Professor Ajmal Khan resumed charge as the vice chancellor of Islamia College University (ICU) on Tuesday; 12 days after he was released from Taliban captivity.
The freed academic and his driver Mohibullah had been abducted by militants based in North Waziristan on his way to work on September 7, 2010 from Professor Colony in the University of Peshawar. He was released on August 28.
Staff members and students from ICU gathered at Roos-Keppel Hall and lauded Ajmal’s decision to resume office. Dr Qabila Ayaz, the acting vice chancellor of ICU, formally handed over the reins to the freed academic.
The way forward
Speaking on the occasion, Ajmal said his four years in captivity were particularly difficult but gave him the opportunity to teach and interact with the children of the Taliban. “I taught English, mathematics and religion to their children,” he said
He added he had developed unique ways to improve the standard of education in Pakistan and will work with the government to give “practical shape to his plans”.
The VC lamented the absence of facilities in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata)—especially in Waziristan—had deprived several children of opportunity to get quality education. The vice chancellor pledged to improve the standard of education in the region with the help of the government.
During his absence, ICU experienced several managerial and administrative changes. Five vice-chancellors have been changed at the university.
The ICU’s former Teachers Association president, Faisal Shahzad, informed The Express Tribune that Ajmal’s return serves as a beacon of hope for the university. He added all staff members and students had made consistent efforts to ensure his release. They had held protests and appealed to the provincial government to guarantee his safety.
Although Ajmal’s service time expired during the government of the Awami National Party (ANP), the current regime has extended his tenure for the next four years.
Moreover, on October 6, 2013, the ICU senate members also approved a four-year extension for the freed academic.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 10th, 2014.