Transfer of Islamia College control sparks outrage

KARACHI:27 November : After Aisha Bawany College, the government decided to hand over the control of Islamia College to the Islamic Education Trust.

The proposal infuriated a large number of students and staff, who demonstrated their opposition by blocking MA Jinnah Road on Friday. They chanted slogans and marched from Islamia College to Peoples Chowrangi. Student protests and sit-ins halted traffic at various points.

The students expressed their concerns, saying that handing over control of the college to a ‘third party’ puts their future at stake. “The college premises are only to be used for educational purposes. We will not allow any commercial activities on our campus,” they warned.

Jamaat-e-Islami leader Muhammad Hussain Mehenti criticised the education department, saying education is the key to progress for any nation and that the state is obliged to guarantee education of all citizens. “Sindh’s education department has failed miserably. We will strictly oppose the transfer of the college to an independent party,” he said.

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Mehenti claimed that court orders regarding the transfer of educational institutions to independent parties were unjust. Responding to a question regarding political conflicts surrounding the issue, he said that despite their conflicts, all political parties are on the same page as far as education is concerned.

In addition to the protests, principals from different branches of Islamia College held a press conference on Friday. Islamia Law College Principal Moin Haider Siddiqui said that the pathetic state of the college was due to the negligence of the government. “The Sindh government could have filed a petition to obtain a stay order but it didn’t,” he lamented.

He said that the college cannot be evacuated because of a bailiff’s grant of a write-off position. He acknowledged the students’ right to protest, but requested them to maintain peace. He mentioned that as per the lease, the college land was regarded as an educational institution. “The trustees can take the possession of the premises but they do not have the power to close down the college,” Siddiqui said.

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Islamia Science College Principal Nadeem Haider claimed that a mafia was responsible for the current deadlock. He said that the former secretary and minister for education Pir Mazharul Haq and the land mafia were conspiring to sell the premises of Islamia College. “The future of 10,000 students enrolled at the college is at stake,” he said, appealing to the chief minister and the prime minister to look into the matter.

Islamia Arts and Science College Principal Ziauddin said that the alumnus of the college include names like Cricketers Shahid Afridi and Zaheer Abbas. “Where will we have curricular and extra-curricular activities if the control of college premises is handed over to the trust?,” he questioned. Public works personnel make regular visits but leave due to an administrative deadlock at the college. “We are looking forward to the plans of the higher authorities, and hope that they will ensure a bright future for the students,” Ziauddin said.The Express Tribune.