HYDERABAD: Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain has urged the government to increase allocation for the education sector to at least four to five per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He stressed that merit and merit alone would be the criteria for seeking admission to the Altaf Hussain University (AHU) in Hyderabad which was being set up by real estate tycoon Malik Riaz Hussain.
Mr Hussain was speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony of the university in Gulistan-i-Sarmast on Friday evening. The ground-breaking was performed by Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad Khan in the presence of Malik Riaz Hussain, chairman of Bahria Town, MQM leaders Qamar Mansoor, Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Kanwar Naveed Jamil and others.
Ground-breaking ceremony of the university named after the MQM chief in Hyderabad
Mr Hussain said that feudalism was the main obstacle to democracy and social progress. He was all praise for Malik Riaz and called him his spiritual brother who was realising his vision for development and elimination of poverty. The university in Hyderabad was his dream coming true, he added.
“I told the governor that you have been holding this post for 12 years. Therefore, you should at least do something memorable for which you and your family are credited,” he said.
Sometime afterwards, Mr Hussain said, an angel in Malik Riaz approached the MQM with the proposal. He could have built a dance club or a casino but he opted for the university, he said complementing the tycoon.
He said that people with unclean minds in former president Asif Ali Zardari’s camp had scuttled Sindh’s progress. “Mr Zardari had visited Nine Zero and talked so nicely. If these people had not been there we would have together taken Sindh to new heights of progress. Still, I am thankful to you [Asif Zardari] but you must ponder over it that if the university had been set up by your government how good it would have been,” he said.
Today, he said, the prime minister called for harmony between the Pakistan Peoples Party and MQM and said the two parties needed to get on with each other in Sindh in order to move forward. But “you need another hand for a handshake,” he remarked.
Mr Hussain said that people of any community and religious background and not Altaf Hussain’s relatives would get admission to the university on the basis of merit.
“Knowledge is a source of enlightenment. Many nations have risen to become super powers but Pakistan continues to look towards the US and the UK carrying a begging bowl in its hands,” he said.
Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad Khan told the gathering that unfortunately, the university’s establishment had been made a political issue. Altaf Hussain was more concerned about the university than even people of Hyderabad, he said. The governor praised Mr Zardari’s gesture to provide land for the university whose charter had been prepared. “Altaf Hussain has proposed to Malik Riaz to build another university named after Benazir Bhutto and he has agreed to it,” he said.
He said that Malik Riaz bought the land for the AHU at price more than its market value and not free of cost as offered by Mr Zardari. Altaf Hussain had always called for nurturing leadership in the middle class which was not possible without education, he said.
Mr Ibad said that a model school, a medical college and a state-of-the-art hospital would be the other components of the AHU.
Malik Riaz said that he wished he be called a ‘welfare tycoon’ instead of a ‘real estate tycoon’ and announced the launch within a month of five ‘Bahria dastarkhwan’ to feed the poor and the hungry in Hyderabad.
He said that 50 ‘Altaf Hussain Scholarships’ would be offered at the AHU, a clean drinking water supply project would be launched in Hyderabad and houses would be built for families of 300 slain MQM activists in the city.
“Since the AHU is being built in the name of Altaf Hussain it has been taken care of that no finger should be pointed to it. I, therefore, bought 80 and not 50 acres for the AHU at a price more than its market value for Rs400 million,” he said.
He lamented lack of wealthy philanthropists in the Muslim world and to make his point explained that Waleed Bin Talal was the fifth richest man of the world but his wealth was squandered in gaming dens whereas Bill Gates spent his wealth on the treatment of Aids. Entire Arab world did not have a single man like Bill Gates, he said.
Making comparisons between the developed countries’ spending on education and that of the Muslim world, he said the US had 5,758 universities, India 8,400, Japan 1,223 while 58 Muslim states collectively had just 500 universities. The Christian world’s 90 per cent population was educated while only 27 per cent of Muslim population was literate, he said.
“Entire Islamic world spends 0.2 per cent of its GDP on education while Europe spends 5 per cent and the US 2.6 per cent. The US has 2.2 million full time research scholars while 22-member Arab world has just 35,000,” he said.
Published in Dawn, January 31st, 2015