Higher Education Commission (HEC) Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed has said that Pakistani universities are beacons of knowledge and it is wrong to associate them with violence and terror.

Addressing a press conference in connection with HEC’s 15th anniversary, Dr Mukhtar said it was incorrect to label Pakistani universities as terror dens because of a few odd individuals.

“Please avoid making statements such as ‘varsities are bastion of terrorism and campuses [are] hubs of violence. We have millions of university students and just because a handful of them are deviant, it does not automatically make all of them terrorists,” he said during the press conference. “I want to ensure that our institutions are beacons of knowledge and research.”

The HEC chairman said directions had been passed on to vice chancellors of all universities in view of recent developments and university administrations had been asked to keep a strict eye out for suspicious activities at campuses.

He added that labelling universities as hubs of violence would adversely affect the progress made towards achieving international standards of education in Pakistan. Dr Mukhtar also said he was against Karachi University’s decisions to handover students’ information to police. “I do not believe in handing over information of the suspected students to police. I do not want our varsities to turn into police states.”

He said eliminating terror was a shared responsibility. “Although the onus of curbing terrorism lies with each and every one of us, the HEC is coordinating with university high-ups so that we can play our part.”

Highlighting HEC’s achievements over the past 15 years, the chairman said the commission has helped increase the higher education gross enrolment rate from 2.6 percent to 9 percent, while publications have gone up to over 12,000 and Ph.D. scholars to 11,960.

Dr Mukhtar said the HEC Vision 2025 aimed at making higher education accessible to all along with maintaining standards of university leadership, governance and management.

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