Dear Madam Dr. Nilofer, VC Shah Abdul Latif University, Khairpur.
The Shah Latif University is not a privately-owned business venture. It is a public institution funded by the taxpayers of this country. Any endeavor to improve its performance, academically as well as administratively, falls squarely within the domain of public interest , and more so of the academia.
However, I have been aggrieved to hear that the SALU has issued a show-cause notice to Mr. Manzoor Isran, an academic of high repute and social commitment, for writing an article which is allegedly ‘highly defamatory’ and couched in ‘unparliamentary language’.
I have read the article and found it containing his sincere views on the dismal state of our academic affairs and the role of the executive. The article is by no means meant to ‘lower down the prestige of academic Institution’. In fact, one takes heart from the courage and sincerity of purpose that Mr. Israr has shown by drawing public attention to the most important sector of society, i.e., higher education.
His observations are based on the factual reports published time and again in the press. Moreover, no one has come forward to refute his assertions on the basis of facts and counterarguments. One wished that SALU had come clean in the public by producing the facts in refutation of Mr. Israr’s observations. Instead, a typical rear-guard action has been resorted to by the SALU and a threatening show-cause notice has been issued to strangulate his voice of conscience.
Furthermore, the show-cause notice issued by the SALU is without any legal or moral ground. The so-called E&D Rules are never pressed into action against academicians only because they have raised a voice against the institutional deterioration of which they are part and parcel, and hence share public condemnation and calumnies. The Rules are resorted to only when a ‘government employee’ is found to be involved in the ‘misconduct’.
A teacher of an autonomous university is not treated like any other government servant. A teacher’s calling demands freedom of thought and expression, a ‘search for truth’; whereas a government servant is bound by his oath to strictly ‘follow’ the governmental policies, unless they are against the law.
Likewise, in dealing with a teacher the definition of ‘misconduct’ is not interpreted in letter alone. Rather, the glorious convention of academic freedom, which is universally exercised by all the academicians who are living in the civilized societies, is given priority to the normative employemnt laws.
It goes without saying that the 1973 constitution, the UN Charter and the Charter of International Human Rights fully recognize and protect the ‘freedom of expression’ as well as the ‘right to dissent’ to the wrongdoings committed by the executive or an authority.
No wonder, all through the history academicians have formed a majority among the ‘refusniks’. Whether it is war or peace, dictatorship or democratic struggle, dogmatic curricula or suppression of academic freedom, they have always been in the vanguard of struggle.
It is due to this glorious tradition of ‘academic freedom’ that one finds hundreds of academicians daily defying the so-called ‘Rules’ to lend support to the voices raised against mal-governance, corruption and abuse of unchecked executive authority. Along with the well-known academicians such as Noam Chomsky, Edward Saeed and Dr. Hoodbhoy, one can also mention those 300 Israeli teachers who supported those Israeli citizens who refused to follow the fascist policies of Israeli state.
Mr. Israr has done no crime by listening to the voice of his conscience. He has dilated upon the observations of his fellow academician Dr. Hoodbhoy, who is also a university employee yet he has endeavored with a missionary zeal to salvage our educational system from such perennial threats as the obscurantist curricula, misdirected educational priorities, widespread financial and administrative abuses, and the appointments of VCs in blatant violation of the rules by accommodating unqualified persons who enjoy powerful institutional and political connections.
I hereby register my objections to the issuance of the show-cause in the strongest terms and demand its immediate withdrawal. It is a democratic era which demands across-the-board public scrutiny of all the public institutionss and more so of the educational sector which is faced with all-round deterioration and degradation.
I support the voice of Mr. Israr—-a voice which at no cost should be allowed to be smothered by the old dictatorial methods; or else no one would raise a voice against the wrongdoings committed in the universities or against the universities.
I appeal to all the teachers, civil society, conscientious objectors, refusniks, democrats, literati, intellectuals, politicians, judges and jurists, of this country and living abroad, to come forward and support the cause of freedom, education and good governance by supporting Mr. Israr.
A fellow teacher
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