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Citizen Voices Education

Noam Chomsky Signs an Open Letter By Pakistani Academics On Increased Repression On University Campuses

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As faculty members and teachers, we are extremely concerned about the events that have taken place over the last few days at universities across Pakistan, which signal a closure of intellectual space within the country. Between April 12th and 13th four separate but related instances of repression took place on university campuses in different parts of the country.

In the first instance, an event entitled ‘Ethnic Rights, New Social Movements, and the State of the Federation in Pakistan,’ which was supposed to be held at Habib University in Karachi on April 13th was forcibly cancelled only an hour before the event was due to be held after a visit from state functionaries. This event was intended as a teach-in and panel discussion in which various new social movements emerging across the country would be analyzed and discussed by experts from the field. Not only was the event abruptly cancelled, one of the guest speakers was forced off campus by the university security despite the fact that it was the university that had invited him in the first place.

In the second instance, an event that was planned to be held at the Lahore University of Management Sciences, also on April 13th, which was a commemoration of the student who was brutally murdered by a mob one year ago at Abdul Wali Khan University, Mashal Khan, was also forcibly cancelled on the same day the event was due to be held. This event was planned in order for students to come together and mourn the loss of a fellow student who dedicated his short life to raising his voice in the struggle for peace and justice.

In the third instance, a colleague who was working as an Assistant Professor at Punjab University in the Department of Sociology, Dr. Ammar Ali Jan, was suddenly fired with no official reason given by the university administration. Dr. Jan, who received his PhD from Cambridge University, had been working tirelessly alongside students since July 2017 despite not having received any pay in order to promote the idea of non-violence and critical thinking. His abrupt dismissal was both disrespectful and humiliating and raises serious concerns about the treatment of faculty members at all universities.

Finally, in the fourth instance, faculty and administration at Gomal University in DI Khan were paid a visit by state functionaries and questioned about the content of their courses. The faculty and administration were given a warning to not teach subjects that would encourage critical thinking amongst the students. This direct intervention on a university campus by state authorities, which is an attempt to stifle critical thought and hamper learning, is extremely troubling to say the least.

All four events are part of a wider trend that stifles critical thinking and discussion on university campuses. As faculty members, we believe the university must be a space where faculty and students are free to share ideas and engage in thoughtful analysis of pressing social issues without experiencing fear or intimidation. The function of the university is to foster an atmosphere in which ideas are respectfully shared and rigorous research and analysis is encouraged. It is only through open discussion and debate that our most pressing social and political problems will be properly understood and diagnosed. The future of our country rests on how well we train our students as thinkers and analysts. It is for these reasons that the events of recent days are so troubling. As faculty members we strongly condemn the intimidation and repression taking place in universities at the moment, and we urge the relevant authorities to take action against those responsible and to ensure that our universities remain free from outside interference in the future.

Signed by the following faculty members and academics:

