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HEC PhD scholars abroad in quandary

Scholars doing PhD abroad in a quandary over HEC's status
Islamabad, April 06: Panic gripped the scholars studying in various international universities under Higher Education Commission (HEC) scholarships, as they are not sure of what would happen to them after the change in the legal status of the HEC.

There are currently 4,975 scholars studying abroad under various scholarship programmes who are clueless about their future as the bond they have signed with the HEC would automatically come to an end if any change takes place in its legal status.

Newspaper has received dozens of emails of the scholars who have inquired about the legal status of the HEC after devolution. The students were worried about the funding process in future and more importantly the future of the country.

Anwar Shah, PhD student at the University of Melbourne on HEC scholarship is one such perturbed student. "My personal opinion is that HEC is doing good job for the promotion of higher education. All scholars of HEC are supposed to come back and serve the country. I have observed here that all Pakistani students who are not on HEC scholarship are not interested to come back," he said.

He said that uncertainty about HEC was neither better for students like us neither for our beloved country. "At the moment I am not sure whether I will be able to complete my PhD or not. And there are hundreds of students like me," he mentioned.

Shah opined that HEC must remain as an independent entity as its independence has provided chance to average people like us to get scholarship on merit; otherwise it was just a wishful thinking in the past.

The other students who have expressed their grave concern over the future of HEC included Aliya Gul (economics), Shabbir Ahmed (economics), Mohammad Akbar Shahid (veterinary sciences) and Babar Hussain (economics).

The students were of the view that their future and the future of the country would be at stake if HEC devolved to provinces. "We are aware of the condition of schools and colleges in provinces. What to talk about universities and scholarships," said one of the students.

The sources privy to this scribe revealed that there were some scholars who have written to HEC and threatened if any change made against the bond. "The students said that they would approach court if any change takes place in the legal status of the HEC," he said.

He said that legally the bond signed between HEC and the scholars could not be cancelled and any party who would abolish the bond would have to face the music.

"A party could approach the court against the other party who is responsible for breaking the bond," he said.

HEC Executive Director Dr Sohail Naqvi said that it has been categorically clarified by the government that all scholarship programmes would continue, however, the mechanism to deal with this particular subject is still to be revealed.

While talking about the bond, he said that there was a possibility that the contents of the bond would be transferred to the successor organization, however, he was not sure about that either.

Your Comments
"thes paper were so easy and this type of paper a little child can do easily without any confusion so i request to you that please pepare the paper like aga khan board"
Name: aftab alikanhar
Email: aftabalikanhar@yahoo.com
City, Country: sukkur, pakistan

"Yes I agree the scholars may be confused due to the recent issues. I have not seen any one who has shown the other face of the wall. can any one answer the following questions 1. What goes wrong if the body is devolved and body is shifted to Priovinces with a smoth transition.? 2. Was HEC fair enough with dealing with subjects like ART, Architecture, Urban Planning? 3. Out of 10000 Scholarships only 860 were granted to Sind (of which majority goes to KU as Ex chairman was from there once) and 1500 to Baluchistan (Only few locals were given scholarships and all other were from Punjab. specially in BUITEMS ex VC mr Yaqub Chaudary specially organized a compain of filling faculty posts with Punjab and then in months recommended those people abroad. I believe non of the clever men will serve Poor Baluchistan whose resource was used to feed them for 5 years abroad. 4. Did HEC tried to minimize the gaps of marking between the Boards. There is a certain discrimination in marking standards at Inter level. eg The topper of Baluchistan baord gets marks between 70-75% while the it is around 90-95 in Sind and Baluchistan. This is a bench mark for selection for scholarships and deserving students remain behind due to illogical marking standards. I dont know the reason behind the media and so -called civil socity on their partisan role."
Name: Tariq Ahmed
Email: tallaal@yahoo.com
City, Country:Karachi

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$250m US aid for HEC stopped
Islamabad: Under the government's decision of scheduled devolving of Higher Education Commission (HEC) to provinces, US has immediately put on hold 250 million dollar aid meant for foreign scholarships and research for Pakistani students.

