Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) Islamabad, one of the top ranked Pakistani university was established in 1967 as research university. Since its inception, Quaid-i-Azam University as an international seat of higher, advancement and academic learning served Pakistani nation. During last fifty two years, the university, for its international repute, qualified faculty and unique academic programmes attracted a number of students from all regions of the country. Being a federal public sector university, admission in the university is offered as per federal government quota policy. Due to this unique characteristic, it is not only a dynamic place of learning but also reflects social diversity and rich culture of Pakistan through syncretic nature of students coming from different social and ethnic backgrounds. That is why; the university is considered a mirror of Pakistan at microcosmic level. Its alumnus are serving at the important positions throughout the globe and playing an important role of image building of Pakistan. The top-notch faculty is a real asset of this top ranked university of Pakistan who are alumni of top ranked universities of the world. More than 90% of the teaching faculty possesses PhD degree even from the top ranked universities of academically advanced countries. Moreover, a reasonable size of the faculty members of the university have been working in the international universities like Oxford, Cambridge, Columbia, Heidelberg etc. earning applause and awards each year such as International Peace Award and civil awards from government of Pakistan.

During a recent interaction of senior members of QAU Alumni Association, it was revealed by newly appointed Vice Chancellor Quaid-i-Azam University Prof. Dr. Muhmmad Ali Shah that despite payment for 1709 acres, QAU is still having shortfall of 450 acres of allotted land due to illegal occupation of 298 acres and non-handing over of 152 acres. The non- resolution of this important issue has created a lot of problems in terms of security and development work. Due to this issue, the premier higher education institution could not construct boundary wall or complete any development work on the campus.

Land adjacent to QAU, along 3rd Avenue and Diplomatic Enclave Islamabad, has been illegally occupied, despite repeatedly requesting proper action against land grabbing elements. In addition, within QAU estate, there are eight small illegal settlements that are slowly growing. QAU administration simply does not have the capacity to remove these elements and it appeals to the ICT and CDA, from time to time, for practical action in this regard. According to the QAU administration fresh encroachments were discovered and verified as about 200 acres of QAU land worth of hundreds of million rupees are under the occupation of various land grabbers. The university administration appealed to the federal government to help QAU retain possession of its precious land.

According to the university officials, the latest report prepared by Survey of Pakistan, it has been confirmed that the total land inside the boundary line of the university, is 1557 acres against the allocated 1709 acres with shortfall of 152 acres and it also includes the 298 acres of land in custody of illegal occupants.

It is worth mentioning that the important issue was highlighted by QAU faculty, administration, alumni and employees from time to time. But due to influential land mafia, no action was taken against them. The present Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan, two years earlier (on 24th December 2016) through his tweet termed grabbing of QAU land unacceptable being Pakistan‘s premier public sector university. On 19th January 2017, Supreme Court of Pakistan also took notice of illegal occupation of QAU land.

Joint Action Committee comprising of representatives of Quaid-i-Azam University Alumni Association (QAUAA), Academic Staff Association and employees of QAU Islamabad also staged peaceful protest at the start of new year 2019 and demanded end of complete illegal occupation of 298 acres of precious land of Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad and handing over 1709 Acres of the prestigious and top ranked higher education of Pakistan to its administration. Their demand was also supported by Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association FAPUASA, a representative body of university faculty.

Another important problem which is being faced by this top Pakistani public sector university is financial crisis. Due to limited financial resources and annual deficit of more than five hundred million rupees, QAU is unable to hire qualified faculty & staff, improve existing facilities and meet growing needs of the university. Adding fuel to fire, owing to financial constraints it is unable to meet essential day to day expenditures. The hostel residents are facing a number of problems due to lack of development and expansion of hostel vicinities. The decades’ old infrastructure and labs needs exigent focus to be addressed. As per unanimous demand of all stakeholders, QAU should be declared a flagship institution along with announcement of special bailout package to overcome its financial constraints and raise the position of university among top 300 global universities. With provision of required funding and support from the government and the alumni, this prestigious higher education institution could win more laurels for the country and meet the growing human resources needs of the country.

The federal government should pay immediate special attention to save this prestigious higher education institution which was established in the name of founder of Pakistan, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Special immediate measures should be undertaken to end illegal occupation of 298 acres of its precious land.

Muhammad Murtaza Noor is associated with the development and education sector for more than 18 years. He is currently working as National Coordinator with Inter University Consortium for Promotion of Social Sciences Pakistan, an autonomous largest alliance of Pakistani universities.

 

The writer is a freelance columnist associated with the development and education sector.

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