The Federal Government has removed the Higher Education Commission (HEC) Chairman, Dr. Tariq Banuri, sending shock waves across the education sector.
A notification confirming his removal with immediate effect was issued on Saturday.
In terms of sub-section (5), read with sub-section (5A), of Section 6 of HEC Ordinance, 2002, as amended vide HEC (Amendment) Ordinance, 2021, Dr. Tariq Banuri has ceased to be the chairperson, HEC forthwith and is accordingly removed from the said post with immediate effect.
Banuri was appointed on the post by the former Prime Minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, in May 2018 and was supposed to complete his term in May 2022.
His out-of-turn removal attracted criticism from academic bodies. However, the federal government seems to have a solid reason for his removal.
An HEDP audit report, available with ProPakistani, revealed several financial irregularities and dubious appointments of consultants.
As per the report, the former HEC Chairman had appointed 15 consultants at hefty salaries of more than Rs. 800,000 each. The rules set for the appointment of such consultants were also ignored. The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had also taken notice of these appointments and had sought a reply from the HEC.
The HEDP report revealed that the consultants were paid higher salaries than their special package and the remuneration they were already drawing before joining the project.
It was revealed that most of the consultants were already working with the HEC and performing the same nature of the job at much lower packages. The audit report estimated that the exuberant payments to these consultants caused a loss of nearly three million rupees every month to the national exchequer.
Furthermore, Dr. Tariq was also said to be not in a good relationship with the vice-chancellors of public universities. As per reports, Banuri avoided meeting with VCs and listening to their grievances.
Despite strong reservations from stakeholders on the associate degree program and the Ph.D. program, he did not show any flexibility on the matter or meet any vice-chancellor of any province on the issue.
Moreover, Banuri usually avoided meeting the vice-chancellors and listening to the grievances of public universities.