VC’s kidnapping : Varsities to open but teachers to continue protest

Three weeks into the teachers association's protest in K-P, there is no word on the release of Dr Ajmal Khan.

Manzoor Ali November 23, 2010

PESHAWAR: The Vice-Chancellors (VCs) of all public sector universities of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) have decided to re-open universities from November 26.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the VCs here on Monday that was presided over by the University of Peshawar (UoP) VC, Dr Azmat Hayat Khan.

However, the decision was not received well by teachers who have announced that they will carry on with their boycott of classes until the VC of Islamia College University (ICU), Dr Ajmal Khan, is not recovered safely.

Dr Khan said that though the VC’s kidnapping was very disturbing, the future of hundreds of children was at stake and it was for this reason that they decided to re-open all educational institutions on November 26.

A statement issued by the VCs following the meeting said that they understood the sentiments of the teaching community for the early and safe release of the VC but were thinking of the greater good.

The VCs appealed to the government to make all out efforts to ensure the safe release of Dr Ajmal Khan.

However, the members of the teachers’ association said that they would continue their boycott and would not take classes until the kidnapped VC was released.

“We have to be united against this inhuman act, if we start teaching again the government will forget about this matter and the hope of his safe return will diminish,” a teacher of Islamia College told The Express Tribune.

President of the Peshawar University Teachers Association (PUTA), Dr Johar Ali, told The Express Tribune that they will continue their protest till the government or governor house offered them a surety that the VC would be recovered safely.

He said that the teachers’ community would boycott classes for an indefinite period.

“We have yet to hear anything from the government, our protest has entered its third week but still no news from the government,” Dr Ali said.

He said that they were waiting to hear from the K-P Governor, Owais Ahmed Ghani, who is also chancellor of all public sector universities in the province, to take action concrete steps for the release of the VC.

The Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (FAPUASA) provincial chapter president Dr Fida said that the teaching community protest would continue till the recovery of Ajmal Khan.

VC Ajmal Khan, who is a cousin of Awami National Party (ANP) Chief Asfandyar Wali Khan, was kidnapped from near his residence in Professors’ Colony, on September 7, 2010.

On October 14, the Taliban released a video of the kidnapped vice-chancellor demanding the release of several captured militants in exchange of the VC’s release. Another video of the VC was released on November 7, in which he said that the militants would execute the VC by November 20 if the authorities did not meet their demands.

On November 15, militants released another video announcing that they had extended the deadline of the VCs execution.

The teachers of the public sector universities across the province went on a strike three weeks ago following the release of this video. The strike is in its third week now.

Ajmal Khan is the second VC who has been kidnapped from K-P. Earlier, the Taliban had kidnapped Kohat University of Science and Technology (KUST) VC, Dr Lutfullah Kakakhel, from Darra Adamkhel last year. He was released in June this year after spending six months in captivity.

The strike has paralysed higher education in the province as the thousands of students studying at public sector universities are unable to give their board exams as there have been no classes.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 23rd, 2010.


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