Keep in mind as you read through the report, that the Board of Governors is headed by the Chief of Army Staff and the Rector (Vice Chancellor) is a retired brigadier.
NUML rector, directors caught by own auditors
University management rejects all charges
Wednesday, January 06, 2010
By Umar Cheema
ISLAMABAD: An audit report of the Army-run National University of Modern Languages (NUML) has found that its Rector, a retired Army brigadier, was also receiving the salary of a night watchman (security supervisor), getting tax rebates as a researcher and had sent his daughter and son-in-law abroad using the university scholarships.
While the NUML management has given some lame justifications for these acts, the auditors have found them unsatisfactory. The report finds that out of three scholarship grants, two were granted to the Rector’s family members. A grant of Rs 15.4 million allocated for setting up linkages and exchange of visits with the Utrecht University of the Netherlands was used for summer vacation in the UK, the USA, France and Turkey.
A hefty amount collected under the head of fine from students was kept aside for discretionary use of the management as “daily expenditures,” the audit report disclosed. Besides, dozens of appointments were made during a period of hiring ban. One such beneficiary, Maj Gen (retd) Owais Mushtaq Qureshi, has now been appointed as Federal Public Service Commission member.
The report finds that Brig. (retd) Aziz Ahmad Khan, the Rector, is not the only official involved in irregularities, he has many partners posted on senior positions like director administration, director finance, director libraries, registrar and director academics.
As for drawing money under the garb of a supervisor of security guards, other beneficiaries include his director administration Muhammad Yasin, director finance Muhammad Ashraf, director libraries Muhammad Abbas, registrar Kamran Jahangir and director academics Saeed Akhtar Malik. The Rector, together with his partners, impersonated as security supervisor to collect Rs 620,549 in extra money.
Defending itself, the NUML administration told the auditors that high-level security was organised for the protection of a sizeable number of foreign military students in the university. “This was the time when the security situation in Islamabad was beyond anyone’s control. It was, therefore, decided that high-level security be organised. This included security provided by the agencies and overseen by senior officers of the university. It would be appreciated that the whole night duty would definitely require compensation. Hence, the amount under observation was paid. However, as soon as these sensitive students had completed stay at the campus, the payment was stopped forthwith,” the NUML said.
The audit report, however, turned down the plea, saying: “Security didn’t fall under the responsibility of the officers mentioned” and directed the beneficiaries to return the money. The Rector’s daughter, Ayesha, and her husband, Waqas Hassan, are named as the two, out of three beneficiaries, who were granted M Phil leading to PhD scholarships for study in Sussex University, UK. The criteria for granting such awards were not adhered to, the audit report objected, noting that there was no provision of awarding scholarship for higher education in the NUML Ordinance 2000.
The university administration responding to this objection said the criteria for selection was transparent, the candidates had fulfilled all the conditions for winning the scholarship and that the Rector was not part of the selection committee.
The Rector’s administrative post notwithstanding, he received 75 per cent tax rebate posing as researcher as the facility is available to those involved in research work. Director planning & coordination and registrar also abused this facility, the audit objected.
The NUML’s reply to this charge was that PhD degree holders from foreign university, who also work as teacher and researcher, qualify for the rebate. This justification was also rejected by the auditors who observed that the facility was available only to full-time teachers.
As regards the use of Rs 15.4 million allocated for setting up linkages and exchange of visits with the Utrecht University, the project was intended to promote research and development at the postgraduate level. A department called “Government and Organisational Science” was to be established with similar system in currency at the Utrecht University. The staff was to be trained by the Utrecht University with its staff biannual visit to Pakistan be arranged. It was not done; instead the NUML management started using it for foreign visits.
“The activities of the project mainly depicts the picture that the programme was made to have foreign visits to UK, USA, France, Netherlands, Turkey during vacations of the university,” noted the audit report.
The NUML administration replying to this objection said that the PC-1 provides that joint faculty visits will be undertaken by the Pakistani side in May and June every year because in June and early part of July, Utrecht’s faculty and administrators are free from their routine assignments and can spare more time for research. However, the management didn’t reply as to how the visits to other countries were undertaken using these funds.
Watchmen salaries for the vice chancellor, scholarships for daughter and son-in-law, joyrides to foreign destinations, inappropriate tax rebates... how low can you go?