—HEC officials will visit tribal areas on March 22-23 to select sites for establishment of sub-campuses
ISLAMABAD: The dream of having campuses of an officially recognised university in various agencies of the Federally Administered Areas (FATA) seemed distant not long ago, but now it has become a reality as a team of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) will visit the terror-stricken areas within a few days to finalise sites for the establishment of FATA University’s sub-campuses.
Sources privy to the development told Pakistan Today that HEC would establish FATA University campuses at South Waziristan and Khyber Agencies respectively.
They said the officials of the commission would visit the tribal areas on March 22-23 to finalise the sites for the establishment of the sub-campuses in the above-mentioned areas.
The people of FATA have paid the highest price in the murky decades-long war against terrorism which subsequently led to the displacement of the local people from their native areas. The temporary displaced of the tribal population deprived one entire generation of Pakhtuns from education.
Unlike other Pakistanis, the people of the tribal areas do not enjoy constitutional rights and are instead governed by a set of regulations introduced by the British colonial regime of India in 1901, the primary goal of which was to establish FATA as a buffer zone with Afghanistan in order to prevent encroachment by the imperial Russian empire.
Earlier, the HEC in its letter to the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions Division Minister Ghalib Khan Wazir wrote: “In reference to your earlier communication addressed to HEC chairman regarding establishment of FATA University in South Waziristan, it is apprised that HEC officials will visit South Waziristan and Khyber Agency from March 13 to 16 for selection of sites.”
The letter further reads that HEC (P&D) Director Tariq Iqbal and Project Director Muhammad Zahir Ali would visit these areas soon while requesting the authorities concerned to make necessary security arrangements and ensure that an official from the FATA Secretariat accompanied the HEC team during the course of the visit.
However, sources said that the visit was rescheduled due to some reasons and would now take place on March 22-23.
Sources further said that under the plan, the three post-graduate colleges in Khar (Bajaur Agency), Miran Shah (North Waziristan Agency), and Parachinar (Kurram Agency) would be upgraded to sub-campuses of FATA University in the near future in order to bring about an educational revolution in the tribal region.
The step to establish sub-campuses in the long-deprived areas was viewed as a welcome move to help bring educational revolution in the region, as now most students, especially females, could pursue their higher education near their homes without facing any financial constraints and social barriers.
It is pertinent to mention here that HEC Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmad announced in 2016 that sub-campuses of FATA University would be established in all agencies to address commuting problems being faced by the students of remote tribal areas.
The FATA University is situated in Akhurwal, Darra Adam Khel, Frontier Region Kohat, which was once the second most important stronghold of militants after Waziristan.
The establishment of a higher learning institution in FATA had been a long-standing demand of the people of these areas.
The plan for setting up FATA University was conceived by former Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani in a meeting with members of National Assembly (MNAs) from FATA on January 16, 2009. However, this project was delayed due to many reasons until former President Asif Ali Zardari gave approval to the establishment of the varsity in May 2013.
HEC Media Director Aayesha Ikram said that this visit was being made to assess the potential sites for the temporary commencement of classes in the tribal areas. She said that the HEC team would see if there was any suitable building available for the purpose and report back to the commission in this connection.