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Mired in recurring crises, education takes a back seat at the University of Balochistan



Over the months, the crisis has gone from bad to worse. Many of the teachers and other employees have been living hand to mouth. Some, including professors, are unable to send their children to school as they cannot afford the fees.

On a rainy Monday some months ago, the University of Balochistan (UoB) wore a deserted look as faculty members, protesting against the non-payment of salaries, brought academic activities to a standstill. Everyone, from professors to janitorial staff, was gathered outside the main gate on Sariab Road — the main artery that runs through the city of Quetta.

At the protest, the teachers started collecting donations and selling vegetables to demonstrate their helplessness. Seemingly embarrassed by this show of vulnerability, the provincial government swung into action and within the next few days, released a month’s salary.

Several months on, the crisis persists — if anything, it has only grown worse. And while the staff’s salaries have been paid for now, each month’s payroll brings a new struggle.

discontinuing the two-year programmes. Despite the meagre source of revenue, the number of pensioners is increasing, as well as other liabilities that take up a larger portion of the budget.”

The treasurer added that countries such as India and Bangladesh spend 4-4.5pc of their budget on education, while Pakistan spends only about 1.5-2pc. “This is the reason our universities are in deep crises across the country, including the UoB,” he said.

begging bowl campaign, to protest against the government of Balochistan for not providing adequate financial resources to them. Back then, the teachers and staff also complained, as they are now, that they had not received their salaries for over six months.

While acknowledging that this is an old issue, Jamaldini explained that the most recent crisis had been brewing for the last two years.

The 18th Amendment to the Constitution transferred significant powers to the provinces, including higher education. In this regard, Jamaldini said, “Whenever we go to the HEC, they ask us to go knock on the doors of our own provincial government because they [are responsible for] transferring our funds via the National Finance Commission (NFC). And then, we do not get it from there under the pretext of lack of funds. The funds do not trickle down to us from either side. Unlike Punjab and Sindh, Balochistan does not have a provincial HEC.”

While the amendment ordered the establishment of higher education commissions in all provinces, Balochistan still does not have one, nor has the provincial government, including the nationalist government of Dr Abdul Malik Baloch, made any serious efforts to establish it.

On April 17, during a meeting of the University Finance Commission (UFC), Dr Kaleem Barech — president of the Academic Staff Association of UoB — said: “The provincial government of Balochistan agreed to release a Rs380 million package for the UoB, which was later slashed to Rs150m because Hafiz Abdul Majid, the then-secretary of colleges, was opposed to it. This happened, despite the varsity being an autonomous body. But the bureaucracy wants to run it like they run government schools in Balochistan. We have not even received the promised 150m.”

For his part, Majid denied creating any hurdles in the allocation or disbursal of the varsity’s funds. The former secretary of colleges explained that during a meeting, the chief minister had pledged Rs350m for the varsity, adding that, “I would not object even if he provided Rs1 billion”.

“The varsity administration and staff could not present their case,” he told over the phone. “They had already obtained Rs30m from the HEC, and required Rs15m. So, I only argued that they should be given the required Rs15m instead of the total amount.”

According to Majid, he had told the varsity administration to come up with justifications for the funds, as their issue was a never ending one. “The varsity has to put its own house in order, otherwise their demands will never end.”

Balochistan Universities Act 2022, teachers, students, employees, and their associations ought to be included in the policymaking bodies.

“The varsity is an old institution; it is the responsibility of the government to resolve its unending crisis. The teachers are mentally perturbed and disappointed [due to non-payment of salaries], which is affecting their academic and teaching services,” he said.

Over the months, the crisis has gone from bad to worse. Many of the teachers and other employees have been living hand to mouth. Some, including professors, are unable to send their children to school as they cannot afford the fees.

One such employee is Abdul Hakeem Baloch.

