Pakistani expatriates are happy to hear the news of Prime Minister Imran Khan upcoming visit to Malaysia. This visit has historical significance as he is the first state leader invited by the Malaysian government since the assumption of the Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, a leader who is recognised for uplifting a nation through education. Before, I express my thoughts regarding this visit; I would like to quote an excerpt from the speech of Malaysian Premier recently delivered at the 2018 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit in Papua New Guinea. “But the biggest challenge facing any country is to ensure that technology does not widen inequality. For this, understanding of the technological base is important. Education is the answer especially knowledge of Artificial Intelligence and its application. This education cannot wait. It must be promoted now. History has shown that nations which respond quickly to disruption with systematic and coherent strategies for its citizenry had always been able to ride the wave of radical changes. Again, in Malaysia, we have introduced several schemes and programs to face the disruption and Industry 4.0. These programs include re-training, new educational approaches, research and more scholarships for professional and post-graduate studies, as well numerous programs that provide our youths with the latest the technology can offer. We are in the midst of studying the possibility of introducing latest technology modules in the curriculum. The children must be exposed to latest skills sets from a very young age. They can cope with new technologies better than old people.”

The above words of the oldest country leader of the world are full of wisdom for the developing and underdeveloped nations and provide the guidelines on how they can cope with the competitive knowledge-based economies of the world. Particularly two sentences have a great message “This education cannot wait. It must be promoted now.” The Prime Minister of Pakistan has the same vision though faced with several infrastructural challenges. It was pleasing to see that Prime Minister of Pakistan since the assumption of his office had several meetings with the higher education leadership of the country. However, now it is the turn of academic leaders to prove their worth in the form of innovative planning that can echo with the vision of “This education cannot wait.” There should be an appropriate plan shared with the stakeholders, important benchmarks and the methodologies for achieving knowledge-based targets. We need to promote technology-based education in the realm of Islamic values. Among several others, lack of proper scientific knowledge and its implementation is also one of the causes of religious issues. During my services as Vice Chancellor of the Islamia University of Bahawalpur, we initiated programs that can decipher Islamic teaching with modern science. I always quote a few examples. How many religious scholars in Pakistan know the scientific reason that why Prophet (Peace be Upon Him) said: “Paradise is underneath the feet of the mother.” Religious scholar argues with several reasons; however, science has proved that every human being on this earth inherit the energy providing machinery the mitochondria from the mother. It is time to bring Islamic values at the forefront and how they can ease the World problems.

Along with similar lines, meat sacrificed with following Islamic traditions is free of disease-causing viruses that mainly live in the blood. Islamic teachings are full of wisdom. However, they still need to be promoted through scientific means and appropriate logic. Islam provides more support for current scientific developments; however, Muslim scholars need to study them.

During the upcoming visit of the Prime Minister of Pakistan, there will be several agenda items to be discussed between the two country leaders, however, as an academician, I will humbly request the PM Imran Khan and his team to establish a strong and viable collaboration in the area of higher education. This humble submission is based on the evaluations of my lifelong learning and teaching experiences across the world. I had an opportunity to teach and lead in several parts of the world including Pakistan, Brazil, Hong Kong, Portugal, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and now in Malaysia. Based on the evaluations of educationists including myself, Malaysia is on the trajectory that will make it a country having one of the best in the higher education system. This is all due to indigenisation in the development of educational material and associated technologies. This setup is already paying off in the form of resources generated through knowledge economy. All the reasons for fast economic and social progresses are linked good Malaysian education and indigenously developed IT-based infrastructure for academic governance. A proof of concept is that University Malaysia Pahang, where I currently serve. This university jumped from 281-290 in the year 2018 to 188 in the year 2019 in the Asian University Ranking. This is the power of Malaysian indigenous developed academic governance and learning management systems. If the same setup is implemented faithfully in any Pakistani university, miracles can happen there. However, again coming back to Malaysian Prime Minister words “History has shown that nations which respond quickly to disruption with systematic and coherent strategies for its citizenry had always been able to ride the wave of radical changes.” There is a need for disruptive methodologies in the higher education system of Pakistan complemented with well-conceived coherent strategies.

Pakistan should also consider strong student and faculty exchange programs between Malaysian and Pakistani universities as we share lot more in common and mutually can benefit from each other. It will be ideal that if the current government extend the invitation to a group of Malaysian students for joining the upcoming International Student Convention 2018 being organized by the Inter-University Consortium for the Promotion of Social Sciences Arts and Humanities in Pakistan. This will further cement programs aimed at strengthening youth exchange and interactions.

Honorable Prime Minister of Pakistan and the accompanying delegates, Pakistani expatriates welcome you in the beautiful land of Malaysia. We all feel pride with the efforts of government in the implementation of policies and knowledge pro educational system that can make our country as the best place to live and work. Pakistan Zindabad.

The writer is currently serving in Malaysia. He is the member of the Malaysian Biosafety and Biosecurity Association; founding chairperson of the IUCPSS and served as Vice Chancellor of three universities in the Southern Punjab, Pakistan. 

This is the power of Malaysian indigenous developed academic governance and learning management systems. If the same setup is implemented faithfully in any Pakistani university, miracles can happen there.