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ISLAMABAD: A large number of PhD doctors on Saturday protested outside the prime minister’s house in Banigala against unemployment.

When no one came to give them any assurances, they decided to turn their protest into a sit-in and said they would not move till Prime Minister Imran Khan meets them and assures them their issues will be addressed.

PhD Association President Dr Sher Afzal said there are is need for more than 36,000 PhD doctors in universities and that according to the former Higher Education Commission (HEC) chairman Ataur Rehman, there is a shortage of more than 60,000 PhD graduates in Pakistan.

“Despite so many vacancies, the government has not yet provided jobs to only a few hundred PhD graduates. This shows a complete failure of the government’s policy. This is also because incompetent people are on key posts in HEC,” he said.

He said the minimum criteria for establishing a department in a university is five PhD faculty members and that the HEC has given no-objection certificates to many universities which do not fulfil the criteria.

“The government has not been able to use PhD doctors. We do not have good quality seeds, we have low crop yields and problems of deforestation when we have PhD doctors who can help,” he said.

Most jobs are only advertised for graduates, post-graduates and MPhil degree holders, he said.

“There are no jobs for fresh PhD holders. Most apply for jobs they are overqualified for,” Mr Afzal said.

The protestors demand they be given permanent jobs in the departments they were initially posted in on one year contracts. They have demanded the establishment of a task force for accommodating PhD holders in non-teaching institutions and for the task force to make recommendations in a month.

Published in Dawn, November 18th, 2018