OXFORD. The Oxford Pakistan Programme (the “OPP”) today announces five inaugural OPP Scholars for 2022-23. The OPP Scholars represent a diverse breadth of disciplines, backgrounds and talents, with subjects ranging from Mathematics, Education, Development Studies, Climate Change, Music and Refugee Studies. Two of the OPP Scholars are overseas Pakistanis, two are women and one is an academic from a Pakistani public sector university.
It is hoped that through the OPP scholarship programme, the OPP will open doors for the OPP Scholars to become leaders in their academic disciplines and be a breath of fresh air for Pakistan through attaining excellence in their respective fields, and contribute to positive visions of national and community development. The OPP Scholars are highly talented and committed individuals who are driven to set new standards of moral and intellectual leadership.
The OPP will continue to build its scholarship offering for talented Pakistani origin students as well as operating an access programme in order to continue to enable such students to attend Oxford, including those from Pakistan’s public sector universities.
The OPP is grateful for the support of Lady Margaret Hall in establishing and hosting the OPP’s scholarship programme.
Minha Khan is a Sociologist of Education, and through this degree wants to positively contribute to the educational ecosystem of Pakistan. Minha completed her undergraduate studies at Stanford University, where she majored in Sociology and Education and received the highest number of awards possible at the undergraduate level. Her research has previously explored how schooling in a child’s non-native language can make learning inaccessible, how household and gender norms complicate accessing higher education for female students, and the role of education in breaking the inheritance of despair in low-income families.
Minha intends to work with non-profit organisations and governing bodies in Pakistan to develop educational policies that promote equity in accessing education, building on her work with The Citizens Foundation, the leading educational NGO in Pakistan.
As an inaugural OPP scholar, she has made a commitment to herself and to the communities she works with: a promise to keep learning, keep pushing, and keep playing her part to make the world a more equitable place.
Usama Salamat hails from Tehsil Jatoi in the Muzaffargarh district in Punjab and completed his undergraduate in Economics from the University of Essex, where he achieved academic distinctions throughout the course and was included on the Dean’s List of Excellence for three consecutive years. He also served as President of the Essex University Pakistan Society.
Usama has previously worked on development policy reforms the Pakistani justice system with Reprieve International. He worked on issues relating to policy advocacy, climate change, and inequality in the rural areas of Punjab with human rights clinics. Going forward, as one of the five inaugural OPP Scholars, he is eager to contribute to the sustainable socio-economic growth of Pakistan.
Through his MPhil degree in Development Studies at the University of Oxford, Usama will be researching on the emerging dynamics of climate change policies, and its implications on Pakistan’s industries. He intends to pursue a professional career in this area, especially on the relationship between environmental policies and human rights.
Sameh Hameedi obtained a First Class Honours in Mechanical Engineering from University College London (UCL). He obtained a Master’s degree in Applied Mathematics from Columbia University, where he was selected as an inaugural member of the Applied Math department’s research specialization cohort and graduated with a 4.0 GPA. At Columbia, he conducted research on partial differential equations arising in condensed-matter systems under the supervision of Professor Michael Weinstein and Dr. Amir Sagiv. Sameh’s doctoral work will focus on the study of partial differential equations and stochastic analysis, with a particular emphasis on the application of these fields in mathematical physics.
As a DPhil candidate at Oxford, Sameh hopes to open the door for more Pakistani students wishing to pursue scholarship in the mathematical and physical sciences. He is passionate about education reform and is committed to advancing the educational landscape in Pakistan, with particular regard towards its equitability.
Rabiya Jaffery is a journalist and researcher exploring the living and working conditions of Pakistani migrants in the Arabian Gulf. Rabiya completed her undergraduate degree in journalism in the United Arab Emirates on an academic merit scholarship. She is especially interested in shedding light on migrant labour, particularly on the different forms of labour exploitation that are comparable to systemic, modern-day slavery for expatriate workers in the Arabian Gulf. Rabiya is eager to use this academic opportunity to create the groundwork for building and pushing for reforms to protect the numerous communities of Pakistani workers abroad.
Ajmal Hussain Mughal is a permanent faculty member in the first and only Musicology Department in Pakistan, established in 2002 at the National College of Arts (NCA), Lahore. Ajmal did a Master of Philosophy in Art History from the University of Punjab, where he now teaches. After securing funding from the NCA, he completed his Master of Studies in Musicology at the University of Oxford. Ajmal is continuing as a DPhil candidate at the university, and has secured the Carolyn and Franco Gianturco scholarship, an OPP Scholarship and an award from the Zaman Foundation in Pakistan to further his studies. He will be examining the historical journey of South Asian classical music in Pakistan, with particular focus on the effects and aftermath of Partition.
Oxford has produced six Prime Ministers and two Presidents of Pakistan, as well as two founding fathers. In providing the most talented Pakistani origin students with an Oxford education, the OPP hopes to produce the next generation of leaders, thinkers and community leaders, to define the trajectory of both Pakistan and the British Pakistani community.
The OPP’s donors are the backbone of its success, which has been made possible through their generous support. Scholarships have generously been established by these donors:
Pakistanis and British Pakistanis are one of the most underrepresented BAME groups at graduate level at the University of Oxford. Around twenty-five applicants who secure admissions from Pakistan are unable to pursue their degree at Oxford due to lack of funding. The OPP team was launched to address this underrepresentation. It is led by Professor Adeel Malik (Associate Professor of Development Economics at Oxford), Dr. Talha Jamal Pirzada (Lecturer & Junior Research Fellow at Oxford), Haroon Zaman (Trainee Lawyer at Travers Smith LLP), Minahil Saqib (Assistant Vice President at Barclays), Dr Mohsin Javed (Vice President at BlackRock) and Alina Salahuddin (Incoming Analyst at McKinsey & Company).
On behalf of all the team members of OPP we would like to thank you for all your support and pledge to continue to grow the OPP’s scholarship offering in order to empower the most talented amongst us with education. This couplet of Ahmed Faraz, poet activist and revolutionary, summarizes the essence of the OPP:
شکوۂ ظلمت شب سے تو کہیں بہتر تھا
اپنے حصے کی کوئی شمع جلاتے جاتے
Rather than complaining over the darkness of the night
It would have been far better to light the candles we could.