LAHORE: The Punjab government has decided to make Dr Mujahid Kamran acting vice chancellor of Punjab University for an interim period till the appointment of a new vice chancellor, though the move has already been challenged in the Lahore High Court.
Higher Education Department (HED) told The Express Tribune that Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had recommended the move and Governor Sardar Latif Khosa – the chancellor of the university – had approved it, while a formal notification to this effect would be issued on Monday night or Tuesday. A Governor’s House spokesman confirmed that Khosa had okayed the appointment.
One official said that the chief minister had gone to Turkey for five days and interviews for the new vice chancellor would be completed once he returns.
He said at the end of the interviews, the governor would be forwarded three names and the chief minister’s recommended nominee. After the governor’s approval, the HED would issue the formal notification appointing the new vice chancellor. “This exercise will take around two weeks and that’s how long Dr Kamran will be acting vice chancellor,” he said.
The official admitted the move was unusual, “but not unconstitutional or illegal”. Normally, if a vice chancellor’s term ended before his successor was chosen, the post of acting vice chancellor was given to the university’s most senior professor, he said.
However, in this case the most senior professor – Prof Haris Rashid of the Centre for Higher Energy Physics – is believed to be close to the Islami Jamiat Talaba and was involved in a plagiarism controversy, said the official.
“IJT and Imamia Students Organisation (IMO) activists recently clashed at Punjab University and the chief minister didn’t want to appoint an acting VC affiliated to either group,” he said.
Prof Kamran had himself accused Prof Rashid of plagiarism, in a letter to then vice chancellor General (retired) Arshad Mehmood dated September 6, 2007. No action was taken at the time.
Prof Rashid was then a member of the Syndicate and the president of the All Pakistan Federation of Academic Staff Associations of Universities, a group supported by the IJT.
Prof Kamran then moved the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan to take up the case and conduct the investigations. The HEC appointed Prof Mohammad Aslam Baig of the Quaid-e-Azam University department of physics to head the investigation and he found Prof Rashid guilty of plagiarism. Prof Rashid has always denied the charge.
Justice Sheikh Ahmad Farooq of the Lahore High Court issued a pre-admission notice to the HED secretary and others on Monday on a petition filed by Dr Mugheesuddin Sheikh, former dean of the Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences and a candidate for vice chancellor, asking that Prof Kamran not be allowed acting charge of the university.
Asad Manzoor Butt, the petitioner’s counsel, submitted that the rules did not allow the vice chancellor to be granted an extension or appointed as a stopgap arrangement. He alleged that Prof Kamran wanted the interim appointment so he could aid the prospects of his wife and cousin, who are employed by the PU. He asked the court to issue an order barring the interim appointment of Prof Kamran.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 3rd, 2012.
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