Need to maintain decorum of higher seats of learning
By Afzal Hussain Bokhari
Vice-Chancellor of Islamia College University (ICU) Professor Dr Naushad Khan has withdrawn the additional charge assigned to various officials belonging to the teaching cadre. The step had been long-overdue but it was finally taken after protests by teaching staff association of ICU and also in the light of the report prepared by governor’s inspection team. Those asked by VC to relinquish their additional responsibilities included Professor Dr Saleemur Rahman of Islamic Theology Department, Professor Dr Fazle Wahid of Economics Department and Assistant Professor Dilawar Zahid of Shariah Law Department. The ICU registrar duly issued notification to that effect. After this move, the teaching staff called off the strike which had entered its 18th day. After a meeting with the VC, representatives of the teaching staff agreed to form inquiry committees to probe cases of violence and baton charging of teachers by police. It was also agreed to look into cases of financial irregularities.

Peshawar squad of FIA’s cyber-crimes wing on third of March arrested a computer-savvy person. The squad stated that the accused was involved in blackmailing the recently-sacked vice-chancellor of Bannu University Professor Dr Abid Ali Shah. The accused was a member of the university staff. He was said to be a friend of the VC’s and aspired to be promoted as registrar. He reportedly uploaded on social media a video clip showing VC in a university get-together dancing with a female. Within minutes, the video clip became viral, reaching also Governor Shah Farman. Being ex officio Chancellor of universities in the province, he took notice of the matter. There were three versions of what happened to the Bannu University VC. The official version was that the governor sacked him and his dismissal was promptly notified. The second version was that the government asked the VC to resign. According to the third version, the VC resigned on his own without anyone asking him to do so.

In another development on the fifth of March the inquiry committee formed to probe cases of financial irregularities and sexual harassment in the Gomal University, Dera Ismail Khan, submitted its report to KP Governor Shah Farman. In light of instructions issued by Governor Shah Farman in his capacity as ex officio Chancellor, the pending inquiries into alleged cases of sexual harassment were finalised. The inquiry officers stated that four of the university employees were found involved in the cases. Under its rules and regulations, the university terminated the services of the culprits. In a notification, the administration directed the sacked employees to vacate the university premises. It imposed a ban on their entry into the campus. The administration further stated that cases about the remaining suspects would be decided after completion of inquiries against them.

Trigger-happy gunmen resorted to indiscriminate firing on a political rally in Kabul on the sixth of March. The firing spree left at least 32 persons dead and critically wounded 58 others. The carnage occurred just six days after the US-Taliban peace deal was signed in Doha, Qatar on February 29. Claiming responsibility for the assault, the IS said that two of its fighters with machineguns and grenades targeted ‘the gathering of apostates’. A spokesman of the interior ministry stated that while carrying out clearing operation the special forces units shot the two gunmen dead. The gunfire erupted from a construction site near the place where a ceremony was being held on the death anniversary of Abdul Ali Mazari, a politician belonging to the Hazara ethnic group. A similar ceremony at the same place last year also witnessed a gruesome attack that killed 11 persons.
Top VIPs like the country’s chief executive Abdullah Abdullah, former president Hamid Karzai and former vice-president Karim Khalili (current chairman of Afghan High Peace Council) were in attendance in the ceremony. Observers said that the success of Doha deal and phased withdrawal of foreign forces depended on Taliban’s capacity to contain the activities of forces like al-Qaeda and IS. Representatives of the Afghan government and those of the Taliban are scheduled to meet talks in Oslo, Norway this week. However, observers fear that talks may be delayed and differences may emerge over the promised release of prisoners; 1000 held by Taliban and 5000 held by Ashraf Ghani’s government. Ashraf Ghani has already said that he is not under any obligation to release the prisoners. On the other hand, quoting sources among Taliban, journalist Tahir Khan on a visit to Kabul told Geo and Dawn television channels that some prisoners had been released from jail and given new clothes, caps, counting beads and prayer mats.

Peshawar University’s Agha Khan Auditorium hummed with activity. Pakhtun Students Federation (PkSF) on the evening of the sixth of March organised a three-hour-long event to mark the delayed arrival of spring. A Pashto ‘mushaira’ session was arranged and PkSF decided to co-ordinate it with the 24th death anniversary (the actual date being March 15) of the dervish-poet Khan Abdul Ghani Khan (1914-1996), lovingly called Ghani ‘baba’. With colourful headwear and warm shawls spread across shoulders, the PkSF activists tried to show the diversity and soft image of its violence-hit province. The event was presided over by Shams Buneri who, in his presidential address, paid rich tributes to the ideals that Ghani baba cherished. He said that Ghani Khan in his prime youth got elected to the provincial assembly where he made enlightening speeches about progressive politics.
Glowing tributes were also paid by provincial PkSF chairman Jamshaid Wazir. He said that throughout his life, Ghani Khan followed the teachings of Bacha Khan (his father Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan). These teachings were based on the philosophy of non-violence, love for humanity and peace at home and abroad. Through his poetry, Ghani Khan created awareness among the masses. In his collection of poetry titled “Fanoos”, Ghani Khan hit at the forces of darkness and dogmatism. The function was well-attended by staff and students from the adjoining Agricultural University, Islamia College University and UET. From university itself those who read out their spring-related poems included Ahmad Ali Ejaz, Hayat Roghani and Baz Khan Alamyar. Similarly, guest poets from outside of university included Talal Baidar, Tariq Pakhtunyar, Jalal Khalil, Shaheen Afghan and Mussavir Dawar.