ISLAMABAD: On a day when a court issued notices to the government over the appointment of the chief drug regulator in the country, the health ministry has stopped him from performing his duties and has instead directed him to report to the ministry. His duties have been assigned to an additional director at the regulatory authority.
In late January, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) had been asked by a private citizen, Nazakat Mehmood, to verify the authenticity of Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) Chairman Sheikh Akhtar Hussain’s academic credentials.
In response to that request, the HEC stated that Hussain claimed to hold a doctorate in philosophy (PhD) in pharmacy from the Open International University of Colombo, Sri Lanka dating back to 2000.
However, the HEC said that the varsity is not included in the HEC’s list of international chartered varsities. In fact, the HEC on its website has declared the university ‘illegal and fake’. Moreover, the HEC said that the varsity was not included in the list of chartered universities or degree awarding institutions of UNESCO.
With clamour growing around Hussain’s continued appointment in DRAP, the health ministry in an office order dated March 7 that it had asked the HEC to again verify Hussain’s degrees. It added that the HEC told the ministry in a letter dated February 26, that his degree cannot be recognized by HEC or the government. Hence, the ministry decided to remove Hussain from the post. “It has therefore been decided that Sheikh Akhtar Hussain, shall cease to work as the chief executive officer of Drap with immediate effect and until further orders,” read the notice signed by Administration-II Section Officer Saeed Awan.
It further said that that “the officer concerned is directed to report in the ministry of NHSR&C, immediately”.
In a subsequent notice signed by Awan and issued the same day, Drap Additional Director Asim Rauf was assigned the work of the body’s chief executive officer and “asked to dispose of the day-to-day business of the body with immediate effect and until further orders.”
DRAP chief appointment
The IHC on Thursday issued notices to the secretaries of cabinet division, health services and the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) over the appointment of the drug regulator’s chief executive Shaikh Akhtar and were told to submit responses within a week.
This was directed by a bench of the IHC, comprising Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb as he heard a petition filed by Drap Deputy Director Dr Abid. During the hearing, Dr Abid’s counsel contended that the higher education commission (HEC) did not verify the degree of Drap’s chief executive.
At this, the court directed the Drap CEO and the HEC to submit their respective explanations. Drap’s legal representative argued that they will submit a para-wise response by the next hearing of the case. He also presented details of the departmental inquiry against Dr Abid. The court then adjourned hearings for a week.
WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM SAQIB BASHIR
Published in The Express Tribune, March 8th, 2019.
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