Lawmakers concerned over Pakistan Chairs lying vacant in various universities abroad


Irfan Siddiqui calls for probe into apathy towards ‘Pakistan Chairs’ that reflect nation’s pride

Zubair Qureshi

The Senate Standing Committee on Federal Education and Professional Training, in a meeting held on Tuesday at Parliament House took serious notice of the vacant Pakistan Chairs abroad under different nomenclatures such as the Quaid-i-Azam Chair, the Allama Iqbal Chair, the Urdu Chair and the Pakistan Studies Chair in world’s renowned universities.

Chairman Committee, Senator Irfan ul Haque Siddiqi while expressing concerns over the ‘criminal negligence’ stressed the need for an in-depth probe of the matter and early appointment on those important seats.

He also called for taking the responsibility for the indifference. The committee was informed that a total of 14 Chairs have been lying vacant since 2008.

Out of the 14 only 6 chairs were advertised due to budgetary constraints, the committee was told. The selection process was completed in 2021 wherein a panel of three scholars was selected for Cambridge University. The process was terminated by the University and the Ministry was directed to re-advertise the position as per their set of procedures. The committee was informed that Chairs for Urdu and Pakistan Studies are currently vacant in China, Egypt, Germany, USA, UK, Turkey, Hong Kong, Iran, Jordan, Nepal and Kazakhstan.

The committee while taking stringent note of the issue, expressed their concerns regarding the issue and said that Pakistan has lost a golden opportunity to dissociate itself from terrorism and crime and enter the folds of international academia to introduce to the world feats accomplished in culture and literature. It stressed the need for stringent action against this negligence that has held back the softer side of the country. Deliberating over the matter, chairman of the committee Senator Irfanul Haque Siddiqui directed that the Ministry submit a comprehensive report regarding the issue in the next meeting.

Discussing the recent clashes between student groups at Quaid-i-Azam University in light of the briefing by Dr. Niaz Ahmed Akhtar, Vice Chancellor Quaid-i-Azam University the committee stressed the need to investigate the matter in detail and ensure that the root cause be ascertained. Chairman of the Senate’s committee Senator Irfan Siddiqui welcomed the newly appointed Vice Chancellor of Quaid-i-Azam University and assured him of the committee’s all out support.

Senator Irfan Siddiqui was of the view that the recent unfortunate incidents of clashes among students must be thoroughly probed. He directed Dr. Niaz Ahmed Akhtar to formulate a Commission and submit a detailed report to the committee on the causes of the issue and recommendations of ways that it can be curbed.

The need for construction of a boundary wall around the university campus was also stressed by Dr Niaz Ahmed Akhtar for the sake of security. The committee recommended that a letter should be sent to the CDA regarding construction of the boundary wall.

Taking up the matter related to the appointment/posting of junior lady teachers in Public Schools in Islamabad, the committee condemning the delay in resolving the matter asserted that all out efforts must be made to regularize the teachers that fall in this category. It was recommended that the Ministry of Education should take up the issue once again and approach the Cabinet to reconsider its previous decision so that the matter is reviewed minutely on humanitarian grounds.

While considering the private member bills, the International Islamic University (Amendment) Bill, 2023 was approved with minor amendments.

The International Institute of Technology, Culture and Health Sciences Bill, 2022, introduced by Senator Kamran Murtaza and Senator Fawzia Arshad was postponed due to further probe of the matter. A visit of the facility will be conducted by a three member committee comprising Senator Rana Maqbool Ahmed (Convener), Senator Fawzia Arshad and a senior member of HEC. A report regarding the matter will be submitted to the committee within 10 days. Chaired by Senator Irfanul Haque Siddiqui.