ISLAMABAD – In an interesting move, the Chairman Higher Education Commission (HEC) reverted to its previous stance and withdrew his own letter in which he had notified the appointment of Acting Executive Director Qamar Zaman by the Prime Minister.

HEC Chairman Dr Javaid Laghari issued a notification Wednesday that nullified his previous letter and refused to accept Qamar Zaman as ED. It said, “In view of the foregoing, letter No. 1-1/CHR/HEC/ 12/316 dated December 6, 2012 is hereby withdrawn. Consequently, the stance taken and communicated through earlier letter 1-1/CHR/HEC/12/312 dated December 3 2012 becomes effective forthwith.”

The letter further states: “A number of Commission members expressed concern over my letter No. 1-1/CHR/ HEC/ 12/316 dated December 6, 2012 which was issued without the approval of the Commission, and asked me to withdraw it. Therefore, after seeking counsel, I decided to withdraw it and informed the legal counsel for HEC on December 9 that the decision of the Commission meetings of August 27, 2012 and September 16, 2012 stand valid.”

Earlier, the Chairman on the directions of the Senate Standing Committee on Education and Training held on December 5 had allowed the acting ED Qamar Zaman to perform his duties and start the process of hiring permanent ED.

The removal of the former ED Sohail Naqvi by Prime Minister being Controlling Authority of HEC has been challenged in the Supreme Court and Islamabad High Court. In the apex court, the case has been heard by a three-member bench headed by Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

It is believed that the letter has been withdrawn by the Chairman to support former ED Sohail Naqvi case in the Supreme Court that is not very strong as during the hearing an HEC employee had submitted the letter of HEC Chairman before the bench in which he had accepted the appointment of Qamar Zaman as ED.

The HEC Chairman, when contacted, said, “The Commission had not authorised me to notify the appointment of new ED so they asked me to withdraw the letter. Several Commission members expressed their concerns and said the appointment of the ED can only be authorised by the Commission.”

However, the association of permanent HEC employees saying that the chairman has challenged the writ of the government and not ready to implement the Prime Ministers directives so the he should be removed from the post.

The 17-member commission of HEC, governing body, in its 27th meeting had renewed the four-year contract of Sohail Naqvi management position scales (MP-Scale). And taking action over the extension that only lies with the PM, he had removed the Executive Director Sohail Naqvi, giving additional charge to the Secretary Ministry of Education and Training Qamar Zaman.

Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Education and Training, Senator Abdul Nabi Bangash, said that ‘its unfortunate that for the last three months the issue has been lingered on just for the sake of one person who is not eligible for the second extension in any case. The issue is ultimately hampering the HEC and the institutions related to it’.

He said the committee would take up the issue and an emergency meeting of the Committee can be called.