Pakistan is in a state of transition where newly elected PTI government under the leadership of Imran Khan is trying to live up to the self-proclaimed claims. The new government has declared educational emergency in the country and its commitment to the cause of education is reflected in the plan to convert Prime Minister Secretariat into a modern research center.

In the meeting of Prime Minister with Federal Minister for Education, Chairman Higher Education Commission (HEC), and Dr Atta-ur-Rehman (Former HEC chairman), many suggestions have been discussed regarding higher education. It is relevant to mention here that Dr Banuri, a Harvard graduate who is a celebrated author with 20 books and 30 research papers to his credit, has recently taken charge as HEC chairman in May this year.

He has strong connections within and outside the country and is expected to bring numerous scholarships and collaborations to Pakistan. The educational commitment of the newly elected government and the vision of newly appointed chairman of HEC can lead Pakistan to the pinnacle of academic excellence in higher education.

Besides other issues like internal rifts among HEC personnel, the shortage of staff in HEC, theemployment of HEC scholars having completed doctoral degrees, the most important challenge is the synchronization of HEC recognized national journals with the world. There must be a harmony between national and international academic yardsticks and these yardsticks must also be aligned with the ground realities at national level.

The issue is that HEC abandoned recognition of any international journals other than those indexed in journals citations report (JCR) of institute for scientific information (ISI) effective from January 2012. Now if HEC does not recognize anyinternational journals below this level, it would mean that our national journals have achieved this criterion as well. To our surprise, there are hardly any journals that meet this standard and the criterion of HEC to evaluate the national journals by HEC is quite different.

The evaluation of national journals is done on the basis of review process and its indexing in HEC recognized indexing agencies. There are four categories assigned by HEC to nationally recognized journals and these categories are W, X, Y and Z. The highest category awarded to any national journal is W category and the criterion for W category is closer to the criteria set for evaluating international journals.

According to the current criterion, the journal articles in Z category must be reviewed by 2 national reviewers, the journal articles in Y category must be reviewed by 1 national reviewer and 1 international reviewer from academically advanced country and the journal categories in X category must be reviewed by 1 national reviewer and 2 international reviewers from academically advanced countries. The other criterion is that Z category must be indexed with at least 1 HEC recognized indexing agency, Y category by 2 and W category by 3 HEC recognized indexing agencies.

The issue is that there is inherent disharmony in this policy; there is hardly any HEC recognized journal that makes to journals citations report (JCR) of institute for scientific information (ISI) and then HEC Pakistan does not recognize any international journals indexed by highly prestigious indexing agencies like ERA, Ulrich and Scopus. It is beyond doubt that the whole world acknowledges that journals citations report (JCR) enlists the journals that document the most influential researches.

But the countries around the world also recognize the reputed indexing agencies like Scopus, Ulrich, Emerging Sources Citation Index (ECSI) and others and the criteria may vary from country to country. Countries around the world also recognize journals indexed with these agencies or even the refereed journals but HEC does not recognize them. This criterion would be suitable only if Pakistan has good number of local journals indexed with journals citations report (JCR) which is not the case. The existing evaluation criterion must be revoked in favour of the realistic criteria in practice before January 2012 or at least journals indexed with Scopus, Emerging Sources Citation Index (ECSI) and Ulrich or some other reputed indexing agencies must be recognized by HEC.

This disharmony between the world standards and the HEC criterion leads to non-recognition of the publications in Pakistani journals as they are not valued around the world.On the other hand, the publications by the researchers who publish their works in international journals indexed by Ulrich,Emerging Sources Citation Index (ECSI) and Scopus are recognized by the world globally while HEC does not recognize these journals.

This reflects the mythical standards of quality upheld by HEC which is neither synchronized with the world standards nor does it take into account the existing academicrealities in the country. Any Pakistani with publications in national journals finds his publications evaluated as of low quality in the world while any Pakistani with publications in international journals even if indexed by Scopus, Emerging Sources Citation Index (ECSI) and Ulrich finds his publications of no value in Pakistan.

There is dire need for HEC to adopt similar evaluation criterion for the journals published nationally as well as internationally.This issue has been raised time and again by the faculty working in different universities in the country. It is requested that this disharmony needs to be bridged so that there is no difference in finding jobs in Pakistan and abroad. The country demands from the stakeholders of higher education to take the immediate decisions with reference tothe recognition of journals published nationally as well as internationally by Higher Education Commission.