PU VC calls it quit amid controversies

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  • Dr Taqi Zahid Butt likely to take acting charge
  • VC and HED minister were at loggerheads for months
  • HED minister already initiated inquiries against VC wrote to CM for his removal
  • Government wants varsity’s land

LAHORE: The one-year tenure of Vice Chancellor (VC) Punjab University (PU) Dr Zafar Mueen Nasar that was marred with controversies came to an end on Friday as he tendered his resignation to the Governor/Chancellor Malik Muhammad Rafique Rajwana, Pakistan Today has learnt.

According to the details, Dr Nasar was in hot waters for past some time as several inquiries of financial irregularities had been initiated against him and the Higher Education Department (HED) had also forwarded a 26-point fact sheet against the VC to both the governor and Chief Minister Inspection Team (CMIT).

Meanwhile, an application against the VC was also filed with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) demanding an inquiry over the allegations of financial irregularities during his tenure while the appointment of Dr Nasar was also challenged in the Lahore High Court (LHC).

It is worth mentioning here that a tussle between the VC and Higher Education Provincial Minister Syed Raza Ali Gillani was at its peak during last some months as the minister had accused the VC of financial irregularities while the VC said that the minister was trying to pressurise him to approve illegal appointments in the varsity.

Nasar spoke publicly against Raza Ali Gillani when the minister chaired an open-court of teachers in the varsity in November to hear complaints against the VC, while the VC was not allowed to even sit in that meeting.

After that meeting, the minister sent a summary to the chief minister for the removal of Nasar.

Later, the VC vowed to approach the LHC against the minister and said that all the allegations against him are baseless.

The situation got worsened when the government asked the VC to allocate a two Kanal land of the varsity in Lahore near the Chauburji area to a religious seminary but the VC refused.

Earlier, the Punjab government had acquired two Kanal land of a religious seminary for the Orange Line Metro Train. The government wanted to compensate that religious seminary and therefore asked the VC to grant him two Kanal land of the varsity.

PU’s administration and the Academic Staff Association (ASA) rejected this move and argued that the land of the university can only be used for teaching purposes.

It may be mentioned here that the Punjab government has acquired over 340 kanals of land from the Punjab University during the last decade.

In a similar case, former VC Dr Khalid Hameed Sheikh had resigned from his post and after refusing to give 4 marlas of land to the government in 1997.

Meanwhile while talking to Pakistan Today, a PU spokesperson said that the VC had resigned over ‘personal issues’.

A senior faculty member of the varsity told this scribe that the VC left for Islamabad in his personal vehicle after sending resignation to the governor.

“He has verbally given the acting charge to senior most professor of the varsity Dr Taqi Zahid Butt before leaving the campus,” he said.

An official of the HED told Pakistan Today on the condition of anonymity that the financial irregularities of Dr Nasar were proved and he was about to be removed and therefore preferred to quit voluntarily to avoid further embarrassment.

Tausif Sabih, the spokesperson of the minister, told Pakistan Today that the minister had no personal grudge against the VC as he had only visited the university on the complaints of the faculty members and forwarded the inquiry against him to Governor and CMIT.

Meanwhile, PU ASA General Secretary Iftikhar Tarrar told this scribe that the VC had succumbed to the pressure of the government over the issue of varsity’s land. He was of the view that the government must appoint a permanent VC immediately for the survival of the country’s oldest and largest public sector university.

Taimoor Khan, a spokesperson for Islami Jamiat Taliba (IJT) of PU, said that the university is an autonomous body and government cannot acquire the land without bypassing the syndicate. He said that the university land will not be allowed to be acquired by land grabbers and affirmed the IJT’s support for the VC.

It is pertinent to mention here that PU VC had been unable to handle the affairs of the varsity since his appointment in December 2016, as several incidents of clashes between the IJT and other students organizations were reported during his one-year tenure.

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