Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan Afghan was first principal of Sindh University
First Principal of Sindh University Engineering College
Our engineering college was the latest addition in Sindh university and it had started working in 1963. Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan Afghan took over as the Principal of this newly established college in 1965. If I would describe him in few words, he was a silent revolutionary, courageous, principled, humble man and a hero of Sindhi nation. Because of his tireless efforts he was able to develop a highly qualified band of professors most of them being doctors in their respective fields like, Dr. S.M. Qureshi, Dr. A.F. Abbasi, Dr. Assad Qazi, Dr. Wadal Shah, Dr. Haji Mahmood Memon, Dr. Mir Muhammad Shah, and the list goes on, as I may have forgotten many other names. Each one of them was a legend, an icon, an authority in their subjects. We were proud to have a highly qualified faculty.
Best Engineering in Pakistan
None of the Pakistan engineering universities at that time had such a long list of competent and highly qualified professionals. We were lucky to have this phenomenal talent in our faculty. It must not have been an easy task for Dr. Afghan to have collected such illustrious faculty of teachers. Dr. Afghan also recruited young engineers and sent them abroad through scholarships to pursue their education. In a very short time, Dr. Afghan was able to build a castle, a plethora of doctors in their respective disciplines of engineering, all around him, and within no time a newly established college acquired fame of being a top-of-the-line engineering college.
Dr. Afghan was aware that students from rural areas were not in a position to get quality education and thus unable to pursue higher education. He formulated admission policy through which equal opportunities were given to students from downtrodden areas. I do not remember exact proportion but basically total seats were roughly divided in three parts. Admission in first part was given on merit to students having highest marks.
Quota System of Sindh
This quota was open to all and based on merit. For rest of the two parts, equal seats were allocated to all districts of Sindh. In each district again the seats were equally divided in rural and urban areas. Special seats were allocated to students from Punjab, Baluchistan and Frontier provinces. A quota was kept for students from the then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and some seats were reserved for foreign students. In our class we had a good number of Bengalis and also Palestinians who had taken refuge in Jordan.
Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan
Dr. Afghan’s logic was that the youth from rural Sindh were unable to compete in the same manner, with their counterparts from cities like Karachi and Hyderabad due to lack of availability of similar quality of education in rural areas of Sindh. The other inequality was that of socio-economic parity, which also placed the rural population at a gross disadvantage. It was, therefore, unfair to compare all the students with the same yardstick of merit alone. Dr. Afghan was able to form a vision that adhering to such a policy would not only bring equity and access to Sindhi youth to become engineers but it would facilitate progressive change in the mindset of communities from downtrodden areas.
Arrest of Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan Afgan
Dr. Afghan became a familiar name in 1970 when a slogan of “Sindhri jee jaan, Dr.Afghan”, meaning thereby “Dr Afghan, the heart and soul of Sindh”, reverberated across entire province of Sindh, after he was arrested and imprisoned in Hyderabad central jail on flimsy grounds of corruption. Dr. Afghan’s arrest sparked a wave of protests and hunger strikes among the students and intelligentsia within Sindh.
Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan Crime
His crime was that he was resolutely pursuing an admission policy (based on quota system) which ensured not only merit but adequate representation of youth from underdeveloped and underprivileged rural parts of Sindh. His position was resented by many in the band, which made him unpopular and a kind of a persona-non-grata in the eyes of the establishment. The CSP clique of that period, and ruling military junta under martial law, hand in hand, conspired to frame flimsy cases of corruption against Dr. Afghan.