ISLAMABAD: Fulfilling his party’s manifesto, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday converted the palatial Prime Minister House into an international university and said the money to be recovered in corruption cases would be spent on education.
However, it has not been elaborated whether the entire PM House will be converted into the Islamabad National University (INU) or some of its portion will be used for the purpose.
“What I have learnt during my life in the UK does not allow me to live in PM House,” the prime minister said while inaugurating the INU at a two-day conference on “Emerging Challenges and Opportunities for Pakistan”.
It has been learnt that initially an institute of advanced studies will be established in the PM House that will be later turned into a full-fledged university. Minister for Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mahmood also confirmed that an institute of advanced studies for research would be established at the old PM House and it would gradually lead to the establishment of a university.
The prime minister said he could not sleep even by taking sleeping pills in PM House when millions of children were not going to schools in the country.
The conference, which has brought together experts from all over Pakistan as well as many renowned scholars from China, the United States and European countries, focuses on how the new university will help address the emerging challenges and converting them into opportunities for Pakistan.
The prime minister said the university would not only be a symbolic representation of youth but also become a centre which would provide research-based guidance for all social, economic as well as institutional challenges. “There is no second opinion that nations cannot progress without quality education, particularly higher education,” he added.
He said his government was committed to removing the colonial legacy of grandeur and promoting simplicity. “We will create awareness among the masses so that they can protect their rights.”
The prime minister said the INU would be an autonomous entity and function without any government intervention. Referring to the ‘House of Wisdom’, a major Abbasid academy set up by Khalifa Haroon-ur-Rasheed, he said: “It will take a start from a very good institution, maintain its progress and turn into a centre of excellence which will attract scholars from across the world to help find solutions to national and global problems.”
Assuring the High Education Commission (HEC) of his support, the prime minister said the government would fully support the growth of higher education in the country and spend the money to be recovered through the accountability drive on meeting educational goals.
Earlier in his welcome address, Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood praised the HEC for its efforts to promote higher education and research. He said the establishment of INU was a step towards fulfilment of government’s commitment to making best public use of the lavish government estates.
HEC Chairman Dr Tariq Banuri extended his gratitude to the prime minister for his personal commitment to converting the PM House into a university and said the design of the new university was driven by effective use of public money, demonstration of values and finding solution to challenges facing the country.
“The HEC will ensure that the INU begins to deliver from day one and continue on the path to excellence,” he added.
Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing congratulated the government on the launch of INU and said it was another demonstration of Pakistani government’s commitment to promoting higher education. He informed the audience that 25,000 Pakistani students were currently acquiring education in Chinese institutions.
Published in Dawn, December 22nd, 2018