Talking to a private news channel, Chairman Higher Education Commission (HEC) Dr. Javaid Laghari said that a lady representative of USAID Monday held meeting with him and apprised of USAID's decision to hold on $250 million aid to HEC.

He said USAID was to give HEC $250 million for higher studies and research and development work of Pakistani students this year. He said that officials of US embassy told him that USAID could hardly maintain contacts with each province.

Meanwhile, World Bank has also hinted at putting on hold a $300 million loan to HEC for higher education of Pakistani students over the uncertainty of latter's future after government's decision to transfer commission to provinces, he revealed. The news

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Govt sticks to HEC devolution plan
Islamabad: The government has refused to listen to the increasing voices against devolution of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) under the 18th amendment, although the institution had played a major role in improving university education over the last one decade.

Since the announcement of the HEC's devolution plan by the Chairman, Parliamentary Commission on the Implementation of 18th amendment, Senator Raza Rabbani in the last week of March, the academicians have largely been opposing the decision.

Besides protest demonstrations by the HEC scholars and students of local universities against the government decision, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) also joined the chorus, asking the ruling PPP to take back its earlier verdict on the future of the commission.

According to the HEC officials, the status of the commission which is an autonomous body is very much protected under the 18th amendment in its fourth schedule. Officials of the HEC say key provisions covered under the federal legislative list of the new amendment have direct link to the higher education sector of the country. Hence the HEC could not be devolved to provinces as announced by Senator Rabbani.

These key provisions are: (a) all regulatory authorities established under a federal law (b) national planning and national economic coordination of scientific and technological research (c) legal, medical and other professions (d) standards in institutions for higher education and research, scientific and technical institutions (e) inter-provincial matters and coordination.

Whereas, according to Rabbani, under the 18th amendment, HEC stands dissolved to the provinces and it is a just matter of a formal issuance of the notification to this effect.

He said the HEC act would be revisited and reframed in the aftermath of the 18th amendment.

The 18th amendment has given the eight-member implementation commission the powers to issue orders, undertake proceedings and make amendments to regulations, enactments, notifications, rules or orders as may be necessary.

According to Senator Rabbani, a separate commission would be constituted under the cabinet division to look after verifications of degrees with no role of whatsoever as a funding agency, like the HEC had been doing in the past.

HEC's top bosses said when first news about the HEC's devolution under the new amendment broke, they had a detailed discussion with the authorities concerned who assured that the commission would not be disturbed.

They said, of late, when they came to know about the implementation commission's final decision on the status of the HEC, they had another meeting with Mr Raza Rabbani led commission and again briefed them about perils that would entail for university education in the country following HEC removal from the national scene.

However, they said, despite best efforts, they failed to convince Senator Rabbani led commission about the importance of the HEC in improving the level of university's education.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Ahsan Iqbal, chief spokesperson for the PML-N termed the decision of devolving the HEC as an irreparable loss to the university education and research in the country. "It the federal government does not take back its decision, people will perceive it a revengeful act by the ruling party against the commission for taking an independent stand on the issue of verification of lawmakers' degrees", said Mr Iqbal.

Mr Iqbal, who was also member of the 27-member parliamentary committee which recommended 18th Amendment, said the PML-N had submitted a dissent note on the issue of devolution of education ministry to the provinces. He said in all federations of the world, education remained a centralized department therefore the government should reconsider its decision of HEC's devolution.

In the Senate on Tuesday, opposition leader, Senator Wasim Sajjad of the PML-Q while moving a bill for the amendment to bring back education ministry under the federal control, said every wrong could be rectified. "If we have made a mistake in devolving education ministry to the provinces, it can definitely be rectified," said Senator Sajjad. Dawn

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Students, teachers out to save sinking ship of HEC
Islamabad: Considering protest demonstration as a last straw to stop devolution of Higher Education Commission (HEC), hundreds of university students, faculty members of universities, educationists and officials of HEC on Tuesday held a protest in front of HEC Secretariat.

