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Military still stationed at Balochistan University despite assurances to Senate

Hundreds of paramilitary Frontier Corps personnel are still stationed at the University of Balochistan even though the vice-chancellor assured the Senate earlier this week that they have “committed to vacating the campus”.

Vice-Chancellor Dr Mohammed Answer Panezai, who recently replaced Dr Javed Iqbal after a sexual harassment and blackmailing controversy shocked the province and rest of the country, told the Senate committee on human rights on Thursday that the FC and police chiefs have agreed to leave the campus, but have not said when.

A recent report by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said over 700 FC personnel were stationed at the university campus, weeks before administration officials were detained by the FIA to have installed secret cameras at the women’s hostel and then use them to blackmail female students.

“The FC Inspector General and the police IG have committed that they will not interfere in the operations of the university, nor interact with faculty and students,” Mr Panezi told the Senate body, according to Dawn.

The parliamentary body had met to discuss the Balochistan University controversy. Senators criticized the deployment of military personnel at education institutions, saying it created an atmosphere of fear among the students.

FC enjoys immense powers in Balochistan where they have been assigned with curbing a separatist nationalist insurgency since early 2000s. Hundreds of people, many of them students, have been forcibly disappeared since then.

Several students groups from Punjab, Balochistan and other parts of Pakistan will rally on November 29 to protest against the Balochistan University harassment scandal, arrests from campuses and fee hikes among other issues.

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