Pakistani Chair Set up at University of Texas Austin
By Iqbal Sheikh
(Left): Mr Iqbal Sheikh presents a check to the Dean, University of Texas Austin. In
the center is Mr Aqeel Nadeem,Consul General of Pakistan in Houston. (Right): Mr
Waqar Ali Khan who played a major role in creating awareness about the project
Austin , TX : It is my proud privilege to announce that the Pakistani community in America has raised more than the required funds to set up a permanent Chair for Pakistan Studies at the University of Texas in Austin.
As President & CEO of CyberTex, the company which was recently placed in the Top 500 Emerging firms of US, and as Vice President of the Pakistan Chamber of Commerce of USA, we played a leading role in raising more than half a million dollars to set up this first Pakistan Chair in any American University, for which the Temple Foundation of Lufkin, Texas has provided a Challenge Grant of half a million dollars.
The Pakistan Chair will be set up at the University of Texas, Austin and will be an endowed Chair in Pakistan Studies in the College of Liberal Arts. The Chair would be named after famous Texas Congressman, Charlie Wilson, in recognition of his services to the people of Texas, the United States and Pakistan.
The Pakistani community was some time back given the task of raising the matching amount of US$500,000. In August 2008 I had the privilege to lead the fund raising drive, which has been successfully completed within a few months, thus enabling the University to set up and announce the Pakistan Chair shortly.
An internationally respected professor will be selected by the University of Texas to head the Pakistan Chair which would use the funds to support research and teaching of Pakistan history and issues of geopolitical importance, the Urdu language, culture and anthropology, host conferences and invite distinguished scholars, policy-makers and other Pakistani dignitaries and support travel for students and scholars to Pakistan for research and conferences.
The Chair will go a long way in raising the level of understanding about Pakistan in the US and try to correct the negative image of the country. It will be the first concrete achievement of the Pakistani community to serve their home country in a positive and constructive manner in the United States.
The fund raising drive for the half million dollars was conducted by individual and private resources and funds were raised and deposited directly by the donors with the University of Texas. It has been the first such exclusive endeavor of the Pakistani community without any financial support of the Government of Pakistan.
Valuable help and assistance was, however, received by us from the Consul General of Pakistan in Houston, Mr. Muhammad Aqil Nadeem, who extended his fullest support during our fundraising drive. I am also grateful to my friends Khalid Khan, Dr. Barkat Charania, Ghulam Bombaywala, Saeed Shaikh, Dr. Yaqoob Shaikh from Houston and Tahir Javed and Dr, Tariq Aziz from Beaumont Texas, and Waqar Ali Khan of Geo TV for their great efforts to make it happen.
The successful creation of the Pakistan Chair would be a proud achievement of Pakistanis in general and a special honor and privilege for me and my company which not only was listed among the Top 500 Emerging Companies of the US but I was also honored by the Senate of the State of Texas which passed a special resolution in March highlighting the achievements of my company. Senator Kirk Watson presented the Resolution on my company at a special ceremony this month.
The University of Texas will make the formal announcement of setting up the Pakistan Chair after necessary formalities are completed. The University will also initiate a transparent and open drive to find the best person to head the chair shortly afterwards.
As the lead person to raise the required funds, I thank the entire Pakistani community and all those who supported and donated generously in such a short time to make this dream come true.