Yet again another DAI (Degree Awarding Institute) of Pakistan is in the news. Unfortunately neither for any academic achievement nor for some prestigious accomplishments, but for the detestable, deplorable and dreadful scandal of harassment. Although, previously universities of provinces like Punjab and Sindh have become scandalous for the harassment of students. However, this time the safest region of the country with regard to harassment, Balochistan, is in the news. The University of Balochistan (UOB) has rung alarm bells for many students and parents with the news of university’s deteriorating and sleazy environment.

Antecedently, the grotesquely-shamed news regarding the unethical surveillance and harassment of the students in the myriad blocks of UOB spread like a wild fire; hence prompting fierce debate on social media networks about the questionable arm of some of the university’s administrative employees behind this denigrating and catastrophic incident.

Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has already started investigation under the direction of Balochistan High Court (BHC) in this regard, and suspiciously also have investigated and arrested some of the university’s employees as well. The Vice Chancellor of the University of Balochistan Professor Dr Javed Iqbal has announced that the university would cooperate with FIA in any manner and matter to find the culprits. And, if any veritable arm of any of the university’s employees is found in the case, severe action will be taken against the guilty without any mercy and delay.

The Chief Minister of Balochistan Jam Kamal Khan also showed serious concern over the matter and severely condemned the very incident. He vehemently deplored the alleged involvement of some of the employee of the university in the incident. Jam Kamal cleared in the most unequivocal way that the guilty will be punished as per law and no negligence and dillydallying will be tolerated in the matter. He also put emphasis on the fast and early investigation of the case by FIA. Moreover, the Spokesperson of the Government of Balochistan Liaquat Shahwani also pledged rapid and stern action against the culprits involved in the scandal.

“The case is taken up by the Balochistan High Court and the FIA has been directed to probe the matter. The FIA is conducting the investigation and varsity’s administration is fully cooperating in this regard.” said Shahwani.

On the other hand, amid the storm of protests in the university by different student groups and organizations, the educational activities somewhat remained disturbed as of late. In fact, the news of harassment fell like a thunder-clap over the students of the university and also surpassed the comprehensions of the residents of Balochistan. As the province has remained the safest as far as harassment of students are concerned, and is considered as very far from such scandalous events in the universities in particular and in the communities and societies in general.

Now, a few questions that arise are: how the parents of the female students be given confidence to send their daughters for higher studies in the university? How the government will recompense the outcomes that would emerge as a result of this cataclysmic event? How the psychological impact of the scandal over the students and their parents be crippled down? How this menace of despicable squalidness will be eradicated from the prestigious educational institute of Balochistan? How much time will it take for the investigation to come to a conclusive end? Will the vulnerabilities and malpractices of the university administration be brought to the fore? Will the guilty be incarcerated and punished as per law? Who guarantee that the university administration will not hedge their responsibility in digging out the truth and the issue will not be sent to the back burner? The incumbent authorities are barraged by angry students of the university who pelt them with truculent questions that seem endless.

Obviously, the harassment scandal of the university will have disastrous ramifications for the people of Balochistan. And, more realistically it ought to be seriously taken by the top-bananas of the province as it could be a lull before a more disastrous storm; a storm which would ultimately gain momentum and become more ominous with the passage of time, if not alleviated. Since the societal dynamics of Balochistan is much different from other provinces, the people of Balochistan are defined as the very hard-core as far as their dignity, religion, morals, values and norms are concerned. This very incident could deviate the parents from sending their daughters to educational institutes for higher studies which would ultimately dwarf the overall educational ratio of females in the province.

The erupting heebie-jeebies among the female students particularly, in the wake of the harassment scandal could alienate them from getting higher education which is the need of the day. Already, the literacy rate of Balochistan hovers around 41%, which is the lowest in the country. And, the ratio of female students are also very low even in the primary and secondary education. The remaining few females who join higher studies are now under severe pressure and capricious about either to go further with their academics or not.

Socially, as a female who is a student today would become a mother tomorrow. And, a mother’s lap serves as the first academy for a human being. If a mother is devoid of higher education, how a child of Balochistan could be prepared and nurtured according to modern-day needs for the competitive environment ahead of them in the country and in the world.

In the contemporary world, competition is all the way in every field. Pakistan is already way behind in the “Gender Gap Report” published by World Economic Forum. As none of the region ever get sustainable development without the inclusion of females in the economic activities. The wave of CPEC and the operational Gwadar Port requires skilled and educated work-force with the aim to promote the well-being of the people of Balochistan in particular. The role of an educated women in both ‘Small scale Manufacturing (SCM)’ and ‘Small and Medium Industries (SMI)’ is indispensable. And, an educated female has always an entrepreneurial spirit which would make them emancipated from the tentacles of economic disparities. Apart from that, at international front Pakistan will not be able to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of women equality until and unless more and more females of every province are enrolled in the higher studies.

Moreover, after harassment scandal, the parents are compelled to send their daughter to the women-only universities. Balochistan having only one Sardar Bahadur Khan Women’s University with one or two campuses in the province could not be able to quench the thirst of education for all the female students of the province. This could also limit the scope and domain of studies for the female students in the province as there is not a single medical and engineering women-only university in the province. This would put a full stop over the potential of the girls who want to be a doctor or an engineer, but at least not at the cost of their honor and dignity.

For the university students, now it would be more difficult for the male as well as female students to collaborate with each other in their studies. As the alleged surveillance and filming of the students had made the environment tense as far as the gender interaction is concerned. Any genuinely-academic grouping of male-female students now be seen with suspicious eyes by the already-ossified mentalities who are immersed with intransigent and recalcitrant tendencies.

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The author belongs to Quetta, Balochistan. He is the winner of 'English Article' category of the Writing Contest held by VOB from June-July, 2019.

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