THE EDUCATIONIST, VISIONARY, PASSIONATE, SOFT SPOKEN, OPTIMISTIC
Chancellor – Iqra University
Speaks to Brands Magazine Pakistan about his venture in the field of quality education.
STARTING OFF WITH A CAREER IN EDUCATION SECTOR ALONGSIDE THE FAMILY BUSINESS IN CONSTRUCTION, HUNAID LAKHANI SET FORTH A PLATFORM FOR THE YOUTH OF PAKISTAN TO PROSPER WITHOUT COMPROMISING ON THE SYSTEM AND QUALITY OF EDUCATION. MR. LAKHANI ORIGINATED IQRA UNIVERSITY TO PROVIDE INTERNATIONAL QUALITY EDUCATION TO THE YOUTH OF PAKISTAN. TODAY, IQRA UNIVERSITY IS CHARTERED BY THE GOVERNMENT OF SINDH, RECOGNIZED BY THE HIGHER EDUCATION COMMISSION, AND IS RANKED AS THE NO.1 PRIVATE UNIVERSITY IN SINDH BY CIEC. HE WORKED ON EVERY FORUM, FROM EDUCATION TO POLITICS; TO MAKE A BETTER FUTURE FOR THE YOUTH AND TAKE PAKISTAN AHEAD IN TERMS OF LITERACY AND DEVELOPMENT.
“TODAY, IN PAKISTAN, WE ARE KNOWN FOR PROVIDING THE HIGHEST NUMBER OF PhDs IN THE COUNTRY.”
BM: How did the thought of making an educational institution struck your mind?
HL: Since, at that time there were only a few private institutes running in the country, which were very costly, such as IBA, LUMS, GIK and AKUH. Therefore, I felt that there was a need for such an institute that could cater students belonging to middle class families, too. I came to realize that students were preferring to go abroad for higher studies i.e. England, US, Turkey, UAE or Malaysia. But the universities there were not offering any programs to the foreign students; so there was a need to build an institute for the students to acquire the same level of education in their own country. Henceforth, I came up with the idea of establishing the Asian Management Institute (Iqra University).
BM: IU is one of the leading universities providing the highest number of PhDs in the country. Did you expect IU to come this far one day?
HL: Yes! I surely did expect this as we had a whole strategy planned when establishing the institution, and along with that we welcomed all the regulatory authorities, took them very positively and worked on the lines of their requirements. Today in Pakistan, we are known for providing the highest number of PhDs in the country. Now, my aim is to get IU recognized in the international market of education to which I am very positive, as I believe that if we work hard, we will get an international ranking very soon.
BM: You have built an orphanage which is a great initiative. But why do we see no girls there?
HL: I agree to the fact that there is a huge need of an orphanage for girls but I did not have a reliable staff to look after them, therefore my orphanage is only for boys. This is because, it is a huge responsibility to take care of a girl than it is for a boy. However, I have adopted a few girls; but as it was difficult to keep them in an orphanage with boys, so I moved them out to different houses of my known relatives.
“MY OBJECTIVE IS TO BRING THE PEOPLE OUT OF THE POVERTY LINE AND GIVE THEM A BETTER LIVELIHOOD.”
BM: Apart from the orphanage you came up with the ‘Academy School’. What new ventures are there to be seen in the future?
HL: Apart from the Academy School and Iqra University, I am planning to setup a portal with the help of BISP. We have bought 5.2 million beneficiaries of BISP which is Federal Government’s initiative, of which they give stipends to the people all over Pakistan who live below the poverty line. In the rural areas of Pakistan, the women are very creative in designing clothes. Therefore, I decided to give them a platform where they could earn from their skills and talents. By doing so, we have now aligned them with a few good designers of the country to enhance their skills. I can proudly say that they have produced much better products than what they used to; and putting all of those on portal, I am planning to give them access to the national market first and then the international market. My objective is to bring these people out of the poverty line and give them a better livelihood.
BM: You are a big supporter of the Fixit campaign. Why is that so?
HL: I think each and every person has a purpose in life. Alamgir Khan, who is not just a student but also a good friend of mine, came up with the idea of starting a campaign “Fixit”, which is not actually a political campaign, but a campaign to pressurize the government to identify their duties and to do their jobs. This campaign is all about fixing the problems of a common man. These are ideas to which we all must work together for one can’t fix this whole city alone. All of these issues; which have been pointed out are the problems faced by the people of Karachi, they only felt the need of any organization or someone who would support them for their cause, but Alamgir came forward and encouraged them to take all such issues in their own hands.
BM: You and Imran Khan were always seen to have good terms, however your sudden move to join MQM amazed everyone. Why did you take this bold step and then announced your resignation after a while? Explain this whole story in your own words?
HL: I have known Imran Khan for a very long time; whenever he visited Pakistan I invited him over for dinner or lunch. He always persuaded me to join PTI and I did support his party, then and still do today, but as a silent supporter. However, Imran Khan is more focused in Punjab as he lives there. He has a Province to look after and his job is definitely not as easy as it seems. He is honest, intelligent and a man of character, but Karachi was never his forte. MQM has always been aware of the issues of Karachi; this is why it has a largest stake here. This is the reason I opted to join MQM as I saw a better platform to aid and communicate with the youth of Karachi, for their better future and livelihood. But, my vision and way of conceptualizing the future of the youth differed from their agendas and thoughts, which led me to the resignation that I announced as soon as I returned back to Pakistan. There are many people in this city who support Imran Khan considering the youth specifically, and now that MQM has split into two, I see more opportunity for Imran Khan. Still, he will have to give time to Karachi for some positive feedback.
BM: The youth now opts to go abroad for higher studies, why is that so?
HL: There are many students who prefer going abroad for higher education, but at the end of the day they come back to Pakistan or even if they stay there, they still have the spirit of a Pakistani. If you compare the standards of those universities with Pakistani universities, then I would say some of the Pakistani universities are much better than those because I know many kids who have studied there and are qualified but they don’t have the knowledge. However, it’s a good opportunity for our students to go abroad and acquire the best possible knowledge.