Committee passes resolution demanding NAB chief conduct probe into the matter
Slams media trial of teachers before prosecution
Following the anger that has gripped the academic circles after the unfortunate treatment of noted academicians at the hands of National Accountability Bureau officials over the weekend, vice chancellors of various leading universities got together on Monday to raise their unanimous voice against the incident.
The Vice Chancellors’ Committee meeting was held at the Higher Education Commission Secretariat on Monday, with the academics vociferously rapping the authorities for the treating the accused aged professors as hardened criminals.
The incident that has set shockwaves across academic and social circles involves the arrest of several leading academics and former vice chancellors by NAB last week and their subsequent production before an accountability judge. The arrested include former Punjab University vice chancellor Dr Mujahid Kamran, former Sargodha University vice chancellor Dr Akram Chaudhry and four former registrars of Punjab University.
NAB also arrested Sargodha University former registrar Brigadier (R) Rao Jamil Asghar, Lahore sub-campus CEO Mian Javed, Director Administration Muhammad Akram, Mandi Bahauddin sub-campus CEO Waris Nadeem and his partner Naeem Mukhtar.
That wasn’t surprising, as these very academics have been accused of various kinds of misappropriations, nepotism, abuse of power and other corrupt practices and had been facing investigations for a number of years now. But what really shocked the people after the whole scenario of arrests unfolded was the way they were presented before the judge in court. The former professors – some walking with the assistance of a walking cane – were handcuffed, with their feeble bodies secured with the help of heavy chains fastened firmly to the waist belt of a police jawan. Moreover, the accused were denied any form of privacy during their presentation, the result being that some lawyers thought it apt to score some additional points by resorting to sloganeering against the arrested academicians. There was no effort whatsoever from any NAB or police official to separate the accused from the rowdy crowd of people surrounding the professors.
Comparisons were quickly drawn about how former stalwarts of the noblest of noble professions were paraded in handcuffs for just being accused of certain irregularities, while other accused like SSP Rao Anwar and Model Ayyan Ali were offered high quality protocol during their hearings. The furore eventually reached the Supreme Court of Pakistan, with Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar taking suo motu notice of the treatment of former vice chancellors and reprimanding NAB chairman over the occurrence.
The treatment of senior members of the academia has both angered and saddened the teaching community. Protests were held in universities across the country against the treatment of the accused and faculty members attended classes wearing black armbands.
At the Vice Chancellors meeting held at HEC, committee Chairman Dr Masoom Yasinzai and over 65 other VCs who attended through video conferencing passed a resolution against the humiliation of Dr Mujahid Kamran, Dr Akram Chaudhary and five officers by NAB officials.
The resolution reads:
- We, the vice chancellors, condemn the maltreatment and public humiliation of respectable professors and teachers.
- We strongly condemn the media trial of teachers before prosecution or legal procedure
- We appreciate Supreme Court of Pakistan Chief Justice for suo moto notice. However, a mere apology is not sufficient in the face of humiliation suffered by senior academicians.
- We call upon National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman to conduct inquiry against the officials involved.
- We propose holding of a meeting between HEC chairman and NAB chairman along with a select group of vice chancellors to evolve procedures needed to be followed in such cases.
- We make a commitment to the nation that we will act with integrity to serve youth of the nation and will work to strengthen our internal systems so that all endeavours are transparent and beyond question.
- We support HEC and stand by it in its endeavours to enhance quality, access and relevance.
- Universities face multiple problems due to external interference. We urge the government to ensure university autonomy by stopping the external interference.