A Dream Comes True!
Quaid-i-Azam Chair at UC Berkeley
By Talat Sattar
Twelve years ago, I attended a fund raiser in Sacramento
for the establishment of a Quaid-i-Azam Chair at UC Berkeley.
The community did not rise to the occasion and no funds
were raised: however, I found a strong supporter for the
cause. Afterwards, Dr. Khawaja Ashraf came to Sacrament
many a time to educate the Pakistani community about the
proposal and to seek help for the noble cause.
of Quaid-i-Azam chair was not an easy task,” says
Dr. Khawaja Ashraf. “I felt a need for it back in
1983 when I was part of Ph.D. program at UC Berkeley. It
frustrated me to see zero participation of Pakistani scholars
in South Asian conferences and seminars.” The Quaid-i-Azam
chair will precisely provide an opportunity to increase
American students’ interest in and understanding of
In 1992, Dr. Khawaja Ashraf established the “Pakistan
Education Foundation” with the specific purpose of
establishing a Quaid-i-Azam chair at Berkeley. His first
task was to gather data on all scholars and intellectuals
of Pakistani origin living in the United States. He also
contacted the Pakistan Embassy in Washington and requested
them to keep him informed of visiting scholars from Pakistan
so that their lectures could be arranged at UC Berkeley.
Ashraf persuaded UC Berkeley and Embassy of Pakistan to
enter into an agreement to facilitate the Quaid-i-Azam chair
for the benefit of American students. In 1992, the establishment
of such a faculty chair required roughly half a million
dollars. Dr. Ashraf also persuaded the Pakistani American
community to chip in and raise this amount and establish
the chair, but the community did not oblige.
With the passage of time, the cost to establish the faculty
chair went up from half a million dollars to about one and
a half million dollars. While pursuing his dream, Dr. Ashraf
met Mr. Mushahid Hussain, Information Minister in the Sharif
government, and convinced him to arrange funds for the establishment
of the faculty chair at UC Berkeley. Mushahid Hussain facilitated
an agreement between the government of Pakistan and the
With the persuasion of Dr. Ashraf and Mushahid Hussain’s
efforts, the University of California, Berkeley's International
and Area Studies program teamed up with the government of
Pakistan and established a new Pakistan studies professorship
at UC Berkeley. The position was called the Quaid-i-Azam
Chair of Pakistan Studies. Its establishment was announced
on Thursday, May 20, 1999 by the then Ambassador of Pakistan,
Riaz Khokhar and David Leonard, Dean of International and
Area Studies. "We are flattered that the government
of Pakistan has honored us in this way; it is a tribute
to the length and quality of the relationships we have had
with Pakistani students and scholars over the years"
remarked David Leonard signifying this occasion. The proposal
received a setback with the removal of the Nawaz Sharif
Government in October 1999.
However, Dr. Ashraf continued his efforts and constantly
kept pressure on related people both in Washington and Pakistan
to get necessary funds for the project. A breakthrough came
when Dr. Ashraf ran into Dr. Nasim Ashraf of HADAFNA (adviser
to General Musharraf) in Washington D.C. at a conference
in 2002. Dr. Ashraf persuaded Dr. Nasim Ashraf to help release
the required funds for the project. Dr. Nasim fulfilled
his promise and finally funds were released.
to R:Dr.Khawaja Ashraf,Dr.Tariq Rahman,Dr.Nasim Ashraf
and Mushahid Hussain
Dr. Tariq Rahman is the first individual chosen for the
position. He will have a full-time teaching and research
position at UC Berkeley for three years. The position will
rotate and, every three years, a new scholar from Pakistan
will come to the UC Berkeley campus. The Pakistan government's
Ministry of Education will provide funds for the scholar's
salary and other expenses. However, the funds will go towards
endowment and eventually turn the faculty chair into a permanent
The chair is named after Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the leader
who founded Pakistan and is known by the title, "Father
of the Nation," or "Quaid-i-Azam."
The International and Area Studies' Center for South Asia
Studies is one of the leaders in North America that offers
courses in different areas of the sub-continent. It is definitely
the best choice for the government of Pakistan to establish
a faculty chair on Pakistan. The chair will educate Americans
and create goodwill towards Pakistan. The Center for South
Asia Studies has maintained its academic relationship with
the Urdu Department of University of Punjab in Lahore, Pakistan,
for the last 27 years. It offers advanced courses and training
in Urdu language, which is the national language and mostly
spoken in Pakistan.
The first appointee against Quaid-i-Azam Chair, Dr. Tariq
Rahman, is an internationally acclaimed scholar who has
many books to his credit. His presence
Berkeley will definitely help build cultural, social, political
and educational bridges between United States and Pakistan.