Comsats University Rector Caught in Major New Controversy

Comsats University Islamabad (CUI) has found itself entangled in controversy as its university syndicate, led by an interim rector, has recently amended a clause in its statute.

The university has been operating under interim leadership since the resignation of Dr. Mohammad T. Afzal, with senior Dean Prof Dr. Sajid Qamar overseeing affairs until a permanent rector is appointed.

Favoritism in Hiring Faculty Members

Furthermore, the positions of registrar, treasurer, and controller are also being managed under interim arrangements. Amidst the turmoil, a group of faculty members has come forward with allegations of favoritism against the rector.

During a conversation with a local media outlet, they accused him of blatant violations of rules and ignoring merit. According to a faculty member, Dr. Sajid Qamar allegedly made alterations to the statute last month, particularly regarding the appointment of department heads, to favor certain faculty members.

Under the current rules, a Head of Department (HOD) is selected from three senior professors and an equal number of associate professors. However, faculty members stated that the syndicate changed this rule last month, expanding the pool to include the ten most senior professors, from whom one would be chosen as the HOD.

They alleged that this change was made to favor the rector’s preferred candidates. They added that Prof. Qamar’s responsibilities were limited to day-to-day affairs, suggesting that altering rules exceeded his authority.

The faculty members supported their claim by referencing a letter from the Establishment Division dated April 9, 2021, regarding the look-after charge. They stated that the University Senate held the authority to give financial and administrative powers, particularly in the case of a look-after rector, who was appointed by the chancellor.

The faculty members also claimed that Professor Waqas Masood, who was appointed as the head of the Physics Department on June 18, 2021, for a three-year term, was unlawfully replaced by a junior professor by the rector last year.

They asserted that when the issue was brought before the Islamabad High Court, the rector was compelled to overturn the appointment. However, instead of reinstating a senior professor, the rector appointed an associate professor as the new head in February this year.

Student Transfer and Harassment Cases

The faculty members further alleged that CUI, in violation of regulations, permitted the transfer of a student from the Department of Computer Science at the Wah campus to the same department at the Islamabad campus.

Moreover, they claimed that there were two harassment cases against a faculty member who had close ties to the look-after rector. While these cases were supposed to be decided by the university’s harassment committee, which was established in 2023 for a two-year term, both the convener and a committee member were suddenly removed last month.

They also accused the rector of employing a PhD student to teach courses originally assigned to him in the bachelor’s program of Physics. “Students filed a complaint against this violation of their rights with the HOD on Jan 13, 2024. Despite several reminders, their complaint has not been taken up,” they added.

Upper Management’s Response

General Manager of Rector Secretariat Naveed Ahmed Khan dismissed all allegations made by the group, asserting that the current rector made decisions per rules and regulations. He added that the rector possessed the full authority to manage the university’s affairs, just like previous interim rectors.

“He [rector] has authority to chair meeting of syndicate and take decisions in interest of the university,” he said. He claimed that it was the syndicate not the rector, who approved changes to to the statute related to appointment of HODs.

Moreover, he also described the transfer of students from Wah to Islamabad as legal.

In response to a question, he said that a selection committee proposed the appointment of the current registrar for a three-year term. However, the Senate did not approve it initially due to a certain issue, which was later resolved.

Meanwhile, the registrar’s three-year term has concluded, and his case will be referred to the Senate to determine whether he should continue or if a fresh advertisement should be initiated. Moreover, a regular rector will soon be appointed as a search committee is scheduled to commence interviews starting Monday.

“The treasurer was appointed in 2017 when it was Comsats Institute and the treasurer’s position was in grade OG-IV and the Act says no person will be lowered in rank after passing of the Act from parliament.”

He further mentioned that the change in the convener and a member of the harassment committee occurred due to delays in finalizing inquiries on their part.

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