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SWABI, May 31: NWFP Governor Syed Iftikhar Hussain Shah has said that Pakistan needed highly trained manpower in the field of engineering sciences and technology to launch a 'crusade' against economic backwardness and poverty.

Speaking at the eighth convocation of G.I.K Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology here on Monday, the governor said that at the postgraduate and doctoral level researchers should identify the problems which were hampering the country's progress and put forward suggestions for their resolution.

Education, he said, was a continuing process and to remain relevant the researchers must keep abreast of the latest knowledge. The governor said that the direction of research efforts in Pakistan needed readjustment, adding that the country also required researchers who could find solutions to the problems being faced by the society.

"I shall make my point clear by an example. If some material scientists can develop cheap materials to make the rural mud-houses more durable, it would have an instant impact on national economy and over the lives of millions of people of the country," he elaborated.

The institutes/ universities, he said, should produce postgraduates and doctoral scholars/ researchers who knew the requirements of the country and were willing to contribute their full share. Such engineers and researchers, he said, could bring greater happiness and pride for their families and their country and the future belong to them.

Opposing the shortcuts and inappropriate means of success, the governor said sometimes these might bring a very transient advantage but for achieving greatness researchers had to be men and women of character and integrity.

"You (young engineers) will have to keep yourselves abreast of the latest knowledge, experience and expertise. You may go anywhere to equip yourselves with more and more knowledge but you have an obligation to this country. Comeback when you have completed your higher studies. Remember that your country needs you. You are the future builders of the country and build it you must," he said.

A vibrant academic environment was essential for achieving academic excellence, he said, adding that he knew that the GIK Institute was founded with a vision to make it a unique centre of high standard engineering education and research.

He appreciated the commitment and dedication of founding fathers and all those who made the GIK Institute a centre of excellence in engineering education.

President of SOPREST (Society for the Promotion of Engineering Sciences and Technology in Pakistan) and former president and founder of GIK Institute Ghulam Ishaq Khan did not attend the convocation because of illness. This was the second convocation he could not attend. Executive director of SOPREST H.U. Baig read out his message on the occasion.

Rector of the institute Prof Dr Mohammed Naseer Khan in his address of welcome went through achievements and academic activities of the institute and its linkage/ collaboration with reputed universities/ institutes of engineering sciences all over the world.

He said a large number of scholars from the Ministry of Science and Technology and the National Engineering and Scientific Commission (Nescom) had been enrolled in MS and PhD programme of the institute.

At present, 82 students were registered in the graduate programme, out of which 23 obtained MS degrees at the convocation, he said. Nineteen researchers were engaged in doctoral research and seven of them were expected to receive their PhD degrees in 2005, he added.

Dr Naseer Khan said a new batch of 36 scholars sponsored by the Higher Education Commission and Nescom and some scholars from Middle Eastern countries would begin their post-graduate studies from fall semester 2004.

President Musharraf, who is the chancellor of the institute, had been taking a special interest in the progress and development of the institute and had instructed the Ministry of Finance to pick up Rs700 million of debt retirement of the GIK Institute and to grant Rs100 million for the construction of two hostels at the institute, he added.

Dr Khan said the president had also instructed to the HEC to provide development funds to GIK Institute for strengthening, updating and upgradation of teaching and research labs, initiating work in new areas of emerging technologies like renewable energy resources, industrial research and manufacturing and nanotechnology.

The president had also advised the Ministry of Finance and HEC to formulate a procedure for the grant of research funds, productivity allowance and other incentives to the institute as an exception, he added.

Later, the governor gave away gold medals and degrees to graduates and MS students. Waqas Majeed and Sibtain Raza Badami bagged the Ghulam Ishaq Khan medal and the Quaid-i-Azam medal, respectively.

Faculty-based gold medals for BS programme went to Jehanzeb Khan (computer science engineering), Waqas Majeed (electronic engineering) Asadullah Jawaid (engineering sciences) Musa Ahmad Khan (mechanical engineering) and Fawad Inam (metallurgy and materials engineering).

In MS programme, Badr-i-Munir (computer science engineering), Zaid Iqbal (electronic engineering), Mohammad Amer (engineering sciences), Basheerullah (mechanical engineering) and Aqif Anwar Chaudhry (metallurgy and materials engineering) bagged gold medals.

BY-POLLS: The victory of the ANP-PML-N candidates in by-elections for the posts of district nazim and naib nazim would inform the future political course of the two parties, leaders of the two parties said on Monday. The ANP and PML(N) had put all their weight behind the joint panel, Jehanzeb Khan and Liaquat Ahmad Khan.