ISLAMABAD - On the directions of the Senate Standing Committee on Education and Training, the Chairman Higher Education Commission (HEC) ensured the senators that the directive of the Prime Minister regarding removal of HEC Executive Director would be implemented.

HEC Chairman Dr Javaid Laghari bowed down before the committee members, saying that ‘the decision will be implemented and we will go forward’.

The Committee also directed the HEC Chairman to advertise the post again to appoint some new permanent ED. The 17-member Commission will short list and interview the candidates and select three names that would be forwarded to the Prime Minister. And the Prime Minister being the controlling authority of the HEC will select one name to be appointed as ED.

The Chairman Committee Abdul Nabi Bangash maintained, “Dr Sohail Naqvi was a competent person and he has delivered but now he has been removed as in any circumstances the ED cannot get second extension.”

Saying that the case was mishandled by the HEC that is over now he requested the HEC Chairman ‘to forget Sohail Naqvi and move forward’. He also directed that the Ministry of Education and Training should be officially informed by the HEC about its correspondence with the Prime Minister. 

Senator Bangash remarked the Commission was not ready to be attached with the Ministry of Education and Training and it was an issue of ego in fact that has also been resolved.

The Committee members raised strong objections on reported comments of Dr Atta-ur-Rehman, former Chairman of HEC, that the government and politicians wanted to grab the resources of the Commission. They also questioned that in which capacity Dr Atta-ur-Rehman and removed ED Sohail Naqvi have been appearing on electronic and print media and leveling baseless allegations on the government and politicians. They also criticised Dr Javaid Laghari for not implementing Prime Minister’s directives and defending Dr. Sohail Naqvi openly in the media.

Earlier, Dr Laghari remarked that there was no political pressure on him and the issue was purely technical and bureaucratic. He said, “The power to appoint ED lies with the Commission and the Commission had appointed Sohail Naqvi as ED and I am supposed to implement the Commission’s decision.” He said the Prime Minister was requested to give time to the Commission members to resolve the issue but the time was not given by the PM.

Federal Minister for Education and Training Sheikh Waqas Akram was of the view that that the Prime Minister gave clear directives in a letter to the HEC on November 28 to remove Sohail Naqvi as he was sitting in HEC for the last 10 years. ‘The decision should have been implemented. Why the Commission was demanding an appointment with the Prime Minister. To make him understand that his decision is wrong and ED’s removal is illegal? It’s a bloody joke’. 

Senator Afrasiab Khattak said the nature of the HEC Ordinance has been changed after devolution. He suggested that the Implementation Commissions on 18 Amendment had drafted a law that was forwarded to the Law Division that should have been consulted to know exactly what law says regarding the issue.

The representatives of Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (FAPUASA) while briefing the committee members on financial crisis and allocations of funds to the public sector universities said since June 2012 the funds have not been released to pay 20 percent salary raise to the university employees as announced by the government.

Farhana Mallah, FAPUASA Secretary informed that ‘30,000 university teachers are perturbed due to the non-release of funds for salary raise and grants for faculty development and research are also not allocated. The government has no funds to support old universities despite that new universities are being opened’.  HEC Member Operations and Planning Nasser Khan informed the Committee that except few all the universities have gone bankrupt and they have used pension and other funds. According to him the Commission has been facing deficit of Rs. 20 billion.

Sheikh Waqas Akram assured the Committee that in the due meeting with the PM the financial issue will be discussed and the Ministry will help release funds. ‘ But first the HEC should brief the Ministry regarding financial issues as the Ministry was never informed officially by the HEC on the issue and we always got information from the media’.

The Committee also had called Secretary Law Division to seek its legal opinion over the issue but the absence of the Secretary Law annoyed the Chairman Committee and he ordered the Secretary to be appeared before the Committee in the next meeting.

The Committee also unanimously directed the Planning Commission to cancel a public private partnership programme with Beaconhouse University in which the HEC was going to grant Rs. 20 crore to the university. The Senators termed the project unjust and unfair saying that the government is going to grant funds to a private university that is earning billions when the public sector universities do not have funds to give salaries to their employees.