ISLAMABAD: All Pakistan chairs in 14 universities abroad have been vacant for years but the federal government’s education ministry has turned the selection process farce.
On the other hand, India has around 300 chairs and all are filled and playing an important role in image and relations building of their country.
Advertisements were published one after the other over the years only to postpone the selection process.
There are Pakistan chairs at universities in Germany, Egypt, Turkey, the United Kingdom and China. Sources said these chairs have been vacant for six to 11 years.
During the previous PML-N government, the chairs were advertised twice in 2015 and in 2017 but not a single appointment was made. However, when the PTI came to power in 2018, the education ministry decided to fill six of the chairs.
The PTI government advertised the posts but then halted the process. In September last year, another advertisement was published to fill the four chairs set up in universities of Iran, UK, Germany and China. Interviews were held in March this year but since then there has been no progress.
These chairs are meant to promote academic linkages and country’s soft image, says scholar
Prof Dr Saeed Shafqat, the founding director of Centre for Public Policy and Governance, who served at the Pakistan Centre at Colombia University from 2001 to 2005, said: “This is unfortunate that Pakistani chairs are lying vacant for years. These chairs should be filled without any further delay and competent scholars after competitive process should be appointed,” he said and added that these chairs were very essential for Pakistan for promoting academic linkage and country’s narrative.
He said Indian scholars were invariably heading many important research and study centres across the globe.
“After 9/11, filling of these chairs has become all the more important,” adding not filling them reflected badly on the vision of the government.
Similarly, Prof Dr Syed Wiqar Ali Shah, who served at the Allama Iqbal Chair at University of Heidelberg from 2009 t 2014, said the chairs were meant to promote academic linkages and country’s soft images.
“Foreigners usually don’t accept official versions of any country but they give importance to the views of scholars,” he said and added that people appointed on these chairs served as scholar-ambassadors.
“India has more than 300 chairs/scholars around the world who have been promoting Indian narrative and image,” he said.
Additional Secretary Ministry of Education Mohyuddin Ahmad Wani, when contacted, said the ministry had been making efforts to fill the chairs.
He said after the interview process, the ministry was now in the consultation process with the federal government and concerned departments to get clearance for those who had been interviewed before their final selection.
Asked about the delay, he said: “I can’t say anything about pas, but the incumbent management of education ministry advertised the posts and conducted interviews and now consultation process is in progress. So we are making progress.”
He said litigation was one of the reasons behind the years long delay in the appointments. He said the education ministry will not only fill the chairs but was also working to increase the number of chairs.
Published in Dawn, June 21st, 2021