Fact-check: True. Two govt colleges in Lakki Marwat complain of military taking over building
Three officials, including the principals of the colleges, have confirmed that the military had indeed taken over college buildings
Updated Wednesday Nov 29 2023
A letter is doing the rounds on Pakistan’s social media claiming to be written by the principal of a public college in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Lakki Marwat district to the Higher Education Department complaining about the Pakistan Army taking control of the college building, and thus forcing the administration to halt all academic activities.
The letter is authentic, and the claim is true.
“Building security force bases in educational institutions is equivalent to ending education?” a user wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, sharing a purported letter, “Lakki Marwat’s Ghazni Khel Degree College students should not be removed from studies. Security forces should find an alternative place.”
The user also posted a supposed letter written by the principal of the Government Degree College Ghazni Khel in Lakki Marwat to the director of the Higher Education Department in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, urging the latter to take notice of the army “occupying the whole college building” without permission.
This post had been viewed over 600 times on X, reposted seven times and liked 23 times, at the time of writing.
Three officials, including the principal of the college, have confirmed that the military had indeed taken over the college building after which the letter was issued.
The letter, dated November 21, written by the principal of the Government Degree College Ghazni Khel in Lakki Marwat to the Higher Education Department Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Peshawar, brought to the latter’s attention that the Pakistan army had for the last year “occupied” half of the college’s building.
While recently, the army had “occupied the whole college building” without prior permission from education high-ups, the letter stated.
It further added that the academic session was in full swing and in "such an ambiguous situation the college administration was compelled to stop the academic sessions due to lack of classroom accommodations".
Akram Khan, the principal of the Government Degree College Ghazni Khel, told Geo Fact Check over the phone that he had indeed sent a report to the “higher-ups” on November 21.
“There was a movement of [military’s units] in the area,” Khan said, “So they [the military] told us to shut down the college for a week or so.”
The principal further explained that the army already had control over half of the college building since last year, while educational activities had continued in the other half. But then this month, the entire college had to be shut down when the control was further extended, he said, adding that the campus of the Government Degree College stretches over 250 kanals.
Khan also said that after a recent round of negotiations with the military, the latter agreed to provide the students “some space”.
Fareedullah Shah, a director at the Higher Education Department in Peshawar, also confirmed that in “emergency situations” government buildings had to be assigned to the military.
“I am not very happy about this [situation] but when they [military] need [a government structure]… listen you cannot call such a thing an ‘occupation’, this is an internal government matter,” he said.
He added that the Higher Education Department is trying to accommodate the students and the teaching staff by providing an alternative space to continue their studies.
“This is our army, not a foreign army,” Shah added, refusing to go into detail about how long the building had been in control of the military or how long it planned to stay there.
Separately, Yasir Nazir, the assistant commissioner in Lakki Marwat, told Geo Fact Check the military “needed” the college building, further confirming that the students of the college had also recently protested against the military presence on their campus.
Meanwhile, another public college, the Government Post Graduate College, also in Lakki Marwat, was facing a similar incident, where the military had taken control of part of the college premises after which students had voiced their concerns.
Saleem Khan, the principal of Government Post Graduate College, confirmed the news, adding that the issue had now been resolved with the military without explaining any further.
With additional reporting by Saman Amjad.
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