Government has changed the master plan of the federal capital to establish a university at the Prime Minister House. The federal cabinet on Tuesday approved to change the master plan of the city to fulfil the promise made by premier Imran khan during his election campaign 2018.

Before the general elections 2018, Prime Minister Imran Khan promised to convert PM House into a university, if he came into power. However, after winning the elections he failed in setting up the university because doing so will violate the master plan of the federal capital. According to the master plan of the city, the G-5 sector is meant for government offices and administrative buildings only and hence an education institute cannot be set up in this area.

The change in the master plan approved by Cabinet deals with 50 acres of Prime Minister House only. However, the federal Cabinet on Tuesday, made a specific changes in the master plan of the city to establish a university at the PM House. “Today the cabinet approved a change in the master plan for 50 acre land of PM House. We will set up a university in PM House with special focus on modern education such as artificial intelligence and engineering,” said Federal Minister for Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mahmood at a post-cabinet meeting press briefing.

Meanwhile, a press release issued by the Prime Minister Office said Higher Education Commission (HEC) Former Chairman Prof Dr Attaur Rehman met Prime Minister Imran Khan and discussed the proposed project. “Dr Rehman discussed with the prime minister the proposed project of the University of Engineering and Emerging Technologies to be set up at the PM House. The prime minister was informed that six centres of excellence would be established in the university, including for artificial intelligence, energy, biotechnology and material sciences,” the press release, stated.

Dr Rehman also discussed a proposal for establishing another five centres of excellence for artificial intelligence, one in the federal capital and the four in other provincial capitals. A proposal for research funding to promote research work in the country was also discussed.”

In January this year, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) had told the federal government that the prime minister’s initiative to establish a university at the Prime Minister House would violate the city’s master plan. It said the government would have to change the master plan if it wanted to carry on with their proposal. The CDA was of the view that according to the capital’s master plan a university cannot be established in an administrative building. “A university in the Prime Minister House would be non-compatible use of a government building,” they added.

A 12-member commission has already been formulated by the federal cabinet to review the master plan of the city. Sources said in February this year, the commission at a meeting discussed the proposal to convert the PM House into a university. But the sources said the commission was instructed to revise the overall master plan.

“The total area of PM House could be more than 100 acres. The 50 acres in question is situated on the northwestern side of building towards Bari Imam Side,” said an official of the CDA. He said the CDA had not moved the summary to alter the master plan rather it might have been moved by the Ministry of Science and Technology.

The inaugural ceremony for the Islamabad National University, which is to be established at the Prime Minister House, was held last year. The government had announced at that time that the university was envisioned as an institute that would support research-oriented policymaking. According to the government, it would include Institute of Advanced Studies, tasked to provide science-based annual reports to the government on emerging challenges in Pakistan and the world, and a PhD programme would be started there at a later stage.

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