The government of Saudi Arabia has nominated Professor Dr Darvesh, a Saudi scholar, to take over as president of Islamic International University Islamabad (IIUI), it has been learnt. A university source confirmed that Saudi government has forwarded the name of Dr Darvesh through its embassy, but President Asif Ali Zardari, who is also the chancellor of the university, has not made a final decision as yet.
Dr Darvesh is currently Pro-rector of Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, which has a student body of around 25,000 students.
The president’s post has been lying vacant for the last one-and-a-half year after the retirement of former incumbent, Dr Anwar Siddiqi. Since then, there has not been a permanent president, reportedly due to lack of consensus between the President of Pakistan and Saudi authorities on the appointment.
Sources confirmed that the Saudi government wants both the top slots of the university — rector and president — to be filled by Saudis citizens, but the presidency refused to give both positions to foreigners. Sources added that Dr Salman Darvesh will take charge of the university as soon as his nomination is endorsed by President Zardari.
IIUI Acting President Sahibzada Sajidur Rehman said they have also learnt that the Saudi Embassy has nominated Dr Darvesh for the post and his name was forwarded with others to the HEC search committee. “We have not received any notification on the appointment of the President,” Sahibzada added.
IIUI has had four presidents since its establishment, two of whom were Egyptian, along with two Pakistanis. Dr Hussain Hamid, an Egyptian, was the first president of the university, serving from 1985 to 1997. Another Egyptian, Hassan Abdul Latif Shafie, followed him from 1988 to 2004, before Dr Mohamood Ahmad Ghazi’s tenure from 2004 to 2006. Dr Anwar Hussain Siddiqi was the last president appointed. He served from 2006 to 2010.
The university’s former rector, Prof Fateh Muhammad Malik, has also been on forced leave for the last four months. Malik was asked to leave his seat, reportedy after Saudi authorities took offence to remarks he had made about monarchies in Muslim countries.
Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) Vice Chancellor Dr Masoon Yasinzai has been the acting rector of the university since then in addition to his duties at QAU.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 18th, 2012.