Overaged candidate shortlisted for vice-chancellorship interview

Staff Reporter

PESHAWAR: The interviews for the positions of vice-chancellors at 19 universities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are scheduled to be conducted on January 19-21, 2024. This, however, poses a significant legal concern, as the provincial caretaker government lacks the mandate to make such crucial decisions. Despite this, several favored candidates, some allegedly overaged and lacking the required experience as per the advertisement, have been called for interviews.

Sources claim that a candidate, Prof Dr Bashir Ahmad, the former VC of Bacha Khan University, Charsadda (BKUC), is overaged at 63-plus, while the advertised age limit is 62. Nevertheless, he was shortlisted and called to participate in the interview for the vice-chancellorship of BKUC.

“Considering him for this position is entirely illegal due to his overage. If officials insisted on shortlisting him, they should have either re-advertised the position or issued a corrigendum stating that the age limit is now 65,” a source said.

When contacted, Section Officer (Universities) at the provincial higher education department (HED), Aizaz Khan, admitted that Prof Bashir had been shortlisted for the interview. Regarding Prof Bashir’s overage issue, he explained, “Although the age limit is 62, we have considered his application under Esta Code Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which allows age relaxation up to 65 years.”

When questioned that why they applied Esta Code KP instead of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Universities (Amendment) Act, 2016, he couldn’t provide a reasonable answer, stating that he was instructed by higher officials to shortlist Prof Bashir.

After consulting with legal experts, it was revealed that Esta Code did not apply to university appointments, making this consideration entirely illegal, and urgent notice and action from higher authorities were demanded to address this gross violation.

It is to be mentioned that attempts to contact a senior official of the HED for his version on this situation were unsuccessful as he did not respond to calls on his official phone number.

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