ISLAMABAD: AQ Khan challenges Dr Attaur Rehman — once again

By Rauf Klasra

Detained nuclear scientist Dr AQ Khan has challenged Dr Attaur Rehman to share the names of those 47 new full-fledged universities with the nation that he claimed in his rejoinder to have set up after spending billions of taxpayers’ money in his capacity as the chairman Higher Education Commission (HEC).
Dr Khan has also rejected the explanation of Dr Attaur Rehman given in response to his earlier statement about the HEC and said it was not “convincing”. In a rejoinder to Dr Attaur Rehman’s reply to his earlier statement, Dr Khan said he was at a loss to understand how could Dr Attaur Rehman claim to have set up 47 new universities in Pakistan when on the ground not a single full-fledged independent university had been set up during the last eight years.

“I was surprised to read that 47 universities were established by the HEC. It was probably my ignorance, and that of my colleagues that we could not come up with a single name, except of course the Virtual University, which we learnt through newspaper ads,” Dr Khan sarcastically added.

In his communication with The News, Dr Khan said the stories of the achievements — or lack of them — by the HEC had attracted much attention in the academic world. “In response to former education minister, Mr. Ishaq Khan Khakwani’s criticism, I also added my voice to disappointing achievements of the HEC over the last eight years,” he wrote.

He said, unfortunately, good intentions and impeccable integrity alone could not guarantee the outcome of results of a specific exercise. “I, and with me many others in Pakistan, would have been very happy if, instead of the 47 universities mentioned, the HEC could have put up 4 top-class technical universities — one in the capital of each province. We would not have expected these institutions to produce giants like Prof Abdus Salam (Pakistan would never ever be able to produce another like him), but at least we should have been able to produce others like Prof Salimuzzaman Siddiq, Prof Raziuddin Siddiqi, Prof Riazuddin, Prof Fayazuddin, Prof Asghar Qadir, Prof Attaur Rahman etc,” he wrote.

Dr Khan has also doubted the claim of Dr Attaur Rehman that the HEC sent hundreds of scholars abroad for Ph.D studies. “As far as sending hundreds of scholars abroad for Ph.D. studies is concerned, this had previously been achieved by Joint Secretaries and Section Officers in the Ministry of Education. Most of our eminent older scientists and engineers belong to pre-HEC days.

Perhaps, the number of such scholars sent for education abroad increased during the HEC-period. Incidentally, like myself, there were many others who went abroad for studies, paying their own way”.

“I still firmly believe that the lack of major results by the HEC was due to Prof. Attaur Rahman’s colleagues who lacked the required vision, practical experience and desire/ability to take bold action.

They had never before set up anything from scratch — let alone a technical university — and didn’t have a clue what was required. Computer presentations are a far cry from the real thing,” he said.

Dr Khan has also given a useful piece of advice to the incoming chairman HEC. “Please don’t surround yourself with sycophants and incompetent people, but choose associates carefully,” he wrote. He further quoted the couplets of the legendary poet Ghalib: “Sadiq hun apne qol me Ghalib Khuda gawa; Kehta hun such ke jhoot ki aadat nahin mujhe.” He added: “I have absolutely nothing personal against Prof. Attaur Rahman. He has a good long innings and should now concentrate on peaceful family life.”

Source: The News, 25/10/2008

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