New role: Dr Zakria Zakar to take charge as acting VC of PU today

LAHORE:08 January:Dr Zakria Zakar, who has been serving as the Dean of Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences and Director of the Institute of Social and Cultural Studies (ISCS) at the Punjab University, will take charge as the acting vice chancellor of the Punjab University on Monday (today). A notification in this regard is expected to be issued by the Punjab Higher Education Department (HED). According to sources of the HED, Dr Zakar was selected because he was one of the three shortlisted candidates for the position of VC for the Punjab University in 2015. The official said that the decision had been made and the department would soon issue a notification to this effect. When contacted, Punjab Higher Education Minister Syed Raza Ali Gillani confirmed the appointment of Dr Zakar for the Punjab University. Dr Zakar is being appointed to the position after provisional vice chancellor Dr Zafar Mueen Nasar resigned from the position recently. His resignation came after claims of government’s pressure to hand over land of the varsity as well as allegations on Dr Nasar for financial and administrative irregularities during his tenure. Dr Nasar contended that he had been under immense pressure by the Punjab government to give two kanals of land of the Punjab University to the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F). The government had asked for the land to build a mosque which was going to be demolished due to the Orange Line Metro Train project. On the other hand, Gillani had written to the chief minister of Punjab to probe the alleged irregularities by Dr Zafar and his use of chancellor’s powers without approval. In the 26-point charge-sheet, the minister recommended that the Chief Minister’s Inspection Team (CMIT) investigate the irregularities and asked for the removal of the provisional vice chancellor in the meantime. The Punjab government has been unable to finalise the appointment of a permanent VC at the Punjab University since 2015. A case, in the Lahore High Court (LHC), contesting the legal authority over the appointment of the VC, as well as appointing Dr Nasar as provisional vice chancellor until a decision was made. The case ended in favour of the Punjab government and the LHC, in April 2017, gave the Punjab government a go-ahead to appoint vice chancellors in public universities in the province. The court also told the government to appoint a vice chancellor from among the three names finalised by the vice chancellors’ search committee earlier. Among the proposed names were former vice chancellor Dr Mujhaid Kamran, Dr Zafar Mueen Nasar and Dr Zakria Zakar. However, the Punjab government decided to re-advertise the post after revamping the rules for the appointment of vice chancellors and the search committees. The Punjab government has since made little progress to appoint permanent vice chancellors and is in the process of finalising the procedures for the appointments. Dr Zakar is the recipient of the Presidential Pride of Performance in 2015 and also received the Best University Teacher Award for 2012-13 by the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC). Published in The Express Tribune, January 8th, 2018.

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