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LAHORE: None of the candidates for the slots of the Punjab University and Nawaz Sharif University of Engineering and Technology Multan vice chancellors could impress Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif who directed to re-initiate the process through a search committee.

“The chief minister has ordered to appoint all new heads of the public universities by adopting a procedure of selecting appropriate candidates through a search committee in line with the Lahore High Court direction,” Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah told Dawn after the meeting of the chief minister with the candidates of the said universities here on Saturday.

The minister said the chief minister had constituted a sub-committee headed by the Punjab higher education secretary to make a policy regarding framing criteria for the appointment of new VCs within two weeks. “We will appoint new VCs strictly on merit and foreign candidates may also be encouraged to apply for the slots in new criteria,” he said.

Three candidates for the slot of PU VC -- incumbent provisional VC Dr Zaffar Mueen Nasir, Dr Mujahid Kamran and Muhammad Zakaria Zakar - and for the Nawaz Sharif University of Engineering and Technology, Multan Dr Aamir Ijaz, Dr Mohammad Zubair and Dr Shahid Munir appeared before the chief minister.

“The chief minister asked the candidates as how they could bring about improvement in varsity affairs. The chief minister gave each candidate only a few minutes which they (candidates) believe was not enough to judge them,” a source in the Chief Minister Office said and added that none of the candidates impressed the chief minister.

A candidate told Dawn that the chief minister should have given ample time if he was interested to pick any of them for the slot. “Perhaps the chief minister had already made up his mind to send the matter to search committee to find new faces for both slots,” he said.

Rana Sanaullah said it was the prerogative of a new search committee to consider any of these candidates while shortlisting a panel of three candidates for each varsity.

In addition to the PU and the Nawaz Sharif UET, separate search committees will likely to be formed next month for appointment of the Home Economics University Lahore, Sahiwal University, Okara University, Jhang University, Women University Multan and Ghazi University DG Khan and Information Technology University Lahore.

Published in Dawn, June 25th, 2017