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LAHORE, Jan 7: The search committee, entrusted with the task to recommend candidates for the slot of vice chancellors for King Edward Medical University and University of Health Sciences on a regular basis, has included two dual nationality holders in the panels forwarded to the chief minister for approval, it is learnt.

Interestingly, the committee named one dual nationality holder each in the two panels for the posts of vice-chancellor which sent a wave of shock among those contenders who had served the government for a long period but were dropped from the race, a source close to the development told Dawn.

He said the committee had recommended two panels, each carried three names for the top slots of KEMU and UHS.

The committee had initially shortlisted names of nine contenders out of total 40 medics interviewed on Jan 2 and 3 at Ali Institute on Ferozepur Road for the two slots.

Later on, a final meeting of the committee was scheduled for Saturday last (Jan 5) to further review the list of nine aspirants.

However, the source said, the committee finalised names of six applicants on Friday night, a day before the scheduled meeting which triggered unrest among three other contenders dropped from the list. “I believe the matter of shortlisting the candidates at the eleventh hour (on Friday) was not in the knowledge of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif,” one of the ‘aggrieved’ applicants told Dawn seeking anonymity.

He termed it a violation of standard operating procedure (SoP) for the selection and an injustice to the three senior medics who, according to him, were also ‘hot contenders’ for the key slots of the two leading universities of Punjab.

The dropped applicant has sought prompt intervention of the chief minister in the matter, saying that the CM should first analyse internal and external merit lists of candidates prepared by the health department and the search committee respectively which would help him know the actual situation.

He has also hinted at legal fight for the slot if the matter was not probed by the competent authority.

According to the source, the committee had finalised names of Professor of Surgery Dr Abdul Majeed Chaudhry, ex-chief executive of Punjab Institute of Cardiology, Lahore, Prof Dr Jawad Sajid Khan and a UK-based Pakistani national senior radiologist Prof Dr Sarwat Husain for the KEMU slot.

Those recommended for the post of the UHS vice-chancellor included Services Institute of Medical Sciences Principal Prof Dr Faisal Masood, former principal of Allama Iqbal Medical College Prof Dr Javed Akram and former dean of Postgraduate Medical Institute Maj-Gen (retired) Prof Dr Muhammad Aslam.

Another issue that irked the senior faculty members was the recommendation of all the three candidates for the KEMU VC slot from other than Kemcolians. In the past, they said, all the heads of the century-old institution were Kemcolians who had enjoyed a better comfortable level with its other faulty members, they claimed.

“As many as 10 Kemcolians had applied for the KEMU top slot and nobody from them was considered for the panel of three candidates recommended to the CM for final consideration,” another disappointed applicant said.

The source said a close competition was being expected between Prof Majeed Chaudhry and Prof Jawad Sajid for the KEMU slot while Prof Javed Akram and Prof Faisal Masood were the strong candidates for the UHS VC slot.

Headed by former federal minister Sartaj Aziz, the search committee consists of Health Secretary Arif Nadeem, Lahore University of Management Sciences Pro-Chancellor Syed Babar Ali, former Allama Iqbal Medical College principal Prof S.A.R Gardezi, former chief secretary Pervez Masood and Special Assistant to Chief Minister Khwaja Salman Rafique.

Arif Nadeem did not attend his cell phone despite repeated attempts.