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Pakistan: Public sector universities may face crisis-like situation

Higher Education Commission

The public sector universities and Higher Education Commission (HEC) may face crisis-like situation in running their routine affairs as all of them have also been bracketed in ‘autonomous bodies’ and asked to comply with the directives of the federal government to show the door to their contractual employees, sources told this scribe.

Sources said that the Establishment Division has asked all these education institutions that Circular No. 53/1/2013-SP issued on February 6, 2014 directed the federal ministries, divisions, autonomous bodies and corporations not to extend contract of their contractual employees and all of them fall in the category of ‘autonomous bodies’ so they should also follow this directives in letter and spirit.

They claimed that majority of faculty members and administrative staff members in the public sector universities — Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU), Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU), Federal Urdu University (FUU) and HEC — were hired on contracts by the previous government denying them benefits that were otherwise available to regular employees.

It is pertinent to mention here that the government has also imposed ban on recruitment process that would also be applicable on extension in contract appointment of already recruited contractual employees.

The sources said the vice chancellors of the public sector universities would send a letter to Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif to inform him that if the contractual employees are sacked then there would be a grave crisis and it would be entirely difficult to run affairs of the universities.

QAU Acting Vice Chancellor Prof. Dr. Eatzaz Ahmad told this scribe that if the directives to get rid of contractual employees are implemented in the public sector universities then “I say that we would not even have security guards to keep vigilance in the vicinity of the university.”

“A large number of faculty members, administrative staff members, security guards and other employees are working on contractual basis and if all of them are sacked then our routine work would literally come to standstill,” he said.

AIOU Regional Director Inam Sheikh said that they have received letter from the Establishment Division that stated that the public sector universities fall in the category of the autonomous bodies must follow the directives of the federal government and refrain from giving extension to contracts of their employees.

“If all contractual employees would be got out of jobs then it would create a vacuum that may affect functioning of the university,” he said.

Talking to this scribe Minister for Information and Broadcasting Pervez Rashid said majority of contractual employees inducted in the PPP-led government proved to be a burden on the federal ministries, divisions and state-run institutions and “We cannot keep printing currency notes to pay them salaries.”

He said no vacuum would be created by getting rid of the contractual employees because the government knows how much of them were inducted on merit and now there is a time to show them door on expiry of their contracts.

To a question, he dismissed the impression that thousands of contractual employees would find it hard to make their both ends meet and said “If they are capable enough then they can avail themselves of the schemes recently introduced by the government and earn their livelihood with respect and dignity.”

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