Prof. Dr. Azmat Hayat Khan, Vice-Chancellor, University of Peshawar
Jahangir’s World Times: How Peshawar University is doing academically?
Azmat Hayat Khan:
Our Faculty of Science is doing very well, especially departments of physics, chemistry, bio-Chemistry and micro-Biology, etc. On the other hand, I admit that our social sciences’ departments are not doing as good as before. In fact, earlier in the past our departments of English, Political Science and ‘Law College’ were famous at the national level but this is not the case today. Actually, some senior faculty members left the department after their retirement that’s why the performance of social sciences are not very impressive. Moreover, now we cannot conduct conferences because the foreign delegates do not come to Peshawar because of security issues.
Earlier, we had foreign students and foreign faculty members at least two members were attached with each department but we are not having foreign students and faculty members because of the security issues. Thus in spite of these circumstances I would say Peshawar University is doing well because there are no unnecessary strikes and close down of academic activities.
JWT: What was your vision for Peshawar University when you joined as Vice-Chancellor?
When I was in England a person once said to me, ‘Why don’t you make this university a ‘Hub of education and research’ for this region?’ So, I took the charge as Vice Chancellor with this mission or you can say it was my dream. Therefore, I tried my level best to convert this dream into reality but I could not achieve the whole result; I could only produce 50 per cent results.
Moreover, it is an old university having old laws and traditions. While in order to make it a modern university, we need to change these old laws which is not an easy task. In fact, old laws, different pressure groups and red tapism are the main hurdles in the progress of this university. Thus, due to these hurdles I could not make it a regional hub of education and research.
JWT: What are your major achievements as Vice-Chancellor?
AHK: I cannot indicate achievements more specifically because I believe
We are the victim of lack of publicity but if you compare the research work being done in Peshawar University with the rest of universities, then no doubt my university is at top.
there is still lot of work to be done for the university. First of all, I have maintained situation of law and order inside the university. Second is the conduct of exams and commencement of classes on time in spite of the poor law and order condition in Peshawar.
Moreover, now we have made a book shop within the university. Actually, effects of the war on terror brutally affected all the institutions in Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa. In addition, I would say due to war on terror media also painted a very bad image of Peshawar which has overcome the value of our university but apart from that Peshawar University is not behind in any field.
JWT: What are the research potentials of Peshawar University?
Well, our research articles, especially of Science Faculty are regularly published in international research journals. In fact, there are four best departments declared all over Pakistan we have two of them i.e. Department of Geology and Bio-Chemistry. Similarly, there are four best declared professors we have two of them. Moreover, our Area Study Centre for Russia and Central Asia is declared best in Pakistan.
Earlier, scholars from Central Asia and Russia used to come here in order to present their articles but now they do not come because of security reasons. We sent our six thesis of archeology to Germany and all were accepted. Furthermore, we are working on different projects of biotechnology and for this purpose we installed well equipped laboratories which are expensive too. Once, I went to attend a conference in Karachi, when people came to know I am Vice-Chancellor of Peshawar University, they gave me second look. It is all because of the negative image Peshawar or Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa portrayed by the media. I do agree there are security concerns but this is not the case with Peshawar University.
Therefore, here I would like to say that we are the victim of lack of publicity but if you compare the research work being done in Peshawar University with the rest of universities, then no doubt my university is at top.
JWT: How many quality students are being produced by the Peshawar University at the national level?
AHK: I think now it is a well-known fact that according to the reports of Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) if there were no quota system then students of Khyber-Pukhtun-khwa would have been swamped maximum seats of federal jobs. Moreover, our Department of International Relations has won best team prize twice and one individual prize in an inter-universities competition i.e. Second and Third SAARC Simulation Exercise held at Karachi University. So, I think this is the strength of Peshawar University.
JWT: What is the present status of student unions at Peshawar University?
Well, these unions are banned throughout Pakistan and we have not any plan to revive them because it affects the performance of the university. There are some associations or societies of students e.g. Pukhtoon Students Federation, Jamiat and regional associations like students of Kurram Agency but they are all disciplined and they took permission for holding functions formally.
JWT: Would you please tell us about the publications of University of Peshawar.
We have seven faculties and each faculty has its own journal and all journals are recognised by the Higher Education Commission (HEC). As I earlier said that recently we have established our ‘University Book Shop’ where we have displayed research and other publications of our university; we are doing all this for the projection of our scholars and students.
JWT: Is Peshawar University Teachers Association (PUTA) a pain in the neck or it is good for the university?
No, I am very sorry to say because their contributions are not as much constructive as it should be. In fact, there are different groups or factions and members of PUTA are also elected on the basis of their affiliations to these groups. So they work for their own interests even in the Syndicate they do politics. Hence, in my opinion their role is not positive.
JWT: Do you have any plan to introduce semester system in social sciences?
We already have semester system in the Department of History but actually for semester system we need new syllabus. We must remember this system is an American system in which departments themselves are autonomous enough to conduct the exam to award degree too. Now here it is impossible that the department will take exam through semester system and we will grant the degree. Moreover, we lack in integrity because we are basically corrupt people and get angry when our flaws are highlighted; why, because we don’t have character. What happens here, we have caught a clerk red handed and lodged an First Information Report (FIR) with police against him. He used to take money from the students in order to get them pass in the papers. So, I would say that ground realities are not suitable for the semester system.
JWT: It is observed that evening students always face problem of hostel accommodation. What do you say?
It is clearly written in the university prospectus that hostel is not the right of everyone so, we are not responsible for allotting hostel accommodation to one and all. In fact, here everyone thinks that if he gets admission in the university then he will definitely get the hostel accommodation.
Actually, neither we have sufficient funds to build new hostels nor we have enough land for new hostels. We are hardly managing morning students then how we can accommodate evening students.
JWT: What is your opinion about HEC?
No doubt, the role of HEC has been very positive but at the same time some flaws do exist in it. Actually, the role of HEC is of a coordination body between the institutes and the government and I think in this regard HEC played very positive role but we have not any other option if we devolve the HEC. For instance, without HEC how can we make international agreements?
JWT: Any message
AHK: For a developed, self-sufficient and prosperous Pakistan we have to overhaul our whole education system. We have to spend huge budget on education and health sectors, we have to make vocational institutes and there should not be permanent jobs in education sector, only contractual jobs based on performance. Henry Kissinger and Brizinski were professors only for six years but what happens here a person gets job in grade-17 and then retire in grade-22. We have to change this system for our bright future.