Why LUMS is Pakistan’s leading university

Published: April 9, 2015
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Living abroad, I am extremely conscious about how fortunate I have been to have studied at a prestigious university like LUMS, which guarantees its students the freedom of expression and independence of thought.

In fact, when my foreign friends ask me if moving to Germany was a cultural or academic shock, my answer has always been no. Because growing as an individual at an institution like LUMS taught me to foster the tenet of higher education, namely academic freedom; which is also something that is found in educational institutions abroad.

However, it is unfortunate that this cherished academic freedom is now under attack from the state. Yesterday, a talk at LUMS titled ‘Un-Silencing Balochistan’, which brought together academics and activists was cancelled. It is argued that people like Mama Qadeer are allegedly involved in ‘anti-Pakistan’ activities, thus national security acquired precedence over freedom of expression.

This is not the first time that the government or the military authorities have arrogated the right to censorship in the name of preventing anti-state material. Historically, we have witnessed the ban of books which went against the ‘official’ state ideology of Pakistan. On the matter of religion, religious questions such as “what is Islamic and what is not” were curtailed in the form of ideological vigilantes on campuses and through media, particularly during the infamous General Ziaul Haq’s regime. Such suppression has adversely affected our entire education system, especially the culture for academic research, which lacks substantial originality and excellence.

We must understand that the government’s interference in higher education institutions abrogates the students’ right to seek an alternative truth and perspective which is imperative for society to survive. The purpose of educational institutions is to render an environment where students raise the awkward questions and go beyond the evident reality.

The reason why LUMS is Pakistan’s leading university is because, unlike other universities, it provides the kind of environment required for critical thinking and analysis. After all, it is the same university that hosted the Director General ISPR, so why should it not have a right to host mainstream Baloch activists, especially since Balochistan has been witnessing numerous human rights violations, enforced disappearances and persecution of religious minorities over the past few decades.

Neither the state nor the media pay any attention to these matters. In fact, those who raise their voices over issues going on in Sindh and Balochistan are either blocked or pay a heavy price with their lives.

Instead of providing the space to people like Mama Qadeer – who walked with women and children for five months to get from Quetta to Islamabad – and address their grievances, we have labelled such people as a national security threat. After all, his only crime is that he is looking for his son, Jalil.

Every other month, there are reports from human rights organisations on persistent human rights violations and disappearances that have taken a heavy toll on the Baloch community. Imagine, what would have been the response of our state and military establishment if the same incidents were to happen in Islamabad, Lahore or Karachi.

Instead of silencing their voices, let us instead recognise the likes of Mama Qadeer and Farzana Baloch, let us assure them that their husbands and sons lives are as important as other ours.

Kashif Ali

Kashif Ali

The writer holds Masters in governance and public policy from Germany and works in the development sector. He tweets as @s_kashif8 (twitter.com/s_kashif8)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • AliAsifKhan

    Where was the fake liberal outrage when the same University refused or cancelled events where people of a counter perspective (to pseudo-liberal worldview) were invited & were to speak? Namely PTI MNA & Former Engro Corp CEO Asad Umar, and Jamat-ud-Dawa head Hafiz Saeed!Recommend

  • Syed Ejaz

    In its essential nature,thought is not static;it is dynamic and unfolds its internal infinitude in time like the seed which ,from the very beginning,carries within itself the organic unity of the tree as a present fact.
    Analyze this and then evaluate LUMS.Recommend

  • Faulitics

    Its the “agency”.Recommend

  • I don’t think you are doing any service to PTI and Asad Umar by bracketing them with Hafiz Saeed. They’ll probably be the first to excuse themselves from such a grouping.

    That said, hate speech is not necessarily suitable for being aired in academic settings. In fact, universities police the boundaries of valid speech much more strictly then do society and the law. The way you frame and argue issues needs to be logically much more rigorous. PTI’s container-isms and Hafiz Saeed’s vitriol are hardly enlightening to anybody.

    As a LUMS graduate, I for one am proud of my school’s liberal and inquisitive traditions.Recommend

  • asad

    I wouldn’t say much but LUMS is as much of a hypocrite than any other institution…why didn’t you write a piece like this when LUMS cancelled Asad Umar’s talk?Recommend

  • Shafique

    so you think hosting DG ISPR and any criminal is the same thing?? I dont think so. You cant compare such person with DG ISPR or any other Official..Recommend

  • Kashif

    The outrage was there. The people like me condemned that as well.Recommend

  • Syed_Syd

    Really??? Your foreign friends actually asked if moving to Germany was a cultural or academic shock?????? Good job fooling people about foreigners’ concerns! Nobody gives a damn about ‘cultural’ or ‘academic’ shocks abroad. People have better things to think about!Recommend

  • mackthewabe

    I bet this comes as a huge shock to you but some people can actually manage to make intelligent friends.Recommend

  • UToronto

    Haha it’s hilarious when people start attacking LUMS the moment someone praises it. LUMS is the best university in Pakistan and say whatever you want, you know it’s the truth. LUMS rejected me too, doesn’t mean I hate it. So please.Recommend

  • islooboy

    Hafiz Saeed is an innocent manRecommend

  • Avinash Advani

    I am quite concerned with your directions and appreciated for your efforts while I am graduated from KASBIT which is good for me and average in Pakistan but I believe myself to be a competent person, Having the degree of MBA/MS in HRM feeling very comfortable and satisfied along-with having the good experience as Independent Researcher that motivated me tremendously. I have observed that most of LUMS and IBA’s Student they feel proud themselves that’s good they should….but what about those persons who are belong from middle or average class and they wants to study in LUMS and IBA unfortunately they haven’t accessibility to pursue from the TOP Universities. I am experienced person I wanted to pursue my Education PhD in Management Science from LUMS, but to be very frank, due to lack of resources and I couldn’t fulfill the university requirements therefore, it would be better to go abroad like German or others countries who are offering the scholarship programs. We have to build up our country by producing the researcher. Research and development is essential that reduce the uncertainty.Recommend

  • Nouman Ahmed

    The very fact that Army is wrong and responsible for a lot of problems, cannot be digested by majority of Pakistanis.Recommend

  • Nouman Ahmed

    I also condemned that as well. Recommend

  • Ilyas

    Whoever asked LUMS to drop Mama Qadeer from invitation did the right service to Pakistan’s integrity. He belongs to the group that burned down Quaid e Azam residency in Ziarat, fired at passenger trains, carried out bomb blasts, repeatedly attacked Quetta Cantonment, stopped public transport plying between Punjab and Balochistan and killed people of Punjabi origin after verifying their ID cards, killed laborers from PUnjab working in Balochistan. The list of atrocities is endless. They enjoy full support of Indian agencies who train them in India, Afghanistan and Pakistan. People who are impressed by his long march know little about what his gang has done over last 60 years.Recommend

  • hammurabi

    How do You know?Recommend

  • Neutral

    Acquitted by courtRecommend

  • Neutral

    Have you heard about LUMS financial aid and National Outreach Program? Majority of students at LUMS benefit from them. Research on that too please. PeaceRecommend

  • Avinash Advani

    Yes I am concerned but why Only LUMS There are others Universities Like SZABIST which also provides the different benefits for their Student. I was applied in Local company for HR Post immediately they rejected me when I contacted and asked therefore they replied me, we have set the criteria and we only accepts the applications of LUMS eventually what about other talents? I am not saying that I am expert but what about the other talents who couldn’t afford for LUMS and they studied in the 2nd Class Universities?Recommend