Even after fulfilling all legal criteria, the University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF) still struggles to obtain a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Pharmacy Council of Pakistan (PCP) with regard to initiating a doctorate in pharmacy (Pharmacy-D) program, Daily Times has learnt.According to the documents available with this scribe, UAF has submitted all credentials and legal requirements to PCP for wetting D-Pharmacy disciplines. However, the Council is dilly-dallying the issuance of permission since 2013, putting at grave risk careers of hundreds of students enrolled at the varsity. This delay is creating fear and frustration among UAF’s students pursuing the degree.According to the documents available, UAF started its Pharmacy-D program in 2013 while submitting a request for NOC with the PCP. Soon afterwards, an inspection team paid a visit to the varsity to assess the facilities required for the issuance of permission certificate by the council. It is documented that the team visited UAF again in 2016 and pointed out some deficiencies deemed mandatory for NOC.The PCP observed that the varsity had started its Pharmacy-D degree Program in 2103 without seeking permission from the council, which was compulsory.UAF responded, “The varsity started the program with the understanding that its affairs are governed under the UAD act 1973. There was a set of the procedure provided under this act to commence new degree programs in the university while the said program was wetted by its supreme decision-making body called Syndicate”.The PCP inspection team raised 15 objections in the programs, which were all, according to the documents, rectified and reported to the PCP office.Yet, the team visited for the third time in 2018 and pointed out that there was an over-enrollment of students in the programme, which should not have been more than 150. The varsity immediately rectified this objection by putting a halt to new admissions in Pharmacy-D. Currently, there are only 131 enrolled students.The PCP the objected to the shortage of required faculty in the department, where the university justified that the vacant seats for permanent faculty had already been advertised in the national press. However, the selection board could not be held due to a stay by Lahore High Court. The council argued that unqualified and ineligible people had been appointed as faculty members in the said department.UAF, however, rejected these allegations, providing documentary evidence in this regard.“The current faculty fulfils Higher Education Commission (HEC) criteria as all they have a basic degree of Pharmacy-D”, council defended.Responding to the objection of missing infrastructure, the UAF noted that it had allotted sufficient space to the newly-created pharmacy department, which included labs, equipment, lecture rooms, library, among other basic needs required by the department.It was stated that all other minor objections had also been cleared and reported to the council, many months ago. In the meantime, the council team also cross-examined the reported compliance in its fourth visit in April 2018.The officials believed that this delay in the issuance of NOC was quite illogical and beyond their understanding.PCP President, Dr Assad Hafeez, said that the initial number of seats offered by the university was not up to the requirement.Besides, he claimed, the UAF also lacked the required faculty.“The faculty in any institutions is the factor which integral above”, he added, noting that this fundamental element could never be ignored.When asked about the UAF’s justification and submission of court’s stay order in this regard to the council, Dr Hafeez asserted that the council only considered the appointment letters of the faculty, while calling the court stay grants invalid in prescribed law.Despite giving assurance for the provision of complete information in this regard, he has not shared anything even after repeated reminders by this scribe.A couple of years ago, the HEC had notified that the commission would not attest the degrees of students not registered with relevant accreditation councils. When asked about the case of UAF case, HEC media wing did not respond.The PCP is the attached organisation of the Ministry of National Health Services Regulations and Coordination, Islamabad.Published in Daily Times, March 11th 2019.