Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy’s letter to LUMS VC Adil Najam

Note: The context of the following letter is discussed in this post: Jamia Salafia Deobandia LUMS fires Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy


From: Pervez Hoodbhoy
Sent: Monday, October 15, 2012 1:44 PM
To: Adil Najam
Cc: syedbabarali@yahoo.com; sahil; jaffe; Sohail Qureshi; Amer Iqbal; Muhammad Sabieh Anwar;
Anjum Altaf; Shahab Baqai
Subject: My exit from LUMS: For the record

15 October 2012

Dear Adil,

You suggested in your email (appended below) that we meet for one last time, but I see little point. We have already had numerous meetings in your office since November 2011 to discuss the extension of my teaching contract, which expires at the end of the current semester. You know that the SSE dean informed me on 11 October that my contract would not be renewed. This was a decision for LUMS to make, and I assume you are party to it. It will serve no purpose for me to hear yet more explanations for why I am unfit to continue teaching at LUMS.

I have been left bewildered by the decision-making process under your watch, and the fact that during the meetings over the past year I was presented with an ever shifting set of reasons for why my contract would likely not be renewed.

I am using this email as an opportunity to establish a record of this process for myself. It is being copied to all who have been involved and concerned in the matter. If there are omissions or errors in what follows, I expect you and the SSE dean, as well as the others, to send corrections by email to everyone on this list. Failing this, I will assume that you agree to the accuracy of this record of events.

In my 11 October meeting with the SSE dean, the following reasons were offered for why my contract would not be extended:

a) That you (PH) have “too much on your plate” and your primary mission “seems to be to fix the world”;
b) That I have not helped in recruiting new faculty;
c) That I have not helped the physics chairman in his duties;
d) That I have not mentored the younger faculty.

I am astonished by the first of these reasons. I do not see what bearing it has on the quality of my teaching or my research at LUMS – which is the basis for my employment here. If I want to fix my country or the world in my time that is my business.

As for the other reasons, I find them ironic. My association with SSE began many years before I had been offered employment here. Syed Babar Ali asked me repeatedly for nearly a decade to have a close relationship with SSE, which I welcomed.

As for my contribution to LUMS in this time, I believe I was of some help. In 2006, and then again in 2010, Syed Babar Ali asked me to consider the position of dean of SSE. Perhaps as a consequence of my efforts, some of my former students and colleagues applied to SSE. A few ended up teaching here and are present today as well (with the exception of my close friend, Faheem Hussain, who sadly passed away in 2009).

For your information, I have sat through the technical presentations of almost all applicants to the physics department and offered my comments when solicited by the chairman. Beyond that I could do little else – being on a short-term contract myself, I could scarcely ask others to apply for full career positions at LUMS.

I find the third and fourth reasons curious – especially since no specific instances of either failing were offered to me. I do not know of any situation where the physics chairman asked for my cooperation and I refused. I leave it to the current physics chairman, Sabieh Anwar, who is copied on this message, to provide appropriate examples.
Similarly, I frequently meet with the younger faculty, some of whom are my former students, and we discuss physics to mutual benefit. None have complained to me. I leave it to the SSE dean to provide instances of such complaints to me and the others copied on this message.

As I noted above, this most recent meeting with the SSE dean introduced a new set of reasons for why I would no longer be welcome to teach at LUMS. I turn now to the previous sets of reasons.

Months before I joined LUMS in January 2011, Amer Iqbal, then chairman of the physics department, invited me to teach in the department. He informed me that I was eligible for a 3-year contract. But in November that year, shortly after you became vice-chancellor, you told me that a new LUMS policy left only the possibility of one-year contracts that could be renewed on a year-to-year basis. You indicated further that there would be absolutely no difficulty in renewing my contract.

But no one-year contract turned up. By this time, I was teaching only with the promise of a contract but without an actual signed contract. So we had more meetings in your office where you told me that some of your sources had informed you that I was “not teaching enough”, and I was “not physically present on campus often enough”.

This quite astonished me as I had taught 4 courses in my first year (the regular faculty is required to teach three per year), and am physically present four of five working days on campus (many academics, including myself, prefer working at home). Complete details of my teaching, student mentoring, and research activities are attached to this email. This had been prepared in response to a request from the current physics chairman to document my activities at LUMS, and had also been mailed to you and both deans (SSE, SSH).

