The government-run Khushal Khan Khattak University Karak, in southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has barred male students from sitting with female students in its central library.
“A few students are violating the rule of silence in the library by having the company of friends or female[s] in the library,” read a notification issued by the university. The students have been directed to stop engaging in activities which may “cause a disturbance in the library”.
The notification, which was issued by the varsity’s chief proctor, read that the action has been taken due to the “inappropriate environment” in the library. It was issued on October 23.
Many students have protested against the new rule. Their parents say they will stage a demonstration if the university doesn’t change its policy, according to an official in the university’s administration.
Chief Proctor Waheedullah denied that there were any protests. “We have not received any complaint from the library since the rule was applied,” he said.
“We don’t have a problem with male students sitting with female students, but with students not abiding by the rule of silence.”
The decision was taken because students sit in groups in the library and speak loudly. This disturbs other students. “Students can hold discussions in the common room or classrooms.”
He said that a separate space has been allocated for women as there are more female students. The university official said that the chief proctor has even threatened to suspend three or four students for failing to comply with the rule and protesting against it.
Responding to this, Waheedullah said that even if students violate the rules, he cannot suspend them. “We first refer [the issue] to their guardians and then they are given counselling,” he said.
Students are suspended after decisions made by the disciplinary committee, he said. “I have no authority over this.”
Khushal Khan Khattak University Vice-Chancellor Dr Jehan Bakht said that he wasn’t aware of any such rule. “I don’t know anything about it,” he said. Interestingly, Dr Bakht was the vice-chancellor of Swat University when it restricted socialising between male and female students in 2016.
The main problem is that many of the appointments, including additional registrar, treasurer, controller, planning and development administration and chief proctor, are illegally appointed, the source said. “You cannot appoint a grade 18 officer on the post of a grade 20 officer.”
The administration official believes that the chief proctor was appointed by the administration for his strict behaviour. He wasn’t a fan of male and female students sitting together at all. “He even complained to the teachers of those male and female students who sit in the lawn during breaks,” said the official. He has verbally barred all the students from sitting with members of the opposite sex within the university.
The official added that this action was done with the consent of the university’s registrar and deputy provost, who were sent copies of the notification and had approved it.
“The chief proctor is an influential person in the administration and also supported by the teachers’ union,” said the official.
The official also pointed out that the main problem is that many of the appointments, including those of the registrar, treasurer, controller and planning and development head, are illegally done by Bakht and that he himself is absent much of the time.
“You cannot appoint a grade 18 officer on a grade 20 post. That’s the law but all these officials are appointed illegally and some even have fake experience certificates,” he said.
The official believes that these illegal appointees, especially the chief proctor, registrar and deputy provost, are on a mission to radicalise the varsity. “This university is very liberal and has many nationalist and leftists groups,” he said.
He said the chief proctor is also heading the geology department but only has a Bachelor’s degree, adding that despite the presence of senior teachers in the department he is heading it due to his influential background and is also a member of multiple committees at the university.
“Once you have a disagreement with someone, they will say anything against you,” Waheedullah remarked. “Rules have to implemented, we can’t do anything of our own free will,” he added.