LAHORE: Professor Dr Zakria Zakar is most likely to be given the acting charge of Vice Chancellor (VC) of the Punjab University (PU), and a notification in this regard would be issued very soon, Pakistan Today has learnt reliably.
According to details, Dr Zakar, who is currently working as the dean of faculty of behavioral and social sciences, and director of the Institute of Social and Cultural Studies (ISCS) at Punjab University, would be given the charge of acting VC for the stopgap arrangement, and the higher education department is going to initiate the procedure for his interim appointment in a day or two.
The Punjab University – the oldest and largest public sector university – is without its head since Friday as Dr Zafar Mueen Nasar resigned from the coveted post and tendered his resignation to the governor/chancellor before leaving for Islamabad the same day.
It is worth mentioning here that a tussle between the VC and Punjab Minister for Higher Education 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 make illegal appointments in the varsity.
The VC 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 vice-chancellor. The VC was not even allowed to sit in that meeting.
After that meeting, the minister had moved a summary to the chief minister for the removal of the vice-chancellor. Later, the VC had vowed to approach the Lahore High Court (LHC) against the minister and said that all the allegations against him were baseless.
The situation got worse when the government asked the Nasar to give two Kanals of the varsity to a religious seminary in Lahore near the Chauburji area, but the VC was not willing to do so. The Punjab government had acquired two Kanal land of a religious seminary for the Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT) and now the government wanted to compensate that religious seminary and therefore asked the VC for two Kanal land of the varsity.
The whole university, including the administration and the Academic Staff Association, was against this move as they thought 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 last decade. Furthermore, former VC Dr Khalid Hameed Sheikh had resigned from his post and did not give four marlas land to the government in 1997.
Earlier, there were reports that Dr Taqi Zahid Butt, who is the senior most faculty member, would be given the interim charge but it has now been decided that Dr Zakar would be given the coveted post as even in the past, his name was shortlisted along with Dr Mujahid Kamran and Dr Zafar Mueen Nasar by the vice chancellor’s search committee when the process to appoint the VC was initiated by the government.
It is pertinent to mention here that Dr Zafar Mueen Nasar was made the VC in December 2016 on the directives of Lahore High Court.
A senior faculty member at PU told Pakistan Today that Dr Zakar is a suitable choice as he knows the matters of PU very well because of his long-serving history at the university. He added that former VC Dr Nasar could not handle the varsity’s affairs amicably because of being an outsider.
Meanwhile, Higher Education Department Spokesman Tauseef Sabih told Pakistan Today that the process to appoint the interim VC would be initiated very soon.