HEC launches probe into alleged plagiarism of former chief

Published: May 4, 2018
President conferred Tamgha-e-Imtiaz to him on March 23. STOCK IMAGE

President conferred Tamgha-e-Imtiaz to him on March 23. STOCK IMAGE

ISLAMABAD: The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has formed a committee to probe into alleged plagiarism by its own former chief Mukhtar Ahmed, who completed his term on April 15 and is also contesting for reappointment to the post.

Reportedly the plagiarism software Turnitin confirmed 88 per cent similarity index in Ahmed’s book ‘Organisational Behaviour in Education’ and 69 per cent similarity index in his book ‘Leadership & Team Management’.

This is the third case of plagiarism that has surfaced since April 1. The probe against him and two other academics in such quick succession is widely considered as an episode of reprisal.

Guardian of plagiarism red-faced in its own backyard

The news of Ahmed’s alleged plagiarism appeared after the Creative Society Pakistan President Dr Tahir Rasheed, also a candidate for the HEC’s top slot, wrote a letter to Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, requesting him to take notice of Ahmed’s alleged plagiarism and to order an unbiased inquiry.

The HEC Executive Director (ED) Ali Arshad ordered probe against Ahmed and two other senior academics. The first meeting of the committee was held on Thursday. When contacted, the HEC spokesperson did not say much except that “due process will be followed.”

Ali Arshad claims to have been ‘victimised’ by former chairperson who allegedly ‘pushed’ a plagiarism case against Arshad towards conclusion in haste. Three committees were formed one after the other to ‘independently’ probe the case but Arshad challenged their findings.

Ahmed and the ED had developed serious differences after the probe of plagiarism against the latter.

The two other academics who are also being probed for alleged plagiarism are Quaid-e-Azam University senior professor Tassawar Hayat and the Comsats Institute of Information Technology (CIIT) current acting rector Raheel Qamar. A few weeks ago research papers of Qamar were also doing rounds on social media and Whatsapp due to their being alleged copies of other researches.

All the aforementioned academics have rejected the allegations terming them a propaganda campaign to defame them. Interestingly two of the persons being probed besides Ahmed are the ones who were members of the committee which was looking into the alleged plagiarism of the ED.

Old traditions

It is not the first time that the HEC is rocked due to plagiarism news and its former head Javed Laghari and current adviser learning innovation department Shaheen Khan were also blamed for plagiarism.

HEC official maintains innocence as more copied papers found

The HEC plagiarism committee found that both of them pilfered content from other researches. Khan, a grade-21 officer, is still holding the position as an acting chief and enjoys all perks and privileges. She had challenged the decision in the court and the HEC former chief had preferred to keep quiet in her case.

Review body

After the plagiarism news against himself, the ED termed the current HEC plagiarism policy not in line with the required rules and regulations. He termed the Turnitin software a tool for detection of similarities not for finding out plagiarism.

Recently, the ED formed a committee to review the HEC plagiarism policy but it will be interesting if the new policy will be applied retrospectively or prospectively.

The six-member committee to find new HEC chief also met for the third time in Lahore to reach a conclusion for shortlisting of three names. The names, once finalised, will be forwarded to PM who is the controlling authority of HEC.


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