Writes Letter to Secretary Ministry of Education & Professional Training Government of Pakistan
LAHORE: Former vice chancellor University of the Punjab Prof. Dr. Mujahid Kamran, who is currently serving as Rector University of Lahore, has raised serious questions over the formation of the HEC Chairman Selection Committee headed by LUMS chairman Syed Babur Ali.
In his letter addressed to the Secretary Ministry of Education & Professional Training, Dr. Mujahid has questioned the absolute dominance of private sector for the selection of Chairman HEC.
Dr. Mujahid Kamran, who has been nominated by Prof. Dr. Junaid Zaidi, former Rector COMSATS University, has refused to appear before a committee, headed by Syed Babur Ali.
Following is the original text of his letter:
Ministry of Education & Professional Training
Government of Pakistan,
Block C, Pakistan Secretariat
Subject: Interview for the Post of Chairperson Higher Education Commission Pakistan
This is in response to letter No F. No 1-9/2013 E II dated April 10, 2018 on the subject mentioned above. I have the following submissions in this regard:
- Although I did not apply for the above post, I did acquiesce to the suggestion and persuasion of Prof. Dr. Junaid Zaidi, former Rector COMSATS University, that he nominate me.
- At the time I agreed to Prof. Dr. Junaid Zaidi’s proposal I was unaware of the composition of the Search Committee.
- Now that I have looked at the composition of the Committee I am dismayed by the fact that the said Committee is completely dominated by representatives of the private sector. Perhaps the only member from the public sector is the Secretary, Ministry of Education and Professional Training, because that could not be avoided. The absolute control of the Search Committee by the private sector is highly questionable. The Committee, comprising almost entirely of individuals from the private sector, is going to select a panel for a position in the public sector that carries the status of a Minister of State of the Government of Pakistan! This is in itself is quite astonishing and disturbing.
- It is a matter of grave concern that Mr. S. Babar Ali is the Convenor of the said Committee. I have personal
experience of Mr. S. Babar Ali’s bigotry, controlling behaviour, prejudice, autocratic temperament and utter disregard of merit when it suits his interests and hegemonic agenda. These qualities were amply displayed in the case of the appointment of Vice Chancellor University of the Punjab (PU) during 2015/2016. I was an applicant for the said post and had scored the highest marks according to the notified criterion for appointment of the VC.
- A perusal of the summary sent by the then Secretary HED Punjab to his Chief Minister reveals that Mr. Babar Ali, Convenor, insisted that since the undersigned was approaching 65, my name must not be included in the list of three names that was to be sent by the Search Committee to the CM Punjab.
- What is not mentioned in the summary was the fact that Mr. Babar Ali threatened to resign from the Committee if the name of the undersigned was not dropped from the panel of names to be sent to the CM Punjab. Mr. Babar Ali, who was then approaching 90, saw it fit to be involved in the appointments of VCs of public sector universities, but was unwilling to include the name of someone on merit who was approaching 65 (which age was within the legal limit set by the Punjab Assembly), was in good health, and had demonstrated the ability to sort out Pakistan’s most difficult university comprehensively. He did not offer any other ground for insisting on dropping my name. Mr. Babar Ali’s behaviour raises many serious questions.
- One may ask as to why is it that the Government of Pakistan as well as the Government of the Punjab are unable to find anyone else to head the search committees for appointments of VCs and Chairman HEC? What are Mr. S. Babar Ali’s special qualifications, that even after crossing 90 he is considered indispensable for such assignments? Does being a businessman in the field of education qualify one for selecting VCs of public sector universities and Chairman HEC? If being in the business of education qualifies him for such a position, then why not others who have set up bigger private sector institutions? Why not Mian Aamer, for instance, who has established the largest chain of colleges (Punjab Group) in the country and has also set up a University (University of Central Punjab)?
- One may further raise the question that if, in view of Mr. Babar Ali, a person of age 65 has to pave way for fresh blood in PU, then why does he not, at age over 90, when a person’s faculties are in a highly imperfect condition, leave room for someone else instead of grabbing a controlling slot in highly sensitive appointments pertaining to the field of higher education?
- It is also important to point out that Mr. Babar Ali had a serious conflict of interest in the matter of appointment of VC PU, in that he was the one who set up LUMS with funds, among others, from USAID and other Western donor agencies and foundations. In fact, at one point, the USAID grant, originally intended for Pakistan’s public sector universities, was diverted to LUMs and the public sector did not, at that juncture, get a single cent from USAID. Now LUMS is a private institution whose interest is served by wrecking the country’s premier public sector institution located in the same city in which LUMS is located. In this objective Mr. Babar Ali has amply succeeded. And other public sector universities, where the Search Committee headed and controlled by him had played its role in appointment of VCs, are also in a limbo for the past two years.
- Were there additional reasons that compelled Mr. Babar Ali go to such an extent in order to ruin Punjab University? This is a question he can answer better. However, in view of his contact with foreign agencies like USAID (a known CIA front), which has been given an office in LUMS, one is led to a disturbing question: is Mr. Babar Ali contributing towards the agenda of influencing the mind-set of the youth through control of education, in a manner desired by the powers that be. Education is not only good business (his chain of highly profitable Grammar Schools is an example) it serves other purposes as well. Is it under the direction of powers that be that Mr. Babar Ali is being nominated and working as chair of a committee for appointment to a position of Chairman HEC, and VCs of the Province of Punjab, even when he is over 90?
- Incidentally Mr. Babar Ali is still the Convenor of a Committee set up for appointment to the positions of VCs of public sector universities of the Punjab. In view of his highly controversial role in the appointment of VC University of the Punjab (PU), his name does not appear in the Committee for PU by design, but in that Committee, 3 out of the 5 members belong to the LUMS lobby and the fourth member is also aligned with them, being a minority person from the private sector. These members understand Mr. Babar Ali’s mind very well and would not dare to go against it. Two members of the Committee who had Ph.Ds, Dr. Ayesha Ghaus Pasha, Minister for Finance, Punjab, and Prof. Dr. M. Nizamuddin, Chairman Punjab HEC, have been dropped completely from the Committee for appointment of VCs of public sector universities of Punjab. They have been dropped because they had dared to oppose Mr. Babar Ali in the matter of appointment of VC PU! Such influence makes one think.
- In view of the above, and in view of other considerations that pertain to Mr. Babar Ali, and which I have thought appropriate not to mention, my appearance before the Committee would be an exercise in futility. I therefore regret that I cannot appear for the interview for the post of Chairman HEC Pakistan.
Prof. Dr. Mujahid Kamran
Recipient SI, Presidential Pride of Performance Award,
Abdus Salam Prize, etc.
Rector University of Lahore