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Classic red-tape coup at HEC

December 07, 2012

ISLAMABAD, Dec 6: After the removal of former Executive Director (ED) Dr Sohail Naqvi, which made headlines all over the country, five more officers in Higher Education Commission (HEC) have been transferred.

In order to understand the present power struggle going on inside HEC, it is important to understand how the Commission works.

HEC has a chairman  — presently Javed Leghari — but the chairman is only a figure head. The main administrative powers are held by the ED, a post held by Dr Sohail Naqvi in the past. The ED basically runs the show at the HEC.

Now even before the former ED — Sohail Naqvi — was removed; there was a power struggle, going on behind the scenes, between the Ministry of Education and Training (MET) and the HEC. MET wanted to bring the HEC under its control and had a notification passed in this regard but the Sindh High Court gave a stay, in HEC’s favour. Basically the HEC was resisting and trying to maintain its ‘independent status’.

Although no government or semi-government entity in Pakistan can claim complete independence. The statement HEC was trying to maintain its independence means that the commission wanted to continue being under the wing of the prime minister’s secretariat.

Now the whole controversy revolving around the extension of Dr Sohail Naqvi’s extension —which brought civil society out on the streets — can be understood keeping the above mentioned information in mind. HEC granted extension to Mr Naqvi, without taking the prime minister in confidence because technically it was his prerogative, as the Establishment Division reminded the commission. And a few other technicalities which the HEC should have followed before granting Dr Naqvi an extension. Which in a way ruined prospects of Mr Naqvi as parliamentarians and the parliamentary committee took umbrage to the fact that the prime minister was not taken into confidence.

Nevertheless, the latest development, the power struggle between the MET and HEC has taken a new twist. After the removal of Dr Sohail Naqvi, the new ED appointed is also the secretary of MET, Major (retired) Qamar Zaman. HEC is now independent in pretence only because in reality the entire administrative control has gone to MET. A classic red-tape coup.

In a first step, seen as flexing of muscles, the new ED, Qamar Zaman, issued a notification to transfer Director-General Admin, Awais Ahmed, and replaced him with DG Research and Development, Dr Mazhar Saeed, but the same evening Chairman HEC Dr Leghari intervened and declared the orders null and void. He also refused to accept Mr Qamar Zaman as ED.

But then the reality: it is the ED who runs the show. According to an officer in HEC, Qamar Zaman has started transferring officers and so far five officers have been transferred on his instructions.

“On December 5, in the evening, not only Dr Mazhar Saeed started working as DG Admin but he also issued a notification from HEC that Qamar Zaman assume additional charge of the post of ED,” he said.

“Besides, through a notification, Director Admin Faisal Butt was changed and Ejaz Hussain was appointed as Director Admin. Deputy Director (DD) HEC Regional Centre Lahore, Nasir Shah, has also been transferred as DD Services in Islamabad,” he said.