ISLAMABAD: Nepotism and favouritism are the main impediments in the promotion of a culture of meritocracy in the country, as the high-ups of the Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) quite smartly played with the set rules and regulations of the university and advertised the posts in a fashion to ensure the appointment of their blue-eyed people.
Sources told Pakistan Today that the applications were sought for the vacant posts in the faculty of Agriculture Science in the advertisement in which mere ‘specialisation’ in agriculture was mentioned.
Therefore, they said that the applicants who didn’t have the relevant specialisations but mere ‘specialisation’ in agriculture applied and ironically those candidates were appointed in clear violation of rules, as no official with relevant specialisation and experience was selected as mentioned in the advertisements.
It is pertinent to mention here that AIOU is offering four programmes in Agriculture Science: agricultural extension, rural development, forestry action and livestock, and the sources worried that due to insufficient staff, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) could close all these programmes after these irregularities and lack of qualified staff HEC’s requirement.
According to HEC criteria, the department must have three regular PhDs employees for an M.Sc programme. However, the above-mentioned departments lack the staff desired by HEC which risks the closure of these programmes at the university.
The sources said that the AIOU appointed Dr Sher Muhammad as a Professor whose specialisation was in Agronomy and he was terminated from National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC) some years ago due to his unlawful induction in the ministry.
A senior official in NARC confirmed to Pakistan Today that Dr Sher was illegally inducted there on deputation but later he was removed. However, the official said that the then committee led by Khursheed Shah restored him again but eventually he along with dozens of other deputies were repatriated to their own departments on the directives of Supreme Court.
Similarly, Dr Saber has been appointed as Assistant Professor, whose specialisation is also in Agronomy.
A senior official wishing anonymity confessed before the scribe that the authorities concerned should have appointed relevant officials rather than those appointed against the merit.
The official said that the HEC has already taken action of closing programmes so what would be the future of these programs when no relevant officials have been appointed, who neither take classes nor give workshops.
A short-listed candidate, who could not get selected, said that it was predetermined to appoint the selected people because of it never as the interviewers did not even ask a single question from those that they did not have to select.
“If the appointments were planned through internal promotion, there was no need to advertise the posts at all,” the candidate lamented.
When this scribe contacted AIOU Registrar Dr Naeem Qureshi, he said that the selections were made after thorough consideration as the selected candidates had relevant specialisations.
However, when specifically asked about Dr Sher and Dr Saber, he said that the selection committee scrutinised the applications in accordance with the newspapers advertisement and the relevant institute.
He said that question could only be raised if the department specifically was mentioned in the advertisement.
However, when asked that these candidates have specialisation in Agronomy and Horticulture (which are not even taught at the university) but not in agriculture, he said that the university has planned new programmes as well so the university had the prerogative to take a decision.
When asked that the HEC could close the programs due to insufficient staff why relevant people were not appointed, he said that since he was not feeling well and hospitalized so better to talk other officials for further detail.
When approached, AIOU Media Advisor Javed Akhter, he assured to give contact number of some relevant officials but despite waiting, he could not provide the number.