He joined the UoB during its first year as a security guard. “I have never seen such a crisis throughout my career here,” he said. “I am going to retire in a year or so, and my salary is now Rs27,000. I have been living hand to mouth. I have to take on debts to cover my family’s expenses. Shopkeepers and friends have stopped giving me loans now.”

A father of five, the angst and discomfort on his wrinkled face was apparent. He forcibly laughed while discussing his economic woes. “I only bought clothes for two of my younger children, and that too with Zakat money,” he recalled. He held his ears as if asking for forgiveness for taking Zakat, which he believed he was not entitled to. “I have kept it hidden from my wife, especially from my children; we would always give Zakat instead of taking it. We are living a miserable life and it’s as if the government has vanished.”

Like other employees, the professors too had anxiety etched on their faces. The crisis also taught them all a harsh life lesson — many of their friends had stopped meeting them. “Now we know who our friends are and who are not,” one of them said in jest. “We are teachers, who depend on our salaries to run affairs, we do not have other sources of income.”

Daily Intekhab, a local Urdu paper from Balochistan, reported on the malpractices and corruption of Vice Chancellor Rehman stating: “The vice chancellor, between 2020 to 2022, has received Rs8.3m and and an additional Rs99,000, respectively as salary and allowances.”

When contacted VC Rehman, he said that he was not feeling well and that the treasurer, Jamaldini, should be contacted for any queries regarding the crisis instead.

This begs the question: If the varsity head himself is not bothered about the varsity’s issues while actively benefiting from its salary and perks, what interest will others take?

2022-23 budget, the Balochistan government presented its total expenditure to be Rs614bn, while only Rs2.5bn was provided in the form of grants to 11 public universities. This is highly insufficient and inadequate to meet the universities’ financial requirements.”

The crisis has reached a point where survival is becoming more and more difficult. As I was about to leave, Bugti told me the worst of it: “Ameer Jan Buledi, an employee of UoB, had to pull his children out of school as he could no longer afford their school fees. Unfortunately, he recently died of a heart attack.”

The header image is AI-generated via Shutterstock.


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India tells Canada to withdraw 41 diplomats: report



India has told Canada that it must repatriate 41 diplomats by October 10, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday.

Ties between New Delhi and Ottawa have become seriously strained over Canadian suspicion that Indian government agents had a role in the June murder in Canada of a Sikh separatist leader and Canadian citizen, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who India had labelled a “terrorist”.

Nijjar, 45, was the president of Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara temple in Surrey, British Columbia and advocated for the creation of a Sikh state known as Khalistan.

India has dismissed the allegation as absurd.

On September 21, Trudeau called on India to cooperate with an investigation into the murder of the separatist leader in British Columbia and said Canada would not release its evidence for their claims.

India suspended new visas for Canadians and asked Ottawa to reduce its diplomatic presence in the country on the same day.

Last week, the Indian foreign minister spoke to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan about Canadian allegations of New Delhi’s possible involvement killing of the separatist leader in Canada.

Jaishankar said that New Delhi had told Canada it was open to looking into any “specific” or “relevant” information it provides on the killing.

Trudeau, who is yet to publicly share any evidence, said he has shared the “credible allegations” with India “many weeks ago”.

The Financial Times, citing people familiar with the Indian demand, said India had threatened to revoke the diplomatic immunity of those diplomats told to leave who remained after October 10.

Canada has 62 diplomats in India and India had said that the total should be reduced by 41, the newspaper said.

The Indian and Canadian foreign ministries did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said earlier there was a “climate of violence” and an “atmosphere of intimidation” against Indian diplomats in Canada, where the presence of Sikh separatist groups has frustrated New Delhi.


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Imran’s life ‘in danger’, moved to lower class cell in Adiala Jail: lawyer



Former prime minister Imran Khan’s lawyer, Naeem Haider Panjutha, claimed on Tuesday that the PTI chief was moved to a lower class cell at the Adiala Jail last night and feared the ex-premier’s life was in danger.

