LAHORE - The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has taken serious exception to the controversial choice of a new vice-chancellor for Punjab University and called for a review of the decision.

HRCP has said: “The Punjab government’s unnecessary and harmful meddling in the selection of a new vice-chancellor for the Punjab University has resulted in a controversial choice that will make it impossible for the institution to function smoothly.

“The professor selected for this highly sensitive job is reported to have served at some point as head of the Islami Jamiat-i-Talaba (IJT)—the student body protected and indulged by dictatorial regimes to hold the university hostage through violence and ideological blackmail.

“The list of teachers hounded out of their posts and otherwise harried by the IJT is quite long. Still longer is the list of students beaten up and thrown by the roadside for having disagreed with the IJT.

“It may not be possible for the new VC to resist pressure from his former comrades. Even if he can strike a neutral posture, knowledge of his past will embolden the Jamiat to keep the campus on the boil and non-partisan faculty members and students under ceaseless threat.

The appropriate authorities must review the selection of a new head of the university.”

Further, HRCP has strong reservations about the process of selection of vice-chancellors of public sector universities—particularly about the hold the provincial government and its bureaucracy have over this process.

The Commission would like to call for a new and fair selection procedure.

It may also be time to appoint a high-powered, broad-based national commission to pull education out of the rut into which it has fallen.