All voices were requesting Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, who is the controlling authority of the HEC, to intervene and stop the process of devolution in the larger interest of the country.

Holding banners, placards, and Pakistani flags, to show solidarity for a cause to salvage the HEC pride, earned in last decade and its future fragmentation, the protestors raised full throat slogans 'Save HEC, Save Education, Save the nation', 'Stop disintegration of HEC' and 'HEC khappay'. They also requested Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary to take suo motu action on this particular issue.

Over 2,000 protestors gathered in front of HEC Secretariat Sector H-9 were of their opinion that staging protests on the roads was the only option left to convince the government to revert its decision of devolution of the commission to provinces.

"There is an impending disaster looming in front of us regarding devolving the functions of the HEC to the provinces that has been decided by the cabinet (on the recommendation of a parliamentary committee on devolution headed by Raza Rabbani) to tear higher education to shreds and hand over the pieces to the provinces," students maintained with wrath.

On the occasion, senior teaching staff members from QAU, IIUI, NUML, AIOU, NUST, and others said the HEC was created as an autonomous federal regulatory institution with the prime minister of Pakistan as its controlling authority. The composition of the commission reflects a balanced federal structure with representation from each province, as well as the secretary education and secretary science and technology, together with eminent academic and research experts, they said. "All powers and functions of the HEC defined under its legislation are covered and protected in the provisions of the 18th Amendment. But, alas, who cares about what is legal and what is not," they explained.

The senior faculty members of various universities on the occasion said that Pakistan had made remarkable progress during 2002-2008 in higher education. "There was a 600 % increase in scientific publications in international journals and a 1,000 per cent increase in citations in this period. Today, several of our universities are ranked among the top 500. The University of Karachi was ranked at 223 in the world, NUST at 260 in the world and Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) at 270 in the world, in the field of natural sciences. This is no ordinary achievement after decades of stagnation. The World Bank, USAID and the British Council published comprehensive reports on the higher education sector, applauding it and calling it "a silent revolution", they maintained.

The protestors pleaded government to stop this suicidal madness. "Something good happened in Pakistan after some 55 years of neglect. Let us not destroy this wonderful initiative," they added. Daily times

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More unconstitutional devolution in the pipeline
Islamabad: Not just the highly respected institution HEC but many other departments and ministries are being devolved to the provinces, though they are not authorised by the 18th Amendment, the latest example being the Ministry of Women Development (MoWD).

The unfortunate part of this story is that the Implementation Commission led by a more credible Senator Mian Raza Rabbani is violating the constitution. Already the government is stuck in a major row with its allies and the opposition over the unconstitutional devolution of the Higher Education Commission as PML-N and even MQM have come out strongly in favour of the HEC.

Documents reveal that Rabbani's Commission is heading for the unconstitutional devolution of the Ministry of Women Development. The Commission, through letter bearing no. 3(89)/2011-IC-1 dated 31st March, 2011, has called the high-ups of the MoWD to present its stance in its next meeting scheduled for April 7, 2011 for devolution of the ministry.

The MoWD has already presented its view before Senate Standing committee and has asserted that the functions of the Women Deployment Ministry were not covered in the Concurrent List therefore it would be unconstitutional to devolve this key ministry.

Mian Raza Rabbani and the other members of the Implementation Commission were not available and SMS messages sent to their cell numbers were not replied till the filing of this report. Rabbani was asked to respond to the question: "Why MoWD is being devolved when it is not covered in the Concurrent List? Isn't it unconstitutional? Why HEC is being devolved while its functions are covered in Federal Legislative List and not in the Concurrent List? It is being said that HEC is being made to pay for its tough stand on verification of degrees of parliamentarians. Is it true?"

Importantly the MoWD is neither covered in Concurrent List nor in the Federal Legislative List. "Other ministries including for Human Rights; Information Technology; Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan; Narcotics Control; Overseas Pakistanis; States and Frontier Regions; Textile are also not covered in any of the lists but they are being retained in the centre while Implementation Commission is going to devolve MoWD," said a key member of MoWD after presenting her view point before the Senate body.

