ISLAMABAD    -   Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training (FE&PT) has hung the appointment process on Pakistan Chairs Abroad (PCA) by re-advertising few posts despite finalizing the appointments earlier, The Nation learnt on Monday.

There are fourteen PCA at distinguished universities abroad, previously under the administrative control of the Cabinet Division but now under the control of ministry of FE&PT.

The Chairs include positions at Columbia University, Oxford University, Cambridge University, Tehran University, Heidelberg University and Peking University in Beijing, China, among others.

The Chairs are controlled and funded by the government to promote positive image of Pakistan in foreign academia. Last time in 2010 the scholars were selected and sent on their assignments. 

Despite the lapse of ten years and multiple rounds of selection cycles, the Chairs remain unfilled. 

Officials said that after 2010, the Chairs were advertised in 2015 for the first time and no names of finalists appear to have been issued. Officials at the ministry of FE&PT said that Prime Minister of Pakistan gave approval for the recommended on 21st May 2018. However, after keeping the selectees in limbo for a long time, the selectees were never sent to their places of posting. 

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government again re-advertised six Pakistan chairs and shelved the remaining eight Chairs. 

The fresh advertisement given on 13 Sept 2020 was for Pakistan Chair at Peking University, Beijing, Tehran University, Iran and Heidelberg University, Germany.

Officials said that three separate advertisements for six of the fourteen Pakistan Chairs were published from Feb-Apr 2019 and 31 candidates were shortlisted for the interview which took place by a new high powered selection committee headed by the federal minister FE&PT.  

The new board also recommended six candidates against the six seats.

Earlier, Chairs were re-advertised in 2017 and a preliminary selection was made by a committee headed by the then Chairman HEC, Dr Mukhtar, and having several scholars of the stature of Prof Fateh Malik, Iftikhar Arif and Dr Arshad. 

The education ministry on 18-09-2019, asked the Foreign Office, Islamabad to seek concurrence from host governments/ Institutions.  The Foreign Office vides its letter no. PP (PCA)-4/2019 dated 9-10--2019 wrote to all five Pakistani missions in the host countries to get the needful concurrence. 

Additional secretary ministry of FE&PT said that fresh advertisement of few seats had been given. He said that the advertisement had been given on different reasons and seats would be filled soon. 

Some of the PCA are up to forty years old. The selection to the Chairs is made through a highly competitive process from amongst the notable scholars of Pakistan Studies, Political Science and related disciplines and many distinguished Pakistani scholars of national and international fame have held these positions.

There is a specific criteria of at least a doctorate degree, several years of experience and a minimum number of research publications in terms of books and journal articles.