  1. Nida Kirmani, Associate Professor, Lahore University of Management Sciences
  2. Sarah Suhail, Visiting Faculty, Lahore School of Economics
  3. Hassan Javid, Assistant Professor, Lahore University of Management Sciences
  4. Anushay Malik, Assistant Professor, Lahore University of Management Sciences
  5. Faiza Mushtaq, Assistant Professor, IBA Karachi
  6. Arsalan Khan, Assistant Professor, Union College
  7. Hammal Aslam, Assistant Professor, BUITEMS, Quetta
  8. Tania Saeed, Assistant Professor, Lahore University of Management Sciences
  9. Afiya Zia, Sessional Lecturer, University of Toronto, Canada.
  10. Sanaa Alimia, Research Fellow, Leibniz Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin; Visiting and Associated Faculty, University of Peshawar
  11. Amen Jaffer, Assistant Professor, LUMS
  12. Adnan Khan, Assistant professor, Lahore University of Management Sciences
  13. Mahvish Ahmad, PhD Candidate, Cambridge University
  14. Iftikhar Dadi, Associate Professor, Cornell University
  15. Gwendolyn Kirk, Associate Lecturer, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  16. Ali Raza, Assistant Professor, Lahore University of Management Sciences
  17. Imdad Hussain, Assistant Professor, Forman Christian College University, Lahore
  18. Omar Kasmani, Post-doctoral Research Associate, Free University of Berlin, Germany
  19. Babar A. Qureshi, Visiting Faculty, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  20. Aimen Bucha, Lecturer, Beaconhouse National University
  21. Waqas H. Butt, PhD Candidate, University of California, San Diego, USA
  22. Sarah Eleazar, visiting faculty, Beaconhouse National University, Lahore
  23. Shayan Rajani, PhD Candidate, Tufts University
  24. Qalandar Bux Memon, Assistant Professor, Forman Christian College, Lahore
  25. Ameem Lutfi, Global Studies Fellow, Duke University.
  26. Tabitha Spence, Teaching and Research Fellow, Lahore School of Economics
  27. Muhammad Azeem, Assistant Professor, LUMS
  28. Sara Shroff, PhD. Candidate, New School
  29. Noaman G. Ali, PhD Candidate, University of Toronto
  30. Shozab Raza, PhD Candidate, University of Toronto
  31. Alia Amirali, Lecturer, Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad
  32. Tooba Syed, Lecturer, Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad
  33. Amina Jamal, Associate Professor, Ryerson University, Toronto
  34. Barbara Heron, Professor, York University, Toronto
  35. Shehnoor Khurram, PhD candidate, York University, Toronto, Canada.
  36. Marvi Shaikh,  lecturer, University of Sindh, Jamshoro.
  37. Shafqat Ali Kadri, Associate professor, University of Sindh, Jamshoro
  38. Dr Taimur Rahman, Assistant Professor, LUMS
  39. Sadaf Aziz, Assistant Professor, LUMS
  40. Elleni Zeleke, Assistant Professor, Whitman College
  41. Azzah Ahmed, PhD Candidate, University of California, Los Angeles, USA
  42. Alissa Trotz, Associate Professor, University of Toronto
  43. Hafeez Jamali, Assistant Professor, Habib University
  44. Riaz Ahmed, Associate Professor and Chair Applied Chemistry, Karachi University
  45. Fawad Khan, Adjunct Faculty at the National Academy of Performing Arts, Karachi
  46. Ayyaz Mallick, Visiting Researcher, Habib University
  47. Nosheen Ali,  Assistant Professor,  AKU-IED
  48. Shahana Rajani, Visiting Faculty, IBA Karachi
  49. Nadir Cheema, SOAS London University & Bloomsbury Pakistan
  50. Tayyaba Jiwani, PhD Candidate, University of Toronto
  51. Zahra Malkani, Lecturer, Habib University
  52. Ayaz Qureshi, Lecturer, University of Edinburgh
  53. Abdul Aijaz, GC University, Lahore
  54. Nausheen H Anwar, Associate Professor City & Regional Planning, SSLA, IBA
  55. Fahd Ali, Assistant Professor, Habib University
  56. Ali Usman Qasmi, Associate Professor, History, Lahore University of Management Sciences
  57. Nousheen Zaidi, Associate Professor, Punjab University.
  58. Noman Baig, Assistant Professor, Habib University
  59. Zainab Moulvi, Lecturer, Beaconhouse National University
  60. Raheem ul Haque, Research Fellow, FC College
  61. Aasim Sajjad, Associate Professor, Quaid-i-Azam University
  62. Khurram Husain, Visiting Faculty, Habib University
