Senate body takes up Balochistan University harassment case


ISLAMABAD: The Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights has summoned the vice-chancellor of the University of Balochistan for a briefing on the alleged harassment and blackmailing of students by varsity staff members.

The committee has also summoned Interior Secretary Major (r) Azam Suleman Khan and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Director General Bashir Ahmed Memon for a briefing on the denial of entry to Committee to Protect Journalists’ (CPJ) Asia Programme Coordinator Steven Butler.

A notification issued on Monday said a meeting of the committee would be held on October 25.

The Balochistan University harassment and blackmailing issue came to light when students accused the administration of using Closed Circuit TV (CCTV) footage to blackmail female students for sexual favours.

The students said that they were being monitored by additional cameras and microphones placed in washrooms and smoking areas. The university’s professors and staff members confirmed to the media that they have seen these ‘secret cameras’.

Following widespread criticism, UoB Vice-Chancellor Dr Javed Iqbal stepped down on Sunday after accusations that he was involved in the harassment of students.

A notification issued by the Balochistan governor’s office said Dr Iqbal decided to step down to let the FIA conduct a fair inquiry.

On the other hand, veteran journalist Steven Butler was denied entry by immigration authorities and sent back to Washington DC because his name was on a ‘stop list’ of the federal interior ministry.

“A border officer at the Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore told Butler that his journalist visa was valid, but it was voided because his name was ‘on a stop list of the Interior Ministry’,” CPJ said in a statement.

Butler had arrived in the country for the Asma Jahangir Conference-Roadmap for Human Rights in Pakistan. CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon denounced the move as “baffling” and “a slap in the face to those concerned about press freedom in the country.”