Question of merit: Political pressure on KU to give activists 390 seats

Karachi UniversityKARACHI: For a number of years now, the admissions process at Karachi University (KU) has been tweaked to adjust to the demands of the student wings of political parties which operate on campus. This year too, was no different .

As the admissions committee officially concluded the process for its 5,000 seats for 2012, the vice chancellor, Dr Pirzada Qasim Raza Siddiqui, yet again, formed a four-member commission to address the ‘complaints and grievances’ of students from political parties that pressure the university into admitting their members.Pro-Vice Chancellor Dr Shahana Urooj Kazmi was put in charge of the commission and the director of admissions, Dr Khalid Iraqi, the dean of management sciences, Dr Abuzar Wajidi, and the student adviser, Dr Ansar Rizvi, were to assist her.

The commission was formed on January 4 and the admissions process officially concluded the next day. But the commission continues to receive lists of students that parties want to be admitted. By January 7, the list had the names of around 390 students.A senior university official told The Express Tribune that when KU refused to entertain the political admissions this year, student members of four political parties, the Imamia Students Organisation, Peoples Students Federation, Punjabi Students Association and All Gilgit Baltistan Students Organisation met the adviser, the two pro-vice chancellors and the vice chancellor to press them to comply with their demands.

However, the student wings of the two major political parties at the university, the All Pakistan Muttahida Students Organisation of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, and the Islami Jamiat-e-Tulaba (IJT) of the Jamaat-e-Islami, distanced themselves from the practice this year. This fact was confirmed by another official in the university administration, who also refused to be identified.Political admissions are a menace. Faculty are often threatened if they choose to stand their ground. But this year they are especially frightened and do not want to attract attention because of the murder of the student adviser of Sindh University, Dr Bashir Chanur. The professor was on his way back home when two armed motorcyclists shot him.

“Even the academia of Sindh University know that party members were behind the murder of Prof. Chanur, over an admissions dispute,” said an official. “As an administrative officer, I want to cooperate with the media but I have a family and personal life too. I fear my own security as well as for my family.”He said that the admissions process itself provides ample time and opportunity to students to submit their concerns via claim forms, after the initial merit list is released.

The admissions director, Dr Iraqi, said that the whole process had become a way for people to mint money. “When I became the director this year, I announced that there would be no admissions off the merit list and I kept my word,” he said. “But since now a commission has been set up for a review, I am ready to entertain all genuine complaints, provided that they are submitted in writing.”For his part Wajidi said that the committee had already reviewed genuine complaints. Around 31,000 students applied to KU this year. But only a handful submitted claim forms as compared to the past two years, said Dr Wajidi, which means that there were fewer mistakes in the admissions process.

The commission will meet again today to go over the suggestions and grievances of the admissions committee and the parties. – Thetribune

Political Party                                                       No. of seats
demanded
Imamia Students Organisation                           94

Peoples Student Federation                                   154

Punjabi Students Association                               61

All Gilgit Baltistan Students Organisation     81