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Commission on master plan defers debate on varsity in PM House

Updated February 22, 2019

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Commission’s member says before moving forward, a clarification should be taken from federal govt about university.— APP/File
Commission’s member says before moving forward, a clarification should be taken from federal govt about university.— APP/File

ISLAMABAD: The commission constituted to review the master plan of Islamabad on Tuesday deferred a matter regarding the proposed establishment of a university in the Prime Minister House till it takes an input from the federal government.

The 12-member commission, which met at the CDA headquarters with CDA Chairman Amir Ali Ahmad in the chair, discussed the agenda items, including the proposed university on the basis of a letter from the interior minister. The letter had requested the commission to decide about the proposed university.

However, sources said the commission members were of the view that before moving forward a clarification should be taken from the federal government about the project.

“We have decided that before deciding the mater we should get some information about the project from the federal government. We will discuss the matter in the coming meetings after getting required information,” said a member of the commission, who requested not to be named.

Commission’s member says before moving forward, a clarification should be taken from federal govt about university project

He said the commission wanted to have direct instruction from the federal government in this regard.

The CDA recently told the federal government that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s initiative to set up a university at the PM house would violate the city’s master plan.

Through an official letter, the CDA informed the federal government that it would have to alter the master plan if a university was to be set up in a government building.

According to civic agency’s existing rules, a university cannot be opened in an administrative building. The sources said the CDA told the government that a university in the Prime Minister House would be non-compatible use of a government building.

The inaugural ceremony and conference for the Islamabad National University, which is to be set up in the Prime Minister House, was held in December. The government had announced at that time that the university was envisioned as an institution designed to support research-based policymaking.

According to the government, it would initially consist of the Institute of Advanced Studies, which would be tasked with providing science-based annual reports to the government on emerging challenges facing Pakistan and the world. A PhD programme would be started at a later stage.

On behalf of the federal government, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) is supervising the university project.

When contacted, HEC’s spokesperson Aayesha Ikram said: “We have completed all the required formalities for establishment of Islamabad National University at PM House.” She said the PC-1 had already been submitted to the government.

The draft charter of the university has also been processed prior to being placed before parliament.

“Further, a request has already been sent to the government to hand over the project site so that implementation activities can be instituted,” she said.

Meanwhile, the commission discussed the recommendations submitted by its subcommittees constituted in the last meeting.

“After holding four meetings, we are now on the right track. At the next meeting, we will okay an advertisement for hiring a consultant,” said another member of the commission.

On the direction of the CDA chairman, the commission members were also allotted a special office in the headquarters of the civic agency.

A subcommittee constituted to finalise the terms of reference for hiring the consultant placed a draft expression of interest (EOI) advertisement and the TORs before the commission. The commission will discuss and consider it for finalisation.

The second subcommittee constituted for finalising the identification of areas of studies to be conducted for the revision of the master plan shared its recommendations and proposals with the commission.

It was decided that a consolidated and comprehensive report covering all aspects would presented within two weeks.

In order to conduct public hearings, the meeting decided that the director general Environment Protection Agency will submit a proposal for organising a workshop of professionals and other stakeholders within two weeks.

It was also decided that all stakeholders, including civil society, including retired civil servants, residents of different sectors, chamber of commerce, residents of slums, mediapersons, professionals and students, would be asked to present their suggestions.

Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2019