Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Wednesday formally inaugurated Gilgit-Baltistan University, making way for the second institute of higher education in the heavenly region.
Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), a region rapidly improving upon its literacy rate thanks to the continuous efforts of the Agha Khan Education Services, only had one fully functional university to date, the Karakoram International University. KIU offers specializations in life sciences, natural sciences, and social sciences and humanities
Being a gateway to our close ally China and other Central Asian states, and situated right at the heart of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), GB is as vital to Pakistan as it gets. Despite its importance, the region still awaits higher learning institutes that offer education in engineering, medical, computer sciences, management, law and other such crucial streams.
The region has been promised universities and schools time and again by various government leaders, but little has been done on the ground in reality. For example in 2009, former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani announced the establishment of a medical college in GB. However, no solid headway has been made on that account so far.
Still, the establishment of the GB University is a positive omen for students of Gilgit Baltistan, who otherwise have to travel long distances across the country in search of educational excellence. The university inaugurated in Skardu was actually a sub campus of KIU and has now been made a separate institution. The GB government has already allocated 1,500 kanals of land for the premises, while an expense of about Rs 1,769.845 million was incurred on setting up the university. Officials say the institute would cater to the needs of almost 2,000 students. Besides several laboratories and academic blocks, the university will also be home to separate hostels for male and female students, each with a capacity of 200.
The government is also planning to build sub-campuses of both universities in Hunza, Chillas and Ghizer. The Academia hopes the new university goes a long way in helping thousands of students in the region get access to quality higher education that leads to the socio-economic benefit of the people and the area in general. But true progress and empowerment of the region’s people will not be possible until the authorities practically move ahead with the planned medical university and also set up a top quality engineering university in Gilgit-Baltistan. Let us hope we see concrete steps in this regard sooner than later.