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Why did Punjab Government force VC Punjab University to resign?

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Punjab University Vice Chancellor (VC) Dr. Zafar Mueen Nasar resigned on Friday, apparently over a seminary land issue. He submitted his resignation after being pressured by the Punjab Government, sources said. It all started when the Punjab Government demanded the Punjab University to hand over two kanals of land over the construction of a mosque and a seminary.

Dr. Zafar along with several groups of teachers and students protested against the attempted land grab. Punjab Government took the land of a mosque/seminary near Chauburji, Lahore. The government signed an agreement to reconstruct the mosque/seminary at a different location.

The grounds of an educational institute should only be used for educational purposes; they must not be involved in politics. If the rights of students are subjugated, it will create a deep resentment in them about the government and the state.

Two kanals of PU land were chosen for the reconstruction of the mosque/seminary but the faculty of PU responded severely and put up resistance against the land grab, stating that the ground, which the government is demanding, has historical significance for the Punjab University.

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The government has acquired more than 33 kanals of Punjab University land in the past decade but they faculty never showed any resistance. Why now? What’s the significance of this particular piece of land that the Punjab University doesn’t want to forfeit? These questions arise in the mind of every individual who is following up on this issue. If the faculty never showed resistance in the past then why is it so reluctant to part ways with this land?

Yesterday, Punjab Government’s spokesperson Malik Ahmad Khan and Punjab University’s former VC Dr. Zafar Mueen Nasar were present at Dunya channel’s talk show, Tonight with Moeed Pirzada. Dr. Zafar argued the land has a huge historical significance. The founder of Pakistan, Quaid-e-Azam, once gave a speech on that ground. It has also been used for many international and national hockey matches.

This could be a move to gain the favor of some well needed religiopolitical allies. Political parties should not forget that schools, colleges and universities are the places where the future of a nation is made and molded.

He also asserted that he offered the government an alternate ground for the construction of the seminary but they refused, insisting that they want those particular 2 kanals. In response, the government’s spokesperson Malik Ahmad Khan stated that no such request for an alternate land was made and they’d have easily accepted it. He also expressed his ignorance of the VC’s stance, stating that he never made a formal request of his reservations and resigned abruptly.

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The VC defended himself by saying, ‘I didn’t make a formal complain because there wasn’t ample time, and I had limited options’. He also argued that the decision was made before he assumed his position in December 2016. Khan ended the discussion by exclaiming that the decision belongs to the PU syndicate. It will be presented as an agenda in the next syndicate meeting and they are free to reject it.

Dr. Zafar argued the land has a huge historical significance. The founder of Pakistan, Quaid-e-Azam, once gave a speech on that ground. It has also been used for many international and national hockey matches.

He denied the allegations that the government was pressurizing PU faculty, expressing that they were an autonomous body, capable of taking their own decisions. The questions that arise from this whole scenario are that, what’s the name of the religious seminary? Whom does it belong to? Why is the Punjab government so adamant on obtaining this particular piece of land? Is there any religious party that is backing the seminary? So far, the media has been unable to find the answer to these questions. Right now, both the PTI and the PML-N are trying to gain favor from religious parties for the upcoming Chakwal by-elections and the 2018 general elections.

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This could be a move to gain the favor of some well needed religiopolitical allies. Political parties should not forget that schools, colleges and universities are the places where the future of a nation is made and molded. The grounds of an educational institute should only be used for educational purposes; they must not be involved in politics. If the rights of students are subjugated, it will create a deep resentment in them about the government and the state. Permanent damage should not be done for temporary political gains.

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