Will the Anti-Corruption Establishment of Punjab be allowed to take action against the VC of GCU Dr Asghar Zaidi?

DND Thought CenterWill the Anti-Corruption Establishment of Punjab be allowed to take action against...

Lahore, Pakistan: Finally, the Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) of Punjab has initiated an inquiry against Government College Lahore University (GCU) Vice Chancellor Dr. Asghar Zaidi although several applications kept pending against him in Higher Education Commission, Islamabad since September 2022.

Finally, the Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) of Punjab has initiated an inquiry against Government College Lahore University (GCU) Vice Chancellor Dr. Asghar Zaidi although several applications kept pending against him in Higher Education Commission, Islamabad since September 2022
Finally, the Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) of Punjab has initiated an inquiry against Government College Lahore University (GCU) Vice Chancellor Dr. Asghar Zaidi although several applications kept pending against him in Higher Education Commission, Islamabad since September 2022

Known as a member of a powerful group of Musharraf’s era former federal minister Atta-ur-Rahman, Dr. Asghar Zaidi is considered as “untouchable (too powerful to be touched) and like former prime minister Imran Khan beyond any law of the land.

   

On September 27, 2022, the Government College University (GCU) invited former prime minister Imran Khan who in his speech not only targeted his political opponents especially PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz and students sitting at the historic Oval Green lawns of the GC raised objectionable slogans against Pakistan Army and narrative of Neutral are animals was strongly pitched in the Oval ground.

Now ACE Punjab has started an inquiry against him but sources claim that ACE is under tremendous pressure from different powerful grids and only time would tell what would happen, and would Dr Asghar Zaidi be taken to task for using GCU for his political motives?

He had been too close to the former prime minister that he established its subsidiary at Kala Shah Kaku Campus under the title of “Shazli Center”, a concept the former First Lady wanted to spread in Pakistan. Unconfirmed reports claim that the same Shazli Center arranged over 20 students for the so-called Al-Qadir University Sohawa of Imran Khan.

Imran Khan’s speech was unprecedented because GCU had no history of allowing its platform for political activism and slogans against the Pakistan Army were an exceptional event in the 150 years history of Government College. However, no action was ever taken against him by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan due to his alleged relations with former federal minister Atta-ur-Rahman who, who according to HEC circles has exceptional influence within HEC.

It is claimed by circles of GCU circles that former prime minister Imran Khan directed VC Asghar Zaidi to name the journalism department after the name of late anchorperson Arshad Sharif and VC immediately announced his decision immediately without taking approval from the Syndicate of the University that journalism would be promoted at the Arshad Sharif School of Journalism will be set up in a new building will after he name of Arshad Sharif. The former prime minister Imran Khan appreciated the announcement made by Dr. Zaidi, advising him to prepare guidelines for the restoration of student unions in Punjab. The former prime minister said the future of nations belonged to the students studying at universities and, therefore, “we should take every possible step to educate them on the campuses”.

Dr Asghar Zaidi, GCU, Government College Lahore, PTI, Imran Khan, Szali Center, Kala Shah Kaku campus of GCU
Will the Anti-Corruption Establishment of Punjab be allowed to take action against the VC of GCU Dr Asghar Zaidi?

Several old Ravians (former students of GCU) raised their serious concerns over such blatant use of the GCU platform for PTI’s political interests and a number of applications were moved to the Governor of Punjab (who is Chancellor of the University), Higher Education Commission, the Prime Minister of Pakistan and Anti-Corruption Establishment of Punjab. However, no action was taken against Dr. Zaidi due to his strong connections within the country and abroad. The allegations raised in these applications include the following points:

  • Concealment/misrepresentation of facts as an applicant for the post of vice-chancellor, GC University, Lahore
  • Illegal construction of VC residence without approval from the Syndicate
  • Stoppage of research/renovation funding of academic departments due to the construction of VC house
  • Unlawful use of the University premises/campus to film TV commercial advertisements
  • Film making & Screening of a movie (commercial activities) in the University: The Last Follower- A Harry Potter fan film.
  • Deliberate splitting of financial bills to avoid/evade taxes and due process
  • Demolition of old & historic GCU mosque without the syndicate approval
  • Forcing the faculty/staff and students to give donations for the construction of the mosque
  • Collections of Donations through the placement of cash boxes within the university premises
  • Cessation of Centre of Excellence China Studies which was an initiative of the then Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif and the Republic of China Government
  • Illegal removal of Chairpersons/Directors/Heads of the Departments without seeking due approval from the Syndicate and promoting favoritism to fill these seats.
  • Tactical delays in the regular appointment of the Registrar, Controller of Examinations, and Treasurer
  • Misuse of Authority to constitute statuary bodies/ standing committees without the approval of the Syndicate in violation of GCU Ordinance
  • Harassment of senior faculty members and threatening behavior
  • Implementation of unjust admission policy for intermediate without approval from Syndicate
  • Illegalities and irregularities during the appointments of senior positions
  • Misrepresenting/manipulating minutes of the syndicate meetings
  • Academic corruption
  • Establishment of illegal Vice Chancellor secretariat
  • Illegalities and cheating in case of admission forms- cast issue
  • An alarmingly sharp decline in the university ranking (National & International)
  • Politicizing GCU by inviting politicians to University and brainwashing the students for a particular party

