The former chairman of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) Dr Tariq Banuri has held former HEC chairman Dr Attaur Rehman responsible for his unceremonious dismissal.

Dr Banuri was dismissed from his position on March 26 through a notification from the Cabinet Secretariat. Dr Banuri was appointed as the chief of the commission in 2018 by then prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi during the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government. His tenure was supposed to end in May 2022.

In a tell-all interview with physicist and education Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy, Dr Banuri revealed the details of his dismissal.

Dr Banuri pointed out that HEC, as a regulatory body had protection to complete the tenures, but he had been removed prematurely with an ordinance that was passed overnight to “target” him specifically.

He said he was presented with no charge sheet explaining the reasons for his dismissal. He went on to detail a “trail of favouritism” that accorded greaters funds to only certain initiatives, and named Dr Attaur Rehman’s research centres at those receiving huge amounts of funds.

He said the HEC had informed the centres that they will not be provided any more funds like this, except on the basis of performance. Upon this, the HEC received a notice from the Prime Minister’s office (PMO) warning it to not take accountability from Dr Attaur Rehman’s research centres.

He added that the PMO sent him a letter stating that HEC could take accountability from all other institutions other than Rehman’s, saying that the PMO was satisfied with the reseach work done by his centres.

“God knows how,” Dr Banuri said, “because the PMO is not a technical outfit and, to our understanding, they have no understanding of research.”

Dr Banuri further revealed in the interview that even after repeated attempts from the HEC to gather information about the on-going research and output in Rehman’s institutions, the PMO intervened and did not let HEC see how these institutions were using the funds.

Apart from accusing the PMO of hiding possible corruption of Rehman’s institutions, the interview also discussed the dire situation of higher education in Pakistan.

Dr Banuri commented that PHDs produced in Pakistan are far below the required levels of competency, whereas academic journals are the biggest scam in higher education. He further discussed the measures he took as chairman of HEC to rectify these issues, including, life-long training programs for PHDs, teaching as a requirement for promotions (along with research) and introducing a method of providing funds on the basis of output and research produced by research centres.

To watch the entire interview visit Dr Hoodbhoy’s YouTube channel.


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