New programme to promote academic links between Oxford and Pakistan

Adeel Malik of ODID and the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies has played a key role in the creation of a major new initiative to promote academic links between Oxford and Pakistan, including graduate scholarships for deserving students, visiting fellowships for Pakistani faculty members and special lectures.

The Oxford Pakistan Programme (OPP) was launched last month at a high-profile event at the High Commission for Pakistan in London.

The new programme aims to:

  • increase the representation of Pakistani and British Pakistani students at the University of Oxford;
  • act as a bridge between Oxford and Pakistan’s academic communities through the exchange of scholars and the sharing of scholarship; and
  • raise the academic profile of Pakistan and Pakistan-related studies at Oxford.

Speaking at the launch event, activist and Nobel laureate Malala Yousufzai, who has been a strong supporter from the outset, announced a major new scholarship that will allow one Pakistani girl from an underdeveloped background to study at Oxford every year.

The event also saw Pakistani businessmen and key members of the Pakistani diaspora in the UK pledge £500,000 to support a number of initiatives as part of the OPP, including scholarships for Pakistani and British-Pakistani students, support for visiting faculty and the establishment of an annual lecture, the Sir Muhammad Iqbal Lecture on Eastern Philosophy.

The OPP is the brainchild of Professor Malik, Dr Talha J Pirzada, Lecturer in Material Science at Oxford, and Haroon Zaman, trainee lawyer at Travers Smith, London, and former president of the Oxford Pakistan Society. They were assisted by Oxford alumni Minahil Saqib and Dr Mohsin Javed.

The launch event was also attended by 21 Oxford academics, including four Heads of Colleges, Ed Nash, Senior International Officer, and Dr Samina Khan, Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach.

Speaking at the event, Professor Malik noted that “Pakistan is still studied and represented through the narrow lens of security, radicalization, and militarism”. He said that Pakistan is also a country where some of the earliest debates on Islam and social justice took root and where an active institutional struggle is currently taking place over civil rights and the distribution of political and economic power.

Along with the OPP team, he announced a new research initiative on “National Sovereignty and Development” to be named after Muslim leader and scholar Muhammad Ali Jauhar, who studied at Lincoln College. The initiative will develop a programme of academic activities that will document and study the multiple ways in which the economic, political, and cultural sovereignty of developing nations is constrained, and the consequences of this for economic development.

OPP is supported by the University of Oxford, the High Commission for Pakistan in London, and the British High Commission in Islamabad.

Watch videos from the launch event here.