By Ehsan Ullah Khan.
Quaid-e-Azam University, perched in the lap of the modest hills of the Margallas, counts among the premier varsities of our education-deprived country. The University has a knack for sitting atop the HEC University rankings in the general category and despite of meagre resources has delivered beyond expectations in terms of Academic Research. Research contributions from QAU constitute the largest chunk of Research Papers – more than any other University- submitted to the Higher Education Commission annually. Also, Quaid-E-Azam University has consistently produced capable people to occupy administrative top posts in the country and has innumerable contributions to the State Bureaucratic set up in terms of manpower.
But for the past six months, the situation at the University has deteriorated beyond belief, as it has hit frequent and prolonged snags. The circumstances almost exudes the notion that someone has cast an evil eye upon the varsity.
In October last year, academic activities came to a halt when Student councils of the varsity dug in their heels for an all-out strike demanding the reinstatement of rusticated students who were suspended and expelled as a consequence of a violent slugfest that took place between groups of Baloch and Sindhi students, back in May. The strike extended into November and was clumsily mishandled by the University Administration. Suffice to say, the situation was characterized more by the ineptcy of the Admin than by the obduracy of the protesting students.
Fortunately, that strike ended after the University Syndicate bowed down to the demands of the students and reinstated the rusticated students. Students made a return to their Lecture Rooms in the last days of the first half of November after losing an entire month supposed for Academics, but all’s well that at least ends.
In February this year, for the second time around, unexpectedly, the respected faculty association of the University suddenly realized that the presence of Vice-chancellor Dr Javed Ashraf at the helm of affairs was inauspicious for the University, and started to give notions of modicum disconcert by holding walks in the University with placards in their hands, calling for the resignation or removal of the Vice-chancellor. The Vice-chancellor in turn, instead of attending to the concerns of the Faculty Association, brushed them aside, which led the Association blokes to double down. To make their discontent more visible, Teachers started boycotting classes and the University known for its vibrant environment turned into a deserted tract of land.
That was during the start of the month of March. Now, weeks have passed since the boycott started, but the government high-ups are yet to take notice of the dismal state of affairs at the University. The situation has come to a dead end with the Vice-chancellor refusing to back down and the Staff association in no mood to cut him some slack.
Ironically, the protesting teachers, who were livid last year at the loss of time due to the students’ strike, are also showing no remorse this time when the situation is entangled with their own interests. Students are the only ones at the receiving end of this never-ending imbroglio as they wait for the resumption of classes with growing frustration.
The boycott of classes continues as I write, the fate of the Spring semester, which was supposed to start on 26th February, hangs in the balance and further uncertainty awaits the students in the coming weeks.
It is still to be seen whether the future of thousands of students matters enough to HEC and other governmental administrative organs to take notice of the miserable status quo at QAU.
The writer is a student of Economics at Quaid-e-Azam University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.