Q 1: You are an educationist and an entrepreneur. Tell us about your foray into the field of education. How did it all begin for you? I have always been very passionate about education. Whenever I step back and look at all the issues our country faces, I always come to the conclusion: education and advancement of knowledge is the only solution to our national and societal worries. This motivated me to pursue this profession to impact the future of the country. My late father, Dr. Hasan Sohaib Murad, was an ideal social-entrepreneur and educationist and I always wanted to continue the legacy. Entrepreneurship gives one the opportunity to break the conventional and disrupt the normal and so it is very liberating, even if one does not ultimately succeed. Q 2: You are also a philanthropist and work towards socio-economic uplift. Which social cause do you feel the most strongly about? Ans: We are extremely concerned about the lack of access to quality higher education and feel that no one should be left behind because of insufficient finances. That is why we established Pakistan’s largest scholarship programme – ILM Fund. The fund has disbursed approximately Rs. 5 billion in scholarships to more than 10,000 students from 100+ districts across Pakistan. Higher education can be the ultimate game-changer for our nation, changing lives and transforming future generations. Another agenda that I constantly try to push is to cultivate a culture with a great focus on giving back to the society. I have only recently established an informal forum called the Young Philanthropists of Pakistan which encourages values such as empathy, generosity and the spirit of giving among the next generation of business leaders. Q 3: What are you currently working on? I am currently working on a new $10 million scholarship programme through which I want students from 100 countries to come and study in Pakistan. Pakistan is misrepresented the world over and we need to change that false international narrative. I am positive that we can effect change through this initiative. I also founded Sitara-o-Hilal Foundation. This foundation aims to promote patriotism amongst children aged 6-12. I feel they should have a greater sense of service and a greater sense of sacrifice for the country. They should also put Pakistan first and should become good Pakistanis, good human beings and good Muslims. Q 4: You have founded and helmed many foundations and committees. You are also a member of various panels in leadership and education. What according to you has been your biggest achievement so far? Ans: I have been privileged to lead the life I have led and to have gone through the experiences that make me my own person. Owing to those experiences, there came a particular point when it struck me that my purpose in this life is best served by striving for the betterment of others and not just my own. I understand that it took a unique set of circumstances for me to come to this realization and it will continue to shape my life in the future. Therefore, I truly believe this is my most significant accomplishment to date. All my initiatives focus on bringing a positive change in society and the world. I believe taking interest in multiple sectors ranging from governance, financial services, housing, publishing, education, entrepreneurship and social-impact simultaneously. This comes because of a realization that anything is possible at any age. Q 5: In your view, is the government doing enough to ensure schooling and education for all? Historically, the state of Pakistan has failed to provide education – a fundamental human right – to the masses and the youth. The projects aim to conduct a dog and pony show rather than build human capacity and so it’s no wonder we are at the bottom of the list in the human development index. Pakistan must urgently prioritise focus on its youth, especially the 25 million out-of-school children and make sure they are equipped with the necessary tools to sharpen their minds and make them the leaders of tomorrow. Q 6: You have studied from prestigious universities abroad. How much is Pakistan lagging behind in terms of quality education? With time, Pakistan is improving gradually in almost all regards but to affect drastic change we need to globalize our institutions and benchmark against leading global standards to see what we can do to improve and where. There has to be a constant fire and a relentless drive to improve. We need to create our own distinct success model which is suited for our environment. Mainly, improvement is needed in our faculty and then in governance and systems. The government also needs to make teaching a popular profession. Someone who does not get any job usually thinks of becoming a teacher. The profession also needs to be regulated and there should be a certification required in order to teach. For universities, we need the industry and government to engage with academia because only with their support can universities advance and teach the latest most relevant curricula. Q 7: Institutions are gradually opening in Lahore. What SOPs will UMT observe to safeguard and protect faculty and students from the virus? We formed a committee that came up with a multi-faceted advisory document and policy that aims to ensure safety of the community through proper protocols. We will offer courses in a hi-flex mode that consists of a mix of in-person, hybrid as well as fully online offerings. Our classrooms and faculty have been trained to meet this challenge and we hope that there is n0 further loss of learning during this pandemic. Q 8: What is your vision for Pakistan and what does it mean to be Pakistani for you? My vision for Pakistan entails a Pakistan with low income inequality and a country where there is free education from playgroup to PhD. A country which focuses on youth empowerment and youth enablement. A country where there is a strong sense of ethics and morals. A country which Pakistanis take pride in, take ownership of and work to build it so it becomes one of the leading nations in the world. Q 9: We at Daily Times consider you one of our national heroes. Who are some of yours? My hero is the average poor Pakistani who has no food, no clothing and no shelter but still says Pakistan Zindabad and those that gave Pakistan their all including their lives. We need to honour those people that love Pakistan selflessly. People who expect nothing in return. They are my heroes.