A Dream Comes True!
Quaid-i-Azam Chair at UC Berkeley
By Talat Sattar


Berkeley: 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.


UC Berkeley

“Establishment 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 Pakistan.

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.

Dr. 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 UCB.

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.


L 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 position.

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
at UC
Berkeley will definitely help build cultural, social, political and educational bridges between United States and Pakistan.
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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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