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An Interaction With Pro-Education Governor Punjab!


Dr Lubna Zaheer

Governor is an important constitutional post in any province and is the representative of the federation in the province. Although the governor doesn’t have executive powers, there are certain constitutional requirements, which he has to fulfill. In the Pakistani politics, there are frequent upheavals, so the post of the governor has great value. As the governor is the chancellor of all the universities of the province, his position is also of special importance in terms of education as well.

In Punjab, Engineer Muhammad Balighur Rehman holds this important position. He is highly educated and has an engineering degree from the United States. Belonging to Bahawalpur city of South Punjab, Mr Rahman’s ancestors have been active in politics for the past several decades. He too was elected member of National Assembly twice. Mr Rehman was the Federal Minister of Education in the PML-N’s previous regime. The appointment of Balighur Rehman as the Punjab Governor at a time when there was an upheaval in the politics of Punjab. A constitutional and political crisis had arisen in the province regarding the appointment of the Punjab Chief Minister. But after Balighur Rehman’s appointment, the political upheaval came to a standstill.

Take a look back in the past, there have been periods when the Governor’s House was the center of political activity. Political meetings were held in the Governor’s House. This important place was used for political manipulation and conspiracies. We have also seen such governors who actively participated in political rhetoric and continued to contribute to the heat of politics. It’s gratifying that in stark contrast to the past instances, Governor Balighur Rehman has kept himself out of politics. It is not that after becoming the governor, he has become indifferent to politics or is completely neutral. He is associated with the PML-N and is considered quite close to the party leadership. There are also reports of political meetings in the Governor’s House. However, the positive thing is that unlike the past examples, he didn’t allow the Governor’s House to become an arena of politics. After becoming the governor, Mr Rehman has consciously limited his political activities.


A few days ago, I had an opportunity to meet the Governor. Various topics were discussed during the meeting. Personally, I am interested in discussions related to education, politics and media. It was very good to see that the governor was more interested in educational matters than politics. Some topics related to politics and media were discussed during the meeting. He also mentioned his leader former Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif. But his main focus was educational matters. He said that as a governor most of his time is devoted to education as he is trying to ensure that there is no hindrance in the affairs of the universities from his office. According to the governor,  letters or files received by his office are needed to be answered on time. Governor Balighur Rehman said that he also tries to attend convocations after receiving invitations invitations. During the meeting, some issues related to the Punjab University also came under discussion. The governor listened with great interest to the information about my Department of Film and Broadcasting and expressed his opinion regarding the importance of this department. I made a couple of requests to the governor which he accepted.

After the meeting, I got the impression that as the Chancellor the governor is aware of the difficulties and problems of the higher education. The reason for this is probably that he has held the posts of the Minister of State for Education and Federal Minister of Education. I remember that as the education minister he used to be quite active. He also made efforts for the implementation of Urdu. He was the head of a committee related to the implementation of Urdu. It’s good to know that he deals with university matters on a priority basis. However, some matters of universities need his special attention. For example, many universities in Punjab are deprived of vice-chancellors. If the post of vice-chancellor is vacant in a university,  a professor is assigned the temporary charge of the top position to handle day-to-day affairs. This is the situation in many universities of Punjab, including University of the Punjab. Sometimes professors given temporary charge of the top office run the affairs of the university in a very auspicious manner. However, being part-time or temporary, their hands are tied on most issues.

Although the appointment of vice-chancellors is an administrative matter and Governor Balighur Rehman is not directly related to this matter. However, as the governor and the chancellor he could play a role in this regard. Using their influence, he could suggest to the chief minister and the minister concerned to take this decision in a timely manner. Now, due to the caretaker government, matters are delayed. However, situation was the same even before the caretaker set up. The point of understanding is that the appointment of the vice-chancellor is not an emergency decision. It isn’t that a position that falls vacant due to the death of someone. On the contrary, it is known months if not years in advance that the position is going to be vacant on the specific date.

If universities are deprived of vice-chancellors for months, isn’t it disinterest and indifference? If Governor Balighur Rehman could play any role in this regard, it will be a great job to do. A few months ago, the chairman of the Higher Education Commission, Prof Dr Mukhtar Ahmed was telling that he had met the governors and chief ministers of the provinces and tried to convince them to find a way to appoint vice-chancellors on time. Sadly, this is the situation of universities in every province. When we lament the lack of funds for universities, government officials tell us that the national economy is in dire straits and the country is in debt. More or less every sector is facing shortage of funds. etc.

The question is what types of funds are required in the immediate appointment of vice-chancellors? Actually it’s a matter of priorities. If the Punjab governor as the chancellor could devise a procedure regarding the timely appointment of vice-chancellors of universities, this will be a boon to the higher education sector.

Dr Lubna Zaheer

— The author is an academician and political analyst

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Lahore Mirror