Islamabad - The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has accepted the resignation of Executive Director (ED) Dr. Arshad Ali but initiated another debate after giving the interim charge to its CPEC consultant Lieutenant General (retd) Muhammad Asghar, The Nation learned on Monday.

In a media briefing held here, chairman HEC Prof. Dr Tariq Banuri said that the position of ED will be advertised soon and the vacant post will likely be filled in two months. 

The chairman Prof. Dr. Tariq Banuri also added that the remaining cases discussed in the commission meeting will be also decided following the previous plagiarism policy.

Former ED Dr. Arshad Ali was accused of stealing more than 80percent of his co-authored research paper from another publication. The reports emerged last year but the top official had refused to step down from the post.

“ED submitted his resignation before me to avoid further controversy and I accepted,” said the chairman. However, he also said that the commission didn’t ‘judge’ or declare him ‘guilty’ for plagiarism.

He said the ex-ED claimed the flaws in the plagiarism policy and didn’t ‘accept’ the charges on him, but the commission followed the reports of two committees to take the decision.

“The plagiarism committee and high level committee had found plagiarism in his work,” he said.   

He also said categorically that after the resignation of ex-ED, no more administrative action would be taken regarding taking incentives for one year after the plagiarism charges will be initiated against him.

However, the commission will consider taking additional steps for ‘blacklisting’ his name in academic directory if it falls under the rules.

Explaining the rest of the cases of plagiarism including those of ex-chairman HEC Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, and acting rector COMSATS University Prof. Dr. Raheel Qamar, the chairman said that the commission asked to deal with the cases as per law.

Sources said that appointment of Lieutenant General (retd) Muhammad Asghar, interim ED of HEC falls in the grey area as the senior officials, who were members of the commission had been set aside with the decision.

Sources said that the Lt. Gen (retd) Muhammad Asghar was appointed as consultant for the higher education projects initiated as the part of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The interim ED was member of the HEC commission; however he had tendered his resignation from the post recently, while the ED has to be the member of the commission.

Sources said that appointing a non- member as interim ED is in contradiction with the rules.

“ED is an MP scale permanent position – an individual occupying this post is the principal accountant, secretary of the commission and also the head of the secretariat,” sources said.

Chairman HEC defended his decision on new appointment said that there had been no violation of rules in this appointment, while the precedent had been followed in taking this decision.

“Earlier two EDs were also appointed by the chairman,” he said.

He said Lt. Gen (retd) Muhammad Asghar is the ‘member’ of the commission and former rector National University of Science & Technology (NUST) and is already working with HEC.

Talking about the new plagiarism policy the chairman said that the policy will be revised to end the loopholes in the system. “The policy has been followed for the last ten years but it needs to be revised for transparency,” he said.

He said that the definition and   procedures of the plagiarism policy will be tightened.

“The country doesn’t need plagiarized PhDs,” he said.

Sources said that the work on new plagiarism policy will take time for implementation, while the draft presented in the commission’s meeting will be also reviewed as it was proposed by the ex-ED, Dr. Arshad Ali.

The HEC commission had held its 33rd meeting after a lapse of 32 months and endorsed a number of decisions including approval of previous budgets.