During one of our meetings you said there were complaints that I was overpaid. The fact is that I simply accepted what LUMS offered me as a salary – I did not negotiate. The acting dean of SSE at the time, Shahab Baqai, can confirm this. Even if there was a problem, it should have been a straightforward matter to compare my LUMS salary with salaries paid to comparable senior faculty at LUMS and make appropriate adjustments.

In April 2012 I was finally handed a one-year contract by the SSE dean, pre-dated to January 2012, and told that this would be the first and last extension. The reason given was that LUMS, as a matter of policy, does not give visiting positions to any professor who has crossed the age of 60. This seemed quite odd, given that I knew of a dozen or so other 60+ persons employed as visiting professors at LUMS. When we met in May 2012. I asked whether you endorsed the dean’s position. You said you would look into it but I heard no more about it.

In July, while on a visit to Boston, I was invited by Bob Jaffe to his house for dinner. Given his intense involvement with LUMS SSE since its inception, it was but natural for him to inquire into the current state of affairs. When I spoke about my situation to him, he was puzzled and wrote to you. I did not see his letter to you but he forwarded me your response to him. Your reply to Jaffe on August 20 reads as follows:

“Dear Bob,

Having known Pervez for over 25 years and having great respect for his work I also hope that he will choose to continue his affiliation. I believe the matter is a contractual one about his ability to devote full time to SSE given his other commitments or finding a way to formalize a less than full-time affiliation.


Adil Najam”

In light of the above, we met in your office on August 27, where I made clear my attention to academic work at LUMS. You suggested that in order to clear misunderstandings, the two of us should meet again in your office along with the SSE dean. I welcomed the suggestion but that meeting never took place despite my reminders to you. It seems to me that while the reasons given for not having me at LUMS have been readily reinvented from time to time over this year, the outcome seems to have been decided quite early on.

I am now preparing to leave LUMS at the end of the semester. I have always wished it well and done what I could to help in its mission. Since many people will ask about what happened, it is important to me that I fully understand why LUMS chose to refuse me an extension.

To this end I ask that, where needed, all concerned append their corrections to the above narrative. I am copying this email to the following persons:

a) Syed Babar Ali, founder of LUMS and SSE;
b) Robert Jaffe, professor at MIT and my former physics collaborator, as well as a member of LUMS international advisory board;
c) Sabieh Anwar, the current physics chair;
d) Amer Iqbal, who as physics chair invited me to join his department;
e) Sohail Qureshi, current dean SSE;
f) Anjum Altaf, dean of the School of Social Sciences and Humanities, since I teach a course in his School as well.
g) Shahab Baqai, former acting dean of SSE.

Sincerely yours,

Pervez Hoodbhoy
Visiting Professor
Syed Babar Ali School of Science and Engineering LUMS.


Appendix: BBC Urdu article

ہود بھائی: جھگڑا نظریات یا نئے کورس کا
آخری وقت اشاعت: منگل 23 اکتوبر 2012 ,‭ 14:07 GMT 19:07 PST

ملازمت میں توسیع نہ دیئے جانے کی کوئی وجوہ بھی منطق یا دلیل کی کسوٹی پر پورا نہیں اترتی تھی: ڈاکٹر ہود بھائی
پاکستان میں نیوکلیر فزکس کے استاد پی ایچ ڈی ڈاکٹر پرویز ہود بھائی کو لاہور کی ایک نجی یونیور سٹی نے ملازمت سے فارغ کر دیا ہے۔ ڈاکٹر پرویز ہود بھائی نے بی بی سی سے گفتگو کرتے ہوئے کہا ہے کہ انہیں مطلع کیا گیا ہے کہ دسمبر میں ان کے ملازمت کے معاہدے کی توسیع نہیں کی جائے گی۔

پرویز ہود بھائی نے کہا کہ انہیں مدت ملازمت میں توسیع نہ دیئے جانے کی مختلف اوقات میں مختلف وجوہات بتائی گئیں جن میں سے ایک بھی منطق یا دلیل کی کسوٹی پر پورا نہیں اترتی تھی اور ان کا خیال ہے کہ انہیں نظریات کی بنیاد پر یونیورسٹی سے الگ کیا گیا ہے۔

ڈاکٹر پرویز ہود بھائی نے سینتس برس اسلام آباد کی قائد اعظم یونیورسٹی میں ملازمت کی تھی اور وہاں سے ریٹائر منٹ کے بعد لاہور میں پاکستان کی معروف یونیورسٹی لمز میں پڑھا رہے تھے۔

