‘Pamphlet wars’ over alleged threats to PUASA VP threaten JI’s hold on Punjab University


LAHORE: The days of the political hegemony of the pro-Islami Jamiat Taliba and Jamaat-e-Islami-led Academic Group seems to be over after its members developed an internal rift over the issue of the life-threats received by Punjab University Academic Staff Association (PUASA) Vice President Dr Abdul Ghaffar, an active member of the group.
The Academic Group was the most powerful group in the university with the majority of teachers backing it in the university’s electoral politics. The division in the ranks of the group could not have come at a more crucial time as the PUASA elections were scheduled to be held later this year. The divide was bound to impact the election result.
On Tuesday (October 19), a faction of the Academic Group distributed a pamphlet, condemning other members of their group alleged to have issued life threats to Ghaffar. The circular also criticised the role of PUASA President Maher Saeed Akher in the issue.
However on Wednesday, the split became more pronounced when the accused Academic Group members reciprocated by issuing a counter circular, stating that the pro-Ghaffar circular had been distributed amongst teachers and students to damage the repute of group, and demanded stern action against the people behind the move.
The counter circular was issued by Academic Group President Dr Haris Rashid and Academic Group Secretary Asmatullah. It stated, “We have no concern with those who issued the circular on Tuesday about Dr Abdul Ghaffar”, while dubbing it an “unethical act”.
It went on to term the pro-Ghaffar pamphlet a “conspiracy against their group”. There are three political groups of teachers at the varsity – the Academic Group, the liberal Teachers Front and the Teachers Forum. Every year, the three groups contest the PUASA elections but the Teachers Front and the Teachers Forum were no match for the Academic Group which had the support of 70 percent of PU’s teachers, including the majority of the deans and department chairmen.
According to a senior PU teacher, the PUASA polls were scheduled to be held in December and internal politics tearing through the Academic Group would pave the way for other groups to come to the forefront.
Academic Group presiden Dr Haris Rashid said that they had contradicted the pro-Ghaffar pamphlet because “it had been issued by someone falsely using the title of his group”, and added that they also opposed the “politics of pamphlets”.
He said that Academic Group would not compromise on its principles even if it cost them the elections. The under-threat PUASA vice president Ghaffar, meanwhile, claimed that he was one of the founding members of the Academic Group along with PU Vice Chancellor Dr Mujahid Kamran. He claimed the men issuing pamphlets against him were those group members who were not part of the Academic Group when it was established.
He adding that it was a tragedy that at a period when he was receiving life threats, PUASA was yet to issue an official condemnation.