ISLAMABAD: In an interesting scenario, three major political parties who have signed the 18th Amendment and formed a major chunk of the National Assembly, have opposed the controversial devolution of Higher Education Commission (HEC).
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), PML-Q and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) have openly announced their stance of retaining the HEC with the centre and even the PML-Q Senator and leader of opposition in the upper house Wasim Sajjad has said, on floor of the house, that it was decided to keep the HEC with the centre while passing the 18th Amendment.
PML-Q’s fourteen parliamentarians have also signed a resolution initiated by Marvi Mammon against the HEC controversial devolution to the provinces, and have submitted it in the National Assembly.
Moreover, PML-N’s Information Secretary Ahsan Iqbal, during a press conference, said that the 18th Amendment never meant to dissolve the HEC. “The dissolution of the HEC will cause irreparable loss to higher education and research programmes in the country,” Ahsan Iqbal held. While MQM chief Altaf Hussain has also strongly urged upon Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani to take back the decision to abolish the HEC as it will adversely affect the system of higher education in the country. Altaf said the HEC is a very important institution and the hasty manner in which it is being dissolved is a cause of serious concern. He said in other parts of the world there are separate ministries for the promotion of higher education and here in Pakistan instead of giving proper attention to the education sector we are abolishing a highly functional institution in a ruthless manner.
The two senior most members of the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms, having legal background; Senator SM Zafar and Senator Wasim Sajjad, both hailing from PML-Q have held that devolution of the HEC would be unconstitutional because it was covered in Federal Legislative Lists and not in the Concurrent List and the Implementation Commission cannot add anything to the Concurrent List.
Wasim Sajjad has said that it was decided to keep the HEC with the centre while passing the 18th Amendment. He emphasized that there must be an institution in the centre which could work for better higher education and the HEC was a regulator therefore it should be kept with the Centre.
Senator SM Zafar who is in London these days had to issue a press release saying that the HEC was covered in Federal Legislative List-II so its devolution will be unconstitutional. Zafar is also the Chairman of Senate Standing Committee on Education.
Well-placed sources told The News that Senator SM Zafar had conveyed to the chairman HEC when 18th Amendment was being passed that the HEC was covered in the Federal Legislative List therefore it would not be devolved. With the recent press release of SM Zafar, the apprehensions that the government wants to teach the HEC a lesson for taking tough stand during verification of degrees of parliamentarians has been further endorsed.
On the other hand PPP’s Mian Raza Rabbani holds that the HEC should be devolved because it was covered in the Concurrent List. He even lost his temper in Senate the other day when he was questioned by opposition members regarding the HEC’s devolution. Awami National Party and Aftab Sherpao also supported the HEC’s devolution.The news