The Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC) has finally named the members of a three-member fact-finding committee that is to probe allegations of irregularities in payments of $7 million (Rs 638 million) worth of salaries by the Government College Lahore University under the Foreign Faculty Hiring Programme (FFHP).

The alleged dubious payments were made under the head of salaries for foreign staff and were handed out between 2003 and 2013 by then administrations of Government College University (GCU) Lahore, and reports say some of the payments were made despite no such faculty actually working for the university.

According to a notification by HEC, Dr Muhammad Shoaib Suddle, former IG Police and Member NUST Global Think Tank, will chair the foreign faculty scandal probe Committee, while Quaid-e-Azam University VC Professor Dr Muhammad Ali and, HEC HRD/Academics Director General Muhammad Raza Chohan will be the member and secretary of the committee, respectively.

The three member committee will also review the operation of FFHP at other universities. The committee will probe the matter and will submit its recommendation to the competent authority within a month. While, the foreign faculty scandal probe committee will not probe the details being investigated by National Accountability Bureau (NAB) at GCU Lahore, it will address the overall concerns arising out of the reports published in a section of the press, and being commented upon on social media.

The Foreign Faculty Hiring Programme was launched by HEC in 2003 to seek services of qualified academics and researchers offering technical support in development of new programmes, providing trainings for teaching and research, and building capacity for PhD supervision.

The foreign faculty programme was not limited to GCU, and around 40 universities across Pakistan benefited from the qualified visiting experts.

Former chairman HEC and Advisor to Prime Minister on Science and Technology Dr Atta-ur-Rehman has said politics was rampant in HEC and the body was hardly focusing on the core issues of the commission.

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