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Saturday, May 18, 2024

PM Imran Khan’s promise: Will a university be set up at PM House?

Sources claim that the premier is personally committed to set up a university at PM house. But the question is will his team let him materialize his dream of opening the PM house for public?

The National Assembly (NA) on Monday witnessed the introduction of five government bills in the House including a legislative proposal to set up a university at Prime Minister House. All these bills were referred to the relevant committees for further consideration.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan introduced the Members of Parliament (Salaries and Allowances) (Amendment) Bill, 2020 and the Pakistan Health Research Council (Amendment) Bill, 2020 which were referred to the relevant committees.

Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry introduced the University of Engineering and Emerging Technology Bill, 2020, in the House which was also referred to as the relevant committee.

Read more: Why is PM Imran Khan’s government controlling dissent in Pakistan?

The minister said that this bill will pave the way to establish a state-of-the-art University of Engineering and Emerging Technologies at the Prime Minister House.

Minister for Interior Ijaz Ahmad Shah introduced the Islamabad Capital Territory Charities Registration, Regulation and Facilitation Bill, 2020, and the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Bill, 2020, which were also forwarded to the relevant committees for elaboration.

Media misreporting?

Local media reported the news with some misleading headlines suggesting as if the idea of turning the PM house into a place of learning and higher research has altogether been rolled back. The officials had to clarify that the plan got changed in terms of its practical implications, but the idea has not been discarded.

Dr. Rehman commented on the development and stated that it has been decided to build the “National Engineering and Emerging Technology Institute” at the PM House. He further said that the institute will not offer undergraduate degrees but rather focus on research and development.

Read more: PM House university that existed only on papers

The institute will offer research and education facilities from MSc to Ph.D., covering various subjects including Artificial Intelligence, industrial biotechnology, robotics, nanotechnology, genomics, economic governance, water and food security, energy, future of the atmosphere, glaciers, strategies for coping with natural calamities, applied biotechnology and cybersecurity.

The government will allocate a budget of Rs25 billion for the project and it is expected to be completed within three to four years “The purpose of the institute is to prepare the country for a fourth industrial revolution. Work on the project will start from the next fiscal year,” Dr. Rehman told media.

There are still some serious questions about the construction of an institute of learning for Masters and Ph.D. students in the Red-Zone 

In his maiden speech to the nation on August 19, PM Khan had said that there were 524 persons to serve the prime minister at the 1100-Kanal PM House, coupled with 80 cars, including 33 bulletproof ones having an estimated price of Rs 50 million each, besides helicopters and an airplane. “At one hand the nation was burdened with debt and on the other, we have the elite. This system was created by the British during the colonial era to rule the masses, but even after independence the same practice was being followed,” PM remarked.

However, for many analysts, it will be difficult to operate any educational institution at place which is said to be a “Red Zone”. There are obviously security reasons for not making the place available for all and sundry. Pakistan is facing the menace of extremism and terrorism, it will be more important to take some serious security measures before the government finally plans to turn the PM house into a university.

Read more: Election promise: PM House converted into ‘Islamabad National University’

Interestingly, a professor of history at Quaid-e-Azam University Dr. Ilhan Niaz believes that the building cannot be converted to a university owing to security concerns but should be turned into a civil service academy or any training institution. He further added that our politicians spent a deluxe life. Luxury became a crucial part of their living style. Indeed, they spent more luxurious life than they (native politicians) used to spend in the sub-continent under English rulers.

There are still some serious questions about the construction of an institute of learning for Masters and Ph.D. students in the Red-Zone which is, despite the fact that Pakistan has won the war against terror, a difficult idea to transform into reality.