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Wednesday June 19, 2024

PARC chairman’s appointment hangs in balance

PARC is apex national organisation working in close collaboration with other federal and provincial institutions in the country to provide science based solutions to agriculture of Pakistan through its statutory functions.

By Usman Manzoor
September 24, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The appointment of new chairman of Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) has become a hard pill to swallow for the Ministry of National Food Security and Research as even the Islamabad High Court (IHC) told the ministry that the appointment process is being rigged to benefit a particular individual.

PARC is apex national organisation working in close collaboration with other federal and provincial institutions in the country to provide science based solutions to agriculture of Pakistan through its statutory functions.

Details reveal that the Ministry of National Food Security and Research advertised the post of PARC chairman, as always an eminent scientist is appointed as its chairman, in February this year and when the candidates started applying for the post, all of a sudden a corrigendum was issued limiting the upper and lower age of the candidate applying for the post. This raised many eye brows.

A few scientist who were hopeful of their selection, knocked the doors of the IHC. The IHC’s Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb in writ petition No 1189/2019 issued an order dated 12-04-2019 stating, “The court has taken very serious note of the corrigendum published in the newspapers in which lower age limit has been set at 55 years and the upper age limit has been fixed at 62 years for the appointment of PARC chairman. The court observed that this indicated that the appointment process was being rigged to benefit a particular individual. Instead of widening the pool of prospective candidates, the PARC is narrowing it for ulterior motives.”

After the IHC order, the ministry reverted to the old advertisement and a panel interviewed some 54 candidates. But senior scientists believe that once the process got tainted, it is feared that a merit based appointment will not be made because candidates falling outside the age limit issued by the ministry were more qualified.

However, when contacted, a PARC official said that there was no intention or specific purpose of the ad given in newspapers, and it was just a coincident that such age limit was mentioned. He said that when the court asked the Council to change the criterion we complied with the order.

National Food Security and Research Secretary Hashim Popalzai, when asked about the process, said that the issue had been sent to the Prime Minister House.