11/08/2010, 00.00
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Universities shut down to protest university professor abduction

by Jibran Khan
Ajmal Khan, who is related to Asfandyar Wali, leader of Pakistan’s most secular-oriented party, was abducted on 7 September by a group of Taliban. In video footage shown on private TVs, he calls on faculty and students to put pressure on the government to take the necessary steps to free him.

Peshawar (AsiaNews) – All universities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly known as North-West Frontier Province) have shut down for an indefinite period to put pressure on the government to free abducted Islamia College Vice-Chancellor Ajmal Khan. Faculty and students have boycotted classes, taking instead to the streets with black headbands and shouting calls for Khan’s release.

On Sunday, the Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (FAPUASA) announced an indefinite strike in universities across the province until the vice chancellor and his driver are freed.

The association took the decision at the end of an emergency meeting after TV stations broadcast video footage showing Mr Khan asking faculty and students to put pressure on the government to accept the kidnappers’ demands.

Chaired by Mohammad Fida, FAPUASA’s provincial director, the meeting discussed the situation emerging after the video footage was shown. In it, the kidnappers set a deadline for 20 November for the acceptance of their demands.

After the meeting, Dr Fida said if the government failed to accept their demand and take steps for Khan’s release, the federation would extend the strike to other universities in the country.

Ajmal Khan was abducted on 7 September by members of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) after he left home on his way to work.

Khan is related to Asfandyar Wali Khan, head of the Awami National Party (ANP), Pakistan’s most secular-oriented party and part of the ruling coalition government.

In the latest video footage, Khan said he was held by his captors since his disappearance. In a previous one, he had call on the government to accept his captors’ demands, but his request was ignored.

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