By Manzoor Shaikh

Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC) Chairman Javed Salim Qureshi has come up with an idea that he would launch a ‘Technology and Construction Bank’ with Rs.100 billion for encouraging entrepreneurship in fresh engineers.
Javed Salim was in Karachi on July 18 in connection with his campaign for the next tenure as chairman PEC as the council’s elections are due on August 12. He was welcomed by a sizeable number of engineers in the port city, some estimate the attendance was more than two thousand. Vice Chancellor of NED University and Nazir Hussein University were among those present in the moot to give support to Salim and his panel. A part of Karachi’s political following could be witnessed for his panel.
PEC Chairman divulged how he would manage such a hefty amount of Rs.100 billion for his envisaged bank. “We have around 260,000 engineers registered with the PEC and of them a rough figure of 60,000 are unemployed. If each employed engineer from 200,000 engineers fund Rs.500,000 for the bank, we can generate seed money of Rs.100 billion for the purpose,” he said.

Javed Salim’s novel idea is seen by many engineers in Karachi like the Chief Justice of Pakistan making highly expensive Bhasha-Diamer Dam with local donations. A senior engineer who wished not to be named said it is a just melodramatic tactic to attract votes for the election. He asked why engineers should pay for the venture which indeed should be carried by the governments. PEC is not an NGO, he remarked.

Javed Salim wanted engineers to vote for his full panel as the broken mandate would not help them realize their plans which also include the induction of engineers in policy-making bodies of Pakistan.
PEC chairman who is trying to win one more term has plans to open engineers clubs in Karachi and Jamshoro, for which the council has secured acres of land which his opponents in Sindh claim were obtained by them; not by Javed Salim. “PEC chairman never helped us (Sindh) to realize plans for the betterment of engineers in the province, Engr. Mukhtiar Shaikh said. We did each and everything on our own and materialized our plans in the province.

Javed Salim’s plans apart, two weeks earlier his arch-rival Qadir Shah who also has served PEC as the chairman was addressing an impressive gathering of engineers, a little bigger show than of Salim’s in Karachi. “Javed Salim is responsible for the economic slaughter of engineers in Pakistan as he exempted Chinese companies from making joint ventures under China Pakistan Economic Corridor,” he alleged. His compatriots were free to text Whatsapp messages of the companies which were exempted from forming JVs and allowed to take projects without sharing proceeds with Pakistani counterparts.

Qadir Shah claims he has much better plans for the betterment of Pakistani engineers. We have planned to transform construction activity in the country into the construction industry so that we make it mandatory for the contractors and companies to hire engineers on a permanent basis rather than buying engineers certificates.
This plan would consume the majority of unemployed engineers in Pakistan, he says.

Also, we shall demand 50 percent jobs for Pakistani engineers under CPEC and would bound Chinese companies to follow the rules and regulations of PEC, he says. “For that, we have to amend the rules and regulations of the PEC.”
Aliong with Qadir Shah and Javed Salim striving to attract engineers whose number has now exceeded 260,000, yet another contender Waseem Nazir is vying for the post of the chairman.

A reputable engineer of international stature and running MM Pakistan, Waseem Nazir is very much in the field and has visited a number of destinations to assess the situation before finalizing his panel.

Nazir believes we need modern dimensions, not politics for improving the conditions of engineers in Pakistan. He is very much in the field and is being heard attentively as to how the situation will be changed in Pakistan. In his first tour, he has visited Peshawar, Mianwali, Islamabad, Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Ghotki, and Larkana and is getting to know what issues the engineers are facing there. He claims to have founded the third platform for engineers and is committed to restoring honor and dignity of engineers through transforming PEC into a genuine regulating body. He is an ardent supporter of PEC run by practicing engineers. However, the situation is otherwise on the ground. Although all three major contestants have their plans and visions for the future, political affiliations play a major part in these elections too. Qadir Shah and his associates lost last PEC elections except in Sindh and KP because of the PML – N clout of Javed Salim. Qadir Shah won 2010 elections because of affiliation with the then ruling PPP. Many engineers in Qadir Shah group claim they lost against Javed Salim in 2013 because the JI-backed Pakistan Engineers Forum (PEF) did not support Shah and stood divided between Javed Salim and Shah. This time around the PEF is behind Qadir Shah in full, an informed engineer claims.

However, Engr. Imtiaz Shah, now contesting for Senior Vice Chairman in Qadir Shah’s panel says it was not PEF’s lack of unity but the PML – N got support for Javed Salim by hook and crook. Ahsan Iqbal and other engineer politicians including Shahid Khaqan Abbasi played a major role in the PEC elections. Whatever was the situation during last elections, many players who stood with Javed Salim in 2013 are seen aligned with Qadir Shah this time. Still, what has yet to be seen is how uncertainty on the political arena and popular perceptions about future affect the PEC elections which surely are significant in the wake of the unfavourable situation for the engineering community in Pakistan. – Printed in Engineering Review, July 15-31, 2018