ISLAMABAD: In an interesting move, the new management of Higher Education Commission (HEC) has prohibited all staff of the commission to abstain from contacting any predecessor for anything unless senior management personally approves such liaisons.According to an email circulated among the staff of the HEC from executive secretary to the newly appointed HEC Chairman Dr Tariq Banuri, it was directed to all staffers that no official/officer is allowed to keep any kind of correspondence with former bosses without approval from incumbent boss. “It is notified for the information of all concerned that any correspondence from any HEC official to any past chairperson of the HEC including Dr Attaur Rehman, Dr Javed Leghari and Dr Mukhtar Ahmed has to be personally approved by the chairman. No exception,” reads the circulated mail.A senior official wishing anonymity said that “all concerned officials” includes all staff of each wing of the commission. When contacted, Malik Javed Iqbal admitted the development, saying that he did it in compliance with directives he received. However, he refused to reveal from whom he has asked before sending such email.“Our executive director Dr Arshad Ali or spokesperson Ayesha Ikram is supposed to answer this query,” was all he said. Despite repeated attempts, Dr Arshad Ali could not be approached to get his version over the matter. Ayesha Ikram said, “The directives were issued to keep the official decorum of the commission intact so that any official information could not go without the knowledge of the management.”While defending the chairman’s official stance, Ikram said, “It’s a routine notification and nothing’s wrong in this.” Sources disclosed that the directions were issued in order to prevent the previous chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed from having any interference in HEC.“Actually, Dr Arshad Ali has several grudges against Dr Ahmed as he was not given relaxation during investigation of plagiarism charges,” it was stated. The official said that Dr Ali was alleged for a large amount of plagiarism in his research papers a few months ago during the tenure of Dr Ahmed when he ordered for an impartial inquiry of the matter which irked Dr Ali.Before this, soon after assuming charge of chairmanship, Dr Tariq Banuri also issued another such kind of notification in which all staffers were restrained of leaking any kind of information to outsiders.The notification stated, “It has been noticed with grave concern that reliably, some of the officers of HEC have indulged in the practice of leaking unauthorised communication, information and documents with an ulterior motive.”The letter further warned that it is in violation of the Government Servants (conduct) Rules 1964. Unauthorised communication of official documents is not only against the norms of discipline but also falls within the definition of misconduct and attracts disciplinary rules.“All officials of the HEC should in their own interest, refrain from the practice of such communication to avoid strict disciplinary action under the said rules, which may lead to the imposition of penalties mentioned,” the letter said.A senior official, wishing anonymity, suggested that the new chief should concentrate on strategies to resolve real issues in the higher education sector and should find ways how to put the system at par with international standards and not to involve personal egos.Published in Daily Times, July 30th 2018.