Nottingham University came under strong criticism last month after playing host to controversial speaker Lt. General Arif Hassan, a former military secretary of the Pakistani army, for its annual Sir Stanley Tomlinson Memorial Lecture. The General came to speak about the Pakistani governmentâ€™s perspective on terrorism. The visit was criticised by groups such as the University Peace Society because of the Pakistani government’s human rights abuses and its support for America’s so-called ‘War on Terror’.
The visit was accompanied by unprecedented security measures. Students had to show ID on entry and have their name on the guest list. Bags were not allowed in and there were several security guards located in and around the lecture theatre. Moreover, posters advertising the event with the wrong room number on them were left up. There has been speculation that this was to deter members of the national press gaining access to the student-only event.
The event proceeded without any disturbances. Hassan faced some tough questioning, but managed to sidestep most issues in a typically diplomatic fashion. He admitted the toughest question of the night came from a university lecturer, who asked whether the war on Iraq (which Pakistan supported) was increasing rather than alleviating world terrorism.