The details are provided as follows:

Asghar Zaidi applied for the post of Vice Chancellor in 2019, and in his application, he concealed and misrepresented some crucial facts to ensure his selection as Vice Chancellor of GC University, Lahore. Some of them are given below:

  • Zaidi obscured that he also held citizenship other than Pakistani
  • Zaidi never had work experience in any administrative position.
  • Zaidi did not have sufficient teaching experience as Professor.

The appointment of Dr. Zaidi at GCU had significant to the fate of this prestigious institution. Pertinent to mention that the information provided by Dr. A. Zaidi was of considerable importance in his selection. Indeed, other deserving candidates might have been aggrieved due to his act.

  • Illegal construction of VC residence without approval from the Syndicate

The former Vice Chancellor, Prof. Dr. H. A. Shah, inaugurated a newly built Daycare Center during his last days in GCU and handed it over to the convener of, Daycare Centre, Ms. Iram Suhail. Upon taking charge of VC GCU, Prof. Dr. Asghar Zaidi dictatorially started using the Daycare Centre as a VC house and practically abolished Daycare. Later, he ordered the hostel superintendent to vacate his house and decided to convert it to a VC house without the approval of the Syndicate. Having realized that he would remain unaccountable to anything and considering him ABOVE THE LAW, he ordered removing all the newly installed fixings from the kitchen and bathrooms; expensive materials were used for the renovation, including tiles and new cupboards. This change costs about 15 Lacs, which was spent without any approval within two weeks. This activity was a total waste of Public money and remained a dispute between the contractor and GCU as the spending couldn’t be justified by any means.

This wastage of Public money didn’t stop there, and after occupying the Daycare and the superintendent’s house, he used to buy all household equipment from the Guest house funds. No one knows from which head of the GCU this money was spent.

To justify his actions, he notified the 1st floor of the Daycare Centre as VVIP Guest Rooms, but the same notification has never been publicized.

The Misuse of authority did not stop there. After spending millions to make the daycare center livable for himself as per his desires, Mr. Zaidi took over the residence of the superintendent of Quaid e Azam hostel and declared it VC house and again for its renovation sanctioned Rs. 15 million without the approval of the competent authority, i.e., the syndicate GCU. The renovation contract was given to his close associate, who is handing in gloves with Mr. Zaidi in looting the public money, as is evident from the fact that the renovation cost started from 15 million and now ended up with a final billing of approximately 50 million. All done without the consent of the Syndicate GCU.

  • Stoppage of research/renovation funding of academic departments due to the construction of VC house

Lavish spending on the VC house drained the University’s financial resources, and the students were deprived of basic needs and facilities. Research facilities, chemicals, and other essential items, such as chairs, fans, markers, etc., remained unavailable in many departments.

  • Illegal use of the University premises/campus to film TV commercial advertisements

The premises of GCU was given to an advertising company to film the advertisement for a beauty cream, FAIR & LOVELY, AND SUNSILK, frequently shown on TV channels. Appropriate record is missing, including permission from the relevant authority, financial transaction details with the company, and the audit.

  • Film making & Screening of movie (commercial activities) in the University: The Last Follower- A Harry Potter fan film

In December 2021, in collaboration with Khayali Productions (a private group), the movie The Last Follower: A Potter Film was filmed. Some money was generated via the tickets of Rs. 500/- per head. There are strong suspicions of financial corruption in this context. Not only that, Mr. Zaidi engaged the services of Khayali production for making videos for social media for self-projection, and too at the expense of public money, he has involved the Khayali production owner as legal advisor GCU.

  • Deliberate splitting of financial bills to avoid/evade taxes and due process

The vice chancellor has directed all the chairpersons/Directors of the academic departments to purchase the items from their pockets or donations and then submit their bills to the Treasurer’s office. It means that each department will purchase an item that another department requests, but the bills for the same item will be processed separately by avoiding the usual process (PEPRA rules).

  • Demolition of old & historic GCU mosque without the syndicate approval

As per principle, no alteration/damage can be done to any property/building of the University without prior approval of the Syndicate. Dr. Zaidi ordered the demolition of the old historic mosque erected decades earlier. Syndicate minutes should be examined for this purpose.

