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Anomalies Alleged in Appointment of Two VCs

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PESHAWAR: Anomalies and favouritism have been reported in the process of appointments of vice-chancellors of the Islamia College University (ICU) and Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women University (SBBWU) as the Higher Education Department (HED) has proposed three names each for the coveted offices in the two institutions and the final notification is expected in a few days.

The three names recommended for ICU include Prof Dr Mohammad Asif of the Centre of Excellence for Geology,University of Peshawar, former vice-chancellor, Gomal University Dr Mansoor Akbar Kundi and former acting vice-chancellor, University of Peshawar Prof (R) Dr Qibla Ayaz, sources told The News.

The three top candidates for the ZBBWU are former principal College of Home Economics, University of Peshawar Prof Dr Ghazala Nigar, Dr Shazia Naeem of the Islamia College University and Dr Razia Sultana of theQuaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad.

The positions were advertised in December 2013 and over 70 candidates applied for each of the two prized offices. The search committee for appointment of the vice-chancellors shortlisted and interviewed 15 applicants each for the two institutions before sending the list of top candidates to the chief minister, the sources said.

The case of ICU is unique as the full-time vice-chancellor Ajmal Khan has been languishing in the custody of Taliban since his kidnapping on September 7, 2010 in Peshawar. His absence created administrative vacuum in the institution.

The Awami National Party-led previous government made several experiments to deal with the issue, but to no avail. The situation worsened instead of any improvement.

For the first six months after the kidnapping of Ajmal Khan, the college affairs were directly run by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governor, who is also chancellor of the university, through the Higher Education Department, even though the university act gave clear direction that the senior most professor of the university should be given acting charge of the office in case of absence of the vice-chancellor.

However, on the directives of Peshawar High Court later, the charge was given to Prof Dr Haider Shah, who was the senior-most professor at the time in the institution. But Dr Haider Shah could hold the office for around 11 months only and was replaced by Prof Dr Noor Jehan of theUniversity of Peshawar. Later, on her appointment as vice-chancellor of the Swabi University, the additional charge to run the affairs of the ICU was given to Prof Dr Ihsan Ali, vice-chancellor of the Abdul Wali Khan University, Mardan. About six months ago the additional charge was taken

back from Dr Ihsan Ali and given to Prof Dr Rasul Jan of theUniversity of Peshawar till appointment of a new vice-chancellor.

The ICU faculty has shown serious concern in the past over appointment of professors, mostly junior than them, from other universities as vice-chancellor because they complain of being ignored. This happened again this time as none of the three candidates recommended for appointment as acting vice-chancellor belong to the ICU. This may create another administrative issue in the university as most of the ICU faculty members have been resisting appointment of an outsider as vice-chancellor.

Sources in the Education Department told The News that some professors who had not even applied for the office of vice-chancellor had also been called for the interview. However, they could not be interviewed for unknown reasons.

Some reports suggested that the senior professors were also ignored in the process of appointment for vice-chancellor SBBWU. According to sources, some of the candidates recommended for the prestigious position have only 10 years of teaching experience.

The Higher Education Department had been accused of serious anomalies in appointment of vice-chancellors during the rule of the ANP-PPP coalition government. This has more or less continued during the rule of the PTI-led coalition government as no changes could be made in the department during the first 10 months after the May 2013 general election. The PTI, which had been voted to power in the name of change, could not even change the ANP-appointed people at the Higher Education Department.

There are also reports of irregularities in the appointment of the acting vice-chancellors of the Gomal University, Dera Ismail Khan and Hazara University, Mansehra.

Sources told The News that junior officials were appointed as vice-chancellors on acting basis in the two universities apparently to pave way for their regular appointment. The case of Hazara University is interesting. The acting vice-chancellor of the university, Sohail Shehzad, is not only junior to many in the university, but has also been accused of plagiarism.

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