Retain Dr Atta-ur-Rehman as HEC chief

Retain Atta as HEC chief: Senate body
Islamabad, Nov 21: A Senate body unanimously has called for retention of Chairperson Higher Education Commission (HEC) Dr Atta-ur-Rehman on his job, who has resigned but his resignation has not been accepted yet.

Dr Atta's resignation came under scrutiny at a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Education held here on Thursday.

The meeting was chaired by Senator Ms Razina Alam Khan. The members of the committee believed he had been instrumental to bring the higher education sector of the country to a competitive level.

The committee also asked the government to immediately release funds earmarked for the HEC. The commission is facing serious financial crisis because the government had imposed deep-cuts on its budgetary allocations.

Commenting on the reports that the education ministry had suggested taking the HEC under its administrative and financial control, the committee members were of the view that the HEC should remain as an autonomous organisation.

The meeting paused for a while when Ms Khan posed a surprise question to Executive Director HEC Dr Suhail Naqvi that whether Dr Atta was forced to leave his office or he voluntarily resigned. Dr Naqvi and his team only responded through their meaningful smiles.

However, a couple of senators murmured that the government had forced him to resign in an unceremonail manner.

According to knowledgeable sources, Dr Atta was asked by the government to leave the position and he resigned on October 9 and left the office after bidding farewell to his colleagues the following day.

Since then, the seat is laying vacant and the government is yet to make the new appointment. Under the law, the prime minister is the appointing authority of the HEC chief.

When inquired by the committee members, Dr Naqvi clarified that Dr Atta was still holding the office of the chairperson of the HEC as, he said, the government was yet to notify his resignation.

Applauding the services of Dr Atta, Senator Dr Muhammad Said said the government should have allowed him to continue and complete his remaining two years of service. Criticising the successive federal education ministers and their performances, he observed that Dr Atta was a rare hope who had done "a lot for the education sector".

Even if the government is interested in bringing some one of its own choice as new HEC chairperson, it should strictly follow the criterion laid down in the HEC's ordinance for the next appointment, he said.

According to the ordinance under which the HEC was set up back in 2002 by the then president Pervez Musharraf, the controlling authority (prime minister or chief executive of the country) can appoint any person of "international eminence and proven ability who has made significant contribution to the higher education as teacher, researcher or administrator on such terms and conditions as it may determine".

The chairperson shall have the status of a federal minister, says the ordinance.

However, Senator Prof Muhammad Ibarahim Khan questioned the appointment criterion as, he said, it gave tremendous powers to the prime minister in choosing someone for this post.

He called for a "search committee" which should be entrusted with the job to select new HEC chairperson and warned against political appointments made by the government on such critical positions.

During a presentation, Dr Naqvi informed the committee members that at present the government was spending less than two per cent of GDP - 1.9 per cent - on education sector, whereas, he said, according to international standards four per cent of the GDP was the minimum which a government should spend on education.

Dispelling the impression that government is spending money on higher education at the expense of school and college education, he said during the last year out of Rs253 billion spent on education throughout the country, only Rs33 billion was given to the higher education sector. Dawn

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FC College professor murdered at home
Lahore, Nov 21: A Mass Communication professor of the Forman Christian College, who was also the Extra Curriculum Activities Society chairman, was shot dead by two persons in the drawing room of his house in the Gulberg Police precincts late on Thursday.

The victim has been identified as Khurshid Alam Gill, a resident of house #10, E-Block, of the housing society located inside FC College. The deceased was also the superintendent of one hostel at the same college.

The deceased's son, Shakir Gill, said that two men had escaped after critically injuring his father by shooting at him. Several security guards and other residents reached the scene and rushed the professor to the Services Hospital, where he succumbed to an injury caused by a sole bullet.

Police officials also reached the scene and removed the deceased's body to the city morgue for an autopsy.

Tea: According to the police investigators, the deceased professor was waiting for someone at his home for tea. They said that two motorcyclists arrived at his house, adding that he invited them inside to his drawing room. According to the police investigators, the two motorcyclists fired a single bullet at the deceased's nose. The investigator said that according to initial information, the deceased had informed his wife and son about the guests and arranged several items for them before they had arrived. The murderers managed to escape from the scene right after they shot the professor.

Police investigators have recovered all available records at the entry and exit points of the college to aid the ongoing investigation.

Recognise: According to the investigators, the deceased's wife said that she had entered the drawing room to serve the accused tea. She said that at the time the professor and his guests had been discussing property issues. Police investigators have assumed that the property issue was what resulted in the professor's death. Investigators said that she told the police that she could identify the killers if she saw them.

A fourth year student, Ubaid, said that the deceased had a good reputation among the students, adding that he had never unduly told off any student or had any clashes with faculty members. He said that the deceased used to stop for his students and wait for them if he saw anyone from a distance.

Gulberg Circle Assistant Superintendent of Police Syed Nasir Ali Rizvi said that the police were investigating the matter and would find details of the killers soon. Daily Times

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