The Punjab University administration has violated several rules in an apparent attempt to help an assistant professor get his doctorate.
Assistant Professor Amir Mehmood Bajwa was allowed to attempt the Comprehensive Paper examination for a fourth time, in the office of Dean of Social Sciences Dr Zakaria Zakir, without authorisation by the Doctorate Programme Coordinating Committee (DPCC).
A DPCC member said that Bajwa, an employee of Pakistan Television serving on deputation at the Institute of Communication Studies, had thrice failed the exam.
“Under DPCC rules, a candidate cannot continue in a PhD programme after three failed attempts. He sat the exam for a fourth time without DPCC approval, which is also illegal,” said the committee member.
The Comprehensive Paper exam must be taken after two semesters of PhD coursework. After passing, the candidate can go ahead with their synopsis, a senior faculty member explained. If they fail, they can no longer continue in their PhD programme.
The faculty at the Institute of Communication Studies includes three members of the DPCC Dr Affirah Hamid, Dr Noshina Saleem and Dr Bushra Hameed. None of them had consented to Bajwa sitting the exam. “I don’t know who allowed him to take the exam,” said Dr Saleem.
Dr Shafiq Jalandhari, a former professor at ICS, had served as examiner for Bajwa at the dean’s office. He said that the university administration had decided to go ahead with the exam. “We decided to seal the paper and not mark it if the DPCC raises an objection. The dean of social sciences knows about this,” he said.
The dean, Dr Zakir, denied that Bajwa sat the exam in his office. When he was told that Dr Jalandhari had confirmed that the exam had taken place in his office, he refused to comment. He said that examinations were a confidential matter and he could not discuss them.
PU Registrar Dr Khan Ras Masood said he would look into the matter and then respond. Punjab University Additional Registrar Dr Aurangzeb Alamgir refused to comment.
Dr Ismatullah, an associate professor and Syndicate member, said it was highly irregular for an assistant professor to sit an exam at a dean’s office. “If I find that the rules were broken to benefit one person, I will take up this case at the relevant forum,” he said.
Bajwa was unavailable for comment.
“The way this exam was arranged for him shows that he will surely be granted his PhD degree,” a DPCC member said.