  63. Noam Chomsky, Professor Emeritus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  64. Amar Sindhu, Lecturer, University of Sindh, Jamshoro
  65. Marvi Shaikh, Lecturer, University of Sindh, Jamshoro
  66. Shafqat Ali Kadri, Assistant Professor, University of Sindh, Jamshoro
  67. Navtej Purewal, Reader, SOAS University of London
  68. Shan Aman-Rana, PhD student, London School of Economics.
  69. Hiba Akbar, Lecturer, University of Management and Technology, Lahore.
  70. Hajra Cheema, Lecturer, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Lahore
  71. Kamil Ahsan, PhD Candidate, University of Chicago
  72. Kristin Plys, Assistant Professor, University of Toronto
  73. Aima Yusaf, Assistant Professor, Lahore College for Women University
  74. Emad Ansari, Assistant Professor, Lahore University of Management Sciences
  75. Faiz Younas, Lecturer, Punjab University, Lahore
  76. Maryam Wasif Khan, Assistant Professor, Lahore University of Management Sciences
  77. Seerat Fatima, MPhil Scholar, Trinity College Dublin
  78. Kai Hebel, Assistant Professor, Leiden University, Leiden/Netherlands
  79. Haya Fatima Iqbal, Visiting Faculty, Habib University
  80. Rahma Muhammad Mian, Lecturer, Habib University
  81. Gulnaz Anjum, Assistant Professor, Institute of Business Administration, Karachi
  82. Sameen Ali, Teaching Fellow, Lahore University of Management Sciences
  83. Azhar Imran, Lecturer, Forman Christian College University and Visiting Faculty, PU.
  84. Dr. Jody L. Kerchner, Professor of Music Education, Oberlin College & Conservatory of Music.
  85. Shama Dossa, Associate Professor,  Habib University
  86. Aima Khosa, visiting faculty, Beaconhouse National University
  87. Amelie Blom, Adjunct Faculty, Sciences Po, INALCO, Paris
  88. Nudrat Kamal, Lecturer, Habib University
  89. Shabana Nisar, Visiting Research Scholar, Harvard University, USA
  90. Sardar Hussain, Lecturer in Philosophy, Punjab Higher Education Deptt.
  91. Maughn Gregory, Professor of Educational Foundations, Montclair State University
  92. Virinder Kalra, Professor of Sociology, University of Warwick
  93. Khola Cheema, Senior Lecturer in History, University of Lahore.
  94. Neelam Hussain Asst Prof (rtc) English Literature, Kinnaird College Lahore
  95. Gulraiz Khan, Lecturer, Habib University Karachi
  96. Bilal Tanweer, Assistant Professor, Lahore University of Management Sciences
  97. Kaveri Qureshi, Research Associate, Oxford University
  98. Alexis Saba, Associate Instructor, PhD Candidate, Indiana University
  99. Richard Sandbrook, Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto
  100. Gregory Albo, Associate Professor, York University
  101. Nighat Dad, Affiliate, Berkman Klien Centre of Internet and Society, Harvard University
  102. Chris Moffat, Lecturer in History, Queen Mary University of London
  103. Aisha  Ahmad, Adjunct Faculty LUMS, PhD Candidate University of Oxford
  104. Abdullah Qureshi, Doctoral Candidate, Aalto University
  105. Aftab Alam, Assistant Professor, University of Delhi
  106. Anindya Raychaudhuri, Lecturer in English, University of St Andrews
  107. Umair Bilal, Lecturer, Habib University
  108. Sobia Ahmad Kaker, Lecturer in Sociology, Goldsmiths, University of London
  109. Ziaullah Hamdard, Lecturer, Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan
  110. Areesha Banglani, Visiting Faculty, IBA, Karachi
  111. Ramsha Ashraf, Faculty Foundation University, Rawalpindi, Pakistan
  112. Sarwat Viqar, Faculty, Department of Humanities, John Abbott College, Canada
  113. Faizullah Jan, Associate Professor, University of Peshawar
  114. Rosita Armytage, Research Fellow, Durham University
  115. Emma Varley, Associate Professor, Brandon University
  116. Saadia Toor, Associate Professor, City University of New York
  117. Nauman Naqvi, Assistant Professor, Habib University
  118. Salman Haider, Lecturer, Fatima Jinnah Women’s University
  119. Sara Humayun, Assistant Professor, Habib University
  120. Kiran Ahmed, Assistant Professor, Quaid-i-Azam University
  121. Sohail Bawani, Senior Instructor, Agha Khan University
