ISLAMABAD: Despite an overnight announcement by the capital’s administration of reaching a breakthrough in negotiations with protesting students and of re-opening of the Quaid-i-Azam University on Friday morning, academic activities remained suspended at the varsity for the seventeenth day.
As the deadlock persists between the Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) administration and protesting students, uncertainty remains whether the varsity will open on Monday.
Varsity syndicate meets
After much was made about it by the QAU vice chancellor, the university’s syndicate held an emergency meeting on Friday.
QAU Vice-Chancellor Dr Javed Ashraf, in the ongoing dispute with the 42 students who had either been expelled or rusticated for their part in on-campus violence between two ethnic student groups in May, had maintained that only the syndicate — which had ratified a decision by the university discipline committee — can undo the rustications and expulsions.
However, during its meeting on Friday, the syndicate moved to withdraw the fee hike demanded by students but, crucially, it did not undo the punishments awarded to those 42 students, at least for now.
Rather, The Express Tribune understands, the syndicate was deeply divided over the matter.
Some members of the syndicate backed the university’s disciplinary committee’s decision to punish students involved in violent clashes.
The syndicate, instead, has constituted a three-member committee which will review the process adopted by the UDC while handing out the punishments and will submit its report within two weeks.
A member of the university’s syndicate confirmed to The Express Tribune that a hike in the fees had been withdrawn and a committee constituted to review the punishments.
“There are governance issues in the university, particularly in the hostels … but some of the disciplinary violations, reportedly committed by some students, are also very serious,” he said while requesting not to be named.
The syndicate member regretted that affairs at QAU had deteriorated to such a level.
“Hostel (life) is a crucial stage in a student’s life where he or she starts taking control of their lives and make their own decisions … it is unfortunate that there are governance issues in the QAU hostels,” he added.
Strike to continue
The protesting students, meanwhile, have said that they will continue their strike until all of their demands, including restoration of their rusticated fellows, are met.
“We have not called off the strike. The syndicate meeting had no representation from the students, neither were our views heard,” a student leader said.
The university has been closed since October 4, and there is no word from the QAU management about when it will reopen.
Though senior police and ICT administration officials had announced on Thursday night that talks had been successful and that the varsity will reopen on Friday, the deadlock between the students and the university management persists with no end in sight.
While the administrative offices of the varsity opened on Friday, no classes were held as buses for students did not run.
“The ICT administration officials, during their talks with the media had announced to open the university, but it was their own decision. The university has not announced anything yet,” a QAU administration official said.
QAU Vice-Chancellor Dr Javed Ashraf did not respond to a request for comments.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 21st, 2017.