  • Forcing the faculty/staff and students to give donations for the construction of a mosque

Asghar Zaidi announced the building of the new mosque (again without the Syndicate’s approval) and initiated a fundraising campaign. In these connections, VC Zaidi orders all the heads of departments to collect the funds from the students and teachers. The HODs were strictly ordered to raise the maximum amount for this purpose. In the classrooms, teachers were forced to raise funds, and the teaching activity of the students was compromised. Also, no record of the funds is available, and there has been no audit. Students continued shouting that classrooms are deficient in the facilities, and they are forced to submit funds for the mosque. Dr. Zaidi snubbed such voices violently and blocked many students on social media. Hence, it becomes a problematic situation.

  • Collections of Donations through the placement of cash boxes within the university premises

Many donation boxes have been installed at different places within GCU in the name of the mosque construction. There is no record of the amount deposited in these boxes, nor is there any clear-cut record of where this amount goes.

  • Cessation of Centre of Excellence China Studies (CECS)

Center of Excellence China Studies was initiated and funded by then Chief Minister Punjab Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif. The library, language lab, and Chinese teachers were sponsored by the Chinese Consulate of Lahore. Being chairman of the Executive Committee of the CECS, he did not convene its meeting for about three years. More than 30 million rupees are still lying in the account. If the Chinese Government came to know about the closure of the center they had sponsored, it could be a serious diplomatic embarrassment for Pakistan.

  • Illegal removal of Chairpersons/Directors/Heads of the Departments without seeking due approval from the Syndicate and promoting favoritism to fill these seats.

Since joining as VC, Dr. Asghar Zaidi has failed to administer the University, especially its academic departments. He ordered the removal of HODs of several academic departments from time to time and replaced them with their juniors, violating the merit spirit. All these replacements were biased and clear examples of favoritism. These actions were illegitimate and violated section 21 of the GCU ordinance 2002.

  • Tactical delays in the regular appointment of the Registrar, Controller of Examinations, and Treasurer

Since joining as VC, Dr. Asghar Zaidi has failed to administer the University, especially its academic departments. He ordered the removal of HODs of several academic departments from time to time and replaced them with their juniors, violating the merit spirit. All these replacements were biased and clear examples of favoritism. These actions were illegitimate and violated GCU’s first statutes section 3(2), which states: “The Chairperson of a Teaching Department/Director of an Institute shall be appointed by the Syndicate on the recommendation of the Vice Chancellor from amongst the three senior most Professors of the Department/Institute for a period of three years and shall be eligible for re-appointment”. Even if the Syndicate delegates its authority to the Vice Chancellor, the VC cannot remove a chairperson/director till the completion of the ordered tenure without any show cause of any proven allegation.

  • Misuse of Authority to constitute statuary bodies/ standing committees without the approval of the Syndicate in violation of GCU Ordinance

VC Dr. Zaidi routinely constitutes numerous committees and bodies where he oversteps his statuary powers. Usually, the underlying intentions of VC are to select committee members and constitute the committees in this kingly way either to target some senior faculty members or to provide immunity to some of his blue-eyed individuals. This culture of favoritism has flourished through such illegal actions.

GCU ordinance 2002 section 21 (xx) states, “Powers and duties of the Syndicate: appoint members to the various Authorities, Committees, and Bodies in a prescribed manner”;

and section 25, which states: ‘Appointment of Committees by Authorities.– Any Authority may, from time to time, constitute such standing, special or advisory committees as it may deem fit, and appoint to such committees persons who are not its members.

Hence, VC has developed a habit of overstepping the powers rendered to him.VC Dr. Zaidi routinely constitutes numerous committees and bodies where he oversteps his statuary powers. This violates GCU ordinance 2002 section 21 (xx) and section 25. He also promotes favoritism through such actions.

  • Harassment of senior faculty members

Since 2019, on several occasions, there have been incidences when VC Dr. Zaidi harassed and threatened senior faculty members and warned them to face serious consequences. In many instances, he has exerted serious damage to many of them. Several such complaints have been submitted to the Chancellor’s office. At one point, an inquiry was initiated against him but was later withdrawn; reportedly, Dr. Zaidi used his political influence to stop disciplinary actions against him. Complaints were made to the Chancellor’s office and the office of the Chief Minister.

Dr. Zaidi has intentionally stopped the salary of several faculty members and other staff members. He also blackmails the staff by self-constructed allegations and initiates inquiries against several staff members. Syndicate minutes should be referred to.

  • Implementation of unjust admission policy for intermediate without approval from Syndicate

In 2021, a new policy was announced for the admission of intermediate students at GCU, Lahore, in which a written SUBJECTIVE TYPE TEST was set as a prerequisite for admission. No such example had existed before this within Punjab or elsewhere for Intermediate admissions. Interestingly, the policy was implemented prior to the approval by any statutory body. In the Punjab Assembly, a motion was moved. A standing committee has been constituted to probe this matter, and the committee members showed serious concern. Putting a deaf ear to the concerns of the public and Government, the policy of admission tests at the intermediate level still exists, defying all government directions and orders.

