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September 19, 2017

Tension on Fuuast campus as Prof Iqbal resumes office as VC


September 19, 2017

After a long legal battle, Prof Dr Zafar Iqbal, vice chancellor of the Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science, and Technology (Fuuast), resumed office on Monday.

However, the situation became tense when a group of teachers and non-teaching staff, who have been supporting Prof Iqbal as permanent vice chancellor, broke open the locks reportedly put on the administration block offices’ doors by acting vice chancellor Prof Dr Sulaiman D Muhammad.

Police, who had been deployed to handle the situation on campus, were unable to control the enraged crowd.  On Friday, the Islamabad High Court had set aside the university senate’s decision to remove Prof Iqbal from his position. 

The president of Pakistan, who is also the chancellor of the federal universities, had approved the removal decision at that time, and the President House had issued a notification of  the vice chancellor’s job termination on August 2015. 

However, Prof Iqbal had challenged his job termination orders in court. “I was not heard at any forum,” he said while talking to The News.  He added that some of his opponents made fake allegations, which were not proved in the court.        

On August 15 the IHC had allowed Prof Iqbal to resume office as Fuuast VC. The court had also directed the Senate of the varsity to convene a meeting and hear him. However, the acting vice chancellor refused to allow Prof Zafar to restart performing his duties on Friday. “I was not informed by the President House about the joining of Zafar Iqbal,” he said, adding that everywhere, officials took charge of office but with respect.

“I have no authority to hold public office illegally. I was appointed as acting VC by the president of Pakistan, who is also the chancellor of the varsity.”  Prof Sulaiman alleged that Prof Iqbal could not run the university and he was facing many corruption charges. “Recently, a court has granted him bail in a corruption case,” he said, adding that Prof Iqbal had been sent to jail and released on bail a few months ago.

He alleged that some of Prof Iqbal’s group members had warned him to leave the VC office on Friday. “After my complaint to police and the Karachi commissioner on Saturday night, policemen from the Aziz Bhatti Police Station were deployed at the administration block and they sealed all the offices till Monday, but Zafar Iqbal and his companions broke the doors of those seized offices,” he added.

The cops were unable to control the mob when Prof Iqbal came to take over charge of his office. “Some of the teachers have not only beaten me but they have also misbehaved with police personnel, who were deployed on the campus to control the stressful environment between the two groups,” said Sadar Uddin, SHO of the Aziz Bhatti Police Station.

Later, Agha Asghar, DSP of Gulshan-e-Iqbal Town, visited the campus. He talked with the VC and other senior faculty members for a short time and settled the matter. 

Prof Iqbal will complete his five years’ tenure as vice chancellor on January 31, 2018. He was appointed by the selection broad on February 1, 2013. His name was recommended to the chancellor by the Search Committee of the varsity’s senate. He was removed from his position over corruption charges.  The acting VC, Prof Dr Sulaiman D Muhammad, is facing allegations of plagiarism in his PhD thesis.

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