ISLAMABAD, Dec 3: Tension between the new executive director (ED) of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) Qamar Zaman and Chairman HEC Dr Javaid R. Leghari is headed for a pitched battle.

Work started normally in HEC on Monday but things changed as word spread in the institution that on his first day in office the new ED summoned Director General Research and Development Dr Mazhar Saeed to be told that he and Director General Administration Awais Ahmed replace each other and left.

Soon after Mr Qamar Zaman left, his office staff informed Chairman Leghari about his summary transfer-posting order. That was shocking news for Mr Leghari as he was present in his office but was not consulted, more so because Dr Saeed immediately acted on the order.

After a long discussion with his trusted officers, the HEC chairman decided to cancel the order issued by Mr Zaman as even day-to-day affairs could not be conducted in the absence of a trustworthy administration officer.

By the evening, Dr Leghari declared the order null and void through a notification and refused to accept Mr Zaman as ED.

According to sources, he told people close to him that “the commission has the autonomy and the powers to appoint the ED. Mr Naqvi cannot be removed by the Establishment Division through a notification.” He said he would raise the issue in a meeting with the prime minister.

It was on November 28 that the Establishment Division gave the additional charge of ED to the secretary ministry of education and training Qamar Zaman. The same day he submitted his joining report to the office of the chairman HEC and left. However, Dr Naqvi insisted that he was still ED, saying the HEC had extended his contract by another four years.

According to the notification, Dr Leghari declared the posting/transfer orders of both the officers null and void. He also said the commission had already decided that the Establishment Division does not have the jurisdiction to appoint the ED. As per Section-11(1) of the HEC Act, only the commission has the authority to appoint the executive director so the notification has no legal basis.

The chairman also said the commission had already granted four-year extension to Dr Naqvi with effect from September 16.

Apart from the chairman, other HEC employees continued to press for Dr Naqvi’s removal. The association of over 600 regular employees of the HEC has categorically rejected the order of the chairman to stop Qamar Zaman from performing his official duties.

A delegation of the employees met Dr Nasser Ali Khan, the member operations, and told him that the chairman had no right to oppose the orders of the Establishment Division because they were issued with the consent of the prime minister. The member operation assured them that the issue would be resolved amicably.

An officer of the HEC, who is not in favour of Dr Naqvi, added: “The association has decided to hold a peaceful protest against the illegal order of the chairman issued against the writ of the government of Pakistan.”

He said that on December 5 they would go to the meeting of the Senate standing committee on education and training to record their protest. He said the appointment of the new ED had nothing to do with the autonomy of the HEC. “We have no choice but to start a campaign against the chairman because he is not ready to accept the orders of the PM,” he said.

Murtaza Noor, the media coordinator of the HEC, said the commission had been appointing officers in the management pay scale since 2002.

“Legal expert Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan has also given an opinion that a new ED cannot be appointed because Dr Naqvi’s contract has been extended for another four years,” he said.

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