Irregularities in establishing PM House University

Around 4 years ago, on August 19, 2018, the Prime Minister announced his decision to establish a university in the PM house. Two months later this decision was ratified by the federal cabinet.

In an exclusive interview, Tariq Banuri, the chairman of HEC, told the Academia Magazinethat the HEC was asked to prepare a PC-1 for this project. Following this instruction, on 3rd December, a project titled “Establishment of INU – Part-I: Adaption of PM House into Institute of Advanced Study” was submitted by the HEC to the Planning Commission. This project was to incura capital cost of Rs.492.731 million.

However, when the project was discussed in the pre-CDWP meeting on December 14, the committee asked for a PC-II instead of asking for a feasibility study. Accordingly, on 1stJanuary,2019, the commission forwarded two projects, namely a PC-I costing Rs.305.586 million, and a PC-II costing Rs.150.617 million.

According to Banuri, before these could be processed, the PM directed that the project be transferred to Atta-ur- Rahman, and that the PC-I be prepared by the Ministry of Science & Technology (MoST).

Later in 2019, the MoST submitted the PC-I for an entirely new project titled “Pak-University of Engineering & Emerging Technologies (PUEET), Islamabad”, proposing a total cost of Rs. 45 billion, later revised to Rs. 32.81 billion.

The chairman said that this was done without informing the HEC of the decision. However, the Planning Commission sought comments from all members, and HEC duly complied. Simultaneously, the MoST also submitted a draft Charter of the university to be presented to the parliament. The MoST’s project that cost Rs. 32.81 billion was discussed by the CDWP on 3rdMarch, 2020, and was unanimously condemned by all members. The CDWP only approved a feasibility study, although at an inflated cost of Rs.390.00 million.

“In any event, the PC-II for the feasibility study was submitted to the DDWP (Division Development Working Party) of the MoST on November 9, 2020 and was approved at a cost of Rs. 390 million for conducting master planning, detailed designing and hiring of PMU & Quality Core Team in 12 months” says Banuri.

Subsequently, a project director was hired by the MoST. Furthermore, instead of conducting a feasibility study, the MoST used the money illegally to purchase 50 acres of land. An expenditure Rs.332.099 million was incurred, which made up 85% of the total amount.

According to reports, theMoSTlater revised the PC-II on March 26, 2021 deciding on the same cost but a shorter duration of 8 months. According to the Admin Approval issued by the MoST, the PC-II has been completed onDecember 31, 2021.

ProfessorBanuri revealed that after this, there was complete silence on this topic, until the project suddenly reappeared in the CDWP on May 25, 2021. This happened soon after the illegal removal of Chairman HEC. The project was then approved at a slightly higher cost of Rs. 34.74 billion. However, when it went to ECNEC on June 4, 21, it asked for cost rationalization, and principally approved a modified project at a cost of Rs.23.54 billion subject to rationalization.

“On June 22, 2021, the PM directed that project be transferred back from the MoST to the HEC under “new management”. This required the resubmission of the same PC-I by the HEC to the Planning Commission, which was done on August 20, 2021”.

The HEC chairman said that the CDWP approved the exact same project PCI at a cost of Rs. 23.54 billion on September 1, 2021, and recommended it to ECNEC, which principally approved it on September 9, 2021. A final approval was given on November 24, 2021. Accordingly, the HEC moved a summary for technical supplementary grant of Rs.3.498 billion by transferring PSDP 2021-22 allocation of the Project from the MoST to HEC.

“The claim of the MoST that PUEET is one project reflected in its PSDP for 2021-22 and its PC-II and PC-I should therefore be merged, is pending before the Planning Commission for a decision. The objective of this request seems to be to cover up the illegal purchase of land”.


NCA holds second phase of Bachelor’s Degree show 2022

Lahore: The National College of Arts Bachelor’s Degree Show 2021 commenced its second phase on Wednesday.

