July 18, 2020
The Honorable Imran Khan
Prime Minister of Pakistan
Office of the Prime Minister
Constitution Avenue, G-5/2
The Committee of Concerned Scientists is an independent organization of scientists, physicians, engineers and scholars devoted to the protection and advancement of human rights and scientific freedom for colleagues all over the world.
We are writing to express our serious concern over a growing number of incidents of suppression of academic freedom in Lahore, Pakistan. For example, Dr. Ammar Ali Jan, a professor of political science with a Ph.D. from Cambridge University, has been fired or resigned under pressure from three successive universities in Lahore in just four years for allegedly “fanning anti-state sentiments”. Most recently, in mid-June 2020, Dr. Jan resigned from Forman Christian College after being demoted from assistant professor to visiting professor following his participation in a student demonstration. He has also been charged with “sedition.”
Pervez Hoodbhoy, an internationally respected physicist at the same university, had his three-year term as “Distinguished Professor of Physics and Math” reduced to one-year, and has now been told his contract will not be renewed.
And Zaigham Abbas, a political science professor at Government College University in Lahore, where Dr. Ammar Ali Jan first began teaching in 2016, suddenly found that his contract had not been renewed in February of this year, when he reportedly discovered a colleague teaching his class.
These cases, and others, illustrate a disturbing crackdown on university professors who criticize the military or are perceived to be promoting secularism. The right to freedom of expression, for professors, for students, and for all, is essential for academic institutions to function successfully. Furthermore, your government, as a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), is obligated to respect and protect these basic rights, not suppress them.
We urge you to take all steps necessary to ensure that academic freedom, freedom of thought, and freedom of expression are thoroughly protected in Pakistan’s colleges and universities.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter, and we look forward to receiving your response.
Joel L. Lebowitz, Paul H. Plotz, Walter Reich, Eugene M. Chudnovsky, Alexander Greer
Co-Chairs, Committee of Concerned Scientists
Sardar Usman Ahmed Khan Buzdar
Chief Minister, Punjab
Chief Minister’s Office
7 Club Road, GOR I
Fax: 011 92 42 99204301
Dr. Shireen Mazari
Federal Minister for Human Rights
Ministry of Human Rights
State Life Building, No. 5, Blue Area
Tel: +92 51 9216620
Ali Jehangir Siddiqui
Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan
3517 International Court, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Phone: (202) 243-6500
Fax: (202) 686-1534
Contact Form: http://embassyofpakistanusa.org/contact-us/
Paul W. Jones
Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of the United States of America
to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan
U.S. Embassy Islamabad
Diplomatic Enclave, Ramna 5
Phone: (+92) 051-201-4000
Fax: (+92) 51-2338071
The Honorable Mike Pompeo
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520