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KARACHI, May 9: Engineer Abul Kalam, former vice chancellor of the NED University of Engineering and Technology and the longest-serving VC of any public sector university in Pakistan, died at a local hospital on Thursday morning. He was 90.

His funeral prayers were offered in Masjid Abu Bakar on Thursday evening and Soyem will be held at his residence, 55-A, 12 South Street, DHA, Phase II, between Asr and Maghrib, on Friday.

The VC — who recently retired from the post after serving for 16 years and four months (he had taken over on Dec 10, 1996) — on March 15 had fractured his hip bone after taking a fall at home for which he was recently operated, too, but is said to have developed pneumonia a few days after the accident. His two sons, daughter and wife were by his side when he died at 9.45am at the hospital.

Meanwhile, colleagues while paying tribute to their former VC remembered him as a man of principles whose sense of discipline helped the university grow.

“He was instrumental in starting the architecture department back in 2000 and helped us in starting the specialised urban and architecture heritage, urban and regional planning and urban design programmes here,” Dr Noman Ahmed, chairman of the Department of Architecture and Planning of the NED at the university’s old campus, told Dawn.

“When we decided to restore the university’s old campus, he was more than forthcoming in accepting our proposal,” he added.

“For our outreach programmes, he was always there for us while helping us collaborating with various foreign universities. He also provided his comments and suggestions based upon his vast experience,” he said.

“He was very friendly and supportive of our female faculty members and students and always tried to create an environment where girl students and faculty members could be at ease without any interference from the opposite gender,” he said.

“He was a strict disciplinarian, a quality that transformed the NED. He was able to wipe out all kinds of political influences and elements from the university. He cleaned up the examination process to such an extent that any type of minor cheating attempt was dealt with heavy penalty. There is no wall chalking or posters of any kind on any of the university walls due to the legacy that he has left behind,” he added.

“Later on, when he was becoming rather old, it was his routine that was running him. He had dressed up and was about to go to office the day after he retired and was reminded and stopped in time. It took him a while to accept that and that was also when his health started falling,” the professor said.

NED registrar Javed Aziz said that he was a great man of principles. “It was discipline at any cost for him. He valued time and was in his office at 8.25am sharp each morning. It was thanks to him that a four-year degree at the university is completed in that time,” he said.

NED director finance Mohammad Sajeeruddin said that he really cared about his faculty and the university employees. “This university has seen much growth in his 16 years with it,” he said.

NED vice chancellor Dr Afzal Haq, who took over from him back in March, praised him for adding 17 new departments to the university as it only had eight departments before he came on the scene.

“Today we have 25 departments,” he said while adding that they had only two weeks ago, after approval during a syndicate meeting, decided to name the NED central library after Engineer Abul Kalam.