Vice-Chancellor NCA, Prof. Murtaza Jafri graced the event with his presence. In the first phase, only Fine Arts students displayed their works and in the second iteration, all other departments including Architecture, Product Design, Textile Design, Ceramic Design, Film and TV and Musicology have exhibited their works.

The Degree Show 2021, was a happening event and welcomed a great number of art connoisseurs, teachers and art critics. Students spend four years at the college exploring multiple mediums of expression, which culminate in the form of the degree show.

Vice-Chancellor NCA, Prof. Dr. Murtaza Jafri stated that the Undergraduate Degree Show at NCA is one of a kind and leading event in the Art and Design sector of Pakistan, consisting of exclusive works of art every year. Dr. Jafri also said that the amount of toil and hard work students and faculty spend to make the thesis successful is unmatchable.

The 2021 show brought in a new batch to completion and indeed the students learn a great deal as they go through a holistic process of refinement.

Audiences from various walks of life whether it be doctors, architects, Professors, learners, or engineers, become part of the mega event which is quite encouraging for the students.

The opening followed all the Covid SOPs and the display will continue till 18th February 2022.


PU CSAS organizes seminar

Punjab University Centre for South Asian Studies (CSAS) has organized seminar on “Afghanistan in Perspective: Consequences and Prospects for Pakistan in the Post US Withdrawal”.

Executive Director Lahore Centre for Peace Research Mr Nazir Hussain was the guest speaker while Director CSAS Prof Dr Umbreen Javaid, faculty members, Mphil and PhD scholars were also present.

In his address, Nazir Hussain threw light on the Afghanistan debacle and the strategic perspectives of various actors involved in the quagmire. It was briefed that Afghanistan has a history of conflicts with great powers. He said that many powers trespassed her and had a retrieve in dismay. He said that Pakistan has economic and geostrategic interests in Afghanistan in terms of greater connectivity and stability of the region.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was also signed between CSAS and the Foundation for Peace, Lahore.


Prof Dr Saleem Mazhar assumes charge as VC Sargodha University

Sargodha: The Governor Punjab/Chancellor has assigned the additional charge of the Vice Chancellor Sargodha University to Prof Dr Muhammad Saleem Mazhar, Pro Vice Chancellor University of Punjab, for a period of three months or till the appointment of a regular Vice Chancellor, according to the notification issued by the Higher Education Department of Punjab.

In compliance with the orders issued Prof. Dr. Muhammad Saleem Mazhar has assumed the additional charge as Vice Chancellor Sargodha University here today.

Prof. Dr. Muhammad Saleem Mazhar did his PhD in Persian from the University of Tehran in 1997. He has authored and co-authored several books and research papers. His research primarily focuses on Persian Language, Literature, Sufism and Historiography and Cultural, Social, Political, Literary Relations of South Asia, Iran and Central Asia. He is a member of several editorial boards of distinguished journals and published around 45 research articles in international and national high impact factor journals. He is a recipient of two gold medals awarded by the Government of Iran and the Persian Language Authority Tehran, for his outstanding Persian research works.

Prof. Dr. Muhammad Saleem Mazhar has vast administrative experience of serving at dignified posts. Along with Pro Vice Chancellorship, he is serving as Convener of Address Committee for Convocation at University of Punjab. Previously, he rendered his services as the Chairman of the Admission Committee for Admissions on Co-Curricular activities, Director Centre for South Asian Studies, Dean Faculty of Oriental Learning at University of Punjab.


Pakistan’s 18th Lincoln Corner Opens in Vehari

US Consul General Lahore William K Makaneole inaugurated the newest Lincoln Corner at the Vehari campus of the University of Education (UoE). Vice Chancellor UoE Dr Talat Naseer Pasha welcomed Makaneole for the opening ceremony of the Lincoln Corner.

Lincoln Corners are close partnerships between the US Mission to Pakistan and selected institutions. Located within universities, public libraries, and other learning institutions, Lincoln Corners provide information about the United States, English language learning opportunities, study abroad advising, cultural programs, and alumni activities.

