these regular posts at the three public sector universities questionable was the government’s decision to change the selection criteria.
The post of KU vice chancellor had fallen vacant over eight months ago after the death of Prof Mohammad Ajmal Khan. Later, the chief minister appointed Prof Iraqi as the varsity’s acting vice chancellor.