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