Sources also said that a division in the Cabinet Secretariat was established in 1979 but in 1989 Ms Benazir Bhutto gave it the status of a full-fledged ministry. "Article 25, 27 and 34 of the constitution clearly state and cover the functions of the MoWD," said the sources.

Sources said that Implementation Commission can only devolve those subjects which are in the Concurrent List and can not touch any other subject therefore devolving MoWD will be unconstitutional as it is not covered in the forty-six items of the Concurrent List.

The unconstitutional acts of Implementation Commission do not end here as the commission has also okayed the devolution of Higher Education Commission, whose functions are fully covered in the Federal Legislative List. It is believed that HEC is being made to pay for its tough stand on verification of degrees of parliamentarians.

Even the chairman Higher Education Commission along with Vice-Chancellors of various universities have given a presentation to Mian Raza Rabbani and the Commission presenting the clear picture of HEC's status but to no avail. What the government is going to do with HEC is not devolution but segmentation of HEC as key functions of HEC would be gifted to various federal ministries.

A recent cabinet meeting has decided to pass on the HEC's functions to the Cabinet Division, Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), Ministry for Inter-Provincial Coordination and Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Affairs relating to the equivalence of degrees, verification of degrees, standards of doctorate etc will be dealt by the Cabinet Division; universities situated in Islamabad and its vicinity would be looked after by Islamabad Capital Territory for the first time in history; foreign scholarships will now be administered by the Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination. By this way the process of degree verification of lawmakers and public servants will now be handled by the Cabinet Division.

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HEC dissolution not a constitutional requirement: PML-N
Islamabad: PML-N parliamentarian and party's information secretary Ahsan Iqbal on Tuesday claimed that the 18th Amendment never meant to dissolve the Higher Education Commission (HEC).

"The dissolution of the HEC will cause irreparable loss to higher education and research programmes in the country," Ahsan Iqbal, MNA, said while addressing a press conference here at the party's office. Ahsan was member of the parliamentary committee that prepared the draft of the 18th Amendment.

He pointed out that if the decision to do away with the HEC was not withdrawn, it would mean that parliament wanted to exact revenge from the commission over the fake degrees issue. He recalled that in view of severe shortage of PhD scholars in the country, the government in 1999 initiated a programme of international scholarship under the Vision 2010. "The programme was meant to provide the country's science and technology sector with highly qualified manpower," he said. He said that General Musharraf stopped this programme but Dr. Attaur Rehman restarted it and raised an independent institution like the HEC, which in the last eight years produced thousands of PhD people.

Ahsan Iqbal said that the PML-N had recorded its dissenting note on the issue of the HEC during the parliamentary committee's meeting dealing with the 18th Amendment.

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Bahria University defends sackings
Islamabad: The Bahria University finally came out with a clarification of the ugly incident of roughing up a professor and sacking two of them after they criticised the Navy-run management.

The BU clarification issued on Tuesday said: It is thereafter clarified that Mr Qamar Riaz referred to as Top Professor in the said report is just a Lecturer in the Department of Management Sciences, who during the course of the address of the chairman HEC on March 31, 2011 tried to disrupt the proceedings by asking questions irrelevant to the main theme of the topic. He was, as a result, asked to leave the auditorium, only after repeatedly being advised by the Rector to remain focused on the topic. Mr Qamar, however, continued to create fuss and failed to restrain himself.

This is to also further clarify that the above named lecturer, was neither roughed up as reported, nor manhandled by any official in spite of his arrogant attitude, rude behaviour and highly derogatory remarks about the management.

He was, however, allowed to attend his routine business the following day. The same afternoon he started instigating students to rise and agitate against the management. He was seen displaying a banner on his chest "Main Nahin Manta," handcuffed himself and with his mouth gagged, kept roaming around the campus to muster support of students and the faculty, in the exercise in which he failed. Had the management taken a hard line, he could have been stopped forcefully. The entire faculty of the university, also present during the proceedings of the 31st of March 2011, took due notice of his unwarranted action on the campus, which was tantamount to creating a law and order situation and unrest amongst the students body of the institution, and which could not have been permitted under any circumstances.

