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May 26, 2021

Gomal University VC sacked, two others sent on forced leave

PESHAWAR: Another vice-chancellor of a public sector university was removed from the position and two more were sent on forced leave on the charges of opposing government decisions, violating the laid down procedures, committing irregularities and misusing official authority.

The formal notifications to this effect were issued on Tuesday.

The vice-chancellor who was removed from the office was Prof Dr Iftikhar Ahmad of Gomal University, while those sent on forced leave include Dr Shahana Urooj Kazmi of Women University Swabi and Dr Mohammad Jamal Khattak of the University of Swat.

Dr Iftikhar Ahmad had already been sent on forced leave for opposing the provincial government’s decision to establish/upgrade Agriculture University, Dera Ismail Khan and writing a letter directly to the prime minister ignoring his immediate boss, the governor, who is also the chancellor of public sector universities, in violation of the laid down procedure.

Dr Iftikhar Ahmad was provided an opportunity of personal hearing before the chancellor/governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on May 24. But instead of appearing before the chancellor for personal hearing, he preferred to leave for some hill station for fulfillment of his hobby of hiking and trekking.

The sacked vice-chancellor wrote a letter to the university registrar stating, “As you are well aware that I am on forced leave for “nighty days” and have filed a writ petition against the decision of forced leave. In these days, there is no assignments these days for me and hence I am free to spend some time in my hobby i.e., hiking and tracking. I am heady for hiking and tracking from May 21 to May 26, 2021 and my cell phone will be off in the mountain’s regions because of signals.”

Language mistakes and repetition of words and phrases in the five-line letter are clearly visible.

Dr Iftikhar Ahmad has already moved the Peshawar High Court against his forced leave and hearing of his case has been fixed for May 27. He was quite hopeful of getting relief from the high court, which is why he declined to appear for the personal hearing.

However, his non-compliance prompted the chancellor to award a major penalty to him and his removal from the office was notified a day later.

The notification issued on Tuesday stated: “The Chancellor in pursuance of the advice of the Chief Minister and in exercise of the power under section 12 (7) of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Universities Act is pleased to remove Prof Dr Iftikhar Ahmad from the post of vice-chancellor Gomal University Dera Ismail Khan with immediate effect in best public interest on grounds and circumstances mentioned in the order ibid.”

Meanwhile, the chancellor also sent two more vice-chancellors on forced leave for a period of 90 days each. Separate summaries to this effect had already been submitted to the chancellor. Two detailed separate notifications were issued to this effect.

The notification about Women University Swabi’s Vice-Chancellor Dr Shahana Urooj Kazmi stated that an inquiry had been conducted by the Governor’s Inspection Team into complaints regarding irregularities in appointments and misuse of authority by the vice-chancellor.

The inquiry found Dr Shahana Kazmi guilty of making appointments, reshuffling of staff illegally and inducting around two dozen of her relatives and friends belonging to Sindh. She illegally recruited 21 staff out of 23 from other provinces on positions existing in the regular budget that should have been filled through a competitive process.

She appointed three superannuated persons namely Dr Athar Rafi, Shahid Iqbal and Shafaar Ahmad in violation of the Supreme Court of Pakistan directions. She illegally allowed extra benefits to some fixed-pay employees.

An advertisement already sub-judice in Peshawar High Court was re-advertised merely to accommodate her friends and relatives. She wasted government resources on travelling daily from Islamabad to Swabi for duty. Rizwan Ahmad was appointed as registrar and Jazib Shamim as public relations officer even though they did not meet the required qualification and experience.

She hired a flat on monthly rent of Rs75,000 as the university’s guest house in Islamabad and purchased furniture worth hundreds of thousands of rupees for the premises which remained in her personal use.

The notification stated that as she was in a position to influence independent departmental proceedings and may conduct herself in a manner prejudicial to the fairness, impartiality and objectivity of the inquiry, therefore, the chancellor is pleased to send her on forced leave for a period of ninety days (extendable) with immediate effect. Additional charge of the post was assigned to Dr Syed Mukarram Shah, pro-vice-chancellor University of Swabi till further orders.

Dr Shahana Kazmi would be provided an opportunity of personal hearing in due course of time, the notification stated.

Moreover, the notification regarding sending Dr Jamal Khattak on forced leave stated: “An inquiry was conducted into the affairs of the University of Swat by the Provincial Inspection Team which concluded that Prof Dr Mohammad Jamal Khattak was found negligent, lacking leadership qualities, involved in illegal appointments, inefficient by not filling vacant positions, poor administration by not smoothly running the project activities and guilty of irregular utilization of the budget and further recommended that necessary action may be initiated against him under the relevant rules after completing formalities.”

Another inquiry was conducted into complaints regarding harassment and illegal activities, which concluded that the vice-chancellor misused his authority and failed to take action on the complaint of a lady officer, which resulted in unrest in the university.

The two officers have decided to move the court against the decision. Dr Shahana Kazmi filed a petition on Tuesday, while Dr Jamal Khattak is preparing to do so in the coming days.