The announcement made by one of the ministers of the PML-N-led coalition government to scrap the projects initiated by the PTI Government including the widely publicized scheme of establishment of a state-of-the-art international level university in the Prime Minister’s House has not surprised many.
This is not only an exposition of what the incumbent coalition government has in the store for the higher education sector in the country but is also a continuation of the old saga in the country where the new government on assuming the office scrapes all the projects launched by the predecessors. One wonders what will happen vis-à-vis these projects if the PTI government gains power in the center at any point in time, once again, in the near future.
Ahsan Iqbal, the Federal Minister for Planning, Development & Special Initiatives said to the media a few days back that the PML-N-led coalition government would put an end to the projects kickstarted during the PTI’s tenure that are “unimportant” and “political” in nature and described Imran Khan’s plans to turn the Prime Minsters’ s House into a university as one of those. He added that funds saved by scrapping those projects would be diverted to the projects of “national significance”.
Imran Khan, the PTI Chairman and the ex-Prime Minister, in his victory speech, reiterated his commitment not to use the Prime Minister’s House as his residence and that his party would later decide about the fate of the building. He maintained that the house would be converted into an educational institution or something of the sort.
In his early days, in his numerous TV interviews, several Talk Shows and a number of public speeches, Khan promised to convert Prime Minister’s House and the Governors’ Houses into public places. In one of his interviews with Mubashir Luqman, a TV anchor and host, Khan recapitulated that he was eying the Punjab Governor House for quite some time. But his commitment could not be materialized due to the PML-N government in the center at that time.
Khan received scathing criticism for making tall claims without delivering anything on the ground and was labelled as ‘all talk no action’, by not timely executing such projects. However, to put his plan to action, within months, the conversion of PM House into a university was announced, maintaining that the money to be recovered in corruption cases would be spent on education. Initially, an institute of advanced studies was envisaged to be established that would, later on, be turned into a full-fledged university to help address the emerging challenges and converting those into opportunities for the countrymen.
The National Assembly Standing Committee on Federal Education and Professional Training approved had approved “The University of Engineering and Emerging Technology Bill, 2020” and an amount of Rs. 3,500 million was earmarked for the project, while the ECNEC sanctioned Rs. 23.54 billion for the university which was required to be completed in 72 months and the classes in the university were planned to be started in the year, 2022. However, the scheme has yet to see the light of day.
Terming it as a drama, Ahsan Iqbal said the PTI government’s plan of setting up a university in the Prime Minister’s House was a “political and senseless project” adding that Rs. 23 billion which were allocated for the project, however, the spending on this account is yet to be ascertained.
The ultimate fate of all similar projects, conceptualized by the previous government and axed by the current coalition government may yet to be adjudicated in case the PTI government accedes to power in the center, once again, shortly.