KARACHI: University teachers failed to initiate any protest on Saturday, either at the national level or across the province, at the expiry of their 15-day ultimatum that they had given to the government following the murder of Karachi University teacher Dr Syed Waheed-ur-Rehman.
Better known by his pen name Yasir Rizvi, Prof Rehman was working as an assistant professor at the KU mass communication department. His murder, the second of a KU teacher in eight months by gunmen, on April 29 had provoked a strong reaction from teachers and classes were suspended at all universities in the province the following day.
Later, the national and provincial leadership of public sector university teachers held a press conference at the KU campus and demanded that the government set up a judicial commission to investigate Dr Rehman’s murder, arrest the killers and provide Rs50 million compensation to the victim’s family. Otherwise, they had announced, the university teachers would suspend academic activities across the country for an indefinite period.
Unfortunately, the government has not fulfilled any of teachers’ demand; nor the judicial commission has been set up for investigation into the murder while the killers of Dr Rehman are still at large as the police are said to have made no progress in the case.
Government indifference could be gauged from the fact it has paid a single rupee in compensation neither to the victim family of Prof Shakeel Auj, who was murdered in Sept last year, nor to that of Dr Rehman. The KU teachers, however, had announced at the press conference that the government would soon release a Rs30 million cheque for Dr Auj’s family.
Replying to a question about the 15-day ultimatum, Prof Naimatullah Leghari, president of the Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association, said: “Teachers are in the process of holding a meeting with the chief minister on the issue. A meeting was scheduled last Tuesday, but the chief minister had to leave as he was called by the prime minister for a meeting,” he explained.
The Safoora bus attack tragedy, he said, had also dampened teachers’ efforts and now a meeting was expected on the coming Monday.
“President Mamnoon Hussain during a recent visit to a university in Karachi had asked university teachers to give some time to the government and we are doing this, but our commitment hasn’t changed and we can go on a protest if we felt that the government is dilly-dallying and not serious in pursuing the matter,” he said.
Expressing similar views, president of the Karachi University Teachers Society Prof Jamil Hasan Kazmi said: “Officials at Chief Minister House have said that teachers’ concerns and demands would be looked into. So, we are looking forward to Monday’s meeting.”
Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2015