ISLAMABAD: All stakeholders have appreciated the government for initiating the process to remove Higher Education Commission (HEC) Chairman Dr Tariq Banuri from his post.
The government has started this process as Cabinet Committee on Legislative Cases (CCLC) on Wednesday recommended that the tenure of HEC chairman should only be two years instead of the existing practice of four years.
He was appointed in May 2018 by then Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi for a four-year term.
Sources said that CCLC’s recommendation will be placed before Prime Minister Imran Khan, who can send recommendations to the president for issuing directions to amend HEC’s ordinance and reduce the tenure of chairman HEC.
The HEC chairman’s working relation with federal education ministry, vice chancellors, faculty members, employees and media persons are not cordial and due to these reasons, the government has decided to remove him, they said, adding Mr Banuri also appointed a number of consultants against heavy salary packages; the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) recently started investigation against him. Through an official letter, NAB sought details of consultants appointed by him, details of expenses incurred on the inauguration of university in PM house.
The chairman of Vice Chancellor Committee, which is an elected body of VCs, Dr Mohammad Ali said heads of the country’s universities have many concerns over the policies and approach of the HEC chairman.
He said VCs are major stakeholders but unfortunately, HEC for the last couple of years, has been ignoring them while making policies. “We have no working relation with Chairman HEC which is not a good thing for the country’s higher education sector,” he said.
HEC Officer Association President Raza Chohan alleged that during his tenure, Dr Banuri due to his policies degraded HEC, adding that unnecessarily large numbers of consultants against hefty packages were hired. Similarly, he said, the chairman wants to run the higher education regulatory body as a “one-man show”.
“We fully support the government for initiating a process for removing Chairman HEC,” he said and added that employees of HEC were also hurt when recently NAB initiated a probe against Dr Banuri for his alleged wrongdoings.
Meanwhile, Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association FAPUASA Prof Dr Nek Mohammad Shaikh said faculty members are happy to know that the government has decided to remove the chairman.
He said the HEC head had ignored university teachers in the decision-making process that resulted into poor polices for the higher education sector of the country. “We support government for finally realising that this man [chairman] is not fit for this important position,” he added.
Dr Kaleem Barich, president of FAPUASA (Balochistan Chapter) said not only the chairman but his entire team should be sent packing. “We have been demanding from the government since the last two years to remove this person and now we are happy after hearing that government is moving towards his removal. This decision will have a positive impact on the higher education sector,” he said.
Speaking to Dawn, a federal minister said the government was not happy with the working style and polices of the chairman and wanted to remove him.
He said CCLC’s recommendations were aimed at reducing tenure of the chairman from four years to two years to pave the way for Dr Banuri’s removal.
Surprisingly, after Wednesday’s meeting, when the media reported that the government is going to remove Mr Banuri, he and his media department kept quiet about it.
On Thursday, Dawn tried to reach Dr Banuri to get his views in response to CCLC’s decision coupled with the reaction of VCs, faculty members and employees of HEC but he did not respond to calls and text messages.
Published in Dawn, March 26th, 2021