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HEC permanent chairperson | Air University convention

HEC gets permanent chairperson at last
Islamabad, April 26: After the delay of about seven months, the government on Tuesday appointed a full-time chairperson of the Higher Education Commission (HEC).

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif approved the appointment of Professor Dr Mukhtar Ahmed who will head the commission for four years. A notification in this regard was also issued on Tuesday.

The HEC had been working without a permanent head since August 26, 2013, when the first four-year term of Dr Javaid Laghari ended. Syed Imtiaz Hussain Gilani, the vice chancellor of the University of Engineering and Technology, Peshawar, was given the acting charge on November 9, 2013.

Professor Ahmed has already been working as the executive director of the HEC since February 2013. The ED serves as the chief executive officer and the principal accounting officer of the commission.

Before joining the HEC, Prof Ahmed, who has done PhD from the University of California, USA, also served as the deputy director general, Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation in Rabat, Morocco.

An official of the Ministry of Education, Training and Standards in Higher Education requesting not to be identified said that a search committee headed by Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal interviewed 19 candidates on February 10 and 11 and sent three names to the prime minister for appointing anyone of them as the HEC chief.

"The three candidates were: Prof Mukhtar Ahmed, Rector National Textile University Faisalabad Prof Dr Niaz Ahmad and former vice chancellor Karakorum International University, Giglit, Dr Najma Najam," he said.

However, the prime minister rejected the names and reconstituted a new search committee.

But Mr Iqbal refused to chair the new committee. As a result, Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Muhammad Asif was nominated as the head of the committee.

The new committee announced that the interviews would be held on March 18 and 19 but later cancelled the process because of the engagements of the committee members. The new date for the interviews could not be announced, he said.

In the meanwhile, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday ordered the government to appoint the chairperson of the HEC within 15 days.

But just 24 hours after the court directions, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif revisited his initial decision of rejecting the three names sent by the committee headed by Ahsan Iqbal and approved the appointment of Prof Ahmed as the HEC chief, he said.

"Although it was the right of the prime minister to reject the candidates for the post, it seemed that he (PM) was initially misguided by some elements due to which he rejected the three names selection by Mr Iqbal," he said.

An official of the HEC on the condition of anonymity added that because of the appointment of Prof Mukhtar as the chairperson, the post of the executive director had fallen vacant.

"There are two possibilities. Either the post of ED will be advertised again or Dr Zabta Khan Shinwari of the Quaid-i-Azam University will be considered for it." Dr Shinwari was on number two of the list prepared for the appointment of the ED when Prof Ahmed was made ED in February 2013, he added.

However, initially, the acting charge of the post will be given to one of the members of the HEC Commission. There are currently 11 members of the 18-member commission, he said. Dawn

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Government's credibility questioned on HEC chief's appointment
Islamabad: After informing the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday that Dr Mukhtar Ahmad was not eligible to become the HEC chairman and the prime minister had turned down a summary containing his name, Nawaz Sharif has now appointed Dr Mukhtar as the HEC chief. Though the court had given 15 days to the government to complete the process, this has been done the very next day. Thus the PML-N government continues with its practice of making controversial appointments.

A search committee headed by Federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal had finalised three names for the statutory post of the HEC chairman, which included Dr Mukhtar Ahmad, HEC ED, Dr Najma Najam, VC Karakoram University, Gilgit, and Dr Niaz Ahmad, VC Textile University, Faisalabad.

Federal Secretary for Education, Training and Standards in Higher Education Muhammad Ahsan Raja appeared before the IHC on Monday and informed the court that the prime minister had rejected the summary sent by a committee headed by Ahsan Iqbal on the grounds that the persons nominated were not eligible or appropriate for the position.

He also informed the court that the prime minister had constituted another search committee, which would be headed by Khawaja Asif. The court gave the government 15 days to appoint the new HEC chairman after showing its annoyance over the delay. It was obvious that the IHC ordered the government to appoint the chairman by following a laid down criteria. The new search committee had issued a notification to re-interview all the candidates on April 17, 2014.

While the candidates were waiting for their interviews, suddenly the government appointed Dr Mukhtar as the HEC chairman while he was facing cases on his dual degrees taken in the same year and his title of 'professor'.

The IHC has issued notices simply three days before the case against Dr Mukhtar's obtaining two degrees in the year 1995, one of PhD Botany and the other of Masters in Business Administration, is heard.

