Save FATA University from withering away
A separate University was established in 2013, specifically, for former FATA to carry forward the noble mission of exploring and expanding vistas of higher education by equipping the long neglected tribal students with the brilliant ornament of contemporary disciplines of knowledge by providing an excellent environment for learning and research. It was envisioned to provide a sound platform of spreading knowledge to the nook and corner of tribal areas, where the talented youth was persistently deprived from this valuable treasure.
The very sublime objective received a setback, when Mr. Tahir Shah took the reign of the University’s Vice Chancellor (VC) in 2015. He began to follow the mantra of old fashion steps, like a true follower of Bacon’s Philosophy, “Ends justify the means,” which halted the growth of this institution in the nascent phase. The flower of FATA University started withering its petals, before it could bloom.
FATA University was all along run on adhoc basis to undermine its intended utility, which could have accrued in the long run. Higher Education Commission, a federal government constitutional body, gave one year probationary recognition to this university to enable the Vice Chancellor to fulfill the mandatory requirements for permanent recognition in the shape of hiring professionally competent regular faculty and administrative officers and staff. Ironically, he did the opposite. Surprisingly, all seven departments of the university have no associate professors and full professors. Does it not defeating the mission for which FATA University had been set up by its founders? Academic, administrative and financial crisis were created by VC, whose term of office has expired in January, to portray himself indispensible. In the past few months these crises were pushed to the crescendo, while illegally clinging to the chair and stopping disbursement of salaries to faculty and staff in addition to halting construction work in the campus. This is a calculated move to secure four years extension for the second, which is not allowed under the provisions of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa Model University Act 2016.
Unfortunately, a chronic culture of nepotism and gross violation of merit is all pervading. A retired government employee, Anwar Khwaja was hired in violation of Supreme Court Order of 2012, which prohibits appointment of “Retirees” who stands retired at the age of superannuation. The verdict had been given by the Apex Court in suo motu case No.24 of 2010. Apparently, Mr. Khwaja is advisor to the VC but in practice he is functioning as Registrar of the University in violation of rules that pertain to the appointment and functions of Registrar. Likewise, another illegal appointment was made, while inducting a retired audit officer of Accountant General Office in the accounts department. The purposes behind this appointment seems to conceal the financial irregularities that may surface during the process of post audit of university’s expenditure, which is periodically conducted by the audit party of Accountant General Khyber Pukhtunkhwa.
Another glaring example of nepotism is the induction of Mr. Asad Jan a BS-17 officer of Center of Excellence in Geology of University of Peshawar in finance branch of FATA Univesity. He was initially accommodated as Deputy Director Finance in Bs.18 and later catapulted to the slot of Director Finance in BS.19. The blue eyed guy has managed backdoor entry for his brother Asif Jan by manipulating his appointment as PA to VC. The gentleman is in charge of all staff.
Faculty and staff of the university are not getting their monthly salaries from April and onwards. The matter has been brought to the notice of provincial government in a meeting of faculty members with Secretary Higher Education Department and holding a press conference in Peshawar Press Club as hope of last resort but positive response is yet to come. The lack of appropriate action by the decision makers runs contrary to the immense desire of Prime Minister Imran Khan for promoting knowledge economy and at the same time negates the claim of ruling political leadership of the province of imparting quality education to the youth. Let us hope that Chief Minister will look into the matter to address the burning issues of FATA University.