Defying orders: Arid varsity proceeds with controversial appointments

The Punjab agriculture secretary had directed the VC to stop hiring until irregularities were resolved.

Mudassir Raja July 27, 2012


Acting against the Punjab government’s directives, the administration of Pir Meh Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University (AAU) has decided to go ahead with certain appointments.

AAU Academic Staff Association President Dr Nadeem Abbasi told The Express Tribune that the acting Vice-Chancellor (VC), Dr Irfanul Haq, called the central selection board on Thursday to interview shortlisted candidates for posts in grade 18, 20 and 21, despite being asked to stop the hiring process by the Punjab agriculture secretary.

“The VC, who is going to retire on July 29, has also called in a syndicate meeting on Friday (today) for approval [of the selected candidates],” said Dr Abbasi.

He said that a total of 129 posts for gazette and non-gazette positions were announced by the university earlier. The candidates were given only seven days to apply, which violates the university’s rules of giving potential candidates three to four weeks to apply.

On July 20, the selection board’s meeting was postponed after the controversy was highlighted by the academic staff and a Higher Education Commission (HEC) member refused to attend the meeting.

The Punjab agriculture secretary then directed the VC to stop the process of appointments until the irregularities were resolved.

An inquiry was initiated by Rawalpindi Anti-Corruption Establishment and a two-member committee comprising two deputy directors was formed to probe into the matter.

Dr Abbasi said that senior faculty members are not satisfied with the way the appointments are being made and have termed the absence of a permanent head of the university as the “mother of all evils.”

In February, Dr Khalid Mahmood retired as the university’s VC, following which the post was temporarily given to Dr Muhammad Munir, who also retired in May. Dr Irfan has been acting as the VC since then.

Earlier, allegations against Dr Munir had also surfaced in media reports that accused him of appointing his son, Irfan Munir, as the university’s assistant director in violation of rules and regulations. However, the university’s syndicate approved Irfan’s appointment and did not initiate an inquiry into the matter.

Dr Irfan could not be approached for comments despite several attempts.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2012.


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