IBA’s mega scandal hushed-up

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IBAs mega scandal hushed up | Zeroing IN from Narratives Magazine

And yes, there has been a series of LGBTQ+ raves at the “prestigious” Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi, under the stewardship of Executive Director Dr. Syed Akbar Zaidi, but the politically-connected and influential management hushed-up this first of its kind mega-scandal by taking a symbolic action against just two students.

On March 30, the IBA’s Students Conduct Committee announced that the institute suspended one student for an academic year, while another was barred from entering the campus for the rest of the current academic year following the conclusion of an inquiry into the matter of the viral video of the LGBTQ+ rave organised at its premises. However, the IBA’s official sources said that the faculty members, who encourage and patronise such activities, and many students who regularly participate in them, have been let off the hook in a controversial inquiry only done to ward-off the public pressure.

A video of one of these raves — held at the courtyard of the IBA on March 24 — went viral on the social media, triggering widespread condemnations and even protest by some student, parents and teachers organisations. The IBA sources said that it was the fourth LGBTQ+ rave that was organised with the blessings of the management.

“Many other students, who participated in the event, could have been easily identified through the video, but the IBA management took action against just two of them,” said a senior teacher at the IBA, requesting anonymity. “Even these two just got a slap on the wrist and will eventually get back into the institute,” he said. 

He alleged that since Dr. S Akbar Zaidi took charge of IBA in January 2020, LBGTQ+ activists, including a couple of teachers who support them, are openly preaching their agenda, organising gatherings of gays and lesbians and trying that their conduct should be taken as a new normal at the campus.

“It is not possible to hold any event at the IBA campus without management’s permission. Even on March 24, when the campus security officials tried to intervene, students told them that the event had been organised with the management’s permission. That’s the reason no action was taken against the campus security in-charge, Khalid Javed, a retired captain, who would have revealed it all as he had the entire footage of the rave.” 

Students told the security that they were allowed to hold this party from the IBA Registrar Dr. Asad Ilyas and ED Akbar Zaidi, he said.

Another faculty member of the IBA said that Dr. Asad Ilyas is the right hand man of Akbar Zaidi, who can’t run the show without him as he lacks administrative experience. “Dr. Asad is currently the most controversial figure at IBA. He was suspended for two weeks from his position of registrar for engineering the expulsion of one student under false charges,” she said. “That student, Mohammad Gibrail, had to be readmitted under intense public pressure and also because charges against him were cooked up.”

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Gibrail had raised his voice against the harassment of a female student. When the IBA management paid no heed to the victim’s complaint, Gibrail took the matter to social media.

“Akbar Zaidi has no prior experience of running administration and that is the reason he banks on Dr. Asad,” she said.  

Background interviews with a number of IBA students and faculty members revealed that since Dr. Akbar Zaidi had taken charge, lesbian and gay activists have come in the open and their activities are being encouraged by a couple of faculty members, who have similar sexual orientation. 

A female student said that in the pre-COVID-19 days,  at least two parties were organised by the LGBTQ+ students, follwoed by another two after the pandemic eased. “Even in class discussions, some teachers try to defend and portray such activities as acceptable,” she said.

An email written to the IBA management by more than 70 students demanded an “immediate public announcement” by IBA, clearly stating that it “distances itself from ideas of LGBTQ+/homosexuality and vulgar parties.”

And it is not the growing LGBTQ+ activities under the patronage of the IBA management which are raising concerns among students and the faculty members in general, but also the overall change in the campus atmosphere which is raising alarm bells, including the open public display of affection among students and the permission to wear scant and vulgar clothes.

Another female faculty member said that especially in the evenings, she does not try to look at students, who are often found in “intimate and compromising positions.”

“I am not a conservative person…but whatever is being allowed at IBA in the name of liberalism, makes my head bow down with shame,” she said.

One of the first few things Dr. Akbar Zaidi did after assuming charge was removing the dress-code board from the campus. As a result, boys want to attend classes wearing shorts and girls in scant and revealing clothes, she added.

The abolishing of dress code and acceptable behaviour conditions is being hailed only by a small number of students, but the majority remains unhappy and say that it is earning a bad name for their institute.

The email written by students to the executive director also highlights how IBA has changed.

“The most obvious of these changes are: the sheer amount of leniency afforded to students on what they wear, and a similar tolerance by IBA of continuous acts of PDA (Public Display of Affection), and the numerous activities of the LGBTQ+ Group on campus posing with their flags, while wearing objectionable clothing…and tagging their pictures with very problematic statements like ‘Gays are taking over IBA’ or ‘bringing the gay agenda to IBA’ — along with eventually making an Instagram page,” students email said.

The email also quoted some statements of Ms. Rahma Mian, one of the faculty members, who was questioned by students about the LGBTQ+ activities at the campus. She was quoted as saying that “gender is a social construct,” “we are beyond biological essentialism,” “we cannot stop anyone from expressing their feelings” and “gender is a construction of the 18th and the 19th century. You have to decolonise yourself.”

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Akbar Zaidi’s tolerance of the LGBTQ movement and other inappropriate activities at IBA has tarnished the reputation of the institute among students and parents.

“We students came to IBA because of its reputation as a university which highly values positive cultural norms of our society, along with providing quality education; but these recent activities have not only tarnished this image, but has also led to a severe effect on our academic activities, and has concerned our parents too.”  

The irony is that despite being a public sector university, which in the past was known for its discipline, high values and conduct of its students and faculty, is now being pushed into a direction by the current management which directly clashes with the society’s basic norms.

A student alliance comprising the Islami Jamiat Talaba, the Imamia Students Organization and the Peoples Student Federation staged protest against the LGBTQ+ activities at the IBA campus and have alleged that the management was deliberately promoting “homosexual culture” at the campus.

The Karachi University Teachers’ Association, while condemning the promotion of gay and lesbian culture at IBA, said that Pakistan is an Islamic Republic where such activities could spark a severe backlash.

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