Why I Left Pakistan For Second Time? Mark Khosa

Like every other department in Pakistan, higher education department (HED) Lahore, under the government of Punjab, is also on the way of degradation and deterioration. Educational administration and management in Pakistan is unfortunately in the nefarious clutches of coterie of higher echelons and egoistic bureaucracy. Sycophancy, favoritism and nepotism has potentially enhanced over the years in HED. As ill luck would have it, whoever holds any position in government office presumes its personal belonging and deal with clients more authoritatively than politely as a public servant. Notwithstanding several hollow slogans and proclamations from the political and official representatives of Government of Punjab, corruption, flattery and bribe are the ways by which officials are tempted to perform their duty and obligations, in HED Lahore, Punjab. I am an ample example of bad governance in Punjab who was coerced to leave the country by inaction of officials sitting in HED and universities after I had to tender resignation from my 20 years long service in education department despite higher qualifications, several certifications, national commitment and international experience. I accomplished PhD in Chemistry from Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad and rigorously spent some time in research at University of Waterloo, Canada under split program in December 2011. I joined the civil secretariat higher education department (HED) after four years study leave to serve my department with all zeal and zest. Surprisingly, I was not assigned any station for long one year even if I made several visits to Higher Education Department, HED for my posting at any college or university. Bribery and conflict of interest gnawed the efficiency of civil servants in the country and it has always been against my scientific and ethical instinct to offer undue privileges for personal interests during my whole service, which sadly has been the conventional way of posting at any desirable college or university in HED, civil secretariat Punjab ever since. What happened then was personal vendetta and victimization for not following the unethical rout, my personal file was hidden away, my joining report was intentionally either ripped off or lost and kept me waiting for long one year. I was potentially crestfallen from apathy of my department for employing my services after PhD. I personally discussed the matter with higher authority in this regard for many times but all in vain. In the meanwhile, I found foreign funded fellowship from the University of Alberta, Canada and left the country after I applied for five years without pay leave and pursued for postdoctoral fellowship. During my stay in Canada, I learned vastly not only in my specialization area of chemistry but also, received many other certifications and attended institutional training programs including project management. Having spent five years in Canadian universities and attending international conferences with several publications in refereed journals, I went back to Pakistan on January 01, 2017 with pure spirit of mind to serve the country. On reporting about my return to the department, they apprised me of my willful absence from duty for long time and PEEDA act was invoked on me albeit I described everything how my posting was potentially delayed on purpose in my written reply to show cause notice that was issued to me. I requested for my personal file to be shown with my leave record and joining report after the completion of PhD that was flatly refused to show me. Higher Education Department (HED) virtually took one long year from the day I reported to resume my duty and wasted my precious time in naive official proceeding to call me for personal hearing with higher authority. Behold, this personal hearing was postponed for five times because of emergent busy schedule of secretary and all five times I had to travel from my hometown D.G. Khan city to Lahore for this purpose. At last, I felt lucky and took sigh of relief when on their sixth call letter, I was given opportunity for personal hearing in the office of secretary HED. I conclusively explained how quagmire scenario I passed through for my posting at any college in the past and left country for professional development and brought international experience of higher qualifications with pure spirit of mind to serve the country. The blatant mindset of bureaucracy in Pakistan, what I realized, is to keenly exercise power for egoistic reasons rather than doing something logically long term effective and productive in the supreme interest of both institute and country. The same thing happened here, the secretary relied on the biased already written report of section officer and inflicted major penalty of forfeiture of three years past service. My promotion was stopped, and I was downfallen from Assistant Professor (BPS-18) to Lecturer (BPS-17) while my contemporaries were Associate and full professors in BPS-19/20 after putting aside my postdoctoral and project management experience from world class institutes. I argued with secretary education that Punjab Higher Education Commission (PHEC) Lahore and Higher Education Commission (HEC), Islamabad send many people abroad under government scholarships schemes for postdoctoral studies and spend millions on their education for professional development, whereas nothing was spent in my case, how you can justify the continuation of such fellowships in future if you turn down my academic and professional achievements in this regard where I never used any governmental resources. Under standard selection procedure of HEC, a fresh PhD holder is appointed as assistant professor (BPS-19) in any university all over the country. On the contrary, I was made to serve as a lecturer (BPS-17) with major penalty by secretary education. Dilly-dally, in national interest, I decided to serve the country on such lower ranked position that was never compatible with my degrees, length of service and experience with little or no chance of promotion in future due to imposition of major penalty in my career. The next gruesome task was assigned to me from the department that I must have NOC from any university for my posting to serve there. I cravingly hoped that universities in Pakistan would be performing on better moral grounds, principles and discipline due to induction of highly educated people there. Initially, I applied for NOC at three different universities, one was Government College University Lahore, and other two were newly built universities Ghazi University and University of Education situated in my native city D.G. Khan. Soon, I realized that getting NOC is not less than a herculean task due to possessive and authoritative mindset of the University officials. Registrars and vice chancellors being highly educated folks whom I would consider obviously different from bureaucratic mindset in public dealing proved to be even worse than the real bureaucrats in civil secretariat. Later it sank in, many incumbents at universities are handpicked by political figures rather than by their management and leadership skill. I made utmost endeavors to get NOC from any university and met with many stakeholders of educational institutes and apprised them of my vibrant research plans and academic expertise. Regretfully, no positive response was received even after four months from the universities where I applied for NOC in spite of my burning desire to contribute and share my knowledge, skills, techniques and methodologies which I learned from abroad. The significant role and influence of local politicians in universities selection boards have terribly damaged the educational infrastructure all over the country. My analysis about the worsening condition of higher education at institutes was recently vindicated by the chairman Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) showing his deep concern over the sale of PhD, MPhil thesis. The chairman has made this revelation in his letter to the Punjab governor that many interviewees for the posts of lecturers and assistant professors had poor understanding of their subjects and some were even not cognizant of their topic of MPhil and PhD thesis (Published in Dawn, April 17th, 2018). In short, what I observed in Pakistan, there is no respect of time, education, commitment and honesty on all fronts from the lowest to highest rank in public offices causing potential brain drain from the country. On my failure to acquire NOC from universities, departmental apathy towards my achievements and severe mental stress owing to prolong official proceedings wasting precious time, I put forward my resignation on 9 March 2018 from job to the secretary education after sitting idle and jobless for around 14 months and left Pakistan for second time. It is crying need of hour to impose emergency on education and decisions must be made on merit in the supreme interest of institutes and country for making progress by leaps and bounds. The administration and management must be given in the hands of steadfast and dedicated people who love their country and never compromise on institutional and national interest. Otherwise, it is not surprising why the world is skeptical about the quality of degrees and certifications earned from Pakistani institutes and we being Pakistani have to go through many additional courses for securing admission in top ranked universities in the world.
Author: Dr. Mark Khosa
Affiliation: Professional Chemist, Project Manager and Researcher at University of Alberta, Canada

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