ISLAMABAD: After an inordinate delay of over five years, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) is all set to make the appointment of a regular executive director (ED) on Monday (today).
The commission, the supreme decision-making body of the higher education regulatory body, will meet on Monday to take up the issue of the appointment of a regular ED. The HEC’s search committee will submit the educational credentials and score sheets of 18 candidates before the commission to get approval of one of them on merit.
The post is highly important as the ED performs the role of a principal accounting officer of the HEC, who annually deals with around Rs100 billion in development and non-development budget. The ED also functions as the commission’s secretary.
During the last five years, the HEC had advertised the post at least five times, initiating the interview process only to postpone the appointment citing unavailability of a “suitable” candidate.
Search committee to submit educational credentials, score sheets of 18 candidates today
An official said if this claim of the HEC was true, then a serious question arises about the efficiency of the commission, which produces hundreds of PhDs every year but cannot get any “suitable candidate” across Pakistan in response to five advertisements.
“I don’t think there was a shortage of suitable candidates; I think, due to vested interests, the appointment faced such a long delay of five years. The government should order an inquiry as to why the process faced years of delay,” the official said, adding that there are some reports that this time too, some elements have been trying to delay this process for their vested interests.
“This post should be filled on merit. When the HEC itself promotes ad-hocism, then under what moral authority can it ask universities to shun the practice of ad-hocism,” he said.
However, an officer of the HEC denied that the process faced delay because of vested interests.
“I do agree; the appointment process faced delays, but let me say this: a commission meeting is going to be held on Monday to appoint ED to resolve this issue,” he said.
Another HEC official said the commission had advertised the post in January this year, and subsequently received 160 applications.
A scrutiny committee was formed, which completed its work in March this year. He said on August 24, the Islamabad High Court, while suspending the order of the then acting ED, had directed the HEC to submit a letter of appointment for a permanent ED by October 13.
“So, there is no truth to the conspiracy theory that the process will face a delay again. We have to submit a compliance report to the IHC after this commission meeting,” the official said.
After the resignation of Dr Arshad Ali in 2018, and after ad-hoc arrangements, the government appointed a civil servant, Dr Shaista Sohail, on a deputation basis in 2020. After her retirement, she was given a number of extensions, and finally, the IHC in August this year suspended her last extension and directed the HEC to appoint a regular ED.
When contacted, HEC Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed confirmed to Dawn that the commission was going to meet on Monday on the issue of the appointment of an ED.
“At this stage, I can’t share any further information,” he said when asked about the details of the shortlisted candidates.
Published in Dawn, November 13th, 2023