ISLAMABAD Fearing the transfer of Higher Education Commission to the provinces, former chairman of HEC Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman has called upon the government and the parliamentarians to stop its fragmentation, as it will have devastating consequences for the future development of science and technology in Pakistan. He was addressing a press conference on Friday wherein he termed the transfer of HEC to the provinces as a suicidal step for higher education and science and technology. He said considering it a part of the education ministry, the Implementation Commission on 18th Amendment has decided that the HEC should be devolved like the ministry which should be intact as a single regulatory body, as higher education is key to national development and must be treated as a core subject at the federal level to fast track economic growth in a sustainable manner. Prof Dr Atta-ur-Rahman, FRS, UNESCO Science Laureate, is currently heading Pakistan Academy of Sciences which is the highest science body in the country and all top scientists of the country are and have been its fellows. The vice chancellors of the universities, eminent scientists and officials of HEC were also present there. He said HEC is an autonomous institution governed by 18-member commission and the Prime Minister is controlling authority of the commission. Being the regulatory body of universities and degree awarding institutions it has representation from all provinces including two secretaries, eminent citizens, vice chancellors and experts. He opined that it was an arguable thing and there are two opinions regarding the devolution of the HEC, those who have decided to devolve the commission to the provinces say that it is not protected under the 18th Amendment, on the other hand there is a point of view that it is an independent regulatory body so it should be retained with the federal government. He said he was not a legal expert and did not know the exact rules but the decision should be taken in the greater interest of the country, as the move would leave devastating and far-reaching impacts on all the sectors of the country. And whether it is protected under the constitutional amendment or not it should not be devolved, as a central effort is vitally important to link higher education, science and technology to national development plans and to the process of socio-economic development, he added. He said, In India, Korea, China and other countries central bodies such as university grant commission exist thus we must not go back to the stone age and fall prey to certain forces that are determined to undermine progress and development of science and technology in Pakistan. He said standards of higher educations would be different in every province and there would be no national strategy as every province would devise its own development strategy which should be formulated by the federal government. He told the media persons that all vice chancellors of public sector universities have also met on November 27, 2010 and resolved that HEC status should not be changed because it is fully protected under 18th Amendment and a focused central role of HEC is giving spectacular results and Pakistan is making rapid progress in this vitally important sector.