Banuri Out,  Dark Era of HEC ends Special Report

Special Report
March 28, 2021

Islamabad : There are serious charges and events that led to the government to call it a day viz Dr Tariq Banuri, dismissed Chairman HEC, I formed sources confided.

Although Najan Sethi type pseudo intellectuals are propagating yet the charges include financial and discipline related gross irregularities committed by Banuri. An arrogant known well among academic circle he proved to be a poorest choice by Shahid خاقان Abbasi and PS Fawad Hasan Fawad ..

Not alone the standard of education was compromised, MS, BS and MPhil/MS related studies too were degraded by Banuri.

Not a single professional spoke against rather kept mum fearing furious action from the then Chairman. HEC was established in 2002 and Dr Ataur Rehman led this prestigious organisation’s in a professional manner. One may differ on Chairman policy issues however largely the academia highly appreciate it Dr Ata yet
Why Tariq Banuri removed as chairman HEC

Many friends are asking and keen to know why the government has removed chairperson Higher Education Commission Dr Tariq Banuri. I am sharing a detailed thread for why was he removed and what has been happening inside #HEC for the past three years of his tenure.

Dr Banuri came to Pakistan and got appointed by ex-PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in May 2018. He was supposed to complete four years till June 2022 but was sent home with the approval of federal cabinet through a summary on circulation on Friday (March 26). Minister for Education Dr Shafqat Mehmood moved the summary in the Cabinet Committee on Legislative Cases (CCLC) three days back to cut his tenure from four to two years and got it approved except Fawad Chaudhry who opposed it on technical grounds.

Dr Banuri has had an impressive group of people at high places including PM office and in circle of ‘boys’. But soon he lost the thunder as well as the favors he used to curry from top bosses including PSPM Azam Khan. He lately tried to fix this to appoint Maryam Wattoo. the sister in law of PM to head a programme of World Bank in HEC but that didn’t work out. He lost the support of Shafqat Mehmood who was his ardent supporter and would set aside every criticism coming his way over Banuri. Ministry of Education is the line ministry for HEC.

Dr Banuri is telling his peers and colleagues that it is Dr Attaur Rehman, former chairman HEC who got him ousted and badmouthed him before PM. It doesn’t hold much water. Because the following details are something that shows it was Banuri who was to be blamed for this exit. The army of consultants he had brought through hasty and shady processes is an open secret in HEC. To date, over a dozen consultants he had brought in the name of making new policies and reforms. It didn’t go well within HEC and the word kept reaching to the education minister.

Zulfiqar Gilani, Fazal Abbas Maken, Gen Asghar and many others are enjoying heavy salaries and perks, the actual output has bare minimum. Current FDE DG left the post of ETC MDship and a brigadier who was second in the previous interview replaced Ikram Malik which is illegal. The number of ex-army and forces officials kept growing and Dr Banuri apparently kept inducting them to have the relations with high offices well-oiled and fend off any campaign to oust him. Officers from army, air force are still there are adding much to the miseries of staff.

There are more than 8,000 approved scholarships slots (both local & international) under mega scholarship schemes which could have make a huge difference if utilised for sending our brightest students to top universities in carefully selected fields as Artificial Intelligence etc. During last few years, in the incumbency of sitting chairperson, less than 500 scholarships could be awarded. So these scholarships have not been utilised and were kept on hold in the name of so called re-structuring of HRD Division which hardly happened. The Rs22 billion ‘2000 PhD overseas scholarships’ Phase-III was approved in early 2018.

Scholars were to be sent in 200 ranked universities of world. Only 40 scholarships were awarded. Another initiative of US-Pakistan Knowledge Corridor PhD Scholarship Program (Rs25 billion). The program was approved in 2017, to send 1500 scholars for PhD studies in top US ranked universities. This is another huge failure of HEC since only 100 scholarships were awarded. 5.3. Another Faculty Development Program – PhD Studies. (Rs7 billion). The program was approved in 2017, to award 2000 scholarships to study in Pakistani HIEs and to carry out one year research in foreign HEC recognized universities Only around 120 scholarships have been awarded in the last three years. Postdoctoral Fellowship Programme (Rs3 billion):

There were 1,000 post-doctoral fellowships approved through PSDP funding, abut only 40 fellows could avail this opportunity so far. The program was approved in 2017. Travel Grant Programme: HEC had an excellent programme funded through the recurring budget of HEC, through which around 200 faculty members and students were getting the funding to present their research papers in internationally reviewed conferences around the globe. Chairman HEC Tariq Banuri put on hold this program and made a decision to hand over funds to universities so they can send the faculty and postgraduate students on their own. This resulted in the loss of a central mechanism and universities absorbed the funds (with few exceptions. HEC had initiated a robust Visiting Scientists Programme that was running well since 2004. The objective was to establish research collaboration, provide guidance to local PhD scholars, conduct workshop/seminars and teach advanced level postgraduate course.

In the past 25-30 foreign faculty members used to visit Pakistani HEIs for a period of two weeks to sixteen weeks, The program was put on hold by Dr. Tariq Banuri in 2018. The termination of two years bachelors and masters has already created enough chaos in the universities and many universities of Sindh, Punjab have already excused that it will be nearly impossible to follow that new plan of action. The office of Executive Director of HEC has been vacant since October 2018 and till October 2020, Dr Banuri had been enjoying free hand to run the office and later appointed a bureaucrat who knows nothing about her work and rather used to whatever Banuri would direct her to. BoG of HEC called Commission is a 18 member body but it literally become a rubber stamp.

Dr Sania Nishtar & Dr Naveed cease to be members of the Commission consequent upon failure to attend two consecutive meetings. They haven’t attended a single meeting since September 11, 2018. Even more deplorable state-of-affairs in composition of the Commission is that Dr Javed Iqbal, ex-VC University of Balochistan, sacked on the account of sexual harassment in the university, is still member of Commission, a body that develops policies for higher education sector. Last but not the least. All this kept piling up against Banuri including his rude attitude with MNAs in standing committees. Shafqat Mehmood, Azam Khan and others had had enough and called it a day.

The investigation to be carried further by National Accountability Bureau and FIA would further bring dark age of HEC to public.

 

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