KARACHI: Karachi University (KU) rejected on Tuesday the proposal of the government regarding provision of accommodation to military personnel who will be deployed for the forthcoming census exercise in the city.
The Deputy Commissioner of District East had sent a letter to the vice-chancellor on Monday, informing him that army soldiers deployed on census duty should be accommodated in the new buildings of the pharmacy department of KU.
As the Karachi University Teachers Society (Kuts) took exception to the proposal and started agitating on the issue, the VC, Prof Dr Muhammad Ajmal Khan, called an emergency meeting Tuesday morning to review the situation emerging out of the government’s decision.
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The meeting, presided over by Prof Khan, which was attended by the deans of faculties of science, social sciences, management sciences, law, education and Islamic studies, four members of the syndicate and the president and secretary of Kuts.
The meeting unanimously decided that no academic block in the university can be spared to house the personnel deployed for the census as teaching and learning activities cannot be suspended, said sources in the KU.
The new building of the faculty of pharmacy has the department of pharmacology, dean’s office, classrooms and computer lab. It caters to 1,800 students and disturbing them will have a domino effect on the rest of the university.
Prof Khan has accordingly sent a regret letter to the deputy commissioner of District East, informing him about the university administration’s inability to house soldiers in any of its facilities’ buildings at the cost of academic activities.
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Meanwhile, Kuts President Prof Dr Shakeel Farooqui addressed a press conference on Tuesday. The society expressed concern over the letter of the DC, in which the KU administration was informed that the new building of faculty of pharmacy would accommodate the staff supervising the upcoming general census.
Prof Farooqui said the army will facilitate the federal and provincial governments during the upcoming general census but KU was being compelled to make arrangements for boarding and lodging of army troops who will be deployed for the upcoming population census drive. "The arrangement for accommodating the personnel should be made by the government," he said.
Prof Farooqui mentioned that the faculty of pharmacy has around 1,800 students enrolled and the presence of any outsiders occupying the classrooms during the semester will surely create a lot of problems for teachers and students.
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"We cannot stop the classes and laboratory work for the upcoming census,” he stated. “If we suspend academic activities, it will affect the whole varsity, which is not affordable at any cost. The teachers want to register their concerns over this matter and strongly believe that academic buildings cannot be handed over to anyone, not even for census duty."
He added that teachers have unanimously decided to take a stand to not let anyone occupy the departments made for students. "The teaching community had urged the VC of the varsity not to lend any place regardless of the excuses and promises offered by the government," he said.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Prof Farooqui said the VC was not in the varsity when the letter was sent by the deputy commissioner of District East, which is why he could not reply. The officials came to the building and started cleaning it for their use, he added. Kuts then held an emergency meeting and decided to meet the VC to come up with a solution.
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Finally, it was decided in Tuesday’s meeting that the university will not allow soldiers to be accommodated at the campus. "An estimated 1,000 soldiers were to be accommodated in the building,” said Prof Farooqui. “Now, the VC has written a letter to the DC stating that the university cannot allow an academic building for such use. If the decision is not [accepted] by the DC, the university will be closed because the pharmacy building has labs and classes and such activities in the campus will surely affect the students and academic activities."
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