KARACHI: After having assisted around 7,000 underprivileged students with their financial needs for education since 1984, the Quaid-e-Azam Aligarh Education (Scholarship) Trust has geared up its process to facilitate more students and keep the legacy of the Quaid alive.
The scholarship trust, which was formed on October 22, 1984, was managed by three people - Shareefuddin Pirzada, Ziaul Haq Channa and Liaquat Merchant. Owing to Channa's death and Pirzada's demanding schedule, the trust and scholarships are now managed by Merchant alone.
The trust was established after the Sindh High Court (SHC) ordered its constitution on a petition submitted by Merchant, who is the grandson of Mohammed Ali Jinnah's sister, Mariam Abdenbhoy Peerbhoy.
According to Merchant, Jinnah created his will on May 30, 1939, which was administered by his sister, Fatima Jinnah, former Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan and Jinnah's solicitor, MA Chaiwala. After all of them died, Jinnah's sister, Shireen Jinnah, administered the will and managed the directions mentioned in it.
Merchant took over the administration of the Quaid's will in 1980, when Shireen Jinnah died. According to the last clause of the will, all his residuary estate to be divided into three parts - one each for Aligarh University, Islamia College, Peshawar, and Sindh Madressatul Islam of Karachi.
Aligarh University's refusal
According to Merchant, no one sent the money to the mentioned institutions after he died. He said that when he became the administrator of the will, Rs10.8 million was the amount to be given to each beneficiary. The amount was given to Sindh Madressatul Islam and Islamia College under the name of the Quaid and they utilised the amount of money for the institute.
However, when Aligarh University was contacted, explained Merchant, they refused to accept the amount under Jinnah's name, saying that they will accept the amount as donation if given anonymously and not in Jinnah's name.
The matter was then taken to the SHC in 1984 to decide what should be done with the money. The SHC allowed Merchant to utilise the money for the grant of scholarship in the name of 'Quaid-e-Azam Aligarh Scholarship' to university students for graduate and postgraduate studies in Pakistan and abroad. The orders were given by the then Chief Justice of SHC, Abdul Hai Kureshi.
That same year, the deed of the trust was formed and, until now, 7,000 students in need have been given 100% scholarships. The trust has three members who are working for the scholarships - one manager and two assistants.
The principle amount is intact and was invested in Pakistan Investment bonds while the scholarships are given from the profits received from these bonds, explained Merchant. He also said that the trust will not cease to exist if its members die - the matter will go back to the court and the court will appoint new members.
"The scholarship is specifically for the underprivileged students who cannot afford to bear the fee of higher education," said Merchant, adding that they prefer students who are orphans. The trust offers scholarship in 17 faculties of medicine, business, marketing, marine engineering and sciences.
Of the 7,000 scholarship holders, around 2,000 were women. The majority of the students who received the scholarships were children of shopkeepers, gardeners or drivers.
How to apply
The application form for obtaining the scholarships is available on the website of the trust and students can apply at any time as the applications are open round the year. As soon as the students apply, the manager at the trust office makes a file of the student with all of their basic information.
The students are then called in for interviews, after which memos are prepared on why the particular candidate should be offered the scholarship or why not. The trust also maintains in detail the data of the students who receive the scholarships.
The applicant must have at least 70% aggregate marks in the last examinations or equivalent in cumulative grade points average (CGPA) system.
The trust is also planning to make an alumni network of the students to promote and help other children understand the procedure and apply for the scholarship.
Apart from the trust, Merchant also looks after Jinnah Foundation, which was founded in 1988. Under the trust, four non-profit schools in Bhitai Colony have been established. The schools accommodate 1,400 students and 106 teachers with laboratories and libraries in junior and senior sections.
To facilitate the marginalised children, the school provides good quality education with an average fee between Rs600 and Rs800 a month. The trust also offers scholarships to more than 300 children every year.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 19th, 2017.
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