ISLAMABAD – The contractual employees of Higher Education Commission (HEC) protested against the removal of executive director by the Prime Minister terming it a violation of Commission’s Ordinance.

Nearly 100 employees gathered in front of National Press Club to demand the reinstatement of former ED Sohail Naqvi.  According to them, the government cannot remove ED when the 17-member commission of HEC has approved the extension of Sohail Naqvi and in the light of Supreme Court directives the government cannot act against the Ordinance of HEC.

 ‘The order is illegal because HEC Ordinance specifies that HEC appoints its own employees. The real reason for this political interference is to control the resources and use them on political patronage as HECs annual budget is Rs. 48 billion and it covers 72 public sector universities- total employees of universities are more the 100,000. As elections are drawing close the attempt is to control the 14,000 scholarships, which are meted out on merit’ maintained one of the employees.

They voiced to depoliticise HEC and reinstate Dr Sohail Naqvi, saying that the Prime Minister has unceremoniously removed the Executive Director Dr Sohail Naqvi, a man who served the country for over a decade and turned around the higher education. He was removed within two hours on November 29 and the PM directed Secretary Education to take over charge as executive director HEC.

One of the contractual employees, Waseem Hashmi, feared that with removal of Sohail Naqvi, all the programmes and initiatives of the HEC in universities would come to a halt, as the new ED Qamar Zaman, who has been given acting charge by the Prime Minister, was not an academic. 

Mehnaz Aziz, Chief Executive & Founding Director of Children’s Global Network-Pakistan, was of the view that it was not just the issue of HEC’s contractual employees but it’s an issue of Pakistan and Pakistani students as all the universities and thousands of students are linked to it. Educational institutions were being politicised  and an official who has made HEC a role model was removed violating the rules.

The protesting employees alleged that Sohail Naqvi was removed as he was pursuing the case of their regularisation and in this regard he was going to be appeared in the Cabinet committee on regularisation of employees on Friday, which the regular employees did not want. 

However, the regular employees have been supporting the removal of the Sohail Naqvi, as the Ordinance of the HEC doest not allow to give thirds extension to ED. According to them, nearly 200 contractual employees could not be regularised as only those employees can be regularised who were appointed against the regular posts but the contractual employees of HEC were appointed either on MP-Scales or under Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) projects so they could not be regularised according to government rules.

They also fear that with the regularisation of these employees, seniority of the permanent would be affected as the Sohail Naqvi was trying to regularise them on back dates.

About 1,000 employees have been working on HEC’s strength including its regional offices in different cities and of them about 800 are regular employees while nearly 200 have been working under PSDP projects and on MP-Scales.

According to information the new ED who assumed the charge on Thursday did not come to office and the ED was remained locked but he appeared before the Cabinet committee on regularisation of contractual and daily wage employees. He told the meeting that he assumed the charge just a day before so cannot say anything about the issue so the matter was deferred till the next meeting.