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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Prof. Dr. Ishtiaq Husain Qureshi. (2001-15)

Born at Patiali (U.P.), in 1902 in a lower middle class family of learned background, he made his mark as a student of the famous Muslim School of Etawa. Thereafter he drifted into politics and took an active part in the Khilafat movement. Passing the intermediate examination as a private candidate, he found a place in the St. Stephen's College of Delhi, rated as one of the top most colleges of India. In the M.A. examination he not only obtained the first position, but broke all records of the University. This secured for him a teaching position at the St. Stephen's College, In 1937 he proceeded to Cambridge from where he obtained a Ph.D. degree in History in 1939. A few years later he was appointed Professor of History at the University of Delhi and also became the Dean of the Faculty of Arts. He also served as Acting Vice Chancellor of the Delhi University. The publication of his book, "Administration of the Sultanate of Dehli", in 1942 became a land mark in the modern research in medieval history. After the Partition, he became a member of the Constituen Assembly of Pakistan.

In 1949 he was appointed Professor of History at the Punjab University, Lahore. But in the same year he joined the Government of Pakistan as Minister of Refugee Rehabilitation and later as central Minister of Education. After resigning his position as minister. Dr. Oureshi joined the Columbia University, New York. It was during his stay there he wrote his famous book, the Muslim Community of the Subcontinent (Hague, 1962). This book is the saga of the achievements and trials and tribulations of the Muslim community in its over one thousands years of history in the subcontinent. Dr. Qureshi also contributed a book on the Pakistan Movement entitled "The Struggle for Pakistan" another book on Education in Pakistan an authoritative book on the Administration of the Mughul Empire; and a book on the Role of the Ulema in the Politics. These books not only brought world fame to Dr. Qureshi, but also placed Pakistan on the world map of historical studies. Undoubtedly Dr. Qureshi was one of the most distinguished historians who flourished in the twentieth century the world over.

There can be no two opinions about the pivotal position of Dr. I.H. Oureshi in the haif-a-century history of the University of Karachi. While the pioneering services rendered by his predecessors cannot be denied. It is unquestionable that it was Dr. Oureshi who built up the institution into a truly full-fledged University. Quite a few departments were founded and a large number of new buildings were built during his tenure. Perhaps his greatest contribution was the building up of faculty cadres in all large Arts and science departments. Though himself not a scientist, his role in building up science departments and their faculties was truly unforgettable. During his long term the University came to enjoy unprecedented prestige as a center of higher studies and research, not only at home but also abroad. Graduates of this University found ready acceptance in prestigious foreign Universities.

To conclude, the late Dr. I. H. Oureshi was one of the most distinguished intellectuals historians and educationists that Pakistan has had during the last fifty years plus. It is only in the fitness of things that commemorative postage in his name is being issued. Date of Issue (November 20, 2001)