Protesting teachers have criticised Higher Education Commission (HEC) Chairman Dr Tariq Banuri, alleging that he only wants to save his own job while creating rifts between students’ parents and faculty only to prolong teachers’ protests. Teachers said this at a press conference on Friday outside the HEC office where they have been protesting for three days to press the authorities to accept their demands. Teachers from different universities across the country gathered here for three days to protest against the alleged discriminations with them by authorities concerned. They say the HEC failed to resolve the genuine issues that according to them have been facing for many years. President of the Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (FAPUASA) Dr Sohail Yousaf, who was accompanied by some other academic associations’ representatives at the presser, said that instead of reviewing our issues the HEC chairman hurled personal attacks on teachers in which he urged parents to come out against the faculty. A couple of days ago, Dr Banuri said at a press conference that the teachers’ demands are not solid, and not even ‘clear. He also urged the parents of the students to make consensus against such protests as these ultimately harm the students’ academic activities. Besides some other federations, the FAPUASA is a leading organization in holding protests for its community’s rights. Dr Yousaf said that the protest turned sit-in would continue and expand country wide until acceptance of the demands. He said that faculty members from across the country are recording their peaceful protest day and night while spending nights under the open sky. It is a pity that neither the government nor the HEC officials have shown any concern to the continued protest of esteemed university teachers. He said that the authorities appear completely oblivious of the misery and destruction of the once flourishing higher education sector of Pakistan. In the presser, however, the speakers could not clearly explain their actual issues against which they are here to protest. The faculty members seem more focused on the chairman and executive director’s appointment. “The chairman, whose very own appointment is unlawful, and is surrounded by the equally unlawfully appointed advisors and ad-hoc officials wreaking havoc with HEC policies related to academics, research, faculty, and students alike,” Dr yousaf said. The faculty said that the chairman is not showing his unwillingness to receive or even listen to input of stakeholders including faculty members regarding various policy issues. “Neither has he shown the capacity to clearly articulate his policy measures, while insisting the implementation of his half-cooked ideas,” one of the speakers regretted. They said that it was the biggest incompetency of the Chairman who could not secure sufficient funding for higher education while he indulged himself in damaging practices and policies, instead. They said that the research funding has been reduced by orders of magnitude, research culture at Universities is being undermined by de-incentivizing the research, and faculty is being discouraged. “Academics is being undermined by diluting the subject specialty and lack of facilities for students. Career goalposts for researchers are being continuously shifted for TTS faculty and BPS faculty is completely being denied the career growth. HEC continues to interfere with the University’s autonomy on a daily basis disrupting its academic, research, and administrative functioning. The universities’ environment is being turned into an environment of torture and victimization by these policies, which appear to be brainchild of an individual, without consultation with the stake holders,” the faculty regretted. Interestingly, as per available information, it was not HEC who cut the education budget but the incumbent government. The HEC had itself raised voice against budget cuts by the government. The presser ended without taking on-camera questions from the reporters who were there to cover it. In a previous presser, Dr Banuir clearly said that the “HEC has always given priority to genuine demands by the faculty members and will continue to do so,” suggesting that the faculty members should also realize that the purpose of the decisions is to serve our students and future employers of graduates and not to continue to lower standards. He said the HEC had decided to address issues facing tenure track faculty before their protest last week, adding that some individuals were trying to destroy the system by lowering its standards. “They have demanded that the publication requirements for TTS faculty members should be reduced and that they should be allowed to do other jobs. This will ensure the demise of the TTS system. It will also be against the interest of students who deserve to be taught by the best professors,” he claimed. He said that HEC has extended the maximum length of tenure to nine years for tenure track faculty unable to complete the eligibility requirements for promotion as an associate professor within the already specified six years period. He further justified that the faculty on BPS scales are also being facilitated with various programmes, adding that the commission previously upgraded their pay scales and a professor now has perks and privileges equivalent to a grade 21 officer.