ISLAMABAD: The Oxford Pakistan Programme (OPP) has been launched at the University of Oxford to promote various Pakistan-related activities there.

Its soft launching was held here in Islamabad on Monday night, which was attended by a number of bureaucrats, scholars and mediapersons.

The initiative included graduate scholarships for deserving students, visiting fellowships for Pakistani faculty members and special lectures on Pakistan.

The organisers of the event said that OPP has also drawn strong support from the University of Oxford, the Pakistan High Commission in London, and the British High Commission in Islamabad.

The Programme has raised pledges of over £500,000 from Pakistani businessmen and key members of the Pakistani Diaspora in the UK, they said.

The OPP is the brainchild of Professor Adeel Malik of the University of Oxford, Dr Talha J. Pirzada, Lecturer in Aerospace Materials and Haroon Zaman, Trainee Lawyer at Travers Smith, London. They were assisted in this effort by Oxford alumni Minahil Saqib and Dr.Mohsin Javed.

The organisers of the event said that OPP’s principal aims are to increase the representation of Pakistani and British Pakistani students at the University of Oxford; act as a bridge between Oxford and Pakistan’s academic communities through the exchange of scholars and the sharing of scholarship; and raise the academic profile of Pakistan and Pakistan-related studies at the University of Oxford.

They said despite Britain being one of Pakistan’s most important diplomatic and economic partners, with around 1.5 million Pakistani diaspora, Pakistanis presence in its academic centres are non-existent.

“This initiative would serve to build academic and diplomatic weight in Oxford. The OPP aims to build a platform that acts as an umbrella body for a variety of initiatives, led by academics at the University of Oxford. This would house a range of activities that would serve to raise the profile of Pakistan across the academic spectrum in Oxford, while also increasing the number of Pakistani students at the University,” they said.

Published in Dawn, December 22nd, 2021

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