Prof. Dr. SM Qureshi

Developing and Leading University and S&T Intuitions

  • Name:                 Prof. Dr. SM Qureshi
  • Position:              Director, Ex- Vice Chancellor, Ex-Federal Secretary
  • Organization:      Mehran University Institute of Science, Technology and Development


  • The Innovative Approach

  He could be influenced by the political ebbs in Pakistan and lived saliently. He could live an inactive but profiting life. He could have enjoyed the professorship in entire life followed by gardening and playing with grandsons. However, he chose a continued active and useful role of his life for his profession, the institutions he established and the development of the country.  He refused to listen to the voices of disappointment and continuing with status quo. He has been the quite influencing person in science, technology and education for consecutive four decades from 1970 to 2010. He made lasting impact in science and technology history of Pakistan. He remains yet (in 2018) quite active, contributes substantially, keeps moving and looking for new and more opportunities to serve and contribute.  

  • The Pre-Entrepreneurial

  After graduation in 1959 from NED Engineering College in civil engineering, Dr. SM Qureshi joined practical field and worked for industry for few years. He got opportunity to do M. Eng. from AIT, Bangkok and went there. Upon return, he again joined industry and served for few years as consultant. His hallmark projects include involvement in structural design and development of drawings of multi-storied buildings including Hotel Inter-continentals in four big cities of Pakistan. He spent that decade of 1960s moving between academia and industry. He got very good practical life exposure working in highly reputed consulting firms and while working on big projects  also completed his post-graduation from the world leading Institute too. This mix has created entrepreneurial capability combined with local and international exposure. And to make best use of his capabilities, he joined S U Engg. College (Now Mehran University of Engg. and Technology).  Luckily he got opportunity and went to UK for PhD in the same subject of civil engineering. He completed his doctorate and joined back Jamshoro College of engineering upon return to Pakistan. He believed in and taught engineering for its more practical and entrepreneurial aspects. This multifaceted experience and exposure developed a unique resilience, love for science and technology and passion to contribute for scientific development of Pakistan. This decade long struggle of learning and doing developed Dr. SM Qureshi as an Entrepreneurial Leader in Science. Three major incidents of this decade as economic growth of Pakistan, the war of 1965 and fall of eastern Pakistan must have influenced the thinking of Dr. SM Qureshi. For next four decades he kept trying to help promote science and technology as strong tools for rapid socio economic development of Pakistan to stand shoulder to shoulder with the developed nations as quickly as possible.  

  • The Start of Entrepreneurial Journey – Establishment of PSF  

  The 1970s could be known as science and technology decade of Pakistan, when the Ministry of Science and Technology and institutions like Pakistan Science Foundation (PSF), University Grants Commission (UGC), etc. were established and Dr. SM Qureshi was brought into the system as one of important actors as Member (Science) in PSF wherein he  arm in arm with his Chairman and few other active and non-status-quo scientists used to interact with Prime Minister ZA Bhutto through Dr. Mubashar Hassan with everyday new proposals and programs and were able to convince Mr. Bhutto for various scientific interventions and development. Dr. SM Qureshi because of his entrepreneurial leadership qualities was hence included in the core team of Mr. Bhutto for planning nuclear initiative after the Indian Pokhran experiment. He became part and   contributed significantly in initial discussions, meetings and formulating plans . Dr. SM Qureshi, who had been chose to become the founding Member (science) of PSF, played active role in establishment of Pakistan Science Foundation-PSF itself  to provide research grants to academic scientists and promote fast research culture in universities and R&D organizations . This gave him the opportunity to design, execute and evaluate policies of a funding organizations aimed to promote and popularize science in Pakistan. He devised plan for capacity building in science, information technology, scientific databases and technological records. He was instrumental in the draft of first ever Science and Technology of Pakistan.He later on at one stage served as Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation also and took initiatives to make science and innovation happen in Pakistan as much as possible.  

  • The Demonstration of Entrepreneurial Leadership – Establishment of Mehran University

