24 February | 2024

Lahore, Pakistan

Punjab University violates ECP directives by issuing transfer orders

Journalism Department Chairperson Dr Bushra Rehman urges VC Office to withdraw parachute transfers to avoid intra-department seniority issues

By issuing transfer orders, the Registrar Office of the Punjab University in Lahore had violated directives of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) related to the general elections, to be held on February 8, 2024.

“No government, autonomous or semi-autonomous or any authority in the federation and the provinces shall post or transfer any officer or official till the publication of the names of the returned candidates in the official gazette,” according to a notification, issued by the Election Commission on December 15, 2023.

On a directive of the vice chancellor, the university’s registrar issued two separate notifications regarding two specific transfers without any consultation with the relevant department – the Department of Journalism Studies. “The vice chancellor, in exercise of the powers vested in him under Section 15(4)(vi) of the University of the Punjab Act 1973, is pleased to transfer Dr Muhammad Rashid Khan, an associate professor, from the Department of Film & Broadcasting to the Department of Journalism Studies with immediate effect,” according to the notification, issued on January 26, 2024.

Advocate Salman Shafiq, Dr Shabbir Sarwar submit complaint to ECP

In another notification, issued on January 26, 2024, the registrar transferred Professor Dr Mian Hanan Ahmad from the School of Communication Studies to the Department of Journalism Studies with immediate effect. Department of Journalism Studies Chairperson Prof Dr Bushra H Rehman – in a letter to Pro-Vice Chancellor Dr Khalid Mahmood, who is acting as the vice chancellor of the university as well as the Dean of the Faculty – showed serious reservations over these parachute transfers without consulting her and without suitability.

She requested the acting vice chancellor to withdraw these transfer orders for the smooth functioning of the department, and to avoid intra-department seniority issues. In her letter, she pointed out that these parachute transfers issued without consulting the relevant heads of the departments, including herself, as this practice contravene the established practices of the university as well as the School of Communication Studies. “Such a deviation from the norms is likely to sow discord and create chaos within the six departments of the school, adversely impacting the efficiency of everyone involved,” she wrote.

It is pertinent to mention here that Dr Mian Hanan Ahmad is brother of Dr Nosheena Saleem, who is Head of the School of Communication Studies. The ‘controversial’ appointment of Dr Mian Hanan Ahmad at the age of 55 on the support of former chief minister of the PTI-led government, is already challenged by Dr Shabbir Sarwar – an in-service associate professor. Further, member of Independent Election Observer Pakistan Advocate Salman Shafiq and Dr Shabbir Sarwar have also challenged the transfer orders at ECP Punjab office.

A formal complaint application vide diary number 193794-ECP Punjab dated February 1, 2024, states that the orders were made in violation of the Election Commission’s orders. “Media professors are generally considered active inside and outside university campus. Several student wing of political parties are active in the university in making the transfer sensitive at this time.” Hence, the Election Commission must take notice and issued a directive to withdraw the transfer orders, the complaint application reads.