Punjab Governor Sardar Latif Khan Khosa has ordered PU Vice Chancellor Professor Dr Mujahid Kamran to reverse the dismissal over sexual harassment charges of former Punjab University (PU) College of Earth and Environmental Sciences (CEES) principal Dr Iftikhar Baloch within seven days, failing which the governor would restore Baloch using discretionary powers at his behest, Governor’s House sources told Pakistan Today.
The sources said the governor met senior PU officials on June 4 after instructions from Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani.
Dr Baloch was sacked following a decision by the PU Syndicate’s after two separate inquiries, one by the Punjab government, one by the PU administration, declared him guilty on charges of sexual harassment brought against him by two female faculty members.
Invited to a meeting:
Sources said the governor had invited the PU VC to a meeting on June 4 via an official letter. They disclosed that in a three-hour long meeting, the governor expressed his dissatisfaction with the varsity’s inquiry against Dr Baloch. The source disclosed that Dr Baloch himself was present along with other varsity officials when the governor informed the PU VC of discretionary powers in his hand to restore Dr Baloch, if the varisty does not do so within seven days.
However, another Governor’s Secretariat source claimed that the governor had been advised by some to abstain from the issue since it could damage the PPP government in light of the sensitive charges involved. The Governor however was said to have just fallen short of issuing written instructions to the PU administration to restore the faculty member.
‘Governor does not have powers’:
PU faculty members, however, said that the governor’s demand to restore Dr Baloch was illegal, contending that the governor was bound to take advise from the chief minister after the 18th amendment and lacked discretionary powers.
A governor house source confirmed that the governor’s powers had been clipped and , in a similar situation last year when former governor Salmaan Taseer (late) appointed two varsity deans without seeking advice from the CM, they were removed after the objection of CM Secretariat which were subsequently confirmed by courts.
The source said that the governor’s demand was a part of the election campaign. He said that the PM had advised the governor to get Dr Baloch restored, after a meeting with the local leaders of Shujah Abad constituency, which is the constituency of a relative of the PM. The source said members of the constituency demanded Dr Baloch’s be restored if the PPP wanted their vote.
On the other hand, PU faculty strongly condemned the PPP government for the demand to restoration someone convicted of sexual harassment.
The PU faculty members warned that female faculty members would launch a protest movement if Dr Baloch were restored.
A lady worker of AASHA, an NGO that helped the two women who accused Dr Baloch in the court, expressed her opposition to the governor’s demand. Varsity students, who had protested against Dr Baloch when the charges were leveled, also expressed their opposition to the governor’s demand.