Federal security agencies have begun to collect records of sectarian identification of the teaching faculty, students and staff of higher education institutions in Jamshoro, which is home to three large public sector universities. They are also required to submit police verification reports about their political, ethnic, religious and sectarian affiliations or their affiliation with any banned outfit as well as their criminal records, if any.
Interestingly, the five-page pro forma asks for information about the respondents’ permanent and current addresses distance, in kilometres, from the international border, Line of Control and Working Boundary. It also asks the vice chancellors (VC) to certify that the “university is not involved [in] any criminal/anti state activities”. The pro forma includes sections for bio data and police verification, besides two parts to be filled by VCs and an unnamed intelligence organisation. A copy of the pro forma given to the students is available with The Express Tribune. The forms for the teachers and staff are likely to be different.
LUMHS has started distributing these forms, while the Mehran University of Engineering and Technology (MUET) has sought guidance from the provincial government regarding this. Though the University of Sindh has not officially confirmed, official sources say they too have been given the pro forma. There are around 25,000 students in Sindh University, 7,000 in MUET and 3,500 in LUMHS.
“An intelligence agency’s official handed over the pro forma to the varsity. We started their distribution a few days ago,” an official of LUMHS, who requested anonymity, told The Express Tribune. According to him, around 1,000 forms have been distributed so far, mostly to students. The official confirmed that employees will also have to submit the form.
MUET’s registrar, Prof Dr Taha Hussain Ali, told The Express Tribune that the university has received the pro forma. But, he added, MUET has written to the Sindh governor and chief minister to guide the varsity. However, he did not specify what sort of guidance has been sought.
“We handed over [to the intelligence agency] before Eid holidays a summary pro forma containing details of total employees, including officers and lower staff, the male and female students, etc,” the registrar explained.
An MUET’s official, who did not want to be identified, said foreign students and those applying for jobs in sensitive installations, like nuclear plants, are usually asked to fill these forms.
“It’s the first time ordinary students and teachers will have to do this,” he observed.
“We don’t understand why it is essential to know students’ sects,” said an LUMHS student. Another student found the verification part difficult. “We got the forms from the students’ bureau after they notified us but we haven’t been briefed on how to get it verified from the police yet.”
The form requires the area’s police SHO to certify linkage, if any, of a student with political, religious, sectarian or ethnic parties, or with banned student organisations, as well as their participation in religious activities. The police will also have to state whether the student has any relationship with any high official in the government.
“It sounds cumbersome and complicated,” noted Hyderabad SSP Irfan Baloch. According to him, this sort of record is maintained by the department of intelligence bureau and police stations may not have complete information. However, he was unaware of the pro forma, saying that the police have not received any directives from the government yet.
The Hyderabad DIG, Khadim Hussain Rind, said the verification will be done by the police stations in the areas of where the university students and employees reside. But he did not explain how the police can facilitate the process, which is considered difficult.
Dr Arshad Memon, general secretary of the Mehran University Teachers Association, said it will be difficult for the teachers to “line up outside the police stations”. “If they ask us to fill the form we will request the police to open a camp or counter in MUET for the verification process.”
Published in The Express Tribune, October 5th, 2015.