LUMS cancels academic conference on Bangladesh
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LUMS cancels academic conference on Bangladesh

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LAHORE: The Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) and National Institute of Pakistan Studies (NIPS) Quaid-i-Azam University cancelled a planned online conference, drawing widespread criticism from intelligentsia and academics who condemned the shrinking atmosphere of academic debate in the country.

School of Humanities and Social Sciences, LUMS Professor, Ali Usman Qasmi, firstly announced, “The School of Humanities and Social Sciences,LUMS, in collaboration with the National Institute of Pakistan Studies (NIPS), Quaid-i-Azam University, is organizing an online conference to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Bangladesh War of Liberation.”

 

However, LUMS,  later, decided to cancel the online conference. National and international academics tweeted with hashtags #LUMS to express their opinion on event cancellation.

Political scientist Paul Staniland of University of Chicago commented on its official twitter handle, “Depressing to see reports that this was cancelled – a hugely important topic that obviously, unquestionably deserves sustained and intensive research, and an event with broad reach and accessibility.”

https://twitter.com/pstanpolitics/status/1373300492072275974

Internationally acclaimed writer Muhammad Hanif said, “Last time LUMS buckled, someone got killed.”

Twitter user and lawyer Basil Nabi Malik commented, “LUMS shouldn’t have cancelled.  One thing is for certain. Educational institutions also have a responsibility to stand their ground when in the right. Not doing so further takes away space to discuss and deliberate.”

Separately, Lecturer of politics and sociology Hassan Javid said, “In 2015, LUMS was forced to cancel a talk on missing people in Balochistan. Today, a conference in 1971 was cancelled… for similar reasons. Court jesters in the media like EH decry the lack of freedom in India and then happily hammer another nail in its coffin in Pakistan.”

https://twitter.com/HassanJavid_/status/1373299036589936644

Reportedly, the official twitter account of LUMS has not posted any tweet on the matter. However, in an email, the concerned department of varsity maintained that conference has been cancelled over unavoidable circumstances.

Academic Tania Saeed said, “While this conference has been cancelled because there is no academic freedom in this country, I hope for those interested, you will still look up these speakers and read their work. Think about why you are not allowed to have these conversations. Solidarity with Ali Usman Qasmi.”

https://twitter.com/taniasaeed/status/1373311953767165954

Activist and academic Amar Ali Jan said, “Sad to see how difficult it is to discuss Bangladesh 50 years after the tragic events of 1971. One can imagine how difficult it was for those who spoke up against atrocities at the time. Respect to all those who continue to speak truth in front of a paranoid state.”

 

DAWN former editor Abbas Nasir said, “Utterly unacceptable for a university to cancel a soul searching event about the 1971 tragedy because of unwarranted criticism. We frequently and systematically stifle debate and then ask how we got to being such an intolerant society. Quite shameful, if you ask me.”

 

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