Chandigarh: Pakistan High Commissioner to India Sohail Mahmood visited the Punjab University in Chandigarh on Tuesday, said the bridge gap between the two nations and visa issues should not be a hindrance in encouraging knowledge exchange between Lahore’s Punjab University and Chandigarh’s Punjab University.
“The negative impact could be neutralised by exchanging ideas and addressing concerns. The purpose is not only to reach academia, but the youth for improving perceptions. The challenge is to talk to each other rather than talk at each other for a smooth flow of communication,” Sohail Mahmood said.
Punjab University Vice-Chancellor Arun Kumar Grover said they discussed on how poor political relations between India and Pakistan should not affect the research and academics of the varsities.
The vice chancellor added, looking at the current political scenario between the two countries,
“A soft link between the two universities through videoconferencing, discussions and lectures on Skype can help. You can call it an under the table exchange of ideas and knowledge,” could be the only way to start connecting academics and research between the two countries.
Pakistan High Commissioner, on his visit to the Varsity informed Prof Grover that University of the Punjab is planning to open a Centre for Indian Studies while Vice Chancellor Grover told him the varsity too is planning to set-up a Shahmukhi Learning Centre in the Department of Defence and National Security Studies. Shahmukhi is the script of Punjabi language followed by people in Pakistan’s Punjab.
With Sohail Mahmood’s visit to the varsity, faculty members as well as students various ideas to bridge the gap between the youths of the two nations.
“The high commissioner spoke a lot about student and faculty exchange programmes by encouraging research. We should do this to bring the youth of the two countries together. Only then the culture of hate will transform into that of respect for similarities and differences,” said one of the student.
The Pakistan High Commissioner also told the vice chancellor that the varsity has abandoned the centenary marking of honours school system while the varsity in India will be celebrating it next year.
The V-C responded saying, “I told the high commissioner about the honours school system and its centenary next year. But they don’t have this system anymore. I guess it is a matter of emotional attachment for us.”
The honours school is a research-oriented five-year integrated course comprising graduation and postgraduation similar to other honours courses in universities.
Earlier the varsity had already announced a three-day celebration marking the centenary next year.
Various other varsity officials also attended the meeting with Pakistan’s High Commissioner. Dean of University Instruction, Director of Internal Quality Assurance Cell, several members of Research Promotion Cell, senior faculty members, researchers and students all attended the meeting.
The Pakistan High Commissioner visited the state to meet the state CM to discuss various issues most important to plan the visit of Indian pilgrims who have applied for visas to visit Gurdwara Janam Asthan Nankana Sahib in Lahore the birthplace of Guru Nanak to mark his 550th birth anniversary. He was the founder of Sikhism.