Doing nothing not an option: HEC chief

Mukhtar Ahmed tells QAU administration to consider restoring students rusticated for minor issues

Arsalan Altaf October 17, 2017
Mukhtar Ahmed tells QAU administration to consider restoring students rusticated for minor issues. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: With a standoff between the administration and some expelled students of the Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) entered the third week, the head of the apex higher education body in the country urged the varsity to accept ‘genuine’ demands of the students and even restore some of the students whose crime was relatively small.

The Higher Education Commission Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed on Monday said that doing nothing, as the QAU management had apparently done so far even as the varsity was kept shut by a handful of students for nearly three weeks, was no longer an option.

He was commenting on the ongoing standoff between some students of the varsity and the administration of the state-owned university over rustication of the former following armed clashes in May.

As the top higher education official visited the campus to meet with the protesting students and the university management in a bid to resolve the situation, the varsity’s syndicate announced that it will be meeting later this week on Friday, instead of its previously scheduled date in the first week of November.

Later, while talking to The Express Tribune, the HEC chief said most of the demands made by the students were ‘genuine’ and should be considered by the university’s management to end the crisis.

He said he had assured the university to release funds for the university within six weeks to address some of the issues put forward by the students.

Referring to the core issue which had become the bone of contention between the protesting students and the administration, the HEC boss said some of the students who were expelled or rusticated on minor disciplinary issues should be restored.

However, he was clear that those penalised for far more serious transgressions, including armed violence on campus grounds, should not be shown any leniency.

“There should be no compromise on the issue of violence and weapons,” he asserted.

Meanwhile, QAU has called an emergency meeting of its syndicate on Friday to find a solution to an ongoing strike by students which has kept the varsity closed since October 4.

The syndicate, which was scheduled to meet in the first week of November, will review the expulsion and rustication awarded to 42 students for various disciplinary violations during the clash between two student groups in May.

While the QAU management claims that all 42 students were punished for their involvement in violent clashes at university premises in May this year, protesting students contend this and maintain that several students who had nothing to do with the clashes were also expelled or rusticated by the university’s disciplinary committee (UDC).

The protesting students were demanding the construction of new hostels, additional buses, and various other facilities in addition to withdrawal of punishments awarded to 42 students. QAU Vice-Chancellor Dr Javed Ashraf says eight students were expelled and 18 rusticated for their involvement in violence.

However, QAU registrar later confirmed that 16 more students were also punished by the UDC in addition to the initial 26. The VC maintains that students’ chief objective is to get themselves restored and rest of the demands were a mere ‘cover-up’. He has also been saying that only the syndicate can undo the punishments.

It is now expected that the university’s syndicate will review and undo punishments awarded to some of the 42 students at least.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 17th, 2017.


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