In a recent example of Sindh Chief Minister Secretariat’s ‘undue intervention’ in the affairs of public-sector universities, the University of Karachi (KU) has been asked to go against its rules by allowing a former employee to retain his campus residence even 17 months after his resignation, The Express Tribune has learnt.
Prof Dr Zafar Iqbal, the vice-chancellor of the Federal University of Arts, Science and Technology (Fuuast) has been retaining a house at the KU Staff Town since April, 2013. While serving as the KU arts faculty dean, Dr Iqbal had resigned from the university to join Fuuast as its vice-chancellor on February 1 this year. However, the expansive house that he was allotted as one of the “employees holding substantive posts in the university” remains in his illegal possession to date.
According to Article 15 (a) of the KU’s rules of allotment and control of residential quarters, 1990, an employee who resigns from the university has to vacate the allotted house within a period of two months.
Since Dr Iqbal insisted on keeping possession of the house, the KU management was compelled to take action. “As per the decision of the house allotment advisory committee, which met on June 23, 2014, you are required to vacate House No. 13-B within 15 days after receipt of this notice, failing which the university reserves the right to take further necessary action as per the rules and regulations,” stated Prof Dr Syed Anwer Ali Zaidi, convenor of the KU house allotment advisory committee, in his first notice issued on June 26.
On receiving this notice, Prof Dr Iqbal approached Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah - who had been empowered through the Sindh Universities Law (Amendment) Act to take over the administrative, financial and academic control of the provincial institutes of higher education. Prof Dr Iqbal wrote a letter to the Sindh chief minister on June 28, asking, in simple words, an allowance to go against the rules. And his request was granted.
“The competent authority has been pleased to desire that the retention of the house may be allowed for the time being to Prof Dr Zafar Iqbal, the vice-chancellor of the Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology,” stated Ghulam Murtaza Shaikh, the deputy secretary at the Sindh CM Secretariat, in his letter to the KU vice-chancellor, Prof Dr Muhammad Qaiser, on July 7. “It is requested to kindly take necessary action in the matter as desired, under intimation to this secretariat, at the earliest, please.”
Apart from this direct correspondence between the Sindh CM Secretariat and the Karachi University, the Fuuast vice-chancellor also directed his secretary and assistant registrar at the federal university, Rahim Bakhsh, to write to the KU house allotment advisory committee’s convenor, Prof Dr Zaidi.
“I am directed to inform you that the Honourable Sindh Chief Minister has very kindly allowed the retention of House No 13-B, Staff Town, University of Karachi, by Prof Dr Zafar Iqbal,” said Bakhsh in his letter to Prof Dr Zaidi on July 9. “Keeping in view the approval of the competent authority, please update your records accordingly.”
Meanwhile, The Express Tribune has learnt that the ‘desire’ of the competent authority had failed to budge the KU house allotment advisory committee’s convenor, Prof Dr Zaidi, as he issued a subsequent notice to Dr Iqbal on July 21, intimating him to vacate the house within 15 days.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 2nd, 2014.