LONDON: Pakistani students and faculty members will be able to get graduate scholarships and visiting fellowships at Oxford University under a new initiative launched in London titled, the Oxford Pakistan Programme (OPP).
The initiative that has drawn strong support from the Oxford University, the High Commission for Pakistan in London, and the British High Commission in Islamabad was launched at a high-profile event in London at Pakistan’s embassy.
Besides this, the Programme has raised pledges of over £500,000 from Pakistani businessmen and key members of the Pakistani diaspora in the UK.
This initiative, the Oxford Pakistan Programme (OPP), aims to promote various Pakistan-related activities at the University of Oxford. This will include graduate scholarships for deserving students, visiting fellowships for Pakistani faculty members and special lectures on Pakistan.
It is the brainchild of Professor Adeel Malik of the University of Oxford, Dr Talha J. Pirzada, Lecturer in Aerospace Materials and Haroon Zaman, Trainee Lawyer at Travers Smith, London. They were assisted in this effort by Oxford alumni Minahil Saqib and Dr.Mohsin Javed.
In his keynote speech at the event, Syed Babar Ali, founder of the Lahore University of Management Sciences, termed this initiative as a historic effort, the first of its kind, that will unlock incommensurate opportunities for Pakistani scholars.
Malala Yousufzai, who has been a strong supporter of this initiative from the outset, announced a major new scholarship that will allow one Pakistani girl from an underdeveloped background to study at Oxford every year.
The event was attended by several distinguished academicians from Oxford including around 21 professors and fellows, four Principals and heads of Oxford Colleges.
In their speeches, senior members of the University expressed their strong support for the new initiative on Pakistan that will not only help to consolidate Pakistan-related academic activities at one of the world’s leading universities but will also facilitate access to underrepresented communities.
Senior members of the University highlighted the historic connection between Pakistan and Oxford, appreciating, in particular, the contributions of several Pakistani leaders who attended Oxford, including Liaquat Ali Khan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto, and current Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan.
Professor Adeel Malik of Oxford University and the Academic Lead of OPP lamented that Pakistan is still studied and represented through the narrow lens of security, radicalization, and militarism.
He highlighted that Pakistan has a fast-expanding middle class, its tech ventures are drawing global investors, and it is a country where the struggle for democracy has been paid with blood.
Along with the OPP team, he announced a new research initiative on “National Sovereignty and Development” which will be named after Muhammad Ali Jauhar who studied at Lincoln College at Oxford.
This initiative will develop a programme of academic activities that will document and study the multiple ways in which the economic, political, and cultural sovereignty of developing nations is constrained, and the consequences of this for economic development.
Several donors pledged financial support for the OPP including Syed Sheheryar Ali, the Executive Director of Treet Group of Companies in Pakistan, announcing an annual graduate scholarship for the next five years, Abdul Ghani Dadabhoy, one of the strategic advisors of the OPP in Karachi, and Director of Dadabhoy Group of Companies pledging to sponsor an annual Sir Muhammad Iqbal Lecture on Eastern Philosophy.
The lecture will be delivered at the University of Oxford every year by a leading global intellectual. He also announced support for a Visiting Scholars Programme.
Mr Hamid Ismail, Director of Ismail Industries Limited pledged support for a major new initiative that will enable the visit of one faculty member from a public sector university in Pakistan to Oxford every year.
Tariq Malik, Chairman of NADRA and former Chief Technical Advisor of UNDP, also attended the event and expressed interest in fostering research collaboration with OPP on data science and the use of biometric technologies for development.