KARACHI: The tug of war between the Sindh government and the paramilitary force took Karachi University (KU) as its first victim. As the Rangers reportedly declined to perform security duties for want of powers, a convoy of police marched into the campus to maintain peace.
A heavy contingent of the Sindh police entered the university campus because the Rangers, who have been deployed at KU for the last 32 years, stayed back as their special powers that expired on Saturday were not extended. The Sindh government deployed around 20 police mobile on the entrances, exits and all the main administrative blocks of the university in the wake of a political group’s protest at the varsity on Monday.
The issue started when a group of Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) intervened in the KU employees’ welfare association elections and asked the vice-chancellor, Prof Dr Muhammad Ajmal Khan, and registrar, Prof Dr Nabeel Zubairi, to order re-elections. The KU management declined the request. “The university administration never conducts the elections and only facilitates them,” Karachi University Teachers Society President Dr Shakeel Farooqi said.
Since the beginning, the two main groups of the association were Muttahida Qaumi Movement – Pakistan’s (MQM) Insaf Pasand Group and Pakistan Peoples Party’s Peoples Employees Unity group. However, a new group of the PSP, Mulazmeen Ittehad, came into the picture some time ago after the elections were held in January this year.
According to Farooqi, members of the PSP tried to pressurise the university authorities on different grounds to organise the elections again while the elections are effective for two years.
The MQM-Pakistan-backed Insaf Pasand Party won the latest elections held in January but Siddiqui and Muneeb allegedly forced the elected president and secretaries to resign so elections could be held again. The PSP-backed group wrote a letter to the registrar, claiming that employees’ groups want re-elections. The group is led by two of the former activists of All Pakistan Mohajir Students Organisation, Saad Siddiqui and Muneeb, who were missing from the scene since a long time and made a comeback after they joined the PSP.
The PSP asked the vice-chancellor and the registrar to intervene and order re-election but they refused, after which the PSP protested in the university on Monday, shouted slogans against the administration, cancelled classes and stopped the students’ bus service.
One of the university’s officials claimed that the VC called the Rangers for help when the PSP protested on campus on Monday but the paramilitary force did not respond as they do not have special powers and now their deployment only allows them to assist the police. On Tuesday, the police personnel were seen checking the vehicles coming to the university and checking gate passes of the students.
On the other hand, the university spokesperson confirmed that the elections will be held and a general body has been called on April 26. “The university never called the police nor relieved the Rangers,” he said.
Other universities in Karachi
The police have taken entire control of security in major universities of Karachi after the withdrawal of paratroopers from the prominent varsities. The universities, where the police have been deployed, include NED University of Engineering and Technology, KU and Sheikh Zayed Islamic Centre of KU.
“The Rangers are there [in the universities] but they have withdrawn their security duties and of course, it was necessary to deploy the police in their place,” said Mobina Town SHO Mairaj Anwar while speaking to The Express Tribune. “We have deployed nearly half a dozen police mobile vans, particularly on the entry and exit points of the varsities, to avoid any untoward incident,” he added.