KARACHI Former chairman Higher Education Commission (HEC) Prof Dr Atta-ur-Rahman criticised the decision of the government to transfer the HEC to the provincial level, and said that the decision was nothing but a national disaster. During the last ten years the performance of the Commission to promote higher education in the country has internationally been acknowledged; HEC is legally protected after the 18th Amendment, he said, while talking to The Nation on Sunday. It is pertinent to mention here that in the literary and educational circles of the country the aforesaid government decision was being criticised. These circles were of the view that the transfer of HEC to the provincial level would definitely open the new vistas of corruption. On the other hand, differences between the government and the existing HEC Chairman Javed Leghari has been surfaced, as Leghari in a press conference held on Saturday in Karachi expressed his reservations over the decision of higher educations transfer to the provincial level, and said that the issue would be discussed in the meeting of Inter-Provincial Coordination Committee (IPCC). Conversely, in the same press conference a leading figure of the Sindh government and Provincial Education Minister, Pir Mazharul Haq mentioned that after the 18th Amendment the HEC was no more, while various ministries had already been transferred to the provinces. After the consensus of all political parities the decision has been taken in the legal committee, while all provincial ministers and HEC Chief will be invited in a combined meeting, where we will try to clear all reservations, he said and added that this issue was not personal; everything should be done in favour of the country, he said. Dr Atta-ur-Rahman said that few months back around 72 vice-chancellors of the public universities had showed their satisfaction with HEC, and said that their institutions would prefer to stay with the HEC. He said that the lower education in the country was already suffering with the poor attention of the authorities. HEC is legally protected. The 18th Amendment, through the 4th Schedule (Article 70(4) of the Federal Legislative Lists Part-I and Part-II, fully supports the current powers and functions of the HEC, and includes higher education and research as federal subjects. I hope that President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani will intervene into the matter to save the higher education sector from the catastrophic change. Higher up must intervene to save the future of Pakistan by saving HEC from devolution, Atta said. It is also worth mentioning that since its establishment, the HEC has launched a number of projects including award of 2,500 fellowships to young promising scientists for PhD level studies in foreign universities, establishment of digital library, providing access to about 23,000 international journals and 35,000 textbooks from 220 international publishers.