ISLAMABAD:June 26: The universities on the call of Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (FAPUASA) Monday observed Black Day against budgetary cuts imposed on universities and against the Sindh government on registering fake FIR against academicians of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto University (SBBU).
FAPUASA Vice President Prof Zahid Majeed and President Prof Kaleem Ullah Bareach said the teaching faculty in universities across the country observed black day. The Academic Staff Associations (ASAs) of all public sector universities arranged rallies, protests in the universities and in front of press clubs. Prof Zahid Majeed said it was just the start of the protest as the government will see strong reaction if the funds not released to universities. ‘Universities’ staff didn’t receive salaries for last two months and the VC’s of many universities have been saying that they don’t have funds to pay 20 percent raise in salaries from the next month announced in the new budget’.
The President, FAPUASA Punjab Chapter, Dr Sohail Qureshi said in Punjab the ASAs raised black flags, slogans against federal government and SBBU administration. They also protested in front of Lahore Press Club to register the FAPUASA protest. Prof. Rasheed Khalid, FAPUASA Islamabad Chapter President, said black day was observed in all Islamabad universities and ‘we stand with Sindh Universities’ academicians and will continue our protest against federal government on creating problems and delays in budget releases to public sector universities’.
Prof Kaleem Ullah Breach said SBBU academicians’ should be release within week otherwise the Sindh government will have to face strong reactions from university teachers. He also demanded immediate release of universities’ budget or else the FAPUASA will give a call of countrywide protests against the government. FAPUASA General Body Meeting has already been called on June 28 in Islamabad. The faculty members of Quaid-i-Azam University also observed Black Day by wearing black armbands against not releasing the fourth quarter of the budget 2011-12 to the HEC which ultimately affect the performance of all public-sector universities of Pakistan.
Dr Gulraiz Akhter, President, Prof Rasheed Khalid, Vice-President, Dr Aqeel Bukhari, Secretary, ASA, QAU, in a statement extending complete support to the Federation said the government was closing the research activities in the universities. The ASA office bearers said the government released the first three installments of the budget 2011-12 but declined the last one.
They said all the universities plan their strategies according to the budget and no to the last tranche will result in the closure of many approved projects in progress in different universities.
They wondered how the universities would pay the salaries of the last quarter to the staff. One can smell a conspiracy against the newly elected Prime Minister by financers of higher education. Most of the sections of society are on roads for different reasons and teaching community was the only exception. Do the authorities want them also to come on the roads, they asked.
If the government failed to release the approved 4th quarter in the budget to HEC, then non-teaching staff and faculty of the universities would have no option but to protest against the decision of the government.
The government should reduce their expenditures rather than stopping the instalment and should cut the salaries and other benefits of ministers if they sincerely want to control the fractured economic situation and promotion of education. They said education is an investment and not expenditure.
They said that the development projects had been stopped at QAU which is ranked No 1 among all the universities in Pakistan. If this is the situation of the premier university, what will be situation elsewhere is anybody’s guess.
ASA also expressed concern, dismay and anguish over the financial cut on education in the 2012-13 budget. They opined that such steps will result in destruction of higher education and will surely end the research culture in the universities. They impressed upon the government, the President of Pakistan who is Chancellor of QAU, and the Prime Minister to order immediate release of the last tranche and increase the allocation for higher education in the next budget as demanded by HEC.Nation.