KARACHI: The Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology's (Fuuast) vice-chancellor, Prof Dr Zafar Iqbal, is not ready to relinquish his seat despite the varsity senate's decision.
The senate had decided last year to send him on a three-month forced leave and ensure that an impartial inquiry is conducted into the numerous corruption and mismanagement charges against him.
The lingering controversy surrounding Dr Iqbal's presence in the office till date is likely to exacerbate in the face of President House's indirect reaffirmation on Monday that he ceases to exist as the varsity's vice-chancellor until the five-member inquiry committee, headed by former justice Haziqul Khairi, absolves him of the charges.
The President House, being the office of the federal university's chancellor, has notified a senior Fuuast professor, Prof Dr Sulaiman D Muhammad, to assume the office of the vice-chancellor in absence of Karachi University's Prof Dr Muhammad Qaiser from the country. The latter was given the additional charge of the Fuuast vice-chancellor six days after the Fuuast senate made the decision to sent Dr Iqbal on a forced leave on December 20, 2014.
Dr Iqbal had, however, refused to hand over the charge to Dr Qaiser, claiming that he had obtained a Sindh High Court's stay order against the varsity's senate decision, nor is he willing to regard the President House's recent letter that appointed Prof Muhammad as the acting vice-chancellor. Earlier, Dr Iqbal had obtained another stay order when the Higher Education Commission (HEC) attempted to initiate an inquiry against him under directions of the President of Pakistan.
"These letters do not matter," Dr Iqbal told The Express Tribune. "I'm the only legitimate and constitutional vice-chancellor of the Federal Urdu University and physically present in the office." He added that both the senate meeting as well as the subsequent notifications on behalf of the President House are illegal. "The matter is sub judice," he explained.
"The President House knows well about the legal constraints involved, but I don't know why it is proceeding in direct contravention of the laws," the accused vice-chancellor added.
In the wake of this ongoing feud, the administrative, academic and research activities at the federal university that has over 13,000 students enrolled are being affected. The faculty members and the non-academic staff are unable to decide about the actual vice-chancellor of the university.
Meanwhile, the replacement appointed by the President House - Dr Muhammad - is adamant to comply with these directives. "I will demand Dr Iqbal to relinquish the office," he told The Express Tribune. "President of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain, who is also the chancellor of this federal university, has tasked me with the responsibility to serve as the acting vice-chancellor," he pointed out. "Not complying with his directives is tantamount to challenging the writ of the state."
Dr Muhammad added that the accused vice-chancellor will have the opportunity to respectfully come back if the inquiry committee finds him innocent. Otherwise, he should be tried under due course of law.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 16th, 2015.
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