Our visit to Pakistan began in Karachi at Sir Syed University where we were welcomed warmly by the Chancellor, Z. A. Nizami, and met about twenty Professors, lecturers and IT experts of Engineering and Technology. There was much laughter when I asserted that I was the only genuine Pakistani among them, having been born in Lahore, while they had all emigrated from India after partition.
Dr. Nizami willingly agreed to send a young IT engineer to attend the training courses organized by the SAF at an Indian software company, Plexus Technology in Mumbai, to which IT experts from all seven SAF countries were invited. This group of experts was later sent to the ATG Training Centre Reading in the United Kingdom to attend an advanced course in the latest developments in IT technology.
In Lahore, Prof. Khalid Aftab, Vice Chancellor of Government College University, my alma mater, welcomed us with a red carpet reception. After consideration, the SAF assented to fund the upgrading of the University’s Department of Computer Science.
On 17th January 2007, the SAF also signed an MoU for the creation of an Institute of Excellence for Research and Education in South Asian Studies. The Institute is being established as a legal entity affiliated with Government College University in conformity with the cardinal SAF objective of promoting regional cooperation.
One of my senior colleagues at Government College, as well as a friend whom I greatly respected, was the famous Urdu poet, Faiz Ahmed Faiz. We were very glad, therefore, when his daughter, Prof. Salima Hashmi, the Dean of the School of Visual Arts at Beaconhouse National University in Lahore and a renowned artist, agreed to become chairperson of the Pakistan chapter of the SAF.
Since 2002, she has successfully managed the SAF Madanjeet Singh Group Scholarships at BNU. Thereafter, on 27th November 2006, a resolution was adopted at the Special Meeting of the SAF Governing Council in Delhi to increase these scholarships in number.
The SAF contributed the sum of INR 10,000,000 to the victims of the devastating earthquake in Kashmir. In Pakistan INR 50,000,000 was contributed to the President’s Fund and another INR 50,000,000 was sent to Ms. Souriya Anwar, Director of the SOS villages in Pakistan, partly to rehabilitate schools in Muzzafarabad and partly to be used for organizing SAF SOS Environment Camps.
The 1998 UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Prize for Tolerance and Non-violence was awarded to the Joint Action Committee for People’s Rights (JAC), an informal coalition of some thirty non-governmental organizations. I took this opportunity to congratulate them heartily for their tireless efforts to promote women’s rights, fight religious intolerance, and to encourage mutual understanding and friendship between India and Pakistan.
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SAF Pakistan Chapter
SAF Chairperson: Prof. Salima Hashmi
Dean, School of Visual Arts, Beaconhouse National Univesrity, Lahore.
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SAF Vice-Chairperson: Mr. Najam Sethi
SAF Secretary: Ms. Sabeen Mahmud - Contact email