PM Abbasi constitutes search committee to choose HEC chief

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minster Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has constituted a search committee for the selection of Higher Education Commission (HEC) chairman.

According to the notification, a copy of which is available with Daily Times, the committee consists of Syed Babar Ali as convener while Dr Sania Nishtar and Dr Faisal Bari, Shahnaz Wazir Ali, Mirza Qamar Baig and the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training secretary as members.

The committee would set the criteria in terms of age, qualification and experience to advertise the position in accordance with its set criteria, said the notification.

The committee would forward the controlling authority the names of at least three suitable / eligible candidates after conducting interviews of shortlisted candidates for approval

The prime minster of Pakistan is the controlling authority of the commission.

Two months are left in the completion of incumbent chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed’s tenure after superannuation of his four years’ service in the commission. Few weeks ago, the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training forwarded a summary to PM Abbasi for formulation of search committee to select new HEC chief.

Dr Ahmed is the third chairperson of the HEC, formed by former military ruler General Pervez Musharraf. The first HEC chief, Dr Attaur Rehman, was appointed by Musharraf in 2002 while its second chief, Dr Javed Laghari, was appointed by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government in 2009. After Laghari, the post remained vacant for seven months until Dr Ahmed’s appointment through a selection board in April 2014.

Sources said that there were some prophecies among HEC senior officials that Dr Ahmed might get an extension. However, Education Minister Balighur Rehman desired to make development through search committee to avert any controversy, said an official wishing anonymity.

He said that PM Abbasi was also not in favour to grant extension to Dr Ahmed as he (PM) was not satisfied with the performance of the commission.

The Higher Education Commission (HEC) is the responsible entity to devise policies for over 180 universities across the country.

Meanwhile, the Working Group on Higher Education hailed the formation of the search committee for the appointment of the HEC chief. The Working Group on Higher Education appreciated the federal government for appointing reputed academicians and representatives of civil society as members of search committee for appointment of the chairperson.

They hoped that the search committee would ensure transparency for the selection of new HEC chief as per the prescribed criteria and controversial candidates would not be considered for the key slot.

They also thanked the prime minister of Pakistan for accepting the demand of higher education community in terms of nomination for search committee headed by a reputed academician. The group would continue to monitor the process for selection of new HEC chairman.

Published in Daily Times, January 25th 2018.