Description: ‘Main campus of Guru Nanak varsity to be set up in Islamabad’
LAHORE: Due to multiple reasons, Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) has scrapped its original plan of establishing Baba Guru Nanak University (BGNU) at Nankana Sahib as the same would be established at Islamabad.

The ETPB now has announced establishing BGNU main campus in Islamabad whereas sub-campuses would be established in other provinces.In 2007, then ETPB chairman Lt-Gen (r) Zulfikar Ali Khan had announced starting the work on the proposed BGNU in Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of founder of the Sikh religion Baba Guru Nanak. According to the original plan, around 25,000 acre land was to be acquired for the university but the same couldn’t be materialised till date.

Sources in ETPB told this correspondent that the main hurdle in shifting the plan from Nankana Sahib to Islamabad had come from the legal fraternity besides local tenants, occupying the ETPB land, also played their part. ETPB even offered them alternate land for agriculture and other purposes but they rejected the same offer as well.

Later, the Board succumbed to the strong protest and resistance of the locals changed its original plan.It may be relevant to mention here that soon after assuming the charge three years back, the incumbent chairman ETPB Siddiq-ul-Farooq had announced going ahead with the proposed plan of establishing the university in Nankana Sahib on priority basis.

Farooq had also announced constructing another university - Gandhara Heritage International University (GHIU) on 400 to 600 acre land in Taxila to honour rich history of the Buddhist. The university has been aimed to promote research on Buddhist culture and help to boost religious tourism. The same plan now has been shifted to Islamabad as well.

A year back, ETPB chairman had also announced that then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif would lay the foundation stone of the proposed BGNU but the same didn’t take place. The proposed university was to be built on modern lines with state-of-the-art facilities.

It was to cater from 5,000 to 10,000 students from across the world. It was also planned to set up various departments in these universities for research on Baba Guru Nanak, Baba Fareed Ganj Shakar and Gotham Budh, etc.

After chairing a meeting on Monday, Siddiq-ul-Farooq told media that the Board has approved 50,000 square feet land at its Complex in Islamabad for the construction of BGNU as well as GHIU. He said main campuses for both the proposed universities would also be established in Islamabad soon.

The chairman announced that vice-chancellors and project directors of the universities would be appointed soon as classes would commence by October this year.Students from the minority community would get scholarships on merit. He said the proposed plan would give a strong message to the entire world that how much the country loves its minority communities. It would also help us to defeat all the negative propaganda about Pakistan regarding its dealing with its minorities, he added.

The chairman expressed hope that Higher Education Commission (HEC) would also increase its grant from Rs1 billion for the proposed universities.

Moreover, it is also learnt that ETPB was in consultation with land owners in Sheikhupura for acquiring over 100 acre land to build a campus of the BGNU near at Narowal Road near Muridke. They told that the Trust had around 300 kanal land in Sheikhupura and it needed 100 kanal more for the construction of campus.