–PU VC resigns following CJP’s directives over shady land allocation to NTDC
–Taqi Zahid Butt likely to become acting VC as CJP calls for appointment of permanent VC at the earliest
LAHORE: The Punjab University (PU) on Saturday lost its second vice chancellor (VC) within a span of just four months, as acting VC Prof Dr Zakriya Zakar resigned from the coveted post following the orders of Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Mian Saqib Nisar over the issue of giving away of university land to the National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC).
The CJP also directed the Punjab government to immediately appoint the senior most professor of the varsity as acting VC while also directing the appointment of a permanent VC as soon as possible.
As per details, the Syndicate of the varsity to whom Dr Zakar was the chairman, during its 1725th meeting last month, had approved giving away 80 kanals of land to the NTDC in a bid to build a grid station. Following the approval, some senior faculty members of the university including the then president of Academic Staff Association (ASA) Javed Sami, ASA Secretary General Iftikhar Ahmad Tarar along with other office bearers of the ASA and former Syndicate member Samee Ozair Khan had moved an application to the CJP, asking him to take suo motu notice over the issue under Article 184 (3).
Speaking to Pakistan Today, former principal of the Punjab University Law College, Samee Ozair Khan, who himself argued before the court on Saturday against the giving away of land to NTDC, said that it was a landmark decision of the apex court for the betterment of the varsity.
“We have no personal enmity with Dr Zakar as we moved the application to the CJP to save the precious land of the varsity that is only meant for education purposes,” he said while adding that the teaching community had severe reservations over the land deal and they were left with no other option other than to approach the SC as they had exhausted all other available forums.
He apprised the CJP that Dr Zakar was at the 16th number in the list of varsity’s senior-most professors and therefore his appointment as VC should be cancelled. The CJP then ordered that Dr Zakar must be suspended as VC, but his lawyer Dr Khalid Ranjha requested the CJP to not suspend his client as he was ready to resign from the post.
Earlier, the CJP reprimanded the VC while asking him that who authorised him to sell the varsity’s land, to which the VC said the Syndicate had approved the land deal in its meeting with a majority held last month. The decision of the Syndicate was then suspended by the CJP, who admonished the Punjab government while asking that why the PU was being run on ad-hoc basis and the government was not appointing a permanent VC for the past two and a half years. It was then the CJP directed the authorities to appoint a permanent VC immediately.
It is pertinent to mention here that Dr Zafar Mueen Nasar tendered his resignation as VC in January 2018 while succumbing to the pressure of the government. The authorities had demanded the VC to allocate two kanals of the varsity land to a religious seminary near Chauburji, demolished to make way for the construction of the Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT).
DR TAQI ZAHID BUTT LIKELY TO BECOME ACTING VC:
Meanwhile, Prof Dr Taqi Zahid Butt is likely to take the acting charge of the varsity as he is the senior-most professor who for now is serving as the Faculty of Engineering and Technology Dean. Dr Butt has also served as an acting-VC several times and currently is associated with the Department of Metallurgy and Materials Engineering as a professor.
Meanwhile, the search committee for the appointment of permanent VC of PU has already been constituted. PITB Chairman Dr Umar Saif, Punjab Commission for Women Chairperson Dr Fauzia Waqar, Dr Zafar Iqbal Qureshi and Higher Education Department secretary are the members of the committee while industrialist Razak Dawood will work as the convener of the committee.
NOTICE OF TAUQIR SHAH’S APPOINTMENT TAKEN:
During the court proceedings on Saturday, CJP also took notice of Shehbaz Sharif’s former principal secretary Dr Syed Tauqir Shah as Pakistani’s Ambassador to World Trade Organization (WTO).
Dr Tauqir Shah has been summoned to appear before the Supreme Court.
The top judge also ordered that record pertaining to the appointment of Tauqeer Shah as Pakistani’s Ambassador to WTO should be submitted to the court.
During the court proceedings, CJP asked Khawaja Salman Rafique, who serves as Punjab minister for specialised healthcare and medical education, as to why his face has turned pale over the suo motu notice.
“We are told that we are interfering, now let’s see how transparent this appointment was,” the CJP added.
Tauqir Shah was reportedly removed from the post of CM Punjab’s principal secretary after the Model Town incident. Soon after, the federal government had approved his appointed as WTO ambassador.