Having studied at the University of Karachi for almost 2.5 years, I have always noticed the way the students of Department of Public Administration come up with new and innovative ideas. I was already impressed by the way they managed their co-curricular activities along their curricular responsibilities – their abilities astonished me at times. Their department is very far from my department so I don’t get to visit it very frequently. But whenever I visit, not once did I see the students not engaged in creative activities.

The best part of these students’ passion was that they did it for the entire university. They held small competitions time and again to gather the university population across their department since it was far enough to connect with rest of the departments.

I always wanted the Qingqi service to get started in the university because I believed that, at times, it was almost impossible to manage walking from my department to the gate. The distance appeared no less than a kilometer to me. Affording the auto-rickshaw daily too was impossible and out of budget for the students. The idea was still in my mind when I saw a Qingqi taking students to their respective departments for free. The best part was that the students were really happy as they did not need to invest all of their physical energy in a long morning walk and could utilize it in studying with fresh minds. This program called “ride-lay”, too, was initiated by the Department of Public Administration. I knew, only they could have made it possible by investing money from their own pockets and to initiate small ventures to help their university fellows.

Things were perfectly okay for the department until the new venture “Dip and Dip” was launched. It was an opening of a French fries canteen that offered a splendid variety of sauces and flavors. As per traditions, the students of DPA were able to make this venture big and successful. They invited Chef Asad and Chef Ammara on the 13th of August celebration for the launch of the new canteen. Unfortunately, due to massive celebrations all across the university, the event went unnoticed. To compensate, one of the organizers tried to call celebrity whose presence does not goes un-noticed. Therefore – unfortunately and in the lust of seeking attention – Ayyan was invited. What happened after that has been thoroughly exposed by the media.

One after the other, the news channels took no time in breaking the news. Everywhere on the social media I could find criticism against the university on account of inviting a “criminal”. I could never imagine that in my life that I would hear such utterances regarding a university that has managed to stand third on local rankings.

I do not intend to justify the actions of the students. However, all this incident has proved to me is that everyone is an opportunist. No one was concerned about the reason behind Ayyan’s invitation; everyone had their own motives for criticizing the university. I could see the media channels breaking news and making TRPs. I could see the drama pages posting her pictures to get likes and comments. I could see the private universities criticizing the action to prove that they are way better than this internationally acclaimed university. Moreover, I could even see businessmen and social workers demanding the VC of UOK to step down so that they can prove how concerned they are about the issue and the future of academia. All the common people who posted it find it really funny and somehow think they are justified in bitching about the students and the university openly.

However, what everyone didn’t realize was the fact that what has been done has been done by the students. If they are being called “students”, they are in a learning phase. If they were already perfect enough to make wise decisions, they wouldn’t need any kind of training. It is education that helps individuals distinguish between the good and bad. If they are still in their training phase, how can a single mistake on their behalf be regarded as a sin to educational standards?

Moreover, in the hurry to update their statuses, post pictures, and register their displeasure, no one inquired as to why she was invited. The only intention was to invite a guest to initiate the new fries selling business. She was not invited to inaugurate any educational activity. Nor did she deliver any lecture – a lecture cannot last for five minutes. She only shared her thoughts with the people sitting in the hall. I admit the fact that she shouldn’t have been invited as a guest since she is involved in a criminal case, but let me question those who remained quite when rallies were being held in her favor. A whole movement by the name of “Free Ayyan” was launched in which millions of people participated. I could see no media criticism when people stood in favor of her and blocked the streets despite the fact that she was a criminal. This was because that new could not have created much hype. But when it is about KU, it is definitely important and no opportunist would miss an opportunity like that to become prominent themselves.

In order to reveal to the media and the general public, the students of KU had already conducted protests at the terminal where they took selfies with a donkey. The donkey had glasses similar to Ayyan on. It was to prove that they, themselves, didn’t like the idea of inviting Ayyan and that all those who opted for taking selfies with her were foolish enough to take selfies with the super model. The protest also had the slogan, “No Ifs, No Buts, We are Moral Guts”. This revealed that the students were really angered by what had been done to their reputation all across the globe and that they wanted to convey the message that the idea was not supported by them.

In my opinion, if the invitation of Ayyan to Karachi University is a mistake, then a bigger mistake is to give her importance over the day when Pilot Officer Rashid Minhas was martyred. He laid his life to save the nation. I don’t remember Ayyan doing anything similar for the country yet she deserved enough importance to grab all the social and local media’s attention by making a 20-minute appearance.

If the students of KU did the wrong thing, then what the literate criticizers did is even worse. In the lust of producing catchy headlines, a martyr and his death anniversary got completely forgotten. If the media would have highlighted the life of Rashid Minhas on the 20th of August, our younger generations would definitely have had better role models. It’s indeed demoralizing to see how a person who gave his life for a nation does not get enough attention because a super model was invited by a university.

The way KU has reacted to the situation is the best of what any university could have done. Along with proper investigations of the matter, they chose to respond to the hate speech being direct at them by their deadly competitors with silence. The situation has been cashed in perfectly by the private universities to spoil the image of KU and to gather more clients. I believe KU is one of those universities where you can’t buy degrees by paying huge amounts of money in semester fees. One has to work really hard to earn it. I don’t remember any university or authority helping out when KU is out of funds and when students struggle for their basic rights at the university. If this response would have been given when KU was having trouble with its fleet of buses, the students would not have been facing distress in transport for years. It’s high time for us make equal standards for all. If inviting a criminal is wrong – which of course it is – then hosting dance parties in universities, too, crosses the limits of religious ethics that the country’s foundations have been laid upon. The most an institute cashed in on this situation occurred when Preston University, a renowned black-listed university, also started posting against KU. I think that at least those institutes who are barely recognized as universities should not poke their noses in such serious matters.  I would not have attempted to raise this issue if opportunists would not have taken such a deep personal interest in maligning the reputation of Karachi University using this event.