This implies that two or three years before 1995, Dr Mukhtar was studying for both the degrees of PhD and MBA, which is illegal. On the basis of similar reasons, the earlier summary was dropped.

In the reports already published, an HEC spokesman had rejected all the charges against Dr Mukhtar. He said Dr Mukhtar was a very competent person and fulfilled the criteria for the HEC chairman. Some vested interests, he said, launched a vilification campaign against Dr Mukhtar, who is an honest person and an asset for the HEC.

Appointments made by the government are being questioned from the very first day. Either these are top appointments of sports boards or top positions in government departments, organisations, corporations, accountability institutions and big profit earning bodies, the decisions made by the government are being questioned. However, a government official insisted that the premier, under the rules, had full powers to reject the earlier summary for the appointment of the HEC chief and now under the same rules he enjoyed full powers to accept the same summary.

But the question is not of powers of the prime minister but the credibility, eligibility and suitability of all these appointments and the latest appointment has become a classic case as the government has itself informed a superior court that an earlier summary was turned down for the reasons that those nominated did not fulfil the criteria and were not eligible. Dr Mukhtar Ahmad switched his cell off on Tuesday and was not available for his version.

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Nawaz Sharif awards 18 gold,14 silver medals to Air University students
Islamabad: The 4th Convocation of the Air University was held at Jinnah Convention Centre here on Thursday, says a press release.

Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif graced the occasion as the chief guest. Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafiq Butt, who is also chairman of the Board of Governors of the Air University, was also present in the ceremony.

Bachelor's and master's degrees in various educational disciplines in engineering and administration programmes were conferred upon 933 students. The chief guest awarded 18 gold and 14 silver medals to the position-holders. The first PhD degree of Air University was awarded to Ms Kiran Sultan in the field of Electrical Engineering.

Addressing the ceremony, the prime minister stressed on the government's commitment to education for providing access to all citizens and for achieving a knowledge-based economy to realise the socio-economic development of the country. He appreciated the Air University's achievements in higher education in a very short span of time and reiterated his government's resolve to give due importance to women's education and their empowerment for a better future of the country.

The prime minister lauded the efforts of Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt for his focused patronage to provide quality education at the Air University. He also appreciated air chief's concerted efforts for the expansion of the Air University and announced allotment of 70 acres of land for the university.

In his message on the convocation of Air University, Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt said that education played an important role in this era of globalisation which needed qualified engineers and effective managers. He advised students to play an active part to strength the pillars of our society in order to become a self-reliant nation.

Earlier, Dr Ijaz Ahmad Malik, vice chancellor of the Air University, in his welcome address, thanked the Higher Education Commission and the Pakistan Air Force for their continual supports towards the university.

Professor Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, chairman of the Higher Education Commission, Air University chancellor, heads of various educational institutions, senior civil and military officers and parents of the graduating students attended the function.

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Honour for student of PMAS-AAUR
Rawalpindi: Naeela Qureshi, student of Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi (PMAS-AAUR) has won Jeanie Borlaug Laube Women in Triticum (WIT) Award.

She is one of the five female scientists around the world and first Pakistani female scientist to get this award. She was also awarded highly prestigious Dr. Norman E. Borlaug International Agricultural Science & Technology Fellowship in 2012.

On this achievement, Jeanie Borlaug Laube daughter of Dr. Norman Borlaug gave her award at 2014 Borlaug Global Rust Initiative Technical Workshop in Mexico.

PMAS-AAUR, Prof. Dr. Rai Niaz Ahmad gave her a University shield on her success. He congratulated and wished her future endeavours. On the occasion, Prof. Dr. Rai Niaz Ahmad emphasised the importance of nation building and urged upon the students to work hard to be able to play their due role in overcoming the challenges faced by the country these days.

She got this award for her involvement in the wheat research, particularly for the genetic diversity analysis of pre and post green revolution wheat varieties of Pakistan based on RAPDs.

Naeela Qureshi completed her MSc (Hons.) with specialisation in Plant Pathology from PMAS-AAUR. After her master's programme, she started her professional career as Plant Pathologist in Farmer's Market (Pvt) Ltd. associated with Pir Mehr Ali Shah -Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi (PMAS-AAUR) for the production of disease free hydroponically grown vegetables. Later, she worked for the Federal Seed Certification and Registration Department as Deputy Director-Seed Virologist. Currently, she is working as Assistant Plant Pathologist at Barani Agricultural Research Institute, Chakwal. The news

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