Military officer as a vice chancellor of a university: What is the message?

Dawn: September 29, 2006
Another army man as VC

THE appointment of a retired brigadier as the vice-chancellor of Bolan University by the Balochistan government is contrary to what FAPUASA and the HEC had expected. Barely a week ago, Dr Attaur Rahman, chairman of the Higher Education Commission, had assured a delegation of the Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association that no army person would now be appointed VC in any university. It is shocking that in total disregard of academic requirements, the governor of Balochistan has proceeded to break the rules to accommodate yet another retired military officer as VC. The prescribed procedure is pretty clear and straightforward. It calls for a ‘vice-chancellor search committee’ to be formed with the governor’s approval, followed by an announcement by the HEC for the position of vice-chancellor in all national dailies. The applicants are then short-listed and interviewed by the search committee after which it has to forward the names of three candidates for the chancellor’s (governor of the province) approval. The chancellor will then have the prerogative to select a person from amongst them or ask for fresh recommendations.

Obviously nothing of this sort has been done in this particular case. Thus Balochistan University becomes the third institution of higher education in the country in recent years to have an ex-army officer at the helm. Punjab University, the oldest university in the country with a proud tradition of learning, is headed by Lt Gen Arshad Mahmood who is not a PhD but just an MSc in War Studies and Defence and Strategic Studies (QAU). The Quaid-i-Azam University is also headed by a retired captain of the Pakistan army allegedly with a questionable degree. At this rate, Pakistan which has the dubious honour of having no university of world standing (to quote the HEC chairman) will do serious harm to the few institutions it has. At one time, the Balochistan University was headed by giants such as the venerable Prof Karrar Husain, the founding vice-chancellor. The HEC, headed by an academic, understands the negative implications of such appointments. In the case of Balochistan, a province suffering from the throes of a military crackdown, an army man at the head of its premier institution of learning has serious political implications as well. How will the HEC react?


Anonymous said…
The report is factually incorrect wherein it states that Quaid-i-Azam University is headed by a Retired Captain of Pakistan Army. The current VC of QAU is an academic who was earlier teaching at the Peshawar University and was picked by the search committee. The previous VC Mr Isani was indeed a retired Captain but he had left the army ages ago and had opted to join the civil service and in the course of his service in civil bureaucracy he served for many years in the HEC before being appointed as the VC. While there can be no disagreement with the fact that Universities should be run by Academics and not by military officers, Let us not mix up and distort the facts in order to prove a point.
Unknown said…
You are right, Mr. Isani is a respected and accomplished bureaucrat and he was not appointed VC because of his previous brief military experience. So his name shouldn't have been in the list. I have forwarded your comment to Mr. Hasan Askari Rizvi as well.

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