Dr A Q Khan
Monday, February 07, 2011
From Print Edition
Behind a good institution, and good governance, there is always an individual and his genius. But if his successors are unable to run the institution with the same zeal and commitment, they tend to destroy it. I have personally witnessed many such cases. In one instance a world-class research institute was built and developed over a period of 25 years. The staff put their life and soul into it, delivered the seemingly impossible and turned it into the country’s most respected institution. Once the founding father left, the institution, as forecast by him, quickly turned into a typically mediocre, PWD-type organisation within a few months.
Another institution to which my colleagues and I gave our sweat and blood is the Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute (GIKI) at Topi in what is now Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. In 1985 I suggested to Mr Ghulam Ishaq Khan that, since the main objective of providing the country with a nuclear weapons capability had been achieved, I would like to concentrate on promotion of education. He replied that he had Rs50 million donated by Mr Agha Hasan Abedi for educational purposes in the province and that we could start off with that money. I was of the opinion that such an amount would only suffice to buy a bungalow, put in a few computers and train a few students, not much more. We needed more money. He said that Mr Abedi was coming after a few days and that I should explain the situation and requirements to him. I had a meeting with Mr Abedi and explained the idea of a world-class institution. After listening carefully, he said that he would raise the funds to Rs250 million. Everyone was pleased and I agreed to prepare a proper feasibility report.
We met once again, this time at the Presidency, since Mr Ghulam Ishaq Khan had become president after Gen Zia’s death. I presented the feasibility report, which contained all the requisite details – faculties, courses, buildings, campus, cost estimates, etc. This had been prepared with invaluable input from my colleague Dr Nazir Ahmad and my architect friends Mr Qamar Alavi and Mr Khizar Hayat. We needed a minimum of Rs500 million for the initial phase.
Agha Sahib again listened very attentively, and when I finished, the great man and patriot that he was, he announced a donation of Rs500 million. Within a few weeks we had received the money and Mr H U Beg invested it intelligently and it had grown it into Rs750 million by the time the work was in full swing. I managed to collect a lot of money from expatriate Pakistanis. The Pakistani business community also gave handsome sums in donation. The Islamic Development Bank in Jeddah and the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) each gave $10-million loans on very easy terms. The French government donated computers and electronic equipment worth Rs80 million.
I was appointed project director, and within three years the institute was fully functional. The land at Topi was provided by then-NWFP governor Brig Amir Gulistan Janjua. We hired the best faculty we could find, which included 15 foreign professors and my former teacher, Dr M J Brabers, was appointed its first rector. Within two years of its establishment, GIKI was ranked among the best ten educational institutes in Asia. The campus was so impressive it was a treat to visit.
Due to Gen Musharraf’s mischief, my association with that fine Institute was broken off and from there on things went downhill. Now it is nowhere to be found on any list because, from highly qualified educationists previously running it, the Institute has fallen into the hands of former bureaucrats.
Another fine international institution with which I was closely associated for many years, as a member of its board of governors, is the International Islamic University (IIU). The IIU was the brainchild of religious scholar Dr Mahmood Ghazi. He was hardly 30 years old when he conceived the idea of a world-class university for Islamic education. He discussed the idea with Mr A K Brohi, the law minister at that time, who immediately grasped the importance of the idea. He took Dr Ghazi to Gen Zia and received the president’s approval. The Saudi government made a generous donation of Rs450 million and the result was the world-famous Faisal Mosque with a portion dedicated to the university. Students from Islamic countries and Muslim students from all over the world came to study here.
In the beginning, Dr Hussain Hamid was president, followed by Dr Hassan Shafai, both renowned Egyptian religious scholars. Later, Dr Ghazi was himself appointed its president. Many people of stature were on the board, including Justice Sardar Iqbal and Dr Waqar Masood Khan, an able civil servant who the present finance secretary. Then came Gen Musharraf’s dictatorial period in which many fine institutions were destroyed. Mediocre people were appointed and this university was also destroyed. The new government, a stooge of the US, went even further by cancelling the visas of hundreds of foreign students and destroying its international character. Now this once fine institution is an orphan without even a president.
We have further examples of deterioration, in Pakistan Steel, PIA and Pakistan Railways. At one time they were all run by efficient, honest and able people and were the pride of the nation but have now become liabilities. PASMIC was once a prize state enterprise under Gen Abdul Qayyum. Gen Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz wanted to make quick bucks by selling it. When Gen Qayyum informed the Supreme Court of this, he was swiftly removed and the organisation went to the dogs. PIA, which was once one of the best airlines in the world, until it was given into the hands of incompetent sycophants. All those institutions are now costing the nation hundreds of billions of rupees annually.
It is time that we as a nation realise that institutions can only flourish through the capabilities and wisdom of the individuals running them. The moment you put a wrong man at the helm of affairs, the whole setup is destroyed. If you transfer or promote a person from a position where he was performing well to another place, he will usually be unfit for his new position and will destroy it. Therefore, no one should be transferred or promoted to a position for which he is unfit. Find other ways and means to reward him financially and continue letting him to do the job at which he performed well. Unfortunately, the current sad situation of many institutions in our country is due to this basic flaw.