KHALID MALIK

LAHORE - In a country like Pakistan where education department is already striving hard with meagrely resources, the Punjab University’s administration is ruthlessly misusing public funds and distributing incentive awards among its blue-eyed tutors just to oblige them.

Every year, the university holds a meeting of University’s Incentive Award Committee on Research and Publication in order to give some monetary benefits with certificates as incentives to academic staff viewing their services and good performance so that they could be encouraged and improve their performance.

But TheNation has learnt that the committee, in mutual understanding with the administration, set an example of funds misappropriation the previous month by announcing ‘Incentive Award on Research publication for the year 2013’ for some of their fair-haired teachers.

Had it been a matter of petty nature, it would have been simply ignored. But, shockingly, millions are involved here; Rs60m nearly. About 200 academic staffers had applied for the Incentive Award on Research and Publication; out of which about 170 teachers were given such award.

During a meeting last October, just before the date and schedule of Academic Staff Association (ASA) annual elections were announced, two names, Zeshan Yousaf and Zaemul Haq Bhatti, were also finalised for the Award among these 170 candidates. The committee also recommended cash money of Rs120,000 and Rs90,000 respectively for both of them along with certificates. Later, the scrutiny committee issued final official award granting orders under letter No D/6954/1st-1 issued on December 31, 2014.

Absurdly, both of these tutors started their career as lecturers of Mathematics Department of Punjab University on May 14, 2014 under appointment letter No T-525/HR issued dated 14-5-2014.

Now, the critics inside the varsity raise two objections. “While both teachers were being recruited in 2014, how could the Treasury Department release award amount for the performance of year 2013?” their first question stands valid.

They view it as a deal based on nepotism, nurtured by the committee members, including Convener Prof Dr Muhammad Akhtar, Prof Zakriya Zakir, Prof Musarat Abid, Prof Dr Shazia Noreen Qureshi, Prof Shahid Munir, Associate Prof Muhammad Rafiq and Prof Rao Tahir Rafiq, who sanctioned these two candidates.

The critics also argue why is that such incentive awards were being given to the teachers, although every year, just before ASA’s annual elections. Their analysis puts the whole process of awarding tutors in jeopardy, as it is possible there may be more than two candidates ‘blessed monetarily’ by the administration.

“Such a big amount has been distributed among the teachers just for obliging them instead of using such amount for any noble cause or promotion of university,” an insider commented.

However, they said that the whole case of alleged misappropriation was exposed by the Treasure Section of the varsity when the head of the section refused to release such amount of ‘cash award’ announced by the PU committee. He disobeyed the orders of the administration, which is authorised to send recommendations of the concerned departments, while raising the objection about illogical and, at the same, illegal step of the administration persistent to award for the performance of 2013 to both of the lecturers recruited in 2014.

They further alleged that the administration’s actual objectives of distributing such cash prizes in the name of ‘Incentive Awards’ among the teachers was to get the support and votes for their favourite groups and candidates contesting for ASA elections.

“Besides, giving Incentive Awards, the University admin also have other ways to oblige the teachers by giving them scholarships, research grants, Performance Evaluation Award and many others for gaining support of teachers,” they added.