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Random thoughts

December 2, 2019

A place for learning

Opinion

December 2, 2019

Recently, I was invited as chief guest to the 14th Convocation of Riphah International University, which was held at the Convention Centre, Islamabad. This university is considered to be one of the best in the country. The foundation stone was laid about 17 years ago by eminent educationist, Mr Hassan Muhamad Khan.

Mr Hassan Muhamad Khan’s father, Maj-Gen Zulfiqar Ali Khan, was the eminent cardiologist who established the state-of-the-art facility for the treatment of heart diseases – AFIC. In 1995, he had established the International Medical College Trust with the sole purpose of setting up state-of-the-art educational and training facilities.

Gen Ziaul Haq was very fond of and supportive of Gen Zulfiqar. I met him a number of times – a tall, handsome, thorough gentleman, always willing to help the ailing and the needy. He was the cousin of Eng Ikramul Haq Khan, DG of the Precision Engineering Division in KRL, who lived next door to us. Very often, after Juma prayers, Brig Sajawal and I would have tea with him and Gen. Zulfiqar quite often joined us.

As per convention, I donned the robe and we entered the hall in a row. The hall was filled to capacity with students and their parents and rippling with excitement. I was happy to see my dear, competent ex-colleague, Dr Anwarul Haq, who is now deputy vice-chancellor of the university.

At present there are 15,000 students enrolled in the various disciplines, which are: Islamic International Medical College, Islamic International Dental College, Riphah Institute of Systems Engineering, Faculty of Management Sciences, Riphah Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Faculty of Computing, Riphah Institute of Public Policy, Riphah Institute of Media Sciences, Faculty of Rehabilitation and Allied Health Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Riphah Township Campus, Lahore, Riphah College of Veterinary Sciences, RAK College of Dental Sciences and Riphah University in Mauritius.

The chancellor, Mr Hassan Muhamed Khan and the vice-chancellor, Dr Anis Ahmad, threw light on the achievements of the university in their speeches. It is highly commendable that the Quality Assurance Mechanism has been recognized as an most useful subject. What is excellent about this university is the fact that our own cultural and religious values have been applied in the syllabi. As a matter of fact, in the modern world it has become almost essential that, for the all-round development of human beings, we must not confine ourselves to technology alone, but also include religious values, culture and history as well. It is the duty of all educated people to pass on Islamic and cultural values to the young generation.

Both the chancellor and the vice-chancellor delivered their speeches in English. Unless it is on a technical subject, I always deliver my speech in Urdu. This time, too, I spoke in Urdu and the gesture was greeted with enthusiasm. I knew that on such occasions the audience was always more interested in what had been achieved and how we had done it.

Consequently, in my speech I gave a brief overview of the Indian nuclear explosion on May 18, 1974, my reaction to it and my suggestion to Mr Bhutto that we start a nuclear programme to give a matching response. Later, Bhutto asked me to remain in Pakistan after our vacation and, in an autonomous organization at Kahuta, lead the nuclear programme.

My colleagues and I, with hard work, determination and devotion, did not let the government down and within seven years we had made Pakistan a nuclear power – the first in the Islamic World and the seventh in the world. This was greeted with loud applause.

Successful students took an oath from the vice-chancellor about their respective professions and ethical values. The oath contained nine or ten clauses and hearing them say it made one feel that we were about to produce a nation of near-perfect human beings. Unfortunately, experiences at other colleges has taught me otherwise.

Some medical colleges in particular give a very negative impression. Barely having taken their oath to maintain the sanctity of their profession, the newly inducted doctors prove they lack discipline and respect for their oaths. Roads are blocked, demonstrations staged and, worst of all, OPDs shut down, causing serious problems and inconvenience to the (mainly) poor patients.

May Almighty Allah shower His blessings on the students, their parents, their teachers and all concerned and guide them to follow the right path.

Postscript: I am shocked that the announcement of the judgment in Musharraf’s case has been deferred. The judgment should have been announced and Musharraf, if he so desired, could have appealed against it.

Email: [email protected]

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