In the case of denunciation of alleged political interference in higher education official business, Higher Education Commission (HEC) Chairperson Dr Tariq Banuri has not cited even a single name or any other evidence in the 34-minute long interview. During his interview with a private television channel on Saturday, HEC Chairman Dr Tariq Banuri incessantly stressed on a pressure-free environment and need of financial prosperity in order to make higher education sector at par with international standards. “Education flourishes where all universities and faculty are working independently,” he recalled.When asked about political interference in administrative affairs of every institution, the chairperson claimed that it was direly needed for the creation of an environment where the varsities and their faculty feel “protected”. He, however, did not reveal how the varsities and staffers are currently “unprotected”.Earlier, in an interview, the Higher Education Commission chairman has said that education flourishes when all universities and faculty are working independentlyDr Tariq Banuri also didn’t provide any concrete evidence while saying that “the faculty is the segment that never works on orders instead they have their own thinking/vision and we should let them perform accordingly. We suggest the system in which universities have their autonomy as well as transparency in all matters,” he further said, adding that this was what for the an institution called HEC was established so that a comprehensive education system could be regulated and monitored in joint cooperation of provinces and federation. “I know that the higher education system has several problems but it doesn’t mean an attack either from this side or from that,” Dr Banuri said angrily but again didn’t mention the name of any individual or institution in this regard.Recalling the past, the chairman lamented that several amendments in the laws were practiced, especially in the last one decade in order to allow “ad-hoc decision making strategy”.Citing the example of supreme decision making body in the varsities called Syndicate, the chairperson explained that the purpose of formulation of this board was to smoothen and ensure a transparent functioning of internal matters of the universities.“But whenever this executive body runs by some eternal elements, it’ll definitely create issues,” he regretted.Almost every Syndicate has approved nomination of parliamentarians, Supreme Court judges and some other external individuals have nomination of varsities’ Syndicate.Like other organisations, HEC is also an allied entity of the Education & Professional Training Ministry.Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Shafqat Mahmood is the incumbent minster for this ministry. Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan is the controlling authority of the HEC as per Commission Act 2002.Dr Banuri omitted both offices from his criticism but still continued rationalising to interference from either sides.“We are lucky to have an education minister like him, but what if we get somebody who is not good as he,” he pointed, adding that “we needed a system which should not have such consistent intervention”.Everybody, he recalled, knows there were unnecessary delays in appointments which ultimately led to political lobbying that, he alleged, was a practise that was being exercised since the last decade.A couple of days ago, PM Imran Khan in a statement expressed serious concerns over reports of political interference in the higher education sector. He said that interference in universities will not be tolerated. The PM directed the commission to identify all such interfering practices while assuring Dr Banuri of his all-out support to curb this menace and make systems which are completely transparent at all levels of higher education.Similarly, the Education Ministry also denied any kind of interference in the HEC.“As far as the federal government is concerned, there’s minimal to zero political interference especially from the ministry,” he said.Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood asserted that he had issued strict instructions in the ministry to not interfere with the affairs of attached departments, divisions and wings.A senior official in the HEC on condition of anonymity said that two prime authorities of the PM as well as the education minister had assured the commission of their support.Published in Daily Times, March 18th 2019.