LAHORE: The appointment of vice chancellors of the two out of five leading public sector medical universities of Punjab turned ‘controversial’ as the mark sheets prepared by the search committee, which had completed the selection process in May last year, revealed alleged ‘violation of the laid down criteria’.

Some official documents pertaining to the search committee’s recommendations recently submitted by the Punjab health department in the court showed anomalies, particularly in the appointment of the VCs of the University of Health Sciences (UHS) and the King Edward Medical University (KEMU), Lahore.

In July 2022, the then Punjab chief minister Hamza Shahbaz had appointed VCs of five leading public sector medical universities after the health department moved a summary following the recommendations of the search committee headed by retired Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jaillani.

According to the documents, the then PML-N government had apparently bypassed the top scorers, who got the highest -- 75 and 74 marks -- during the selection process conducted by the search committee, and instead appointed the candidates having 63 and 68 marks as UHS and KEMU VCs, respectively.

A copy of the documents pertaining to the recommendations of the search committee regarding all the shortlisted candidates (senior doctors) is available with Dawn.

Punjab Health Secretary Dr Ahmad Javed Qazi confirmed that his department submitted the official documents to the court and said it would follow the court verdict in the matter.

According to the documents, the search committee conducted scrutiny of the documents of nearly 50 candidates, applying for the varsities’ top slots, and after due process, interviewed those shortlisted in phases and then furnished recommendations to the Punjab government based on the marks it allocated to each candidate under various heads/categories, including medical qualifications, experience etc.

Accordingly, the then chief minister Hamza Shahbaz had issued a notification on July 22, 2022 and appointed retired dean of the Children’s Hospital, Lahore, Prof Ahsan Waheed Rathore as VC of the UHS, Lahore, former principal of the Services Institute of Medical Sciences Prof Mahmood Ayaz as VC of the KEMU, ex-KEMU VC Prof Khalid Masood Gondal as VC of the Fatima Jinnah Medical University (FJMU), Prof Mohammad Umar and Prof Zafar Chaudhry as VCs of Rawalpindi Medical University (RMU) and Faisalabad Medical University (FMU), respectively.

Most of these candidates had applied for the top slots of more than one medical universities of Punjab.

According to the documents, the search committee had fixed total 100 marks, including 50 reserved for the interviews and 50 others in four categories -- 10 each for additional qualifications, teaching experience, administrative and financial management and publications.The official documents revealed that Prof Dr Asad Aslam was on the top of the list of candidates for the UHS vice chancellor’s slot, followed by Prof Zafar Chaudhry and Prof Khalid Masood Gondal. Out of total 100 marks, Prof Aslam obtained 75, Prof Zafar 74, while Prof Gondal obtained scored 71 marks.

Similarly, Prof Mateen Izhar got 69, Prof Mahmood Ayaz 68 and former Chairman of the Shaikh Zayed Hospital Lahore Prof Farid Ahmad Khan obtain 66 marks.

Prof Ahsan Waheed Rathore, the present VC of the UHS, was placed at the 7th position by the search committee with 63 marks.

Prof Asad Aslam and Dr Zafar also topped the list recommended for the UHS top slot for obtaining the highest 37 marks each, out of the total 50, in the interviews. Similarly, they obtained 38.11 and 37.82 marks, respectively, out of the total 50 reserved for four other categories.

The marks of other candidates for the UHS VC slot for the four categories were: Prof Gondal 36.25, Prof Mateen 32.93, Prof Mahmood 33.31, Prof Farid 34.81 and Prof Rathore 28.24.

For KEMU VC slot again Dr Asad Aslam secured the highest 75 marks, Dr Zafar Chaudhry 74, Dr Gondal 71, Prof Mateen 69, Prof Mahmood Ayaz (present VC KEMU) 68, Prof Farid 66 and Prof Rathore (present VC UHS) obtained 63 marks.

Out of the total 50 marks allocated under the four other categories, Dr Asad got 38.11, Dr Zafar 37.82, Dr Gondal 36.25, Dr Mateen 32.93, Dr Mahmood Ayaz 33.31, Dr Farid 34.81, while Dr Rathore secured 28.24 marks.

An official privy to the selection process said it was for the first time that the official documents pertaining to the search committee’s assessment and allocation of marks came to light, showing violation of the criteria for appointment of top slots of the leading varsities of the province.

He said the then PML-N government had formed a new search committee, abolishing the one constituted during the PTI-PMLQ government’s tenure, for appointment of the heads of the five medical universities.

Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2023

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