Imran was shifted to Attock jail on August 5, 2023, after a court sentenced him to three years in prison in the Toshakhana case for concealing details of gifts he received as the prime minister of Pakistan.

After his sentence in the Toshakhana case was suspended by the Islamabad High Court, the government detained the ex-premier in the cipher case. He has since remained behind bars on judicial remand.

On September 26, Imran was shifted to Central Jail Adiala from District Jail Attock following IHC orders passed on a plea filed by the PTI.

Last night, the police ramped up security in the vicinity of the Adiala jail by deploying elite commandos and setting up additional security pickets to ensure foolproof measures. The decision was taken in light of recommendations by the Special Branch and relevant departments following a survey of Adiala Jail.

Talking to reporters in Islamabad today, Panjutha, spokesman to Imran on legal affairs, said Imran’s wife Bushra Bibi met the former prime minister in Adiala Jail today.

“There is danger to Imran Khan’s life,” he claimed. “Imran can be slow food poisoned … he is being mentally tortured and his movement has been restricted.”

Panjutha alleged that he had received reports last night that the PTI chief was moved to a lower class cell. “Security personnel has been stationed outside the cell and mobile phones have been taken for them,” he said, claiming that these were new ways of “breaking” Imran.

The PTI lawyer added that a petition pertaining to Imran’s conditions in jail was filed in the IHC and the application was fixed for hearing on October 5.

“There were objection [by the court] earlier that the matter has already but decided but no directions have been passed on Imran Khan’s health, which is a basic fundamental right enshrined in the Constitution,” Panjutha added.


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LHC orders Punjab govt to ensure PTI leader Hassaan Niazi’s contact with father



The Lahore High Court on Tuesday directed the interim Punjab government to ensure that contact is established between incarcerated PTI leader Hassaan Niazi and his father within a fortnight.

The order comes on a petition filed by Hassaan’s father, Hafeezullah Niazi, who petitioned the court to recover and allow a meeting with his son, who is in military custody.

Hassaan, a barrister and nephew of PTI chairman Imran Khan, was in hiding after the May 9 riots. He was arrested from Abbottabad on August 13 and handed over to the military for trial over his alleged involvement in the attack on the Lahore corps commander’s house.

On August 15, Hassaan’s father, Hafeezullah, filed a petition in the LHC seeking recovery of his son.

Two days later, a military official wrote to the police, requesting it to hand over Hassaan’s custody to the military for “trial by the court martial”.

Before the LHC began hearing the father’s plea, the police submitted a report in the court on August 18, detailing the offences in which the former was found to be allegedly involved.

The report was submitted by Punjab Additional Advocate General (AAG) Ghulam Sarwar while Justice Sultan Tanveer presided over the hearing.

The AAG informed the LHC in the hearing, “Hassaan Niazi has been handed over to the military”. He added that Hassaan was “named in the Jinnah House attack case and was a main suspect”.

The interim Punjab government told LHC in the hearing on August 26 that visiting a suspect in military custody was not allowed under any law.

Additional Advocate General Ghulam Sarwar Nahang stated in the hearing that the SC had already taken note of the trials of the May 9 suspects in military court and the question of the suspects’ meeting with family members was also pending before it.

He said proceedings in the high court on the same question of law would complicate the matter.

On September 28, barrister Faiz Ullah Khan Niazi submitted that 45 days have passed and since then the petitioner has been unaware of the whereabouts of his son.

In today’s hearing, a single-member bench comprising Justice Sultan Tanvir Ahmad ordered the Punjab government to establish contact between Hassaan and his father within a fortnight.

According to the written order, a copy of which is available with, the petitioner’s lawyer told the court his client would be satisfied if he was allowed to establish contact with his son.

According to the order, the government officials maintained that since the matter is still pending adjudication before the apex court, it is “in the fitness of the circumstances to adjourn the case till the decision is passed by the Supreme Court”.


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