Professor sacked over sexual misconduct – 17 Mar 2023

Panel advises removal of three teachers for pressurising victim

A professor of the Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology (FUUAST)’s Islamabad campus has been sacked after an inquiry found him guilty of harassing a female student on WhatsApp.

Sources privy to the matter said the inquiry lasted for one-and-a-half months and the harassment committee’s investigation substantiated the student’s allegation.

In her application submitted to the university administration, the student alleged that Professor Zahid Sarfraz sent inappropriate messages on the messaging app and asked her out.

When she complained about this issue to three senior professors, including Zubair Khan Niazi and Dr Imran Ashraf, they asked her to brush the matter under the carpet instead of going public with it.

She further reported that they threatened that her academic affairs might be affected and the matter would also come to her parent’s knowledge.

The student also accused the head of the physics department of failing her by one mark.

She also wrote that Zubair Khan Niazi and Dr Imran Ashraf managed to obtain a written statement from her to back away from the case and delete all the messages from her mobile phone.

“I was threatened that if I didn’t do it, my semester would be cancelled and my family would be informed, which would damage my reputation”.

The complainant further said that some boys from the varsity kept an on eye her wherever she went.

Following the probe, the harassment committee recommended the removal of the head of the physics department and the professors who advised the student to remain silent.

The committee ordered verification of her results and checking of exam papers through an impartial forum.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for FUUAST confirmed that the incident came to the spotlight in December last year, after which the varsity administration took immediate action and formed an inquiry committee.

He said the accused was a contract employee who has now been sacked. “The inquiry committee found him guilty of harassment, on which the committee decided that he should be expelled from the university,” he added.

The inquiry committee also wrote in its report that Professor Zahid Sarfaraz harassed the student and damaged the sanctity of his profession. The report also stated that in cases like this, it has repeatedly been observed that serious cases are suppressed before they are even reported.

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