The University of Balochistan scandal has rocked the country. It is unimaginable and unthinkable that some of the officials of the university are involved in harassment of the students. But in such depressing moments, the vice-chancellor (VC) Dr Javed Iqbal of the varsity has taken the right step by stepping down from his office. Dr Javed stepped down from responsibilities to avoid conflict of interest and ensure the provision of an environment where the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) can carry out a fair investigation into the scandal. The FIA is busy in probing the university officials and recording their statements. However, the FIA team has not asked for any alleged victim in this regard. The failure of FIA to hear to the accounts of the alleged victims is the real surprise.

The university could have averted the scandal had the varsity officials acted according to a circular the Balochistan ombudsperson’s office had issued in July this year. But such orders and circulars are rarely, if ever, acted upon in Pakistan, in general, and in Balochistan, in particular. Nonetheless, certain questions need to be asked. Is stepping down of the VC just another stunt? Whether stepping down of the VC, a welcome step indeed, will really help the investigative team to conduct the case fairly? Is FIA deliberately ignoring the existence of the alleged victims of the harassment? It seems that the investigative body is not giving any value to the revelations of the victims, which otherwise will prove enormously helpful in bringing the real culprit to the surface.

It is a common knowledge that in any successful investigation, the first rule is to follow a clue or lead from the victims. But in the present case, FIA is working ignoring this rule. As a result, it will become challenging to catch the real culprits. But the issue must not be swept under the carpet. The responsible ones must pay for their crimes. The scandal once again highlights the need for empowering the students. Empowering students is necessary to stop such abuses in future. Unfortunately, the surfacing of the scandal will have negative ramifications on the females, in particular, many of who fight hard for getting permission for completing higher studies. It is shameful that the educational institutions in the country are not safe for women. If the most liberating places, i.e., universities violate the dignity of women, then there is no place left where women can feel empowered and protected.