LAHORE: I would like to draw the attention of the High Commissioner of the UK to the lack of transparency in awarding of the Commonwealth general scholarships in Pakistan. The British Commonwealth Scholarships are one of the most prestigious scholarships in the world that enable a person to complete an MS or PhD in the UK, free of cost.
In Pakistan, these scholarships are being administered by the federal government through its ministry of interprovincial coordination. This is not an autonomous entity like the Higher Education Commission (HEC) where everything takes place on merit. These scholarships should ideally have been administered by the HEC. The current political dispensation, after failing to dissolve the HEC following the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment, handed over the administration of these scholarships to the ministry of inter-provincial coordination, seemingly in a fit of jealousy. This ministry holds an entrance test all over Pakistan, supposedly to shortlist candidates for the scholarships. But no result sheet is declared following the test. Candidates are only issued their own results with no proper list of shortlisted candidates being released.
My friends and I have been taking this entrance test for the last two years and have scored very good marks but we were not even called for an interview. We tried contacting the ministry but the personnel there refused to give any answers or take the calls. I appeal to the British High Commissioner to use his good offices to ensure that a proper result sheet of all candidates is declared along with the names of the shortlisted candidates. The Commonwealth Scholarships are a great gift by the people of the UK to the people of Pakistan and, therefore, they should go only to those who deserve them.
In the future, the administration of these scholarships in Pakistan should be handed over to some other body like the British Council or Aga Khan University whose integrity is beyond reproach.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 18th, 2012.
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