HYDERABAD: The two-year-long campaign of Sindh University’s (SU) teachers against its controversial vice-chancellor, Dr Nazir Mughal, is likely to result in an anticlimax as his counterpart from Benazir university has been chosen to replace him, The Express Tribune has learnt.
The notification to give the acting charge of SU to Shaheed Benazir Bhutto University’s (SBBU) vice-chancellor Arshad Saleem Arain is also likely to be issued soon. “A powerful politician is pressing the provincial government to appoint Arain as the VC,” claimed a source in Chief Minister House. “The chief minister and even the education minister appear reluctant so far.”
Both of these beleaguered VCs have remained at odds with their respective faculties. Mughal coped with an extensive campaign from the teachers demanding his ouster since the killing of a retired professor, Bashir Channar, on campus in January, 2012. He was also accused of corruption and nepotism.
Meanwhile, Arain embroiled himself in a standoff with the SBBU teachers when he faced opposition against appointing a registrar and the subsequent sacking of 11 teachers. Nine of them were terminated and the remaining resumed work.
“Although both of them share similar administrative characteristics, Arain is of no match to Mughal as far as academic background and teaching experiences are concerned,” said a representative of SU teachers association, who did not want to be named.
Arain also lacks the experience to administer a university of the size of SU while Mughal, who has also taught in the US, is completing his second tenure as the VC. The disciplines taught at the SBBU are just around 10 per cent of the 54 teaching courses offered by SU. Moreover, sources claimed the SBBU VC holds only a postgraduate degree in addition to his scarce academic experience.
The teachers feel the Sindh government has deliberately lowered its requirements to facilitate such people. “The requirement has been lowered to post-graduation in the recent advertisements given for the appointment of VCs in five government universities,” Dr Arfana Mallah, the president of SU teachers association, referring to the ads published on October 31. “It clearly indicates the government’s intention.”
In the race
“There are around 250 PhD teachers at SU,” Dr Mallah pointed out. “How can we allow any postgraduate to become our VC?” SU also has six functional campuses, all of which have pro-VCs who can be given the acting charge. Meanwhile, SU’s senior professors, such as Dr Abida Tahirani, Dr Parveen Munshi and Dr Siddiqui Kalhoro are all also in the race.
The composition of the Sindh government’s monitoring and search committee – which has Dr Azra Pechuho, former petroleum minister Dr Asim Hussain and Mazharul Haq Siddiqui – to appoint VCs has also received disapproval from the Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (FAPUASA).
According to FAPUASA’s provincial president Dr Asad Raza Abidi, the committee lacks representation from the academia as two politicians and a retired bureaucrat have been authorised to appoint the heads of higher education institutions.
An example of this decay was evident in the fight between SU VC Mughal and Pro VC Nawaz Narejo, who is also at odds with the officials who support Mughal. In a letter [SU/PVC/04] dated October 29, Narejo heaped criticisms at registrar Nawaz Bhutto. “You have come from [a] motorcycle to [a] 13CC car so your mind is not working properly and still you are using your mind of chowkidari [guard] because your first appointment as security guard and so still your idea is same of security guards,” read one of the seven paragraphs of the letter, reproduced verbatim.
FAPUASA general secretary Dr Ahsan Memon said the association has called a meeting on Thursday to respond to the emerging situation.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 7th,2013.