ISLAMABAD: That Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry was elevated from MNA to State Minister for Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) could not do anything for the only technical college in his constituency, which has been waiting to be inaugurated for 27 years now.
When he was serving as MNA, Dr Chaudhry made several futile attempts to get the college inaugurated.
However, since he was appointed CADD minister last year, which is the concerned ministry of the said technical college, Dr Chaudhry has not yet made a serious attempt to inaugurate the institution.
The 200 room Polytechnic Institute Merabagwal was completed 27 years ago and is yet to open for business.
Local students have to travel many kilometres to study at colleges in Rawalpindi or Islamabad and among them is Mohammad Ismail.
`I travel 12 kilometres every day from Bhara Kahu to my college in Commercial Market in Rawalpindi. If this college is opened, students will be spared long commutes,` he said, adding that education is not a priority for the government, which is only focusing on drafting shallow slogans.
According to locals, the foundation stone for the technical college was laid by two senior cabinet members of the time Foreign Minister Sahabzada Yaqub Khan andFederal Minister Khagan Abbasi, who served during the Ziaul Haq regime.
CADD officials, who made unsuccessful attempts to open the institute, told Dawn the history of the college.
They said there was a polytechnic institute on Peshawar Road in Rawalpindi which was closed in 1977 as it had become a venue for protests which were staged by students, teachers and political activists.
The then military regime had closed down the institute and later converted the building into EME College. In 1985, the then government decided to build an institute in Merabagwal to replace the one which was closed down.
Locals had donated 232 kanals of land for the college, the building of which was completed in 1989.
During the last PPP government, the then Interior Minister Rehman Malik also tried to establish a district jail in the buildings, which locals protested.
In 2013, the CADD ministry finally decided to open the college and made a joint venture with the Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU). Dr Nazir Sangi, AIOU vice chancellor promised to start classes in the building in a few months, but all in vain. The same year, AIOU spent millions of rupees on repairing and renovating the build-ing, only to abandon it later.
Meanwhile, the then MNA Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry was also very active in the cause of starting classes at the college.
`[Dr Chaudhry] was very active, he supported us all the way. When he became CADD minister last year, we thought the issue will be resolved within a few days,` said a CADD official, who was part of the project in the past.
When asked, the CADD minister maintained that he was making efforts to have classes start at the college.
`It is my priority project, which I am personally monitoring and we will start classes this year,` he said, adding that he was communicating with the AIOU in regards to the project.
`The initial work is almost complete, a joint CADD and AIOU committee is also working on the project and the university`s team is in the final stages of drafting a curriculum,` the minister said.
Talking to Dawn, AIOU Vice Chancellor Dr Shahid Siddiqui said the university is working on starting classes at the college.
`Today in our internal meeting, my team discussed the issue in detail and we decided to move forward,` he said.
On the other hand, an AIOU official, who requested to not be named, said that in 2013, AIOU had made an unrealistic agreement for running the technical college.
`We have no idea who we will bear the expenses. Instead of putting the responsibility on our shoulders, the government should take responsibility for the project and release the recurring and development grants annually. We are available for providing support and expertise,` he said.
However, Vice Chancellor Dr Shahid Siddiqui said the varsity is committed to start classes in the college as soon as possible.
`In the coming says, we will convene a meeting of the management committee, which includes AIOU and CADD officials, to further discuss the project,` he said.
Published in Dawn - 14 June 2016