Governor Sarwar Assures Justice To GCU Professor Fired For Encouraging Critical Thinking
Lahore: Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar has said that Government College University (GCU) Political Science teacher Zaighum Abbas, who was fired for being too ‘political’ can approach him if he feels wronged.
During the governor’s meeting with a delegation of University of the Punjab led by Dr Waqar Chaudhry, he was asked about the matter. In response to the question, Chaudhry Sarwar, who is also the Chancellor of the GCU, said that he would look into the case, and make sure that no irregularity or injustice is being done to the teacher.
“If the vice chancellor has fired him [Zaighum] on flimsy grounds, he should approach the university’s syndicate to overturn GCU administration’s decision. If the syndicate decides against him, then he can approach me whenever he wants regarding the termination of his contract,” he said.
“In the past, I have nullified many decisions of different public universities based on merit. I, being a chancellor of the province, don’t tolerate favoritism, gender discrimination, or any sort of injustice in the universities; I expect same from all the vice chancellors performing their duties in universities of Punjab,” the governor added.
Zaighum Abbas, when contacted, said that he welcomed Chaudhry Sarwar’s remarks on his case, while claiming that “I cannot approach GCU’s syndicate as university’s administration has not even bothered to provide me the written letter of my contract termination to date.” He said that Head of Department (HOD) Political Science Dr. Khalid Manzoor Butt informed him ‘verbally’ that the university cannot continue his contract as he was being ‘political’ and promoting critical thinking among the students.
“HOD told me that Vice Chancellor GCU Dr. Asghar Zaidi has asked him to not renew my contract as I was holding study circles in campus, and encouraging the students to think critically. Dr Asghar also told HOD to not name him, neither in verbal nor written orders of contract termination.” The fired teacher said.
Digital media outlet The Current reported on Thursday, that GCU’s administration has denied Zaighum’s allegations that the university’s administration has fired him for being ‘political’. They quoted an official of GCU as saying, “Contractual appointments are subject to workload and classes, as determined by the head of the department. Currently, the workload at the political science department is complete. However, Zaighum is welcome to apply for a regular appointment at GCU whenever a post is advertised.”
When asked about GCU’s clarification, Zaighum termed it ‘ridiculous’ and ‘baseless’. He said, the university’s administration assigned him a new course to teach in last month. “How can they terminate my contract, a month after offering me a new course?” the political science teacher asked.
“Right-wing bodies have reclaimed their influence in GCU, they force students to participate in their events and sessions. I also think there is a close link between religious hardliners and university’s decision to termination my contract,” he said.
He further revealed that in July last year, a seat for permanent lecturer at Political Science department was advertised, and he applied for it and stood first in the selected candidates list. “But when the then GCU’s administration found my name at top of the list, they did not even conduct the interviews, and that seat is still vacant to date,” Zaighum Abbas said.
The writer is a student of Masters in Development Journalism at University of the Punjab and can be reached on Twitter @jazibrehmankhan.