These spaces promote open dialogue and build bridges between the Pakistani and American people. Visitors gain free access to Wi-Fi and current and reliable information about the United States through books, magazines, videos, internet databases, and programs for the public. Visitors can also access cutting-edge technology like 3D printers, virtual reality headsets, and other Makerspace technology.

“Our goal is to share information about the diversity of our country. Diversity is our strength and reflects our nation’s richness. We want to demonstrate our enduring partnership with Pakistan, especially in support of education and the vibrant exchange of ideas,” Makaneole said, speaking virtually from the university’s campus in Lahore.

With the opening of the Vehari Lincoln Corner, there are now 19 American Spaces in Pakistan, with 18 Lincoln Corners across the country and an American Center in Islamabad. The United States Department of State offers approximately 650 American Spaces across the world. Lincoln Corner Vehari offers professional training and leadership development from Pakistani and American experts in entrepreneurship, innovation, inclusion, women’s studies, and American studies.

US Consulate General Lahore oversees six American Spaces in Punjab. In addition to Vehari, there are corners in Lahore, at Information Technology University; Faisalabad, at Government College University; Sargodha, at University of Sargodha; Multan, at Bahauddin Zakarya University; and a reading shelf at LUMS opening soon. Mr. Makaneole concluded his remarks stating, “It is an honour to partner with the University of Education to establish Pakistan’s newest Lincoln Corner.”


Pakistan is 4th largest importer of Malaysian palm oil after India, EU and China: Malaysian CG

The Consul General of Malaysia in Karachi, Mr. Khairul Nazran Abdul Rahman said that Pakistan is the fourth largest importer of Malaysian palm oil after India, the European Union, and China.

He mentioned that food scientists play an important role not only for the food industry but also for society as a whole. Among others, one of their main responsibilities is to ensure the supply of quality and healthy food and to take all possible steps to prevent unhealthy foods and their supply.

He expressed these views while addressing a seminar on “Oils and Fats Processing and Health Benefits,” at the Dr Essa Hall of the Department of Food Science and Technology, University of Karachi. The event was organized by the Department of Food Science and Technology and the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB), Consulate-General, Malaysia. It was well attended by members of food industry, key government officials, lecturers and students of food science.

During his address, the Vice Chancellor University of Karachi, Professor Dr. Khalid Mahmood Iraqi said that the University of Karachi has never compromised on merit and that is why domestic and foreign companies trust it and many reputed institutions are currently working with the University.

He stressed that the industries should avail the research conducted by the varsities as they could help them in finding the best and most sustainable solutions for their problems at low cost. The KU VC Professor Dr Khalid Iraqi mentioned that strong relationships between academia and industries could be established if the traders and manufacturers back the research being carried out by the universities and utilize it in enhancing their products for the betterment of society. In regard to huge edible oil import, he called for a breakthrough in technology that could increase local production of oils and fats to narrow down the supply gap.

The Regional Manager of the Malaysian Palm Oil Board, Mr. Johari Manal said that palm oil has become the largest oil consumed in the world and most useful oil for the food industry due to its unique balanced fatty acid composition and being free of trans fatty acids, which are becoming more and more important for food production. Palm oil is also widely used in the production of cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and soap.

A senior official of the Malaysian Palm Oil Board, Mr. Nadir Ali Ghanghro said that Pakistan imports 3.2 million tonnes of palm oil per year. In the production of banaspati, about 70% of palm oil is used as an ingredient. He informed the audience that Sindh government has a successful experience of planting palm trees, if further progress is made, the country could go into large-scale cultivation oil palm.

The Chairperson Department of Food Science and Technology University of Karachi, Dr Shahina Naz mentioned that the injurious trans fatty acids, one of the biggest reasons for the growing number of heart diseases, are produced during partial hydrogenation process of edible oils for the production of vegetable ghee.

