RANDOM THOUGHTS : Doomed - BY: Dr. A.Q. Khan

Dr. A.Q. Khan


Half a century ago, noted philosopher, Prof. Alfred North Whitehead, prophesized: “In the conditions of modern life, the rule is absolute; the race which does not value trained intelligence, is doomed. Not all your heroism, not all your social charm, not all your wit, not all your victories on land or at sea, can move back the finger of fate. Today we maintain ourselves, tomorrow science will have moved over yet one more step and there will be no appeal from the judgment which will be pronounced on the uneducated.”

This prophesy has now come to pass. The recent treatment meted out to intellectuals, teachers, professors, etc. at the hands of meagerly educated bureaucrats proves this. It sounds harsh but, just like it sounded harsh for centuries when our glorious past was being buried by corrupt, incompetent kings, emperors, Caliphs, rulers, etc., we are on our way to a disgraceful future. First we insulted Prof.Dr. A. Salam, the only Nobel Laureate ever produced by this country; then we downgraded the highly respected profession of teaching; next my highly competent colleagues and I were treated like traitors at the hands of an all-but-illiterate dictator at the behest of President Bush; recently, most disgraceful treatment was meted out to two of our very competent teachers – Prof.Dr. Mujahid Kamran (VC of Punjab University) and Prof.Dr. Akram Chaudhry (VC of Sargodha University); even before that, a world class, God-fearing Muslim, Prof.Dr. Saeed Aktar was disgraced; now the axe has fallen on one of the country’s brightest intellectuals, Prof.Dr. Umar Saif of Information Technology University, Lahore. Here is the background of this brilliant scholar.

Dr. Saif is a distinguished Ph.D. scholar from Cambridge University and a Post-doctorate from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2006 he received the Digital Inclusion Award from Microsoft Research. In 2008 he received the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Technovator Award. That same year he received the Mark Weiser Award and the IDG CIO Technology Pioneer Award. In 2010 he was named as Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum. In 2011 he was placed on Massachusetts Institute of Technology TR35 list, naming him as one of the world’s top 35 young innovators for developing a bittorrent client, BitMate, and a text message-based social network, SMSall. That same year he became the first Pakistan to receive Google’s Faculty Research Award. Upon learning of his achievements, the then Chief Minister of Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif, invited him to head the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB). In November 2011 he was appointed Chairman of PITB. In this role he was made responsible for all public-sector information technology projects in Punjab. In 2012 he established Pakistan’s first technology incubator, Plan 9, with financial support from the government. In response to the 2011 outbreak of dengue fever in Pakistan, PITB, under Dr. Saif’s supervision, developed a smartphone-based early warning system to assist medical teams in curbing the outbreaks, which received extensive recognition. He was also commended for computerizing the land records in Punjab. On 20th January 2013 he was appointed as the first and founding Vice Chancellor of the Information Technology University (ITU) by the Government of Punjab. At the age of 34 he became the youngest vice chancellor of a university in Pakistan at the time. In August 2014 he was awarded Sitara-i-Imtiaz by the Government of Pakistan for his services in the field of education and information technology. In 2015, and again in 2016, he was named as one of the 500 most influential Muslims. In November 2016 he was inducted into the Punjab Provincial Cabinet of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and was appointed as Adviser to the Chief Minister. In March 2017 he began co-hosting the reality television series Idea Croron Ka as business expert. Also in March 2017 he was awarded the Alumni Award in the professional achievement award category of British Council. In April 2018, he was appointed UNESCO chair for using Information and Communication Technology for Development.

At the moment Dr. Umar Saif is the most capable and best choice for the Vice Chancellor position of the Information Technology University (ITU) and also for the Punjab IT Board. Mr. Prime Minister/Mr. Chief Minister, by not selecting the best possible candidate, you will not only be interrupting the career of a brilliant scholar, but you will also be destroying and burying the future of many intellectuals in Pakistan, who will feel that it is not intellectual capability or achievements that count, but only political affiliation, favoritism and connections! At the moment Chief Minister Buzdar seems to give preference to Mr. Raja Riaz to give charge of these “unimportant posts” in the same way as Shahbaz Sharif played with the lives of more than 100 million Punjab citizens when he appointed an ordinary mechanical engineer as Advisor/Minister of Health. Was there not a single qualified medical specialist to be found in the whole of Punjab to fill this very important position?

Posted on Nov 19, 18 | 10:41 pm