KARACHI: The University of Karachi conferred on Tuesday an honorary doctorate degree on Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik at a special Convocation held at Governor House.
Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan, who is also the chancellor of the university, conferred the degree on Senator Abdul Rehman Malik in recognition of his “matchless services to the country in the war on terror and particularly in restoring peace to citizens of Karachi.” The ceremony was attended by the vice-chancellor of the University of Karachi, Dr Pirzada Qasim Raza Siddiqui, and pro-vice chancellors Dr Shahana Urooj Kazmi and Dr Nasiruddin Khan.
This decision has been met with condemnation from the university’s teachers and students. The president of the Karachi University Teachers Society (KUTS), Dr Abid Hasnain, expressed his resentment. This is the first time ever that the administration has bypassed the syndicate in deciding an honorary degree, he said.
“The executive council of KUTS had condemned the decision in its meeting on October 8 and there is no division among the various groups of teachers in this regard,” added Dr Hasnain.
According to him, if the chancellor and vice chancellor had to act in their personal capacity, the syndicate and its meetings have become futile. He said that a syndicate meeting has not been called since March as elections were to be held to decide on members. “During that period, the vice chancellor took all the decisions in his personal capacity, which is not appropriate. Now, all such decisions will be placed as reported items at the next syndicate meeting for approval by the members.”
Dr Shakeel Farooqui, the general secretary of KUTS and president of the Karachi University Teachers Guild, was more vocal. He described the award of the honorary degree as ‘shab-i-khoon’ (an ambush) on the authority of the statutory bodies of the varsity.
“It cannot be a one-man decision, neither the chancellor nor the vice chancellor can decide on conferring an honorary degree on their own,” added Dr Farooqui.
“To follow a legality, this decision of the vice chancellor needs to be endorsed by members of the syndicate. But at the next meeting, the syndicate members will not approve of it and then this will be more embarrassing for the authorities,” warned Dr Farooqui. He also made it clear that the decision was against the will of a vast majority of faculty members.
This is not the first time KU has awarded an honorary PhD degree. In the 1990s the syndicate awarded one to Admiral Mansoorul Haq, who was allegedly involved in corruption, and faced charges by the then National Accountability Bureau.
Meanwhile, the Islami Jamiat Talaba (IJT) KU chapter organised a protest demo in front of Karachi Press Club against the decision.
The IJT’s Abdul Muqtadir Ghazi said that the decision without the approval of the KU syndicate undermines the reputation of the varsity. He said that the teachers and students of KU demand of the administration withdraw its decision. They should also ban the process of giving honorary degrees on political basis. He warned that the students of KU would start a protest campaign, if the administration failed to withdraw its decision.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 12th, 2011.