ISLAMABAD: Islamabad National University (INU), being established at PM House by converting this lavish government building into a center of excellence in line with the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan, was envisioned as an apex institution designed to support research-based policy formulation.

With focus on four areas of governance, development, climate and technology, the INU will initially consist of an Institute for Advanced Studies (IAS), which will be charged with providing a science-based annual report to the government on emerging challenges confronting Pakistan and the world, and the menu of options for addressing these challenges.

Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed the inaugural of the two-day Launch Conference for INU held here at the PM House on Friday and spoke about the government's commitment to education and his vision on retrieving the poor from poverty through human resource development.

The IAS will relevant in-house research teams, which in turn will engage and collaborate with researchers and research institutions within the country and abroad.

In particular, the IAS will collaborate with and guide various centers of advanced studies (CAS) established by the HEC in recent years.

Finally, in order to sustain and enhance the quality of the research programs, the INU will initiate PhD level programs in critical fields. In order words, the design of the INU will start with what is often referred to as the Third Mission of the university, namely service to the society; and extend it backwards, initially to the Second Mission, namely teaching.

Extensive consultations with policy makers, academics, and other stakeholders have led to the identification of a number of these emerging challenges.

This list has been refined and clustered into four themes: governance (transparency, security, devolution and administrative efficiency), development (urbanization, education, health, and economic governance), climate (water and food security, energy, climate futures / glaciers, and disaster management), and technology (artificial intelligence / robotics, nanotechnology / applied biotechnology, information and communication technologies and cyber security).

Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mahmood while speaking at the launch conference said the conversion of PM House into a university was the fulfillment of the prime minister's commitment to make the PM House an educational institution.

He said the INU would help address the various challenges facing Pakistan through research-based solutions.

The minister commended the Higher Education Commission (HEC) for the work they had put into for the launch conference.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had committed during his election campaign and in his first speech after taking the oath of office to convert the PM House into a center of excellence.

Imran Khan, citing the condition of poor people in Pakistan, had time and again said he would not live in such a lavish building.

Even on Friday when the prime minister spoke at the Launch Conference for INU at PM House, he described such government buildings as the symbols of colonialism and said he would have been suffering from insomnia if he had opted to reside at the lavish PM House.

Copyright APP (Associated Press of Pakistan), 2018