Infamous for Mashal death, AWK University lacks funds to pay salaries Beyond Feb

By Abdul Sattar Khan

MARDAN, 8 December: Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan (AWKUM) is currently employing staff two times more than the strength allowed under the law of Higher Education Commission (HEC). The HEC law allows hiring of two non-teaching staff members against one teaching staff member, while AWKUM is currently employing 1,540 non-teaching staff against 460 teaching posts.

AWKUM Registrar Dr Zahoorul Haq while talking to TNN confirmed these figures and said overstaffing is the main reason behind financial crisis in the university.

The university was established in 2009 and former vice chancellor Dr Ihsan Ali is often blamed for overstaffing. He was also arrested by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) under these charges, but was released on bail later on. Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak and Minister for Elementary and Secondary Education Muhammad Atif have several times accused the Awami National Party (ANP) of appointing people in the university on political basis.

According to documents available with TNN, Dr Ihsan Ali appointed 270 employees from scale 1 to 16 in the university just before his retirement in March this year. Pro-Vice Chancellor Dr Jehanzeb Khalil, who was appointed for a limited period after the death of Mashal Khan in AWKUM, also made 75 appointments despite having full knowledge of financial crisis.

Registrar Zahoorul Haq says the university is bearing additional burden of Rs35 million for paying salaries to employees after July and now the AWKUM is left with funds equal to two-month salary of the employees.

An official at the university told TNN on condition of anonymity that the present government has not extended any help to the university during its four years of rule and the HEC is also not issuing any fund to AWKUM. He said Rs500 million were immediately needed by the university to continue its academic activities.

Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak announced a grant of Rs10 million for AWKUM few days ago which will be spent on construction projects. The chief minister has also taken notice of the issue of surplus employees at the university.

Zahoorul Haq says new Vice Chancellor Professor Dr Khursheed has not renewed the contracts of 35 employees and they have been sent home. He said the VC has also formed a five-member committee of deans to scrutinise the appointment process of non-teaching staff. He said those appointed illegally will be sacked. He said some ousted employees have also approached courts and NAB against the university.

The registrar said the incident of murder of Mashal Khan after accusing him of blasphemy brought bad name for AWKUM throughout the world. However, he said this incident also brought the problems of the university into the notice of higher authorities which were being neglected for the last eight years. He said a meeting between the VC and chief minister is expected soon to bring the university out of financial crisis.

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