In another report published in the same newspaper on the 5th of April 2011 without certifying facts wherein it has been incorrectly stated that a second professor has been sacked, and the Rector flies on vacation. The factual position is that Dr Shafqat Hameed had resigned as the HOD of Management Sciences Department and accordingly was relieved of his responsibilities as per the relevant rules covering the subject.

The Rector Vice Admiral (retd) Mohammad Haroon is on an official visit to Hong Kong to attend the annual conference of Association (ACU). The reported news that Dr Shafqat was under pressure to allow admission of certain students not fulfilling the laid down criteria, is vehemently denied by the management and is termed as totally fabricated and concocted. His version that his car was surrounded by that of an agency is also totally denied.

To preserve the very peaceful and conducive academic environment of the campus, for which Bahria University is known for several years now, the university administration was left with no other option but to terminate the services of Mr Qamar Riaz under clause 3 of his employment agreement, which allows termination of contract by either party by serving three months notice, or payment or surrender three months basic pay in lieu thereof. As such, no unlawful act or violation of rules has taken place in this regard.

To add here is the fact that the university runs its affairs strictly in accordance with the academic policies, and rules made by its statutory authorities. The management believes in the supremacy of rules and would expect others to follow the prescribed norms and code of conduct very much required for the promotion of quality education, and character building of students to groom them to become good citizens.

Umar Cheema adds: We recognise Bahria University's right to clarify situation, however, it should have been done without compromising the facts. It has been stated that the professor under question, Qamar Riaz, was not roughed up but only asked to leave the auditorium after he created fuss.

Apart from the university's administration, scores of students have confirmed the brutal treatment meted out to the professor who ran a campaign on social network websites mobilising colleagues for standing with the victim, the teacher sending a strong message to the administration that restraint must be exercised dealing with the dissenting voices.

Likewise, if the professor was wrong and enjoying no support of the students' community, why the warning notices were displayed at each nook and corner by the administration directing them not to attend the peaceful protests staged outside the campus at the Shaheen Chowk.

The degree of repression in this armed forces-run university is apparent from the fact that a student told the top administration in the presence of this correspondent that he together with his colleagues feel studying in a ghettoized environment. A number of other students agree with his colleague who said they repent their decision of enrollment there.

The BU administration has further explained that the victim professor was allowed to attend his routine business the day after the unpleasant incident. This appears ridiculous as the professor was delivered a termination order the same day without either serving a show cause notice or holding an inquiry into his alleged misconduct.

Clarifying its position on the sacking of the Head of the Department of Management Sciences, Dr Shafqat Hameed, the BU clarification said he had submitted resignation well before the incident and that was processed accordingly relieving him of duties. The university administration has twisted the facts. He was not relieved but terminated instead, a fact confirmed through Dr Shafqat. It was only done after he voiced his support to professor Qamar Riaz, his subordinate.

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Kabul varsity students protest burning of Quran
Kabul: Around 250 young Afghans gathered at the Kabul University on Tuesday shouting 'death to America' on the fifth day of protests against the burning of a Holy Quran by a fundamentalist US pastor.

Thousands of people have taken to the streets in protests around Afghanistan. There has been deadly violence in two cities, although most protests ended with nothing more dramatic than burning of flags and effigies.

Twelve people died in Kandahar over Saturday and Sunday, when demonstrators waving white Taliban flags burnt cars, attacked the police, smashed shops and sacked a girls' high school. On Friday, seven foreign UN staff and five Afghan protesters were killed after demonstrators over-ran their office in normally peaceful Mazar-e-Sharif city in the north.

The Kabul demonstrators, who included both university students and outsiders, were staying on the university campus, said Hashmat Stanekzai, spokesman for the Kabul. The news

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