SARGODHA-The Punjab Higher Education Department (PHED) has recommended the appointment of Dr Ilyas Tariq, a Chemistry Professor at Sargodha University, as acting Vice Chancellor of the recently established University of Mianwali (UoM), despite his proven involvement in moral turpitude, financial corruption and unlawful appointment.
The controversial summary, which lists Dr Tariq as top candidate and the Vice Chancellors of University of Gujrat and Government College University Faisalabad as alternate candidates, was prepared by the HED’s Universities wing and forwarded to the Chief Minister’s Secretariat last week for final approval of the Chancellor/Governor of the Punjab.
There have been serious charges of harassment of female staff and students, financial embezzlement and unlawful appointment against Dr. Tariq, which were established in separate inquiries in the past. As a result, he was removed from the position of Director Sub-Campus Mianwali of Sargodha University, which was recently chartered as University of Mianwali.
According to documents available with this scribe, Dr Tariq, while serving as Director UoS Mianwali Sub-Campus in 2015, was probed under “The Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act 2010” by the Harassment Committee of Sargodha University. Upon being proven guilty, the Committee recommended him to be “ineligible for any administrative duty/post for at least next three years” and to withdraw one increment from his salary.
These documents further reveal that another inquiry against Dr Tariq found him guilty of receiving kickbacks for granting various contracts at Mianwali Campus; illegal deduction of thousands of rupees from faculty salaries; double payments of dinners, receptions and party expenses from members of the faculty and staff and the University account; and embezzlement of hundred of liters of petrol and diesel from transportation services available for students, staff and the faculty.
Available evidence also pinpoints several irregularities in the appointment of Dr Tariq at Sargodha University. His initial appointment as Associate Professor was illegal, as he had served in the Punjab Fisheries and Irrigation Departments, with no academic experience before. His subsequent appointment as Professor was also illegal, as he was declared ineligible for this position by the Chairman Chemistry Department and Dean of Sciences for not fulfilling the HEC criteria, a fact that was concealed by the then Administration from the University Syndicate.
In the case of newly created universities, the office of the Chancellor/Governor of Punjab has so far followed the prescribed criteria of giving the additional charge of acting Vice Chancellor to regular Vice Chancellor of a public sector university located in the proximate region. This will be the first time that a controversial person, ranked junior to other professors at his parent institution, will be given with such responsible position of the university in its founding stage.
Reliable sources claim that HED officials, in collusion with Dr. Tariq, have managed the processing of this appointment summary by deliberately forwarding it for final approval from the office of the Chancellor/Governor of Punjab when Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar, the incumbent Chancellor/Governor of Punjab, was out of the country.
For Prime Minister Imran Khan, extending higher education facility to the deprived youth in his native constituency of Mianwali is a priority matter. This is apparent from the conversion of his dream project, the Namal Postgraduate College, into a degree awarding institute last year, as well as the recent establishment of University of Mianwali.
The HED had not yet received back the summary. However, academic circles are concerned that if the appointment of Dr Tariq has indeed been approved by the acting Governor/Chancellor Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, the Speaker of Punjab Assembly, this will render a huge blow to the ruling party’s claim of adhering to meritocracy and, that also, in the very constituency of the prime minister.
Dr Tariq’s initial appointment was illegal, as he had served in Fisheries and Irrigation depts