BY SIDRA SAIF ISB: Following the critical reservations of National Assembly Committee on Science and Technology over the performance of Pakistan Science Foundation (PSF) and subsequent initiation of probe into the zero progress on SandT in its mandated area despite having huge manpower and alleged irregularities, a big question arises as to how the Foundation will justify its existence, alleged misuse of funds especially when its bosses are already facing multiple charges of non-professionalism, nepotism, victimization of staff, sexual harassment and transgression of authority.

The NA committee, while showing its serious reservations of the PSF weak performance last month, had constituted a four-member probe body directing it to submit a detailed report. Presently, this sub-committee headed by Ali Mohammad Khan is engaged in extensively investigating the Foundations alleged irregularities and bungling and other charges.

Earlier, the committee during its meeting gave a serious note that since its establishment, the government had allocated funds out of its meager budgetary resources; however, no fruitful results have been achieved so far.

This committees reservations got further strengthened when the PSF management including its acting Chairman Dr Khalil Ahmed Ibupoto, summoned to brief the committee, did not answer the queries raised on the occasion; rather made weak justifications like funds shortage and non-provision of proper facilities for research activities.

On the occasion, Science and Technology Secretary Kamran Qureshi rose to defend the Foundation and told the committee that research activities could not be conducted for years while development activities on the other hand, are seen quickly and similar is the case with PSF. He also said that various government departments that are running without proper heads and the PSF is one of them.

What the acting PSF chairman explained to the committee was that the Foundation had sent a summary to the prime minister for appointment of its permanent chairman. However, he did not mention that he is also one of the reportedly three names sent to the PM office for appointment as a permanent chairman.

About the budget allocation, Ibopoto said that the government had allocated Rs 149.271 million for non-developmental expenditure for PSF in which Rs 125.342 million were spent on administration purposes and Rs 23.929 million on research.

He said this amount was small for scientific research across the country and was very difficult but the Foundation tried its level best to carry on with this constraint. However, he again could not explain as to why did he spend a huge amount on administrative purposes and a meager amount was spent on research, the only purpose for which the Foundation was established.This lamb excuse provoked the committee and directed the newly sub-committee to investigate the Foundations affairs and submit a report.

The Foundation was established in 1974 for the promotion and funding of scientific research and related activities bearing for social economic needs of the country and popularization of science for the development of science culture in society.

Performance of the PS is on the constant decline especially after the charge of acting chairman was given to Dr Khalil Ahmed Ibupoto, around a year back. His original assignment was Member Science though his performance in that capacity too was questionable as he had never ever taken any tangible initiative for the promotion of science and technology on the PSF platform.

Besides, his current position as acting boss of the Foundation is spotted with allegations, nepotism, corruption, misuse of funds as well as official authority, sexual harassment, appointments of non-professional persons, victimization of staff members and preparation of bogus research projects. Presently, he is facing a sexual harassment case in a local court filed by his junior female staff member.

“The PSF has been established to promote science and technology in the country and take the government vision forward in this regard. Neither any research project has ever been matured from this platform nor any research has been got published in any international journal,” an official of the Foundation said requesting anonymity while talking to this scribe.

According to him, this is just a wastage of government funds and against the mandate given to it at the time of its establishment.

The four-member committee has been tasked to investigate the PSF irregularities and performance and file a report in a month. However, this is not yet clear whether the PSF is providing the relevant materials to this probe body or not and whether the committee could file the report within the given time.

However, when the Technology Times repeatedly contacted PSF Acting Chairman Dr Khalil Ahmed Ibupoto to seek his comments in this regard, he tried to buy time by using delaying tactics. So much so, on insistence Dr Ibupoto influenced the newspaper not to publish this news report.

While on the other side, critics, who are much concerned about the future of science and technology in the country, are of the strong view that if the PSF affairs continue to be mishandled in coming years or any incompetent person like Dr. Ibupoto is appointed as permanent chairman, the future of science and technology would remain bleak thus damaging the vision of the sitting government in this regard.

By Web Team

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