ISLAMABAD: The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has directed universities to acquire prior approval of the Foreign Office for engaging with international organisations such as United Nations and its constituent agencies.

This direction was made to all universities by HEC Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed through an official letter.

“I have advised all university heads not to engage with international organisations such as the UN and its other agencies without prior approval of the Foreign Office,” the HEC chairman told Dawn.

He said the Foreign Office had also sensitised the HEC in this regard.

The letter dated August 30 stated: “It has been observed of late that universities have started collaborating and engaging with international organizations such as UN and its constituent agencies on politically sensitive matters without consulting the Foreign Office or other relevant line ministries/departments.

“This practice, in turn, renders the higher education institutions fallible to misrepresent Pakistan’s stated position/policy on such matters. The Foreign Office has also taken note of this issue and has accordingly conveyed its reservation to HEC thereon.”

It further said: “In order to stop this practice, the higher education institutions are hereby directed to seek prior consultation with the Foreign Office by routing all such cases of engagement with international organisations – especially on politically sensitive matters –through the relevant line ministries/departments, via HEC.”

According to a source, a month before, an institute of Quaid-i-Azam University contacted an international organisation without consulting the Foreign Office. The source said after the event, the Foreign Office took notice and guided the QAU’s institute. The matter was also taken up with the HEC.

The Foreign Office asked the HEC to guide universities to consult it as well as relevant federal ministries before collaborating with international organisations in politically-sensitive matters.

Accordingly, the HEC through a letter informed all universities to get prior approval from the Foreign Office as well as the higher commission before engaging with any international body.

Published in Dawn, September 4th, 2023

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