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Pak-China varsity project in doldrums

Pak-China varsity project stopped due to unavailability of funds
Islamabad, Dec 18: The sudden closure of the project of foreign universities by the government has left the Chinese faculty in the worst circumstances, which is keenly waiting to join Pak-China University, which was decided to start in 2008.

Though the President Asif Ali Zardari had assured the Chinese government to start the university during his visit to China but practically the work has been stopped due to unavailability of funds and the team of the project of foreign universities has been dispersing gradually.

The government had decided the Establishment of Engineering, Science & Technology Universities in Pakistan (UESTP's) where Rectors, curriculum and all the faculty members were decided to be foreigner to fulfil the engineering vision 2030.

In the context of this decision, agreements had been signed with Germany, Italy, France, Austria, Japan, China, and South Korea etc to achieve the goals in the realm of science and technology. It was the brainchild of former chairman of Higher Education Commission, Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman.

Initially conceived nine but later on it were converted into seven projects and Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) approved the establishment of four universities in 2008. And finally Pak-China University was ready to start in 2008 in a temporary campus in that short span of time.

The classes of MSc. at Pak-German and Pak-Austria universities were also decided to start in 2008 and the HEC had obtained the building of old airport of Lahore from the Ministry of Sports for the time being. But the Austrian and German team after visiting Pakistan postponed the project till 2009 considering the situation and lack of will amongst the new government in pursuing it.

It was decided that the universities would have technology parks and technology incubators with enhanced links to the industry of the area, which will greatly help consolidate our technological base and make us more independent which was the speciality of these universities.

But the new government of Pakistan People's Party stopped the funding of development projects including the project of UESTP's and directed to wind up the project. On the other side, the Chinese faculty and Rector selected from nearly eight top class Chinese universities have resigned from their universities and eagerly waiting to come Pakistan.

The government had constituted a four member cabinet committee to review the project. The members included Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Finance, Economic Affairs and Revenue Hina Rabbani Khar, Special Assistant of Prime Minister on Social Sector Shehnaz Wazir Ali, Former Deputy Chairman Planning Commission M. Salman Faruqui and Education Secretary Jehangir Bashar.

Interestingly, there was no representation of HEC in the committee, which suggested limiting the project. The Commission accepted the suggestions and decided to decrease the enrolment of students in half still the grant was not released to continue the project.

Now, the fate of the project hangs in the balance, as the cabinet committee is yet to decide about it and anything can be expected. The government can direct HEC to limit its project into one or two universities or it can be scrapped altogether as the government has not been able to release full recurring as well as development grant of this quarter. The Nation

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Biochemistry conference at at Pir Mehr Ali Shah-Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi (PMAS-AAUR)
Rawalpindi: The ninth conference of Pakistan Society for Biochemistry & Molecular Biology (PSBMB) at Pir Mehr Ali Shah-Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi (PMAS-AAUR) started here Wednesday with experts from across the country, says a press release.

Topics to be discussed during the four-day conference include Protein Structure & Function, Protein Engineering, Proteomics, Gene Expression & Regulation, Genomes & Bioinformatics, Signal Transduction, Clinical Biochemistry, Molecular Genetics, Transgenic Plants, Plant Genomics, Diagnostics & Therapeutics, Industrial Enzymology, Biofertiliser & Biopesticides, and Environmental Biochemistry & Biotechnology. The conference contains lectures, 23 technical sessions and a poster competition.

AAUR is organising the conference in collaboration with Pakistan Academy of Sciences, PSBMB and National Commission on Biotechnology. The theme of the conference is 'Advances in Biochemistry Processes and Molecular Biology'.

Speaking as chief guest at the inaugural session, Dr Anwer Naseem, chairman National Commission on Biotechnology and Advisor Comstech, said the conference is a unique opportunity for scientists to share their knowledge and experiences and come up with new techniques and methodologies to find out the solutions of outstanding issues in the field of science and technology.

He was of the view that without the involvement of young people, science could not flourish. "We have to motivate young scientists and it is their duty to take more interest in research for the promotion of science." He said the conference would not only give broad based exposure to teachers but also help scientists in their research endeavours.

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Wali Khan University project reviewed
Mardan: Members of a high-level committee visited the site of the Abdul Wali Khan University (AWKU), Mardan here Wednesday to ascertain the status of the upcoming university and review progress on the project.

Director General Javed Ahmed Khan of Higher Education Commission (HEC), Chairman Professor Humayun Zia of Higher Education Regulatory Authority (Hera) and Ahmed Hanif Orakzai, Secretary Higher Education, NWFP visited the university.

On this occasion, Project Director Dr Ihsan Ali Khan gave the team a briefing about AWKU and hoped that the university would soon get status of a full-fledged seat of learning in the second largest city of the NWFP.

He said NWFP Chief Minister Ameer Haider Hoti had already approved funds of Rs18.2 million for the establishment of AWKU. He said the provincial government had also sanctioned Rs330m for purchase of land for the university and granted it another Rs70 million. Dr Ihsan, who is also vice-chancellor of Hazara University, said that AWKU would fulfil all requirements for a great seat of learning. The News

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