She said that food produced in Pakistan still contained trans fatty acids, and sometime as high as 15 to 20 percent in banaspati ghee. Trans fatty acid in food is tantamount to inviting heart disease. She mentioned that the consumption of trans fats can lead to heart and arterial diseases as well as cancer. The food industry should find ways and means to reduce trans fats in food to lowest possible level.

Dr Syed Muhammad Ghafran Saeed of the Department of Food Science and Technology shared a very interesting finding on omega 3 oil which apart from being an essential fatty acid, it is anti-inflammatory and could boost immunity and fight against Covid 19 infection. He said flax seed, a rich source of omega 3, should be included in daily diet during this covid 19 pandemic..

At the end of the seminar, Mr. Johari Minal of MPOB reminded the audience that food which includes protein, carbohydrates, oils and other nutrients should be taken in moderation and within the recommended limits and energy requirement as recommended by WHO. Overconsumption of food especially simple carbohydrates and sugar, which are predominant in modern society, leads to obesity, imbalanced nutrient intakes and thus health issues


Students and eminent educationists laud the role of teachers

A teacher is born naturally and not made. He must pay his services voluntarily and dedicate his efforts to the future of the society, speakers said this in a discussion held in connectivity of World Teachers’ Day celebrated at Sir Shahnawaz Bhutto Auditorium of the SMIU.

Eminent educationist, scholar and former vice chancellor of Sindh University, Jamshoro Mr. Mazharul Haq Siddiqui as the chief guest of the event said that teachers should be sincere with their profession and must provide services without any greed. “Institutions are capable to grow but they are not the mercy of managers,” he said. “In Sindh’s universities are strong enough to grow by themselves,” he added.

Prof. Dr. Mujeebuddin Sahrai Memon, Vice Chancellor SMIU said that: “whatever I am today and serving in this capacity is because of my teachers. He added that he was still learning. “I feel immensely proud that I am the son of a school teacher (Taj Sahrai) who is also alumnae of this great institution (SMI). I am leading an institution where my father also studied.”

He said that: “I had three choices when I completed my graduation whether to join as field job or teaching profession so I chose this great profession”.

He emphasized that a teacher deserves the only thing that is respect. Another guest among panelists Prof. KS Nagpal said the teacher would take this profession as worship. “It is a teacher who invented and transformed all the professions.

The role of the teacher in Indus civilization was like a spiritual leader and focus of a teacher in South Asia was to develop moral, ethical and psychological aspect of learners,” he said. “Teachers were known as Guru that means a person who brings students from darkness to light”.

He said the best teacher would be friend of students. Other penal speakers included Prof. Dr. Zahid Ali Channar Dean of SMIU Social Science, Prof. Dr. Jamshed Adil, SMIU Dean of Business Administration, Dr. Stephen John and Dr. Amir Umrani Director OREC of SMIU.


PU launches job portal for students

Punjab University on Wednesday launched an employment portal in order to provide employment opportunities to the students of PU and the best human resource to the industry.

In this regard, an agreement was signed with at PU Vice Chancellor’s office in which PU VC Prof Niaz Ahmad, Registrar Dr. Muhammad Khalid Khan, Director Regional Integration Centre PU Dr. Fozia Hadi Ali, Country Head Shahbaz Khan, Director Training Tehmina and deans of various faculties participated.

Addressing the ceremony, PU VC Prof Niaz Ahmad said that the administration had focused on producing high standard graduates by imparting quality education and promotion of research culture. He said that through the establishment of the employment portal, PU students would be able to know about job opportunities in the relevant fields.

He said that the university was strengthening industry-academia linkages and making efforts to resolve socio-economic issues being faced by the country.


GCU Lahore, UTM Malaysia sign accord for faculty exchange

A memorandum of understanding was signed here on Wednesday between the Government College University Lahore and Universiti Teknologi Mara (UTM), one of the largest public sector universities of Malaysia, for research collaboration, and the faculty and student exchange.

GCU Vice Chancellor Prof. Asghar Zaidi and UTM Malaysia Vice Chancellor Prof. Dr. Roziah Mohd Janor signed the accord online. The 16-point accord signing was followed by a video conference among the heads and officials of both universities.
High Commission of Pakistan in Kuala Lumpur Ms. Amna Baloch was also present on this occasion.

