A total of 60 candidates from over a hundred applicants have been shortlisted by the authorities concerned for interviews to fill the vacant seat of chairman of the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC).
The names have been notified to the search committee formed by the prime minister to select a suitable candidate for high profile post and the interviews have been scheduled for April 18, 19, 20 and 21. The shortlisted candidates include some notable vice chancellors and academics vying who are vying for the post, which is equivalent to that of a federal minister.
According to sources, the shortlisted candidates will go through the interviews conducted by the six-member search committee, which will then recommend three final names to the prime minister. The prime minister will name one of the three candidates as the HEC chairman according at his discretion.
Many prominent academics have applied to the job of the top-slot of the apex body of higher education in the country. Some prominent names include Punjab Higher Education Commission (PHEC) Chairman Dr Mohammad Nizamuddin, International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI) Rector Dr Masoom Yasinzai, COMSATS Executive Director Dr SM Junaid Zaidi, University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF) former vice chancellor Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan, Sindh Madressatul Islam University Vice Chancellor Dr Mohammad Ali Shaikh, ECO Science Foundation (ECOSF) President Dr Manzoor Hussain Soomro, Government College University (GCU) Lahore Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Hasan Amir Shah, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (UVAS) Vice Chancellor Dr Talat Naseer Pasha, University of Sargodha (UoS) former Vice Chancellor Dr Akram Chaudhry and Bahauddin Zakariya University (BZU) Vice Chancellor Dr Tahir Amin.
A total of 115 candidates applied for the position, with only 60 being selected to appear in the interview stage. Interestingly, many among the notable applicants belong to Punjab and many believe that the next HEC chairman could be from the province. The committee will hold separate interviews for all the shortlisted candidates.
The six-member committee consists of former minister Dr Sania Nishtar, former parliamentarian Shahnaz Wazir Ali, educationist Faisal Bari, Mirza Qamar Baig and secretary of the education ministry. Renowned educationist and philanthropist Syed Babar Ali is the convener of the committee.
Meanwhile, the tenure of incumbent HEC Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed ended on April 15 and HEC Executive Director Arshad Ali is expected to take charge as acting chairman of the HEC until a new chief is appointed. It is pertinent to mention here that HEC Executive Director Arshad Ali is also in the race to become the chairman of the commission.