LAHORE: The caretaker Punjab government has finalised the selection process for the appointment of regular vice chancellors of four more public-sector medical universities.

The search committees interviewed the candidates of the medical varsities and shortlisted panels of three senior medics against each university.

The health department had constituted new search committees of senior medics on the directions of Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar after he suspended earlier selection of VCs of six medical universities some three months back.

The CJP had issued directions to the Punjab government to initiate fresh process and appoint regular VCs from amongst senior-most doctors following a strict merit-based formula.

Since then, the department could hardly complete the appointment process for the King Edward Medical University by appointing professor of surgery Dr Khalid Masood Gondal as its regular vice chancellor.

An official told Dawn that the process for other universities was delayed owing to certain reasons. They are Fatima Jinnah Medical University (FJMU) Lahore, the University of Health Sciences (UHS) Lahore, the Rawalpindi Medical University, the Faisalabad Medical University, and the Nishtar University Multan.

After a considerable delay, he said, the interviews for the four universities were finalised recently. However, the selection process of vice chancellor for the Nishtar Medical University, Multan was postponed due to “unknown reasons”.

The official said the search committee had called the shortlisted candidates for the interview of Nishtar’s vacant slot on July 17 and July 18, which has been postponed.

The selection process of VC’s appointment for the UHS remained under controversy from day one, he said. After completing interviews of the candidates for the said varsity in June, he said, the search committee recommended panel of three senior medics to the chief minister for final consideration.

The panel included former principal of Allama Iqbal Medical College (AIMC) Lahore and ex-vice chancellor of Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Medical University, Islamabad Prof Javed Akram, retired orthopedic surgeon of KEMU Prof Dr Syed Mohammad Awais and former principal of AIMC Prof Dr Mahmood Shaukat.

Prof Shaukat at present holds the charge of the UHS on a look after basis, the official said.

Before moving the summary to the CM for the UHS, former Specialized Healthcare & Medical Education Secretary Najam Shah put a note/comment on it regarding a pending inquiry against Prof Javed Akram.

The summary remained pending with the CM secretariat since then, the official said, adding that recently the chief minister sent the same back to the health department seeking further clarity on the “critical note” written by the former secretary health on the candidate.

The health department discussed the issue and forwarded the summary to health secretary Saqib Zafar and health minister Prof Jawad Sajid Khan for final consideration.

The official said the incumbent secretary also commented on the summary that Prof Javed Akram is facing some inquiries regarding a faulty project when he was serving AIMC as principal.

Prof Jawad Sajid in his comments endorsed the viewpoint of the health secretary recommending to the chief minister to decide the case in accordance with Mr Zafar’s comments.

The summary comprising panel of same three doctors has again been dispatched to the CM through chief secretary.

For FJMU, the official said, the search committee shortlisted former acting VC of the KEMU Prof Aamir Zeman Khan, Professor of Pathology Shaikh Zayed Hospital Prof Mateen Izhar, and retired professor of dermatology KEMU Prof Atif Hasnain Kazmi.

Similarly, the committee formed a panel of three senior doctors for the appointment of VC of Rawalpindi Medical University. The panel comprises former VC of the same medical university Prof Dr Mohammad Umar, retired chairman Shaikh Zayed Hospital Prof Zafar Iqbal and retired professor of ENT FJMU Dr Manzoor Ahmad.

The search committee also formed panel of three senior medics for the Faisalabad Medical University last week. It has principal Khawaja Mohammad Safdar Medical College Sialkot Prof Zafar Ali Chaudhry, acting VC of Faisalabad Medical University Prof Mohammad Ali Tirmzi and Professor of Pediatrics Dr Mukhtar Hussain.

The inordinate delay in the appointment of regular VCs of five medical universities had gravely affected their financial, administrative and academic affairs.

Published in Dawn, July 16th, 2018