Academics from world top varsities voice concern at malicious campaign against two PU teachers

In a letter, over 60 noted professors and researchers have urged the Punjab university admin, provincial authorities to ensure protection of life to Dr Ammar Ali Jan and Islam Wazir

STAFF REPORT

ISLAMABAD

Prominent professors, researchers, teachers and students of leading universities of the world and Pakistan have expressed concern at the “malicious” campaign launched against two faculty members of the Punjab University by the university administration and Islami Jamiat Tulaba, (IJT) a right-wing extremist student organization affiliated with Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), a radical Islamist party.

The PU administration on its Facebook page accused Dr Ammar Ali Jan and Islam Wazir, one of his colleagues of “spreading violence and ethnic tensions on campus”.

In a letter addressed to the Punjab University Vice-Chancellor and the Punjab government the members of the academic community from leading world as well as Pakistani universities have expressed solidarity with Dr Ammar Ali Jan and Islam Wazir, and condemned the PU administration campaign.

The teachers from universities of Oxford, Leeds, London; Cambridge, Chicago, California, Germany, Canada as well as local universities, have asked the Punjab government to ensure safety of life of Dr Jan and Wazir.

Emanating from a Facebook page known for its links with IJT, the student-wing of JI, the Islamist political party, the campaign, which is based purely on slander, endangers Dr Jan’s life and academic integrity by falsely accusing him of instigating Pashtun students at the PU to take up violent agitation, the letter read.

There was absolutely no evidence for the claims. Rather, Dr Jan continuously advocated the adoption of peaceful means in the pursuance of political demands. To this end, he has been organising reading groups among students to stimulate critical thinking and encouraging dialogue between ideologically polarised groups in order to promote a peaceful campus and society, the letter read.

“Dr Jan stands for a progressive and inclusive polity and strives for the rights of Pakistan’s marginalised communities through peaceful political mobilisation,” it stated.

Apart from his contribution to Punjab University, Dr Jan is an accomplished academic who is known internationally for his pioneering work in the intellectual history of South Asia. He has been trained in some of the best universities of the world, with a master’s degree from University of Chicago and a PhD from University of Cambridge.

They urged the PU administration and the Punjab government to probe the matter and punish those responsible for it.

“Universities should serve as spaces where students and faculty can engage in intellectual inquiry and critical thought without fear”, they observed.

Dr Jan in a statement on his Facebook page said “They also accuse me of conducting a study circle where I allegedly asked Pashtun students to continue their protests against the vice-chancellor”.

Putting the facts in perspective, he said: “PU has repeatedly witnessed violence at the hands of “goons masquerading” as students for the last 40 years, way before I was even born. The latest round of violence occurred when two student groups clashed earlier this year. As a result, a number of students were expelled, a decision I was never comfortable with.”

Clarifying his position, Dr Jan said as teachers, they need to increase their engagement with students to ensure that even if they become active politically, they do so in an ideological manner and not through violence. That was the reason why he allowed expelled IJT students to sit in exams, and take supervision from me for their thesis.

He said three days ago, Pashtun students began a sit-in outside the VC office demanding reinstatement of the expelled students. He worked with VC as a mediator between the administration and the students and persuaded them to end the sit-in and lectured them on the importance of non-violent and peaceful activism in politics.

“My main argument was that they have to learn to love their opponents, including students from Jamiat, if they are to ever break the cycle of violence that has ruined our wonderful university,” says Dr Jan

About the ‘Punjab University News Alert’, he says, “it completely misrepresents my position and paints me as a violent person. This is infuriating, and poses a threat to my integrity and my life as I have started receiving death threats after this post was shared.”

He warned that if anything happens to him, the PU administration’s news alert will be responsible for it.

Dr Jan has contacted the FIA who have assured him of full cooperation and taking action against the administrators of the page and those who are sharing this false news.

“I have also spoken to the VC, who has assured me of his full cooperation in holding these criminals accountable.

“Whatever happens to me, I am sure one day Punjab University will become a peaceful place of learning and will complete with the best universities around the world,” he says.

The academics and students who have signed the letter are:  Associate Professor Nousheen Zaidi, Assistant Professor Adnan Khan, Assistant Professor Emad Ansari, Assistant Professor Hammal Aslam, Manzoor Ahmed, Gulruksar Mujahid, Zahra Malkani, Nighat Dad, Aisha Ahmad, Arfana Mallah, Shan Aman-Rana, Shakoor Rafay, Inayat Khaskheli, Maryam Wasif Khan, Raheemul Haque, Mahvish Ahmad, Nosheen Ali, Sara Kazmi, Shama Dossa, Babar Qureshi, Afiya Zia, Dr Riaz Sheikh, Amar Sindhu, Shabana Nisar, Sadaf Aziz, Amina Jamal, Aparna Sundar, Tariq Amin-Khan, Waqas H. Butt, Sadia Toor, Chris Moffat, Bérénice Guyot-Réchard, Fawad Khan, Kim A. Wagner, Simon Layton, Navtej K. Purewal, Jesús Cháirez-Garza, Leverhulme Mark Condos, Elisabeth Leake, Farhad Mirza, Berlin, Germany; Eva Nanopoulos, Owen Holland, J. Daniel Elam, Muhammad Azeem, and Sara Shroff, Sameen Ali

 

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