'What happened to Gilani's 15 varsities promise?'
Islamabad: A promise by former Pakistani prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to set up over 15 universities across the country during his tenure turned out to be "mere political promises and announcements", a leading daily said on Sunday.
Gilani said he would establish universities in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Dera Ghazi Khan, Bahawalpur, Multan, Sukkur, Larkana, Sialkot, Rawalkot in Pakistan-administered Jammu and Kashmir, Jaccobabad, Layyah and Jaranwala, the Dawn reported.
The universities included institutes of engineering and technology, a law college and institutions specially meant for women.
The Prime Minister Secretariat directed the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to establish the universities, said a federal government official.
"It (HEC) is making a fool out of the people, since not a single university could be established during his (Gilani's) four-year tenure... since we have no funds and the Prime Minister Secretariat also did not pay any serious follow-up to Gilani's orders," the official said.
A Finance Ministry official told the daily: "How could you establish all these universities without the approval of National Economic Council and executive committee of the same council before the announcement of the federal budget?"
"All these universities only exist on paper," he said.
Sohail Naqvi, the executive director of the education commission, said that for establishing one institute the government needs over Rs 1 billion, and for establishing a university the cost is around Rs 4-5 billion.
"We can only establish a university once we get funds from the federal government.”
Naqvi said funds have been curtailed and, "so it's out of the question that we are to establish any of these universities".
The spokesperson for the Prime Minister's office was not available for comment.