  The destiny has prepared him for much bigger role and he  was sent back to Sindh as founding Vice chancellor of Mehran University of  Engineering and Technology. The college was upgraded to a university. He was supposed to stay there as most dynamic vice chancellor for around 12 years from 1976 to 1988.  After entering the Mehran University, people think they are dreaming and not in any Pakistani university in reality. You can talk about inefficiency, corruption, etc. elsewhere  in Pakistan but not in Mehran University. You can talk about injustices, nepotism , etc. in Pakistan but not in Mehran University. You can talk about political influence in Pakistan but in Mehran University. You can talk about protests, strikes and non-professional conducts in Pakistan but not in Mehran University.   Dr. SM Qureshi had a dream of creating a university where all men and women would be treated equally according to merit and rules. This happened in rural part of Sindh-Jamshoro. In a short time, the university emerged as leading engineering and technology university of Pakistan. We know how he handled the daunting political influence and kept away reference culture from Mehran University, but we will not be able to write here. He is a beautiful man, beautiful civil engineer and that beauty is very much reflected in the architect, landscaping and overall building design of Mehran University. In response to our question, how he managed resources, Dr. SM Qureshi said. “I used to outreach to various donors and treat them proactively. I used to think various opportunities and keep exploring and hunting where lied surplus money in the Government and fetch it before anyone else reached or was wasted. I personally  interacted with donors and win their confidence to the university for whom you had to demonstrate the leadership and honesty that you could utilize their assistance properly and well in time . The Japanese aid to Mehran was an example for its proper and quick utilization in very limited time”   I always ensured that the projects were completed on time and reported duly to the donors”. We through our country-wide interaction and experience know rise and fall of many universities. Mehran University is unique in nature that it has sustained its momentum of growth, academic excellence and culture of quality merit based education. Our curiosity was to know the secret of sustained growth. Dr. SM Qureshi said; “yes I was aware of this phenomenon and got worried in my last few years. I have been observing leadership dilemma and crisis in our country. I started empowering people and institutions during my presence there. I started developing lot of rules and regulations. I developed systems and made them work after revision during my presence.  I went behind the scene and let the institution take off and grow through its people and systems. There must be some ups and downs due to personality of vice chancellor in charge. The current VC (Dr. M. Aslam Uqaili) has made a great difference and everytime we meet gives me more confidence of the sustainability and further growth. His activism  and dynamic approach matches the growth pattern of the university envisaged”. Dr. SM Qureshi is one of the people who Pakistan rising and falling again. He is among those who remained at helm of affairs in the country. He speaks very clearly and openly about successes and failures.  He found out the secret of science failure in Pakistan. This same problem, IRP is trying to address. Let us hear it through the words of Dr. SM Qureshi. “I used to think a lot why science is not making impact in spite of tremendous efforts and money spent for it. I found out that link between science and development is missed. To bridge this gap we need trained human resources who understand both science and its diffusion mechanics. We need to train technology managers who can take science out to the market and sell it to the society. Therefore, I took the first ever initiative in the country of developing technology trained professionals. We set up Mehran University Institute of Science, Technology and Development (MUISTD). This institute is now producing experts in science and technology for development. We realized then that it must have an arm to take Science and Technology development to logical conclusion to add to economy and established the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship”.   We salute to Dr. SM Qureshi; a visionary entrepreneurial leader.  

  • The Demonstration of Entrepreneurial Leadership – Federal Govt. Services

  While serving in his fourth term as VC Mehran University, Dr. SM Qureshi was brought back  by yet another Prime Minister , Mr. Junejo in 1987 as Federal Secretary Education and then served numerous Ministries as Secretary and chairman of many policy making boards and organizations of federal government of Pakistan., mostly  related to science, technology and education. He took many small to large initiatives during his leadership periods including framing of various national policies. Many of these initiatives are very innovative and still continued to operate   under respective organizations. One of the hallmarks initiatives is to bring in line the Professionals like Engineers, Doctors, Educationists in line to reach highest grade 22, which was reserved for only Central civil Service people and get the entitled to  civil and other kinds of awards exclusive for educationists which is the great service to this nation. The  other hallmark contributions include his support for  establishment of NUST, as then Federal secretary of science and technology for his own  dream of establishment of high profile institutions like MIT, IITs or KAIST in Pakistan. This provided him opportunity to best utilize the resources of Ministry of Science and Technology which is tax-payers money. He proactively supported NUST, helped in planning and designing and allowed major chunk of S&T budget to go to NUST. He feels pride of being a founder of NUST, which is now among the top best univerisites of Pakistan.  

  • The Demonstration of Entrepreneurial Leadership – General Roles and Initiatives

  Dr. SM Qureshi also served as Chairman, University Grants Commission (UGC), Chairman, Pakistan Council for Science and Technology (PCST), Chairman, Council for Works and Housing Research and Chairman, Pakistan Science Foundation (PSF). He has been member in the governing boards of 100 plus institutions, organizations and universities and Chairman of dozens of them. He has credit of doing significant contribution in the foundation of International Islamic International University and SZABIST to become a world renowned institution. He has been advisor to Governor Sindh for many years on education and established the CIEC to monitor and evaluate the Private HEIs for grant of Charter and their performance. He was then given the responsibility to do so for public sector HEIs too.  

  • The Summary  

Asia Institute of Technology Bangkok developed a Hall of Fame and  entered therein only 12 of their over 50,000 graduates selected by a high profile Selection Board, including Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. They were selected for the service to their profession, to the Alma-mater and more so to their country. Pakistan is proud that Dr. SM Qureshi name is included in the Hall of Fame of such successful alumni.  The award was conferred on 51st AITs Ceremony. We are proud that he was elected as Vice Chairman, UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development (UNCSTD). We are thankful to Dr. SM Qureshi for this long struggling journey for Pakistan. References SM Qureshi in Hall of Fame of AIT