Just two weeks after the theses of four M Phil students were found to be plagiarised, an instructor at the Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) was made professor against one of her referee’s recommendation. Moreover the professor, Dr Lubna Ali, was also appointed as the head of the university’s newly-established School of Politics and International Relations.
According to sources in the university, the administration did not show the referee’s letter highlighting her shortcomings to the selection committee at the time of promotion. The source claimed the decision was taken as a “special favour” to her.
They also pointed out that the foreign referees’ opinions are compulsory to evaluate eligibility of any associate professor who is being considered for a promotion.
According to a letter available with The Express Tribune, Dr Robert G Wirsing, a visiting professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service at Qatar, wrote to the QAU registrar, “I do not support Dr Ali’s bid for promotion to the post of Professor of International Relations.”
The letter points out that she falls short of meeting the quantitative minimum qualification for promotion, which includes at least 15 years of teaching/research and 15 research publications (with five of them in the past five years) in HEC’s recognised journals.
It indicates that Dr Ali lists a total of 13 published works and only two of them (including her book on post-revolutionary Iran) carry dates after 2004.
Dr Wirsing also says that most of Dr Ali’s works fail to meet scholarly standards she set in her dissertation.
“I did not detect a clear and focused research agenda or good prospect of future productivity. Nor was there visible in the work the required commitment to objectivity and rigorous analysis,” he writes.
A professor at QAU who wished not to be named commented that the administration’s decision is a “clear indication of prevalence of nepotism” in promotions of faculty members. He said such controversial promotions have been a part of the university for long but they were always buried under the carpet by the authorities.
The professor added that a student of PhD, who was supervised by Dr Ali, was caught red-handed in a plagiarism case. However, so far no action has been taken against the student or the instructor.
“There should be at least a negative Annual Confidential Report against the instructor and the student should be banned from pursuing the programme,” he added.
However, according to QAU Registrar Dr Shafiqur Rehman, the instructor was promoted based on a decision taken by the syndicate on the recommendations of two referees who were in favour of her. “Our rules allow us to ignore negative remarks of one of the three foreign referees,” he said. However, he evaded further questions on the issue.
Dr Ali, when contacted, said she was busy in a meeting and would call back within two hours. She never called back.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 8th, 2012.