Islamabad -  The display of an Israeli stall at Model United Nations held by some International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI) students was purely for academic purpose and if involvement of any foreign element is found after thorough investigation, the students may be expelled.

IIUI Rector Masoom Yasinzai said this on Monday while talking to The Nation. He said, “An initial probe has identified five students from different faculties who set up the stall but it was purely for academic purpose and students were actively participating in the Model United Nations, as they get marks for such presentations. The idea was just to counter arguments raised by the students representing Palestinians.”

Earlier, a three-day event was organised by the Faculty of Management Sciences (female) at Faisal Mosque Campus on Friday. But it was cancelled due to uproar from the students affiliated with Islami Jamiat Talba (IJT) and some diplomatic community representatives and right wing politicians. The students at the event tried to showcase the culture of Israel that has not been recognised at the state level and though it was for academic learning, the event stirred controversy and prompted action from the university authorities.

An initial probe committee heard the students and concerned officials on Sunday and recommended to suspend three officials and the decision was implemented on Monday. The university issued three months suspension notification of female students’ advisor Tasneem Fatima, Faculty of Management Sciences Dean Bashir Khan and a research associate Afsheen Jalil. Bashir Khan has been removed from deanship forever and another director female campus whose services were extended after retirement has been terminated also. As the faculty and immediate administration were supposed to be vigilant and they failed to do so, action was taken against them, maintained the rector.  “But so far no action has been recommended against the students as they are in the middle of their semesters. And if found innocent after thorough investigation, it would be injustice to them to take severe action against them before a thorough investigation.”

A new committee has been formed headed by the rector himself and it includes university vice president, Higher Education Commission executive director and Federal Shariat Court judge Justice Fida Hussain. The committee will probe the matter thoroughly. Officials claim that the teaching faculty knew the representation of the Israel stall but it was not in the knowledge of senior university management.

About the outcry on the event, the rector said such events were held in other varsities too but since it was a government sector institute and the administration cannot go against the identity of IIUI, the issue has been created. Dr Yasinzai stated that the university worked under OIC charter and it would not allow any such happenings that hurt the feelings of brother Muslim countries.

Model United Nations (MUN) is an educational activity in which students learn about diplomacy, international relations, and the United Nations. The MUN involves and teaches research, public speaking, debating, and writing skills, in addition to critical thinking, teamwork, and leadership abilities.

However, the students of IJT on Monday continued protest against the representation of Israel at the Model United Nations event. They rallied inside the campus and demanded expulsion of all responsible for holding the stall. “It was a test case to check the support in favour of Israel. But we would not let this happen. We will force the administration to uncover the elements behind this act,” said Osama Tahir, one of the protesting students.