Finally, after almost two years, the key post of Executive Director (ED) in Higher Education Commission (HEC) Islamabad has been filled, which remained vacant since October 2018. According to the HEC official statement, a grade 22 civil servant of Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS) group Dr Shaista Sohail joined the commission as new ED. The HEC claimed that Dr Shaista holds diverse experience of serving at national and international levels while she has done doctorate in International Relations from Geneva School of Diplomacy, Switzerland and Master’s in Economics from Punjab University, Lahore.She started her career as a Lecturer in Economics at Government College for Women Okara and joined the Civil Service of Pakistan in 1985. Her key postings include Joint Secretary, Policy and Planning, Ministry of Industries, Member Estate CDA, Joint Secretary, Debt Management/ Japan EAD, Additional Secretary to the President of Pakistan, Special Secretary Cabinet, Secretary Statistics; Secretary Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Division, Deputy Secretary Commerce WTO, Economic Counsellor to WTO, Geneva.As per available information, the HEC gave advertisements many times to seek appropriate candidate for the post of ED but in vain. In a talk, the HEC Chairman Dr Tariq Banuri had told Daily Times that the authorities did not find the “appropriate candidate” so for. When the chairman had been asked about publishing a second time advertisement for the vacant post. He had claimed that “after failure of finding some capable candidate, the HEC is compelled to re-advertise the post while seeking no other option except this.” He also recalled that the commission believed in “competency-based appointment”, adding that the degrees were also equally important but “we are looking for competency and not just required academic qualification” for the post.As per the HEC Ordinance 2002, the competent authority for appointment of HEC Executive Director is HEC, the commission, not any individual, and all terms and conditions for this post should be determined by the 18-member governing body. As per rules of the HEC, the qualification of ED which is an MP-1 scale post should be an advanced degree, preferably PhD, in any discipline with experience of work with the government, community and elected officials.The ED, according to the ordinance, is principal accounting officer and he/she is second most important after the chairman. He/she acts as secretary of HEC governing board, head of HEC Secretariat and custodian of more than Rs 90 billion annual budget.In a big development in October 2018 a permanent ED Dr Arshad Ali step down from the post amid plagiarism charges in his PhD thesis. After Dr Ali’s resignation, the HEC’s China-Pakistan Economic Corridor projects consultant Lt Gen (R) Asghar was given temporary additional charge of the post. Currently, Member Operation of HEC Dr Fatih Muhammad Maree was looking after the affairs of this post on additional charge.Academic circles, however, welcomed the development. As a result of long delay, most of them were apprehended that the HEC authorities are desiring to appoint someone blue-eyed against the post.A senior faculty member of a public sector University in Islamabad said “this is an important administrative post while the first time a CSP, who also holds PhD, has been appointment on this slot that apparently seems a good move,” adding that they are hopeful that unlike incumbent senior administrators in HEC, she will work for the betterment of higher education sector which is direly needed especially at this point of time.