Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Karachi University faculty marches on with Balochistan talk despite admin’s opposition - Support Pakistani peoples struggle for democracy

KARACHI: Although the gates of Karachi University’s Arts auditorium were sealed off by the administration, a scheduled session on ‘Baloch Missing persons and the Role of State and Society’ was held on university premises on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, KU refused to let faculty members use the Arts auditorium to host the seminar, saying seminars related to sensitive issues were not allowed at university premises. Ahead of the session, Rangers and Police thoroughly scanned cars, not allowing outsiders inside the university. “No outsiders were allowed today and the people attending the session were brought in professor’s cars,” campus security adviser Dr Muhammad Zubair told The Express Tribune. Regarding the attendance of Baloch activist Mama Qadeer, Zubair said, “Mama Qadeer did not enter the building this morning.” “He may have been hiding here from last night, we are trying to investigate,” the campus security adviser added.

The organiser, Dr Riaz Ahmed, a professor at the Department of Applied Chemistry, gathered people in the arts lobby, where he said he appreciated their resolve for standing up to raise their voices against the “brutal killings of Baloch”.’ “We are taking Sabeen’s vision forward,” he said, dedicating the talk to her. “She gave up her life for unsilencing the voice of Baloch missing persons,” Dr Riaz added. The crowd included students from KU as well as Institute of Business Administration, NED University and civil society representatives. This, Riaz said, “is a sign that we are not afraid.”

“The administration is weak, which is why they have closed these doors today,” the professor said, pointing towards the Arts auditorium’s locked gate. “After seeing this huge crowd, the administration should be ashamed and should open up doors for healthy discussions and talks,” he urged.

On April 30, the university registrar sent a letter to the organiser, Dr Riaz Ahmed, who is a faculty member of the department of applied chemistry. He conveyed the administration’s decision, saying that the “request cannot be acceded by the competent authority under the prevailing circumstances”. On Tuesday, another letter was sent to Dr Ahmed, reminding him that “organisation of seminars related to sensitive issues was not allowed in the university premises as per policy”.

For his part, Dr Ahmed told The Express Tribune that the seminar would in fact take place at the scheduled time and venue. “From what I can gather from my sources, none of the security agencies have asked to cancel the seminar,” he reasoned. “It is only the KU administration that is stopping us.” Further, students and faculty of the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) issued a statement on Tuesday criticising the Karachi University’s decision to cancel a talk, titled Baloch Missing Persons and The Role of State and Society.

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