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May 23, 2019

Senate committee fumes over ministers’ absence


May 23, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Science and Technology Wednesday expressed strong displeasure over the absence of minister concerned and noted that it had held 14 meetings since the beginning of new tenure of the Senate in last one year and no minister has made it to even one meeting.

The ministry remained without minister for several months, following the resignation Senator Muhammad Azam Swati. However, when he was inducted again on April 18, his portfolio was changed, and he is now federal minister for parliamentary affairs. Then Information and Broadcasting Minister, Chaudhry Fawad, was allotted the post of minister for science and technology.

Professor Dr Raheel Qamar, Rector Comsats University gave compliance report on the committee’s directions in previous meeting. He told the committee that the university was ranked 10th in the Saarc region and the nine universities above Comsats were Indian institutes.

He said the university aimed at getting at sixth position but that requires strengthening research and development expertise by more funding and projects. The committee recommended that the two universities NUST and Comsats should be purely under the ministry and their development projects should not have the need to be routed through HEC. Regarding the salary structure of lecturers, it was suggested to bring it on par with other universities to attract better minds to science and technology universities and the proposal of having donor conferences annually was also discussed.

The committee recommended restoring the Prime Minister scheme for financially supporting the students from poor backgrounds and decided to call HEC in next meeting. A list of defaulter students who went on scholarships and did not return to the country was also shared with the Committee. The committee recommended devising a strategy to give incentives, research directions and other measures to prevent defaulting students.

The work done by Comsats in hybrid teaching techniques also came under discussion and the prospects of taking it to school level were discussed. Possibility of new campuses of Comsats in Sindh, Balochistan, and KP was discussed and the Committee decided to call HEC in next meeting to see the availability of funding because HEC is said to have only Rs28 crores in head of development for the year. The committee constituted a sub-committee to look into the issue of delay in award of dual-degree to some students of Comsats.

The meeting was told by Psqca that the pending promotion cases will be completed by 30 June. Regarding pending inquiries, the Committee members remarked that minor penalties and transfers will not serve the purpose and the committee had recommended suspensions. The secretary assured the committee that a report on the six inquiry cases will be shared within one week in addition to the other two issues.

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