The Higher Education Commission (HEC) in Pakistan has issued a order that requires universities to obtain permission from the Foreign Office (FO) before establishing partnerships with international organizations, particularly entities like the United Nations (UN) and its subsidiaries. Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, the Chairman of HEC, officially communicated this decision through a letter. The reasoning behind this directive is to address concerns raised by the FO regarding universities entering into potentially sensitive international collaborations without past consultation.
The FO’s concerns stem from recent observations indicating that some educational institutions in Pakistan may unintentionally misrepresent the country’s position on certain issues when forming partnerships with international organizations without guidance from the FO. To mitigate this potential issue, the HEC’s letter emphasizes that universities should route any international collaborations, particularly those with political significance, through the relevant governmental departments, with the FO playing a central role in the approval process.
As reported by Dawn, an institute affiliated with Quaid-i-Azam University had initiated communication with an international organization without first consulting the FO. Following this incident, the FO intervened and engaged in further discussions with the HEC. Therefore, universities are now advised to ensure they have approval from both the Foreign Office and the HEC before pursuing any global alliances or collaborations with international organizations. This measure is intended to promote coordination and alignment of Pakistan’s educational institutions with the country’s foreign policy objectives and international engagements.