Second Letter to the Prime Minister regarding Appointment of Chairperson HEC

Mr. S. Khaqan Abbasi 24.5.2018
Prime Minister of Pakistan
PM Secretariat, Islamabad


Subject: Appointment of Chairman HEC

Respected Sir,

The following submissions are made respectfully with regard to the above subject:

  1. One must begin with a profound quote from the philosopher mathematician Alfred North Whitehead: “In the conditions of modern life the rule is absolute, the race which does not value trained intelligence is doomed. Not all your heroism, not all your social charm, not all your wit, not all your victories on land or at sea, can move back the finger of fate. Today we maintain ourselves. Tomorrow science will have moved forward one more step, and there will be no appeal from the judgement that will then be pronounced on the uneducated.”
  2. The above quote points out eloquently that national survival hinges on the creation of new knowledge, and that creation of new knowledge requires “trained intelligence”. The production of “trained intelligence” is the task of universities.  
  3. Higher education is a vehicle of national transformation and integration, of enhancement of our productivity and defence capabilities, as well as a means of promoting good governance. In particular, our higher educational institutions must be geared to the task of production of good quality manpower capable of contributing to the national economy and equipped with the ability of solving our problems in various fields. This requires a corps of trained researchers who are groomed and chiselled in higher educational institutions.
  4.  According to the HEC Ordinance 2002, HEC was set up “in the interest of improvement and promotion of higher education.”  
  5. The Chairman HEC must possess a combination of abilities. He/she must be a scholar of eminence who is respected nationally and internationally, he/she must understand research and know how to promote it, he/she must have a long teaching experience at an important Pakistani university, he/she should understand how universities are administered, he/she must have a deep understanding of the myriad problems of Pakistani universities, and must have the ability to deal successfully with various stakeholders of universities viz. the teachers, students and the university administrations. His/her intellectual stature and administrative abilities must be well above that of the usual level of VCs. Above all he/she must be a person of vision who can lead and energise the higher education sector.
  6. The undersigned has spent a total of 44 plus years (Oct 1972-Dec 2016) as a teacher, researcher and administrator in the University of the Punjab. The undersigned is a teacher and researcher by choice. The academic and co-curricular career of the undersigned was such that the undersigned could have most easily secured admission in UET after F.Sc., could have joined the Armed Forces (two of my class-fellows having risen to the rank of corps commander), and could have done very well in the Civil Services examinations (as those of my contemporaries who ended up in the DMG would vouch). This is being stated for the simple reason that on account of my reading habits I had acquired a deep world view early in life that led me to take up a career in the academic profession at a time when very few people in this country comprehended the significance of Knowledge of Nature as the prime generator of human power and wealth, and as the key tool in nation-building.
  7. As the longest serving Vice Chancellor of Pakistan’s oldest seat of higher learning, the University of the Punjab (PU) I have demonstrated how to comprehensively tackle the problems of Pakistan’s most difficult university. During my tenure at PU I was able to
    1. enhance the research publications in impact factor journals by a factor of over 4.6
    2. enhance annual Ph.D. production by a factor of over 3.6, and
    3. increase the post-graduate student body (M.Phil and Ph.D scholars) by a factor of 15  (from 1%  of the student body in 2008-2009 to 15% in 2015-2016)
    4. break the grip of the IJT and free the academic community from their terror, the only VC of PU to have achieved this. This resulted in an explosion of student success in co-curricular activities in which PU students established their sway at the national and international level. They were able to defeat students from Cambridge and Harvard as well as Israel at Model UN debates in Europe for 8 consecutive years
    5. increase the Research Endowment Fund from 25 million in 2008 to 600 million in 2015-2016. I set up a Pension Endowment Fund that had risen to Rs. 4.5 billion in 2015-2016
    6. increase the research funding from PU’s own income by a factor of 55
    7. take a most important initiative for national integration, focused specially on Baluchistan. In the year 2011, I announced about 100 seats every year for students from Baluchistan in various programs of the university. No fees were charged from these students, no hostel dues were taken (except for mess dues) and a stipend of Rs. 3000/- per month was given to each such student from the earnings of the university. As a result, deserving students from Baluchistan flocked to the PU and the image of Punjab in Baluchistan received a great boost. Many extremist students from that province became convinced that Punjab was not hostile to Baluchistan but was, instead supporting its youth. Prof. Javed Iqbal, VC Baluchistan University, told me that through this initiative I had converted separatist student activists into Pakistani patriots. Many students who have passed out under this program are serving in Baluchistan, and in other parts of the country.
    8. I am probably the only VC in the history of this country who was able to write one new book almost every year while in office. These include internationally acclaimed biographies of Einstein and Abdus Salam as well as books on global politics. I have authored a dozen books, of which 8 were written while I was VC.
    9. In view of my contributions I was awarded Sitara e Imtiaz in 2015. Earlier, in 1999, the Presidential Pride of Performance award was conferred upon me. I had won the Abdus Salam Prize in 1985 for my research contributions and had won awards for research as well as book writing in 1986 and 1999 respectively. I was chosen as Senior Associate of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Trieste, Italy for a 6-year period (1990-1995). Senior Associates are researchers from the developing world “whose international standing is a factor of pride”
    10. During my tenure PU became the number 2 university in HEC rankings, was among the top 9% (out of about 24000) institutions of the world in Webometrics rankings and around 200-250 in Asia in QS rankings.
  8. During the past 14 months I have also acquired an understanding of the problems of private sector universities of Pakistan, which gives me a great advantage in dealing with the problems of Pakistani universities as almost half of the Pakistani universities are in the private sector.
  9. The undersigned understands that this country is overflowing with raw talent on account of its diverse gene pool and that this raw talent, scattered in the lower and middle class strata of our society, needs to be harnessed. If US draws talent from backward countries and harnesses it for its global leadership role, we should do the same for our masses.
  10.  The undersigned did not appear before the present Search Committee for personal reasons that had a sound footing.  However, I would be thankful if I am heard/interviewed by your gracious self or by some individuals you might like to nominate.
  11. The targets for HEC were set by the HEC leadership during the period 2002-2008. In the past few years a serious strain has developed between HEC and universities, both public and private. This strained relation has adversely affected the HE sector and the achievement of targets. The universities have generally come to view HEC as an arm twisting bureaucratic body. This perception has led to a situation which can only be improved by bringing in fresh HEC leadership which has the ability to establish cordial working relations with universities throughout the country and which is viewed with respect by the academic community of the HE institutions.
  12. A most important initiative of the government under vision 2025 program is the target of sending 10,000 engineers for higher studies to the US. Anyone who secures admission in any of the top 200 US universities will be given a scholarship by the GoP. This most important initiative will not meet its targets until and unless HEC, in collaboration with the universities, launches a nationwide program for helping engineers to prepare for the GRE and TOEFL exams that have to be cleared in order to seek admission in US universities. If this program succeeds, and under a visionary and capable HEC leadership it should, Pakistan will move forward much more quickly than in any other period of its national life.
  13. Finally, a HEC chairman must understand the profound reasons as to why should we engage in the creation of new knowledge. The reasons were stated by a Nobel Laureate from a Muslim country in the following words: “Why am I so passionately advocating our engaging in the enterprise of creating scientific knowledge? This is not just because Allah has endowed us with the urge to know, this is not just because in the conditions of today this knowledge is power and science in application the major instrument of material progress – it is also that as members of the international community, one feels the lash of contempt for us – unspoken but still there – of those who create this knowledge.”

With my humble regards

Prof. Dr. Mujahid Kamran