  • Illegalities and irregularities during the appointments of senior positions

VC has appointed several of his favorite individuals to higher positions where he has completely ignored the rules and regulations. In many instances, the syndicate members have criticized and suggested Dr. Zaidi hold the appointments till a fair probe of these candidates. But VC gave no weightage to their comments and dictatorially appointed his favorites.

Mr. Usman was selected as Director of Purchase in 2021, he had a history of disciplinary violations at GCU. Another example: Dr. Hafiz Muhammad Tahir, who has been working as the Additional Registrar (confidential) and was directly involved in the management of the selection and who had a history of plagiarism in a journal, was selected, violating all the rules and regulations. Two appeals were filed in the Syndicate. Despite the fact that syndicate members showed reservations, VC ordered the selection of Dr. Tahir as Professor. This is a clear violation of GCU ordinance section 6(4), which states: “No member who is a candidate for the post to which appointment is to be made shall take part in the proceedings of the Board”.

Recently, a proforma was developed secretly to shortlist and select the candidates for faculty positions. This is a clear violation of the guidelines laid down by HEC. Additionally, there is no provision for such proforma in the GCU ordinance. It is important to note that all the universities of Pakistan follow HEC guidelines in their selection procedure. Hence, Dr. Zaidi has set an example of corruption by manipulating the selection procedure to ensure the selection of his favorite candidates. This injustice and corruption have hit many deserving candidates. An aggrieved candidate, Dr. Sajid Javed (a candidate of Associate Professor of Urdu), challenged this system and appealed to the Syndicate, and he was not given a chance for a personal hearing, and his application was set aside. Similarly, many Assistant Professors from Zoology Department kept requesting the VC, but he snubbed the teachers, and these teachers were also conveyed about the severe consequences if they argued any more.

  • Misrepresenting/manipulating minutes of the syndicate meetings

In the past three years, there have been several occasions when Dr. Zaidi disregarded the advice from honorable syndicate members. Many of these members complained about the manipulations of the minutes of the syndicate meeting and the misrepresentation of many important issues. Reportedly, many syndicate members also apprised the same to the former Chancellor and then secretary, HED. But VC paid no heed to this matter. The minutes of the Syndicate meetings need to be examined.

  • Academic Corruption

Under the VC-ship of Dr. Zaidi, many degree programs which had been halted were being run, and the degrees awarded to the students had no legal worth. This is an example of academic fraud to the public and students.

Some new departments have been launched just to favor a few courtiers, whereas there were almost no students admitted.

Some academic programs are not catered to at GCU, but the affiliation of the same has been granted to some institutions to please some politicians and gain political benefits.

  • Establishment of illegal Vice Chancellor secretariat

In the GCU ordinance, there is no provision for the Vice Chancellor secretariat because, by law, it is the duty of the Registrar’s office to provide administrative assistance to VC.

  • Illegalities and cheating in case of admission forms- Cast Issue

Recently, VC ordered to the addition of a clause in the admission form of the students concerning the cast to which the students belonged. Upon criticism by various social circles, he tried to defend his actions, but later, he lied that the same had been added before his VC ship.

As per the record available, Dr. Zaidi misstated and lied to all the authorities to save his skin.

Unfortunately, a man of this character is heading a prestigious educational institution carrying a historical background.

  • An alarmingly sharp decline in the university ranking (National & International)

According to a recent report (2021), issued by the Quality Enhancement Cell (QEC) of the Higher Education Commission Pakistan, GC University Lahore has been placed among the universities of the public sector whose performance is unsatisfactory and deteriorated. The same is the case in the “TIMES HIGHER” World Universities Ranking for the years 2020 and year 2021, which shows that GC University performed poorly and got a decline in ranking and was held in the category of 400+, the lowest band of performance. Furthermore, the QS World Ranking year 2021 also reflects the similar position of GC University, Lahore, where it slides down from 800+ to 1200+; again, it is the lowest band of a university’s performance.

  • Politicizing GCU by inviting politicians to the university and brainwashing the students for a particular party

In pursuit of personal political gains, Dr. Zaidi has been habitual in inviting political leaders and mediating an event where brainwashing of the students was done to tilt their minds to a certain side. Recently such actions were noticed by the authorities, but no solid action was not initiated to counter this situation which gives Dr. Zaidi latitude to cruise toward political gains.

Now ACE Punjab has started an inquiry against him but sources claim that ACE is under tremendous pressure from different powerful grids and only time would tell what would happen, and would Dr Asghar Zaidi be taken to task for using GCU for his political motives?

 

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