Presence of Terrorists in the Universities - By: Munir M Hasan, PhD

Munir M Hasan, PhD
Former Professor and Vice Chancellor
NED University of Engineering & Technology, Karachi

Since the time some terrorists have been identified as students of the reputed universities of Karachi, a debate has started in the media on the responsibilities of the universities and civil administration to curb this nuisance. In this connection some of the proposals had attracted my attention.

According to the news items, the Chairman of the Senate of Pakistan has written a letter to University of Karachi saying that the University should revise the curricula to improve the behavior of the students. Being a senior educationist, I fail to understand what connection the curricula have with the character and behavior of the students. To make you understand my viewpoint I quote one personal experience of mine. In one of the degree-awarding institutions in Islamabad where I had the honor to work as its head, during the examination paper of “Islamic Studies” where sometimes some Qur’anic verses are also written, the invigilators found some papers in the toilets for cheating, with Qur’anic verses written on them. Cheating in Islamic paper examinations is as usual as in other papers. Apart from this, Muslims have a Devine book with them which is the best “Code of Life”. But Muslims, in general, are not considered good human beings. Who can make curricula for the young generations better than the teachings of Qur’an?

If this proposal of the Chairman Senate is to include in the curricula some training to the students, then the appropriate occasion to give this training is when the students are studying in the primary classes in schools rather than to give this training to the grown up students of colleges and universities. And this aspect is totally neglected in Pakistan.

It has also been proposed that the candidates for admission in the universities should get a character certificate from the police. Everybody is aware of the working of the police. This proposal will only increase the income of the police who will always be willing to give a false certificate to an activist on the payment of some fee.

These types of proposals remind me of a joke. A researcher, with similar mindset, was once experimenting on the behavior of a frog. He put a frog on the table and tapped the table. The frog jumped to a certain height. Then he cut one leg of the frog and again tapped the table. The frog again jumped, but this time its jumping height was short. Next, he cut the remaining leg and tapped the table. This time the frog could not jump at all. So, the learned researcher concluded that if both the legs of the frog are cut, the nervous system of the frog fails.

The mindless proposals of this type can never improve the situation in the universities and in other educational institutions. Before going further, I must clarify one point here. According to my assessment, 95-97 percent students of the universities are serious students and are not involved in any subversive activities. It is only a very small minority who is involved in such activities to a varying degree. Another point to note is that this type of situation is not new in the universities. In the 1980s the law and order situation in the universities was so much troublesome that in 1989 Sindh Government had to call Rangers in the Karachi and NED University campuses to sit permanently there, and who are still posted there after almost three decades. And I, being very much frustrated in that situation, had to opt for my pre-mature retirement from NED University in 1990. The only difference is that the approach of the activists has been changing with their types of links with outside forces.

The students are generally immature minds and are the easy targets for the political and the terrorist parties. That is the reason that all these parties try to enter the educational institutions through these students. So, the political activists/ terrorists among the students do not work on their own, but get instructions and funding from their masters outside. This “outside” could be local or even international. These activists with the patronage of the outside parties become so strong that the majority of the students who really want to study peacefully, and many times even the university administration, become the hostage of these activists.

Another important point to note here is that these activists cannot play any role unless they get help from inside the universities. In a highly political atmosphere prevailing in the country, usually the appointments of teachers in most of the universities are made on political or ethnic grounds. Even the heads of the universities are appointed on political associations. This is not a secret and anybody with curious eyes can see it. I hope the people still remember that the head of “Jama’at-ud-Dawa”, Hafiz Saeed, was once a Professor in the University of Engineering & Technology, Lahore, and in spite of his denial, he is known as the head of “Lashkar-e-Taiba” in Pakistan.

It is usually seen that whenever any head of the institution is appointed on the basis of political associations, he is not only compelled to oblige his party leaders in the appointment of teaching and other administrative staff, but also gives some undue privileges to some students groups. This not only creates resentment even among the serious students, but also makes the other groups find occasions to fight with their rivals. This situation will continue to exist till such time the heads of the institutions are appointed on the basis of political associations.

So, the solution of the problem is quite simple. The universities should cut off links of the students from the outside political forces. In order to do it, only those persons should be appointed as the heads of the educational institutions who have no links with any political party. If it is done so (???) this will make universities free from all types of political and other unhealthy activities. In the absence of political links from outside, these activists, who are not serious students, cannot stay in the universities. Even if they stay there, they cannot do any harm to their institutions.

This is not a theoretical suggestion. I have proved it with my working as a Vice Chancellor of NED University of Engineering and Technology, Karachi, during early 1990s because I have been completely a non-political person throughout my career. I never called on any political figure or party. The story how I, who had no links whatsoever with any political party and never met with any political leader, became the Vice Chancellor of a reputed university in Karachi even after my pre-mature retirement, is quite interesting. I have described this story in my autobiography “Light House” which was published in 2013.

As I was appointed Vice Chancellor without any obligation to any political person or party, I was free to take bold actions as I thought fit. I had great success in all my endeavours. The university which looked so bad that earlier, in my frustration, I had to opt for my pre-mature retirement as Professor, with my initiatives looked like a real seat of learning and research within a short period of about six months. All outside political links of the students were cut-off and all non-healthy activities of the students were curbed from the campus on my own initiatives without any help from the civil administration. Large number of editorials, articles and letters published both in English and Urdu newspapers and magazines are the proofs of the success of my efforts. Although my unmatched achievements are so many in numbers that I have described them in three long Parts (Chapters) of the autobiography, I am attaching only a few pages from this book to show what actions I initiated and how I was able to achieve so much success in bringing the law and order in the university.

Posted on Sep 13, 17 | 12:54 am