By Saeed Ahmed Saeed
LAHORE: Finally, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has conducted the interviews of candidates for the posts of vice chancellors of four public sector universities of the province and the result is anxiously awaited in the academic circles of Punjab.
Besides the chief minister, the interview panel also comprised Education Minister Rana Mashhood Ahmed Khan, Punjab Higher Education Commission Chairman Dr Nizamuddin, LUMS Professor Dr Zafar Iqbal Qureshi and Information Technology University VC Dr Umar Saif. Search Committee head Syed Babur was not present in the interviews, sources said.
As many as 11 candidates, who were shortlisted by the Vice Chancellor Search Committee after detailed interviews of around 90 candidates, appeared before the interview panel. One or two candidates make sure their presence through video link, sources told The Educationist.
Mian Shahbaz Sharif mainly asked questions about the vision of the candidates keeping in view administrative issues of the relevant universities and problems faced by the country. Dr Zafar Iqbal Qureshi and Dr Nizam, who had already interviewed the candidates, they mostly remained mum and gestured to the CM’s concerns only. However, the CM encouraged other panellists to ask queries if any. Umer Saif and Rana Mashhood participated on certain points to help the CM to probe the candidates.
Earlier a day before interview, all 11 candidates were informed just 30 to 45 minutes before the scheduled time 5pm that the interview has been postponed once again and they should wait for the next call. Many candidates have left for the venue when they received the call that ‘CM was not available for the interview due to some unavoidable circumstances.’ Earlier, there were reports that the chief minister has constituted a high-level committee to ‘evaluate the performance’ of Punjab University Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Mujahid Kamran and the interviews will be conducted after the report of this committee. However, practically neither any committee was constituted nor it had any meeting.
The universities where VCs’ vacant seat were advertised included Punjab University (PU), Lahore College for Women University (LCWU), University of Sargodha (UoS) and Muhammad Nawaz Sharif University of Engineering & Technology, Multan (MNS-UET). The committee had recommended names of Dr Mujahid Kamran, Dr Zakria Zakar and Dr Zaffar Mueen Nasir for PU. Dr Uzma Qureshi, Dr Shahida Hasnain and Dr Rukhsana Kausar for LCWU. For UoS Dr Tahir Kamran, Prof Ishtiaq Ahmed and Zaffar Mueen Nasir, while three names for MNS-UET were Dr Shahid Munir, Dr Zubair Ahmed and Dr Aamer Ijaz. All these candidates appeared for final interview before the CM and his panel.
Sources said after the interviews the chief minister discussed various options with the panellists and finalised the names. Later Secretary Higher Education Department Irfan Ali was advised accordingly to prepare the final summary at the earliest. It was also decided to maintain complete confidentiality until final approval of the summary by the chief minister. It was also decided that final notification will be issued subject to the court orders, as the case is pending with the Lahore High Court.