ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Chairs in 14 different international universities, which are supposed to be instrumental for image building of the country, have been lying vacant for five to 10 years.
On the other hand, India’s all 300 Chairs in foreign universities are said to be filled.
Some eligible people were recommended for the vacant post by a selection board about nine months ago, but no decision has so far been taken for their appointment.
These chairs are set up on a reciprocal basis and their holders deliver lectures aimed at promoting Urdu, teachings of Quaid-i-Azam, Allama Iqbal, culture and history of Pakistan as well as improving image of the country in the world.
The chairs are supposed to be instrumental to building the image of the country
The Pakistan Chairs called Urdu & Pakistan Studies Chair, Quaid-i-Azam Chair and Allama Iqbal Fellowship Chair exist in 14 countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Turkey, Iran, Egypt, Kazakhstan and China.
It has been learnt that Pakistan Chair in Columbia University, US, has been lying vacant for ten years, in Tehran University, Iran, for seven years and in Jamia Azhar, Egypt, for five years.
Highly qualified scholars with PhD degree and strong teaching background are considered for Pakistan Chairs, but it has been observed that the authorities concerned always find it difficult to pick up such persons for the post.
A lack of interest on part of the successive governments is blamed for it.
When contacted, Higher Education Commission (HEC) Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed, who is one of the members of the selection board, told Dawn that he had taken up the issue with the cabinet division which was responsible for appointments to the chairs.
He said a meeting of the cabinet division would be held next week to discuss the issue and chalk out a future line of action.
In September last year, the selection board recommended the names of seven eligible candidates to the cabinet division, but no decision has so far been taken for their appointment.
The candidates were selected by the board after an advertisement in newspapers. The criteria included that the candidates must have a PhD degree, 10 years teaching experience in reputed universities and have some publications.
The HEC chairman said the selection board headed by the cabinet division secretary had recommended the names of the seven candidates, but he did not know where the matter got stuck up.
Asked why the Pakistan Chairs had not been filled for five to 10 years, he said he assumed the charge of his office three years ago and since then he had been raising the issue at different forums.
Several attempts were made to contact cabinet division secretary Hassan Nadeem Asif to seek his point of view on the matter, but he was not available.
Published in Dawn, May 3rd, 2016