ISLAMABAD: The Higher Education Commission (HEC) held its selection committee on Thursday which finalized the name of a candidate for the post of Executive Director (ED) but withheld the nomination as the matter is pending before the Lahore High Court, said a statement.
The position became vacant in October 2018 after the resignation of then Dr Arshad Ali.
“While a motion regarding the Selection Panel is pending in the Lahore High Court (LHC), HEC will announce the appointment of its Executive Director following LHC’s decision,” the statement read.
The LHC, while hearing a motion filed by the Vice-Chancellor of Quaid-i-Azam University, Dr. Mohammad Ali, challenging the ED nomination process and the recomposition of the selection panel, had allowed the panel to proceed with the nomination process, but observed that the fate of the nomination would depend on the final decision on the petition.
Commission suspends nomination as case pending at LHC
The petitioner had alleged that the president of HEC had changed the composition of the board of directors to obtain the appointment of his blue-eyed candidate.
ED’s office, which acts as the chief accountant with a budget of over Rs 100 billion, operates on an ad hoc basis.
The position has been advertised twice in the past two years to announce that no suitable candidate had been found. In response to the third announcement, the jury met on Thursday to conduct an interview with 11 shortlisted candidates.
Sources said that out of 11 shortlisted educators, five including Dr Jamil Ahmad, Dr Sohail Qureshi, Dr Ifthikhar Ahmed, Dr Mohammad Ali and Dr Ishtiaq Ahmed showed up on Thursday.
The Federal Ministry of Education opposed the jury saying that the reinstated president, Dr. Tariq Javed Banuri, had illegally replaced two members of the jury, therefore, the ministry would not validate the decisions of the jury.
The ministry also alleged that the president of HEC abused his authority.
Following the objection of the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Science and Technology also opposed the jury. Secretaries from the Ministries of Education and Science and Technology were part of the seven-member selection panel, but they did not show up for the meeting. Another member, Dr. Shaista Sohail, Acting ED, also did not attend the meeting.
HEC said the ministry’s objections were unjustified, manifestly in bad faith and amounted to interference in the internal affairs of an autonomous institution.
“HEC has completed the selection process for the position of Director General and selected a candidate. However, he sealed the decision until the legal process in the Lahore High Court (LHC) is completed. The HEC selection panel conducted the final interviews for the position on Thursday,” reads a statement released by HEC after the selection panel meeting.
He said the selection panel had finalized the top-rated candidate for the post of executive director as it conducted interviews with candidates for the post at the commission’s secretariat. He said five of the 11 shortlisted candidates appeared before the board.
However, VC QAU was also among the five candidates who were interviewed by the selection board.
When contacted, VC QAU said he had reservations about the selection panel, but showed up for the interview to maintain his legal standing as an affected party.
“I have already challenged the composition of this selection panel as illegal and it is pending arbitration before the LHC. I have also submitted my point of view to the president of HEC in writing”, a- he declared.
Meanwhile, in a line reaction, the Department of Education said: “HEC’s interview process is illegal and will not be approved by the commission.”
Posted in Dawn, February 4, 2022