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A Pakistani gets global award but HEC officials want it cancelled

In an extremely unusual move, senior officials of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) got so upset because a female colleague had won a global award that they sent a special representative to India to convince the organisers to withdraw it, The News has learnt.

According to sources, the World Quality Congress has recently selected HEC’s director general quality assurance Zia Batool for “Global Award for outstanding contributions and leadership in quality assurance”. She is the first Pakistani to be nominated for the prestigious award.

Batool’s achievement brought international honour for the country and even the minister of state for education Baligh ur Rehman sent her a congratulatory message, but the baboos at HEC did not like it at all and started conspiring for the cancellation of the award.

Sources said the HEC’s acting director general human resource Farmanullah Anjum visited India and approached the organisers of the award ceremony and Indian High Commission for cancellation of the award. He requested the organisers to give the award to a senior official of the commission instead of Zia Batool.

Sources said the official did not even inform the chairman HEC or Pakistani foreign office before taking this extreme step, which created a lot of embarrassment for Pakistan.

However, the organisers contacted Batool and informed her about the efforts of her colleagues. They also told the HEC official that the award is based on decision of the jury and board members of the Council of the World Quality Congress and it cannot be given to another HEC official.

When contacted by The News, HEC’s Farmanullah Anjum confirmed that he contacted the organisers in India to “inform them that there are other qualified people who deserve the award.”

“I called the organisers in India that Zia Batool’s nomination has not been sent by HEC and there are other candidates who are complaining that they also deserve the award,” Anjum said.

He said his Indian visit was aimed at attending a conference hosted by the British Council. “I contacted the organisers of the award on telephone during my visit to India but they did not give me appointment for a meeting,” he said.

Talking to The News, the acting chairperson of HEC Imtiaz Hussain Gilani also confirmed that he was not taken into confidence by the top officials before contacting the organisers of the award.

“I have no knowledge of this development at all,” Gilani said.

The World Quality Congress awards ceremony 2014 is scheduled for June 27-28, 2014 in Mumbai, India. Zia Batool has been nominated for the award in recognition of her efforts to improve the quality assurance practices at HEC.

Batool has been serving at the Commission since November 2003, having previously served as advisor social sectors for the ministry of finance.

She is considered to be the founder of the first Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) of the country and has developed and executed QA criteria and policies at the national level.

Her contribution to quality assurance field has been internationally recognised and she is also board member of Asia Pacific Quality Network.

In his letter of appreciation to Batool, the minister of state for education remarked: “The said award is certainly recognition of your contributions and great work done in the critical field of quality assurance as an expert both at national and international levels.”

The letter mentions that her selection for the Global QA Award by the jury of the World Quality Congress is indeed a pride for the nation and the higher education sector of Pakistan that one of the Pakistani women is selected for this award.

“Her efforts and contributions in policy making for reformed higher education sector in Pakistan are commendable during last decade while serving the Higher Education Commission (HEC) as director general-QA.”

Prof. Dr. Atta ur Rehman founding chairman HEC, Dr. Javaid R. Laghari former chairperson HEC, Prof Dr Iqrar Ahmed Khan, vice chancellor Agriculture University Faisalabad, commission members of HEC, vice chancellors and academicians have also congratulated Zia Batool on her achievement.

Report by Waseem Abbasi, published in daily “The News” on 1st February 2014.

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