PESHAWAR: The University of Peshawar (UoP) was closed on Valentine’s Day on a strange pretext, but the actual matter turned out to be facilitating popular singer Gul Panra to record songs at the main academic blocks of the institution.
Had the university been open she wouldn’t have been able to do the recordings, said an academician, while talking. The university administration through a formal notification issued a couple of days back had stated that the university would remain closed in lieu of February 5 – Kashmir Day – on which seminars and other events had been arranged in the university.
The pretext seemed strange as it has never happened that an institution is closed because of a public holiday that has passed nearly two weeks back. Also, the university was officially closed on February 5.
The events arranged on the occasion were voluntary, not compulsory though the university had asked the faculty and staff to hold events to show solidarity with the people of Kashmir.
Similar events were arranged in almost all the institutions – public and private – across the country. But none of them has declared another day as a “closed holiday” in lieu of a day that has already been observed as a holiday.
The notification was, however, taken positively and it was believed that the university administration wanted to avert any untoward happening on Valentine Day which is also marked as Haya Day (modesty day) for students.
Also, in the past, clashes were reported between those who observe the day as Valentine’s Day and those who mark it as Haya Day. Therefore, it was generally believed that the university administration was trying to play a clever game by keeping the university closed on the day so that no one would be able to celebrate Valentine’s Day or observe Haya Day.
‘Neither the bamboo will be there, nor the flute can be played upon’ was believed to be the goal of the university administration. But the actual matter turned out to be completely different. Nobody other than a few in the top management of the university knew that the institution had actually been closed to facilitate the most popular Pashto singer, Gul Panra, to have her songs recorded for the cricket tournament of the Pakistan Super League in different parts of the university on the day.
Some faculty members and students told this reporter that the artist and other members of the crew remained busy with the recordings. “Dances and loud music kept the university alive all day,” a university teacher said.
President Peshawar University Teachers Association (PUTA) Dr. Jamil Ahmad Chitrali uploaded a video message on Social Media late Monday evening stating that the recording had continued since morning till his message and for this purpose, the entire university remained closed.
Later, PUTA through a press release condemned the closure of the university and demanded the Chancellor and Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Shah Farman to conduct an impartial inquiry into the matter and suspend the vice-chancellor.
The University of Peshawar comprises 49 academic departments, three colleges and five centers of excellence for different disciplines where around 17000 students are enrolled. On the other hand, the spokesman for the university, Numan Khan, rejected the reports that the university had been closed for the recording.
He said the notification about the closure of the university had been issued a day before, the PSL organizers approached them for the recording for the final match. The spokesman said the team was allowed to record after the permission letter from the deputy commissioner’s office.
The letter issued by the DC office states: “Mr. Shamsher Ali Khan, SK films, Lahore is allowed to hold the event – recording of video shoot regarding the PSL Final match from February 13 to 18 – at Islamia College, the University of Peshawar, cafes of Peshawar and the walled city.”
Numan said the recordings were held on Sunday and Monday and it had nothing to do with the holiday. The holiday was aimed at giving a long weekend to the university staff which remained busy holding events on Kashmir Day.
He said that only the song was not recorded. A short film about the university’s role had also been filmed wherein a classroom environment was created. All this had been done for the projection of the university, he said. He alleged that certain elements were using the event for their own vested interest.