Speaking on occasion, Prof Asghar Zaidi assured Prof. Dr. Roziah Mohd of providing maximum facilities to the Malaysian teachers and students in Pakistan, and requested the UTM administration for the same for his students.

Prof. Zaidi said that commercialization and internationalisation were the pillars of his strategic vision and he would be very happy to host the students and teachers from UTM at GCU Lahore. He also told the Malaysian university officials about the history and traditions of GCU. He also discussed possibilities for joint research in different disciplines.

Prof Dr. Roziah Mohd Janor said that he looks forward to a strong partnership with GCU Lahore. He ensured his full support in increasing the collaboration in areas of students exchange, faculty exchange and other areas of mutual interest.

High Commissioner Ms. Amna Baloch congratulated the officials of both universities on this much needed collaboration, and assured them of her maximum support for implementation of MoU.


Education roundtable focuses on need for universities to play a bigger role

Islamabad: The British Council together with the Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan on Wednesday hosted a roundtable entitled “Education for climate action: How universities can steer the climate crisis.”

The higher education sector is enabling the world to understand the impact of climate change on the environment. However, there is still a long way to go before policy and citizen action catch up with the scientific evidence of what is happening to the world’s climate. As the country that is fifth most affected by climate change, there is a need in Pakistan to identify gaps, opportunities, and pave developmental pathways and thought leadership towards building a greener Pakistan.

With COP26 (UN Climate Change Conference) taking place in the UK later this year, the Education for Climate Action roundtable aims to bring together stakeholders, academics, civil society, and development changemakers from Pakistan and the UK to a platform together to discuss where we are, what more needs to be done and what we can learn from each other.

Federal Minister for Education and Professional Training Mr. Shafqat Mehmood, Development Director British High Commission Pakistan Ms. Annabel Gerry, and British Council Country Director Pakistan Amir Ramzan spoke in the opening session. Other speakers included policymakers, Government officials, higher education leaders from Pakistan and UK, vice chancellors, researchers and academics, international development organisations, research partnership grantees, UK alumni, and students. The event was hybrid with attendees joining both online and offline

Speaking at the occasion, Mr. Shafqat Mehmood said, “Climate situation calls for up-close attention and immediate action and I am glad that international organizations like the British Council are initiating and actively pursuing ways to engage the youth and policy makers on shared platforms to give the cause the push it rightfully deserves through Roundtables as such this in Pakistan.”

Dr. Shaista Sohail, Executive Director HEC, speaking on a panel about roles and responsibilities in building a sustainable future said, “Universities have to take the charge of informing policy and practice. 261 Pakistani scholars have been funded to pursue higher education in environmental themes. Universities can give focussed, well informed and well researched information on issues that are causing climate change such as manufacturing of bricks or burning of crops.”

Mr. Amir Ramzan, Country Director British Pakistan said, “I am hopeful that the conversations taking place here will help us learn from each other, and together we can find a path to mainstream sustainable practices in Higher Education in Pakistan. I am also positive that this seminar will contribute to the national environmental discourse in Higher Education and HEC’s strategy on taking charge of our sustainable future through academic leadership.”

To prioritise climate action and achieve real results in Pakistan, there is need to learn from and strengthen links with the UK sector. The UK is at the forefront of climate change research and climate action. It is home to three of the top three universities for Environmental Science (University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, Imperial College London).

The British Council is working with partners worldwide to support the success and legacy of COP26 by creating opportunities for cooperation, dialogue and action in arts, education and science that address the shared challenges of climate change.

One of these efforts is supporting research links between Pakistan and UK under the HEC-British Council managed Pak-UK Education Gateway. Under these links we have researchers like Sofia Akbar Tahir at the Government College University, Faisalabad experimenting clean and efficient ways of energy generation and distribution with the support of research teams at the University of Oxford.