As per the notification, universities must seek approval from the Foreign Office (FO) prior to establishing collaborations with international entities, including the UN and its affiliated organizations.
Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, the Chairman of the Higher Education Commission (HEC), announced this decision through an official letter, emphasizing the necessity for official approval from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (FO) before engaging in partnerships with entities like the United Nations (UN). This move came in response to concerns expressed by the FO to the Higher Education Commission regarding universities initiating potentially sensitive international collaborations without prior consultation.
Recent observations have highlighted those certain educational institutions may inadvertently misrepresent Pakistan’s position on specific issues when entering into partnerships with international organizations without the guidance of the FO.
In order to mitigate such concerns, the HEC’s letter stressed that universities should channel all international collaborations, particularly those with political significance, through the relevant government departments, with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs taking a leading role in the process.
The notification was met with criticism from academics all across the country. Professor Ijaza Khan of Peshawar University posted on @X that HEC has no legal authority to do so.
They r stifling the little independent research that was there. HEC has issued (with no legal authority to do so) a letter requiring all collaboration w any international org, incl. UN to b w permission of State via HEC- RIP Higher Education – RIP Research pic.twitter.com/77DogVWV6W
— Ijaz Khan (@ijazkhan) September 3, 2023
Another professor from FCU said that HEC should stop embarrassing himself
The @HEC_Pakistan should stop embarrassing itself with such dumb letters. Any collaboration does not represent the institution, let alone a country. Clearly shows that the HEC has no clue how research is done. https://t.co/OnlEvMeH6k
— Yaqoob Khan Bangash (@BangashYK) September 3, 2023
HEC has still to respond to these comments and clear its position with regard to the questions that have been raised.