As many as 18 candidates have been called for interview for the post of the chairperson, Higher Education Commission (HEC).
Out of the 18, three names will be shortlisted, which will be sent to the prime minister on February 11.
This was stated by Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal who heads the three-man search committee while talking to Dawn on Saturday.
Other committee members are Dr Ishrat Hussain (dean and director of the Institute of Business Administration, Karachi) and Dr M.B. Shami (secretary general Pakistan Academy of Sciences).
The HEC was set up in 2002 with Dr Attaur Rehman as its first chairperson.
After his resignation in October 2008, the charge was given to Shahnaz Wazir Ali followed by Dr Javaid Laghari who served from August 27, 2009 to August 26, 2013. All three were directly nominated by prime ministers.
On November 12, 2013, Engr Imtiaz Hussain Gilani joined as its acting chairperson.
According to rules, the interim chairperson can be appointed for three months, so Engr Imtiaz’s tenure will expire on February 12.
Moreover, former chairperson HEC Dr Attaur Rehman filed a writ petition in Islamabad High Court on December 29, seeking appointment of a permanent chairperson after which the court gave a cutoff date of February 12.
“Interviews will be held on February 10 and 11. Many candidates have started approaching me through influential quarters so I have decided to invoke a negative marking formula for the applicants who will approach for their selection. One telephone call, one negative mark,” Ahsan Iqbal said.
The minister said 103 applications were divided amongst members of the search committee.
An officer of Ministry of Education requesting not to be identified said on February 12, the IHC will be informed whether the final list of candidates has been sent to the Prime Minister Office.
“Candidates who have been shortlisted include Dr Attaur Rehman, Dr Javaid Laghari, Imtiaz Hussain Gilani, Dr Masoom Yasinzai and Prof Qasim Jan, former vice chancellors of Quaid-i-Azam University; Dr Mohammad Akram Chaudhry, vice chancellor University of Sargodha, and Dr Mohammad Mukhtar, VC Islamia University of Bahawalpur,” he said.
One of the candidates requesting anonymity said that every person in Pakistan was anxious to know about the final name of the HEC chief.
“Only a qualified, experienced and highly educated academician could meet the challenges the higher education sector in Pakistan is being confronted with.
“The search committee is comprised eminent people in education sector so it is expected that appointment of chairperson HEC will be on merit,” he said.
Former Chairperson HEC Dr Attaur Rehman while talking to Dawn said that he had not applied for the post however he has been nominated.
“I have not refused to join the HEC as chairperson. If I were offered I will first analyse the government’s seriousness towards higher education then accept the post of chairperson of the HEC,” he said.Dawn.