Arsalan Haider 

The federal government has failed to appoint the executive director (ED) of Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan even after almost two years have passed since the PTI took reins of power.

The post of HEC ED is lying vacant for the last two years, ever since incumbent Chairman Dr Tariq Banuri was appointed by the outgoing government of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led federal government, which claims education as its top priority, has been unable to manage this key appointment in HEC. The post happens to be the backbone of the higher education regulatory body .

The post is lying vacant since October 22, 2018. The adhoc charge was given to Dr Fateh Muhammad Mari for 90 days but he is still working on the seat with the blessings of the chairman.

The post has been advertised three times by HEC Chairman Dr Tariq Banuri, but no appointment has been made. Reliable sources at HEC told Academia Magazine that the vacant seat of the ED was in favor of Dr Tariq Banuri, as he wanted to manage HEC alone. Sources further added that it could be that Dr Banuri wished to appoint one of his favorites to the post, which could be the reason for advertising this post three times.

The HEC officials confided that when the post was advertised the third time, applications of around 60 candidates were received. It is noteworthy that the HEC chairman also refused to hire renowned educationists and vice chancellors for this post despite the fact that they were capable and met the criteria. Another interesting fact is that application of vice chancellors of five reputed universities were received for the post, but the chairman declared the whole hiring process null and void and rejected the list of short-listed candidates. Per rules and regulations, the chairman cannot scrap the process of appointment of ED without prior approval of selection board.

It was revealed that the chairman could also be attempting to appoint a bureaucrat to the post on deputation. However, no bureaucrat has been appointed to the post since the inception of HEC.

The sources said the post was likely to remain vacant until the chairman found a “capable” candidate of his choice, lamenting that an institution with a budget of Rs 100 billion was without an executive director who was responsible for running the financial and administrative matters of the institute.

When contacted, HEC Chairman Tariq Banuri said the commission would continue to advertise the post until “we will find a suitable candidate. In the mean time, the duties are being performed satisfactorily by the interim ED”.

When asked about the delay in appointment of HEC ED, HEC member from Sindh and IBA Sukkhur Vice Chancellor Professor Dr Nisar Siddiqui said he was unaware regarding the delay and he had not been informed of the same as a commission member.

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