In Pakistani educational institutions, appointments are more often than not the object of suspicious attention; quite often, an
appointment at the higher level implies more at lower level, forming a kind of chain.
While almost every appointment in a government department seems to involve favoritism, some are striking enough to arouse concern, even nasty rumors. One such recent appointment was that of Dr. Noor Jehan as the Vice Chancellor of Islamia College University (ICU) in Peshawar. The news on SOP reported the rumors of Dr. Jehan’s affair with a provincial minister that had been posted on a Facebook group’s page and predicted her appointment as the VC of ICU well before it surfaced as an official announcement. The Facebook group expressed disappointment over the favoritism that let a junior professor be seated as head of an institution which already had more senior and deserving academic staff eligible for the same post.
With Dr. Jehan’s appointment, which she regarded as fair and based on merit in an interview with the Express Tribune, now her office has made an appointment that has created a voice of concern among the faculty of the institution. The paper reports that the Principal of ICU was relieved of her responsibility at the principal’s office on August 27 – just a month after Dr. Jehan took charge as the VC of ICU. Dr. Madiha Asghar was removed from her office as principal and limited to her previous role as head of the Psychology Department. The principal’s office has been assigned to Naseem Rehana instead and the orders were issued with “immediate effect”.
The university’s teaching staff body has reportedly two main reservations over this replacement of Dr. Asghar. First, Dr. Asghar is said to be have been very competent and deserving of her now ex position as principal. She ran the institution so well as to make it the top-ranking college in the province twice in a row. Secondly, the new appointee Naseem Rehana is a retired lady who has served at Jinnah College for Women and legally is not eligible for serving as principal at ICU. As Dr. Asghar says she “condemns” the move but is unable to comment on it, Dr. Jehan justifies her replacement saying she needed to be relieved of her additional duties as the principal.
It is understandable why Dr. Asghar or anyone else won’t raise a strong voice of protest or go to the court against the decision. In such cases, the head of the institution has the ultimate authority and those going against him/her face administrative action as there is no accountability against the institution’s highest authority, particularly when their appointment is known, by evidence or hearsay, to be a product of favoritism at the highest political level. This is an issue of great concern for all involved in the education process since education is not personal property but a public right with people having the final say –people not sitting in government offices but those who know the inside of an institution and have the true capacity of judgment.