In a surprise move, Dr Sohail Naqvi, a prime candidate for post of Higher Education Commission (HEC) executive director, has voluntarily quit the race. The change of heart was publicised on Saturday, when interviews were conducted for the post. The selection board interviewed fourteen candidates and shortlisted three of them.
Naqvi’s attempt to regularise contractual and MP scale employees did not sit well with the HEC’s permanent employees and the case reached the Supreme Court in December, where it was decided that a new ED would be announced within a month.
The controversy started when the Establishment Division termed Naqvi’s reappointment to the post illegal.
Twelve candidates appeared in the interview. The selection board shortlisted the top candidates and recommended their names to the commission for appointment.
The primacy of the reappointment could be gauged from the fact that the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday directed the HEC chairman to appear before it with relevant records after two HEC directors general petitioned the court to challenge Naqvi’s possible reappointment.
The petition contended that the HEC was going to fill the post hastily in collusion with HEC Chairman Dr Javed Leghari and other members of the selection board.
The petition said the board had managed to get the terms and conditions of service changed from what was advertised.
According to the amended terms and conditions, the executive director will be given the status of a vice chancellor instead of an employee in the management pay scale.
The court directed the HEC chairman to appear before the court on Monday with all relevant records.
The 17-member commission of the HEC today (Sunday) will finalise the candidate.
Naqvi told The Express Tribune that he withdrew because he does not feel he can run the commission anymore. He said the HEC had asked him to submit the decision in writing and he did so four days back. “I don’t think I can run the HEC after these events,” said.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 20th, 2013.