  122. Alyzay Sultan, Teaching Fellow, Lahore University of Management Sciences
  123. Salman Hussain, Doctoral Student, University of Michigan
  124. Bérénice Guyot-Réchard, Lecturer, King’s College, London
  125. Rishad Mahmood, Visiting Faculty, Institute of Business Management, Karachi
  126. Sara Baig, Associate Lecturer, Fatima Jinnah Women University
  127. Cara Cilano, Professor and Chair, Michigan State University
  128. Noor Habib, Teaching Associate, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  129. Furrukh Khan, Associate Professor, Lahore University of Management Sciences
  130. Raza Rumi, Visiting Faculty, Cornell Institute for Public Affairs
  131. Zafar Ullah, Assistant Professor, BUITEMS, Quetta
  132. Tabinda Khan, Postdoctoral Fellow, Lahore University of Management Sciences
  133. Sara Haq, Doctoral Candidate, University of Maryland
  134. HM Naqvi, Visiting Professor, Lahore University of Management Sciences
  135. Aftab Nasir, PhD Scholar, Bonn University/Visiting Lecturer, Forman Christian College
  136. Zoha Waseem, PhD candidate, King’s College, London
  137. Yasser Kureshi, PhD candidate, Brandeis University
  138. Paul Rollier, Associate Professor, University of Oslo
  139. Akmal Khan Kakar, Lecturer, BUITEMS, Quetta
  140. Nida Wahid, Associate Faculty, Center of Biomedical Ethics and Culture, SIUT, Karachi
  141. Hashim Kaleem, Teaching Fellow, Lahore University of Management Sciences
  142. Maham Javaid, Teaching Fellow, Lahore University of Management Sciences
  143. Rubina Jasani, Lecturer, University of Manchester
  144. Sara Mahmood, Senior Research Analyst, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Singapore
  145. Musa Jadoon, Assistant Professor, COMSATS Institute of Information and Technology
  146. Rabia Malik, Post-Doctoral Researcher, NYU Abu Dhabi
  147. Irfan Khan, Assistant Professor, Lahore University of Management Sciences
  148. Abira Ashfaq, Faculty, Szabist Law School
  149. Fazal Rizvi, Visiting Lecturer, Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture
  150. Maryam Siddiq, Research Associate, Heriot Watt University, UK
  151. Anwar Ali Arqam, Visiting Faculty, Habib University
  152. Sidra Kamran, PhD Candidate, The New School, New York
  153. Andaleeb Rizvi, Visiting Faculty, University of Karachi
  154. Junaid Babar Lecturer at NIPS, Quaid-i-Azam University
  155. Mariam Durrani, Assistant Professor, Hamilton College
  156. Kyla Pasha, PhD Candidate, Arizona State University
  157. Abeer Pervaiz, PhD Researcher, Free University of Bolzano, Italy
  158. Sadia Bajwa, Doctoral Candidate, Humboldt University, Berlin
  159. Naimatullah Hashmi, Professor, PMAS Arid Agriculture University
  160. Syed Rashid Ali, Associate Professor, PMAS Arid Agriculture University
  161. Tara Weinberg, Doctoral Student, University of Michigan
  162. Umair Javed, PhD Candidate, London School of Economics
  163. Ali Nobil Ahmad, Fellow, Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin
  164. Palvashay Sethi, Lecturer, IBA, Karachi
  165. Nasir Ahmad, Associate Professor, UET, Peshawar
  166. Ammar Rashid, Visiting Faculty, Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad
  167. Naseeba Umar, Visiting Faculty, Forman Christian College, Lahore
  168. Abdoumaliq Simone, Research Professor, Max Planck Institute, Gottingen
  169. Madiha Tahir, PhD Candidate, Columbia University, New York
  170. Asma Abbas, Associate Professor, Bard College at Simon’s Rock
  171. Ali Sajjad, Lecturer, IPE Roots IVY Flagship Campus, Faisalabad


  1. Rasheed Khalid April 20, 2018

    Even worst dictator Gen Zia did not do this. Authorities are stifling the academic freedom and acting like Gustapo and Mossad. A bad omen for Pakistan.
    Would that I had been a signatory!

  2. Mohammad saeed May 5, 2018

    It’s totally unlawful, unacceptable and ridiculous. Nothing can take Pakistan out of circular problems but the kind of critical thinking stressed here. I’m thankful to academics for initiating this civilized protest.

  3. Parvez April 13, 2019

    These petitions are good but the voice of obscurantists shall always remain over bearing.


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