ڈاکٹر ہود بھائی کا شمار پاکستان کے بائیں باوز کے معروف دانشوروں میں ہوتا ہے اورمعاشرے میں مذہب کے بارے میں ان کا خاص نکتہ نظر ہے۔

ہود بھائی نے کہا کہ انہوں نے یونیورسٹی میں پولیٹکل سائنس کا ایک نیا کورس ’سائنس اور زمانہ جدید کے تقاضے‘ شروع کیا تاکہ سائنس کے طلبہ کو آرٹس اور آرٹس کے طلبہ کو سائنس کے بارے میں معلومات ہو سکیں۔

انہوں نے کہا کہ آرٹس اور سائنس کے طلبہ کے درمیان ایک بڑی خلیج بن چکی ہے جس کو وہ ختم کرنا چاہتے تھے وہ آرٹس کے طلبہ کو سائنس کے خوبصورت پہلوؤں سے روشناس کرانا چاہتے ہیں اور سائنس کے طلبہ کو بتانا چاہتے ہیں کہ سائنس نے مغرب میں کیا تبدیلیاں رونما کی ہیں۔ اسی طرح یہ بھی بتانا ضروری ہے کہ سائنس کو اگر کھلی چھٹی دی جائے تو اس کے نتائج کیا نکلتے ہیں۔
ہود بھائی نے کہا کہ اس کورس کو طالب علموں نے پسند کیا اور پہلے سال اس میں اسی فیصد سائنس گروپ کے طالبعلموں نے شرکت کی جبکہ اس بار اسی فیصد آرٹس کے طلبہ و طالبات شامل ہوئے۔

انہوں نے کہا کہ اس کورس میں سیاست پر بھی بات ہوتی ہے اور مختلف مسائل پر گفتگو کی جاتی ہے۔ انہوں نے مثال دیتے ہوئے بتایا کہ پاکستان میں توانائی کی ضرویات پر بات کی گئی اور کہا گیا کہ کوئلہ پانی اور تیل کے ذریعے یہ ضروریات پوری کی جاسکتی ہیں اور اگر پاکستان میں یہ وسائل موجود ہیں تو ان کا حل کیوں نہیں ڈھونڈا جاتا؟ انہوں نے کہا کہ طالبعلموں کو ان مسائل پر سائنسی نکتہ نظر سے غور کرنے اور فائدے نقصان کو دلیل سے ثابت کرنے کی تربیت دی جاتی ہے۔
ڈاکٹر ہود بھائی نے خیال ظاہر کیا کہ یہ سارا جھگڑا اسی کورس کی وجہ سے ہوا ہے کیونکہ لوگوں نے کہا کہ میں ’سائنس اور مذہب‘ کا کورس پڑھاتا ہوں۔

انہوں نے کہا کہ نظریات کی بنیاد پر ان کی ملازمت ختم کروانے میں کوئی بیرونی ہاتھ نہیں ہے اوریہ یونیورسٹی کا اندرونی معاملہ ہے۔

ڈاکٹر پرویز ہود بھائی سنہ انیس سو تہتر میں نیوکلیئر فزکس میں پی ایچ ڈی کرنے کے بعد پاکستان لوٹ آئے تھے اور تب سے یہیں تدریس کی خدمات انجام دے رہے ہیں ان کا کہنا ہے کہ ’پڑھانا اچھا لگتا ہے اور وہ پڑھا کر خوش ہوتے ہیں۔‘
انہوں نے کہا کہ انہیں لمز یونیورسٹی سے بہت سی امیدیں ہیں اگر یہاں صرف اور صرف میرٹ کو مدنظر رکھا گیا تو یہ ملک کے لیے مشعل راہ ہوگی لیکن اگر نظریات کا عمل دخل بڑھ گیا تو پھر یہ کامیاب نہ ہو سکے گی۔

لمز یونیورسٹی کی انتظامیہ کا کہنا ہے کہ ڈاکٹر پرویز ہود بھائی کی مدت ملازمت میں توسیع نہ دیئے جانے کے بارے میں کوئی بیان فی الحال جاری نہیں کیا گیا۔ وائس چانسلر آفس کی ایک خاتون انتظامی افسر نے کہا کہ اس بارے میں یونیورسٹی کے وائس چانسلر ڈاکٹر نجم ہی کوئی بیان جاری کر سکتے ہیں جو ان دنوں بیرون ملک دورے پر ہیں۔




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