Parliament Okays Law To Build Gwadar's University In Lahore

Parliament Okays Law To Build Gwadar's University In Lahore
The lower house of Parliament the other day passed a bill to set up the Pak-China Gwadar University. The bill would have been welcomed save for one small fact that the university will not be built in the hammerhead coastal town of Gwadar. Rather it will be built some 1,800 kilometres away in Punjab's capital city of Lahore.

The bill, a copy of its first page is being shared on social media and has been confirmed by The Friday Times; the Pak-China Gwadar University, Lahore Bill 2023 was tabled and passed by the National Assembly.

The statement of objects and reasons of the bill stated that the public sector university is being established to promote and disseminate knowledge and to provide education, training, research, demonstration, and scholarship in such branches of learning as it may determine.

Further, industry and the relevant organisations or institutions to promote public-private partnership, innovation and research, development, and industrialisation for the purpose of education and training development shall be made.

It was not clear what quantum of funds would be allocated for the new varsity, which was created in addition to 24 other educational institutions by the Parliament.

It was not immediately clear whether the establishment of the university in Lahore was a campus and a parent institution would be established in the coastal city that measures 12,637 square kilometres and has a total population of just 262,253 people (census 2017).

Currently, there are few higher education options in Gwadar. There is the University of Gwadar, which boasts the Pak-China Institute.

Apart from that, there are campuses of larger varsities such as the National University of Modern Languages (NUML) and Allama Iqbal Open University, while several other state-run varsities have been eyeing an expansion into the coastal town, including COMSATS and SZABIST in recent years.

Gwadar has been at the forefront of development ever since it was deemed a critical part of the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), with China building Pakistan's first deep sea port there.

What is more, is that the bill was originally moved in September 2022, but it was not passed until this week.

Reaction on social media

On social media, the move was widely panned.

One activist, Mustafa Wynne, claimed that "rich business groups hiring MNAs to get their university charter approved and the National Assembly blindly passing such legislations, simply tragic!".

News anchor Absa Komal deemed the entire matter "a joke."

Lawyer Hamayoun Kaasai was even more explicit, stating that the university will grant token scholarships to some Baloch and Pashtun students from Balochistan to ensure representation while demonstrating racism by the elite.

National Party member, Senator Tahir Bizenjo clapped that there were more universities in Lahore than the entirety of Balochistan combined.

On user, Rida Bhatti noted that such a move would only lead to fanning sentiments of deprivation amongst Gwadar's residents.