Universities driving force of national progress: President Masood Khan

MIRPUR:(Parliament Times) Eulogizing the performance of the public sector Mirpur University of Science & Technology (MUST)  in delivering the quality education of science and technology harmonious to the need of the modern age, the President of Azad Jammu & Kashmir Muhammad Masood Khan had emphasized the importance of the universities for the speedy development and progress of the nation.

Masood Khan, also Chancellor of the MUST, was addressing the meeting of the Senate of the MUST for the first time here late yesterday since he assumed  the offices of the President of AJK and Chancellor of the Varsity in the recent past.

Highlighting the unprecedented performance of the Mirpur University of Science and Technology (MUST) for the delivery of quality higher education of science & Technology, Vice Chancellor of the MUST Prof. Dr. Habib-ur-Rehman, (Sitara e Imtiaz), pointed out that despite odd and difficult times, he has been able to improve the governance and set the things to move in the right direction, he claimed.

He continued that the businesses and procedures of the University have been institutionalized and rating of the University improved day by day, he maintained.

Prof., Dr. Habib ur Rehman told the house, that in recognition of the continued life-long struggle  by the elderly Hurriyat Leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani for freedom and liberation of the motherland from Indian yoke,  the University has decided to confer honorary degree upon him. After approval of the Senate and Hon’ble President/ Chancellor, the honorary degree will be awarded to the veteran Kashmiri politician in the forthcoming convocation of the University.

Elaborating the professional activities of the varsity for the providing quality higher education to produce quality future architects of the nation, the  Vice Chancellor informed the house that more Ph.D. faculty has been appointed, enrolment of M.Phil. and Ph.D. students has increased. The engineering degree programs have been accredited by the Pakistan Engineering Council. The MUST is adhering to the quality criteria by implementing measureable standards to evaluate degree programs and improve them to the entire satisfaction of all stakeholders. The HEC policies and guidelines are being followed in letter and spirit. Curricula of all disciplines have been developed in line with the recommendations of the HEC.

Prof. Dr. Habib ur Rehman stated that the  criteria set by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) for faculty appointments have been enforced to improve the quality of our faculty. A transparent procedure for appointment of faculty has been framed and implemented. We will keep on seeking guidance from Hon’ble President for further development of the University. He also acknowledged the contributions of the members of Senate towards the development of the University. He hoped that representatives of teachers will continue motivating their colleagues for bringing about a positive change in the University by fostering human values of highest level so that same can be handeddown to the students. He requested the members of the Senate to offer their guidance for improving the image and repute of the university further.

The Senate, the AJK President and Chancellor Masood Khan continued while addressing the meeting,  said,  is an apex body of the University. Whatever decisions it takes, has an impact on the working of the University, more importantly on the future of the students who have to undertake many responsibilities in nation building. The Senate meetings should not be a routine exercise, we should not rush through the agenda items and endorse the decisions.

He said  that ti should be a stimulative exercise that’s why I have proposed to the Vice Chancellor and he has conceded my suggestion that this would be the first part of the meeting. The second part of the 8thmeeting of the Senate will be held some time later but soon either in November or December subject to the availability of the members of the Senate.

“We need to develop professionalism in the educational institutions, Masood Khan said. Especially in the Universities we must develop culture of merit making merit-based decisions. We should take decisions in accordance with the Act, Statutes, Regulations and Rules. Therefore, members of Senate should be the custodians of the Act, Statutes, Regulations and Rules, he maintained.

MUST, the Chancellor said,  is a very important educational institution in the Azad Jammu and Kashmir because it focuses on Science and Technology. We should develop cutting edge technologies. Our destination is excellence and competence so that our graduates meet the job requirements not only in Azad Kashmir but also in Pakistan. He hoped that the MUST will be developed as a regional center of excellence. We can do that, he emphasized.

In this context, it is very important that MUST, should evolve as Vice Chancellor informed us that the University is doing well and this may be taken as a good beginning. It has traction and resilience but at the same time I think its curricula should be reconfigured and adapted to the emerging market trends. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a great opportunity for the people of Pakistan and also of the AJK. Our graduates should develop competencies to meet the forthcoming job market requirements. We should develop interface between the university and the private sector. As Mirpur is hub of industry and commercial activity, the University-Industry linkages also need to be developed.

