More collaboration among universities, vital for Iran-Pakistan ties

Islamabad, Aug 30, IRNA - The head of Pakistan’s top university shows his eagerness for collaboration among Iranian universities adding that more cooperation between the universities of the two countries could help even much better ties.

In an exclusive interview with the Islamic Republic Newws Agency (IRNA), head of Quaid-i-Azam University Professor Javed Ashraf said he is looking for a chance to visit Iran.

He said if he received any invitation from any university of Iran, he would love to visit the country.

He added that academic institutions can play a role in strengthening bonds between the two countries.

The collaboration among the Iranian and Pakistani universities needs to be improved, said the professor adding, “I think intention between the Iranian and Pakistani universities are very good but they have not taken any piratical shape, we have even signed MoUs with the couple of Iranian universities in which we have discussed exchange of professors, students, collaboration in research but it has not actually happened.”

He added that both sides have been slow in implementing their plans regarding cooperation in higher education.

“I think senior staff members of Iranian and Pakistani universities need to be personally involved in this process, Iran is our brother and both sides wish to interact with each other but we also need to take practical steps,” he pointed out.

Professor Javed Ashraf was of the view that both countries should designate focal persons to implement the MoUs that have been signed between the two countries.

Talking on interactions between Quaid-I-Azam University and foreign universities, he said: we have had limited interaction with leading universities, we have signed MoUs with few schools in the US but it is relatively limited and we would like to have more interaction with leading research universities in US,” he said.

He said that there are very few foreign students at the Quaid-i-Azam University out of which larger number is from Afghanistan but ‘we have few from some other Middle Eastern countries, we do not have the students from United States or Europe.

Professor Javed Ashraf said that there are about 18,000 Pakistani students in China at the time being whereas only 6000 Pakistani students are in the US. “China is becoming important to us not just in academics but in many other fields,” he said.

He added that when it comes to academic collaboration between universities of different countries, that also can be done between Pakistani universities and universities in any other country in the world.

“But when we talk about Iran, we are not only talking about a neighbor but we are talking about a Muslim and brother nation and we have very deep ties that go back several centauries. I think academics can take the lead in bringing about closer ties and removing some misunderstandings between Iran and Pakistan, if any,” he said.