By Shabbir Hussain
ISLAMABAD, Oct 31 (Diplomatic Star): All Public Universities BPS Teachers Association (APUBTA) from across Pakistan, including Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan, have announced a massive protest scheduled to take place tomorrow in front of the Higher Education Commission’s (HEC) office in Islamabad.
The demonstration is organized by the All Public Universities BPS Teachers Association (APUBTA) to voice their concerns regarding the prolonged delay in the issuance of a notification regarding the approval of their service structure and promotion policy.
APUBTA’s core committee, deplored the conduct and role of chairman HEC in this entire exercise. Instead of addressing the genuine problems of more than 50,000 BPS faculty members of 150 public sectors universities, Chairman HEC resorted to repressive means to suppress the voice of the most educated, civilized and rights conscious segment of the society.
In his failure in attempting to divide the varsities’s teachers associations such as APUBTA, APTTA, and FAPUASA through various tactics, he has started using VCs and universities to undermine the legitimate cause and just struggle of teaching community of Pakistan.
In order to avert the mounting pressure on him from various quarters especially universities BPS teachers for resolution of latter’s problems, he strove to instigate a tussle between faculty members and the VCs and administrations of their universities.
APUBTA leadership avowed that they would not indulge in any kind of tussle with the VCs and administrations of their universities. However, they will not stop raising their voice for their rights. Article 16 of the constitution guarantees the right of association and peaceful assembly, and no one could snatch this right.
APUBTA leadership reaffirmed their commitment to their cause of attaining rights of promotion for BPS teachers of the universities. APUBTA reserved all legal rights to sue those involved in harassment at work against the teaching community and denying them their fundamental rights.
They decided that if the chairman HEC did not stop using repressing means and delaying tactics that have become a mark of his personality, they would have no option but to demand his removal from the prestigious position of chairman HEC. They also declared that if any action was taken against any BPS university teachers on account of his/her participation in the protest, APUBTA will stage protest outside the campus of the concerned universities.
They announced that the protest and sit-in plan would proceed as per the previous announcement. They requested all BPS teachers of public sector universities to fully participate in the protest / sit-in until the issuance of notification of approval of promotion policy for the university teachers
Indefinite sit-in planned
Dr Manzoor Ahmad, the media secretary of APUBTA, revealed that the sit-in would be conducted for an indefinite duration.
In anticipation of the protest, local teachers in Rawalpindi and Islamabad are preparing to welcome their colleagues from various cities, with arrangements made in hostels and hotels for their accommodation.
APUBTA has made it clear that their primary demand is the immediate issuance of a notification approving the service structure and promotion policy for all Basic Pay Scale (BPS) teachers.
The association’s press release emphasized that the protest is a response to what they view as discriminatory and exploitative policies adopted by the HEC.
BPS teachers claim that the absence of a service structure, due to what they call HEC’s “criminal negligence,” has deprived them of their fundamental right to promotion.
Even though the HEC was mandated to develop promotion criteria under section 10(q) of the HEC Ordinance 2002, they argue that no substantial progress has been made in this regard over the past two decades, creating serious promotion and seniority issues for over 50,000 BPS faculty members in public sector universities.
This protest marks the latest in a series of demonstrations by APUBTA across the country in the past three years as they strive to address the promotion-related challenges faced by university teachers.
BPS teachers assert that the HEC has made several written commitments to resolve their issues, but these commitments have yet to be fulfilled.
An official from the Higher Education Commission told a national daily that a committee of vice-chancellors had recently forwarded recommendations to universities for the implementation of service structure and promotion policies.
The HEC stated that they will consider the genuine demands of university teachers but claim that there is no fault on their part in the delay.
As the nationwide protest looms, the academic community watches with bated breath, hoping that a resolution can be reached to address the longstanding grievances of university teachers in Pakistan.