I am pleased to note that MUST is in touch with the private sector and has diversified its financial resources through consultancy services and material testing facilities. I think this effort should be enhanced. The MUST may develop collaboration with the Chinese universities besides the good local universities. The MUST can also develop collaboration with the NUST. This is how MUST can work closely with the private sector, industries and the businesses. As Vice Chancellor reported, the MUST has also developed linkages with other universities, these linkages need to be further strengthened. Collaboration with foreign universities, particularly, with the universities of the United Kingdom should also be developed. The representatives of the Diasporas may prove to be helpful in this regard. They may also be invited to contribute in the development of the University.

The AJK President and Chancellor lauded the proposal of the University for awarding honorary degree to Syed Ali Shah Geelani, a prominent hurriyat leader and renowned author.  The award of honorary degree to the Kashmiri leader is apt recognition of his contribution in the freedom struggle. The University must pride itself on the recognition of his life long struggle for freedom of the people of Indian Occupied Kashmir. He also suggested establishing the Centre for Kashmir Studies. Our universities should focus on carrying out research related to history of Kashmir, struggle for freedom, archeology, tourism and culture. The Center for Peace and Development of the MUST may serve the purpose.

Masood Khan said “I am happy to note the HEC criteria for appointments and promotions are being observed in the University. This is what we need to do and this is what we ought to do. We should work more closely with the HEC and keep seeking its support for further development of the University. Soon we will be having a meeting of the Vice Chancellors with the Chairman HEC, so that we may have a pre-planned conversation to improve our performance. I hope the Chairman HEC would help us develop our score card so that we may be able to develop objective criterion for monitoring the performance of the Universities in the Azad Kashmir.

“Masood Khan said that he hope that  there should be no delays in holding the meetings of the Senate of the MUST because there should be predictable periodicity in holding and hosting these meetings and the delays took place in the past was because of political complications. We have to save the institutions from political interference. We have to be immune to political pressure. That would be partly my responsibility and the Senate should help us in this respect. Primarily, it is the responsibility of the Vice Chancellor and his faculty to defend the University. They should not yield to any kind of political pressure. The definition of merit that he understood in Azad Kashmir is that one who is holding a post or who is incumbent is without merit and one who is outside, has all the merit. Using political influence is a sin, a coordinal sin, if I can get some political influence that is Koshar and Hilal and if others do the same, it is not Hilal. The new government led by the Raja Muhammad Farooq Haider Khan and other cabinet ministers have assured me that they would minimize the political influence. If anyone pressurizes the Vice Chancellor, he should inform him instantaneously and it would be his responsibility to absorb the pressure and that will not be transferred to the Vice Chancellor, he assured.

The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Dr. Habib ur Rehman, earlier, congratulated, on this occasion, to  Muhammad Masood Khan, President/ Chancellor on his election as President of the AJK. As he has the honour of representing Pakistan at international levels including the UN, his election as President of AJK is a blessing for the people of Azad Kashmir, he added. Being President, he is the Chancellor of the University, the faculty members, staff and students are unanimous in felicitating him on his position as President of the State/ Chancellor of the University. He hoped that the university will enjoy more autonomy and respect under his dynamic leadership and. The 7th meeting of the Senate was held on December 25, 2014. As per the University Act, at least two meetings of the Senate are mandatory in a calendar year. The meeting of the Senate was not held during the last two years, the functions of the University were affected adversely.

Earlier meeting started with the recitation of the few verses from the Holy Quran by Engr. Muhammad Waris, Registrar MUST. The Registrar/ Secretary Senate Prof. Engr Muhammad Waris requested the Vice Chancellor to welcome the Hon’ble President/ Chancellor and members of the Senate. The Vice Chancellor thanked Prof. Dr. Riaz Hussain Qureshi, Former Advisor HEC and newly appointed members of the Senate, Prof. Dr. Samina Amin Qadir, Vice Chancellor, Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi, Syed ShahidMohi-ud-Din, Secretary Higher Education, GoAJK, Prof. Dr. Muhammad Khan, National Defense University, Islamabad, Dr. Javid Masood Tahir Bhatti, Ex-Senior Advisor Federal Insurance Ombudsman and Engr. Muhammad Ishaq Khan, Director General, Irrigation and Small Dams, Engr. Nadeem Ashraf, General Manager, NESPAK and representatives of the University Teachers, Prof. Dr. Mohammad RiazMoghal, Mr. Muhammad Shabir Mirza, Dr. Zahoor Ahmed and Syed KashifHussain Shah for gracing the occasion through their participation  in the meeting.




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