ISLAMABAD: Senate Standing Committee on Education head Irfan Siddique has vowed to take action against negligent officials, as at least 14 Pakistan chairs at universities across the globe remain vacant despite the passage of several years.
According to Senator Siddique who chaired the Senate body meeting on Tuesday, there was a need for an in-depth probe into the issue so that the officials responsible for this “apathetic attitude” may be proceeded against.
“This is criminal negligence; I am very upset as we missed a golden opportunity to promote our soft image across the globe. Those appointed on these chairs act as education ambassadors to promote the country’s narrative and academic linkages,” he said in a comment to Dawn.
“I heard that in some universities Urdu chairs were converted into Hindi chairs after Pakistan left these slots vacant for years. I am collecting information in this regard and if it turns out to be true, then strict action will be taken against the officials concerned for their negligence,” he said.
Lawmaker says Islamabad missed out on opportunity to promote soft image across globe
According to the senator, the last academic chair fell vacant in 2015 and after all these years “our concerned bodies are still unmoved”. “This is something alarming to me,” the senator told Dawn.
During the course of the meeting, the senate panel was informed that a total of 14 academic chairs have been vacant since 2008. Out of the 14, only six chairs were advertised due to budgetary constraints some years ago.
The selection process was completed in 2021 wherein a panel of three scholars was selected for Cambridge University.
The committee was told that the process was terminated by the university and the ministry was directed to re-advertise the position.
According to sources, the UK-based university did not agree to the names which were selected by the education ministry against the agreed rules.
The committee was informed that chairs for Urdu and Pakistan Studies were vacant in China, Egypt, Germany, the US, the UK, Turkiye, Hong Kong, Iran, Jordan, Nepal and Kazakhstan.
The committee expressed concerns regarding the issue and said that Pakistan lost a “golden opportunity to dissociate itself from terrorism and crime” and enter the folds of international academia.
Deliberating over the matter, Chairman Senator Siddiqui directed the ministry to submit a comprehensive report regarding the issue at the next meeting.
QAU boundary wall
Discussing the recent clashes between two student groups at Quaid-i-Azam University in light of a briefing by Vice Chancellor (VC) Dr Niaz Ahmed Akhtar, the committee stressed the need to investigate the matter in detail and ensure that the root cause of the violence is ascertained.
The Senate body chairman directed the VC to establish a commission and submit a detailed report to the committee on the causes of the violence and recommendations to curb such actions in the future.
The need for the construction of a boundary wall around the campus was stressed by the QAU vice chancellor to ensure security at the university. The committee recommended that a letter be sent to the Capital Development Authority to submit its report regarding the construction of a boundary wall.
Taking up the matter related to the appointment/posting of junior female teachers in public schools of Islamabad, the committee condemned the delay and asserted that all-out efforts would be made to regularise teachers that fell in this category.
It was recommended that the Ministry of Education take up the issue once again and approach the federal cabinet to reconsider its previous decision so that the matter is reviewed on humanitarian grounds.
While considering the private member bills, the International Islamic University (Amendment) Bill 2023 was approved with minor amendments. The International Institute of Technology, Culture, and Health Sciences Bill 2022, introduced by Senator Kamran Murtaza and Senator Fawzia Arshad was pended for further review. A visit to the facility will be conducted by a three-member committee comprising Senator Rana Maqbool Ahmed, Senator Fawzia Arshad, and a senior member of HEC. A report regarding the matter will be submitted to the committee within 10 days.
Published in Dawn, March 29th, 2023
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