HYDERABAD: Renowned classical dance artist Sheema Kirmani has joined the ongoing protests of University of Sindh (SU) teachers against their incumbent vice chancellor.
Her support comes after the Sindh University Teachers Association (SUTA) appealed to the civil society to take responsibility of the higher education of their children and support them in their struggle for a better academic environment.
Kirmani joined the protesting teachers on Thursday in staging a sit-in outside the varsity’s administrative bloc. She echoed their demands for improving the academic environment at the campus and removing SU vice chancellor Dr Nazir A Mughal.
She deplored the violent culture prevalent in the university and condemned the deaths of many students and a professor over the past 2 years.
“I have come here to express solidarity with the teachers who have been carrying on a movement in the face of many challenges for the past seven months,” said Kirmani while talking to reporters.
Supporting the teachers’ demand to end deployment of police and Rangers personnel at the campus, the artiste said that it was baffling for one to understand the need to bring weapons or deploy security forces at the university.
Prof Arfana Mallah, the general secretary of the Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association, welcomed Kirmani’s support and briefed her about the current state of affairs at the varsity.
Letter to the president
In an open letter addressed to President Asif Ali Zardari, the SUTA has called for the removal of Dr Mughal and an independent inquiry into his alleged malpractices.
“[SU vice chancellor] Dr Nazir Mughal’s maladministration, corruption and cronyism are perpetrating violence at the campus as since his joining a professor and five students have been killed,” it was stated in the letter written by Dr Shah.
The teachers blame the vice chancellor of patronising the Sindh Peoples Student Federation (SPSF), a student wing of ruling Pakistan Peoples Party. They allege that such favours to a particular group kindle discrimination among the student wings of nationalist parties.
The letter narrates the episodes of violence and killings and the entailing consequences at the university. It was under these circumstances that the SUTA expressed its lack of confidence in Dr Mughal and demanded his immediate resignation. The decision was voted on in a general body meeting held after the murder of Prof Bashir Channar on January 2.
The SUTA has also criticised the intervention of Sindh Education Minister Pir Mazharul Haq. Dr Shah recounted that the minister’s support of Dr Mughal delayed the departure of the incumbent vice chancellor on forced leave and the promised termination of his services at the height of the teachers’ protests in February. The teachers attributed the rejoining of Dr Mughal after a long leave of over four months to the support of the education minister.
In the letter, Dr Shah recalled that the Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association had supported the academic boycott at SU and other public-sector universities in Sindh. “The association had called off the strike in February on the condition that it will resume the boycott if Dr Mughal is allowed to return to the university,” it was stated.
The teachers warned in the letter that they reserved the right to boycott as they believed that Dr Mughal was destroying education at the university.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2012.