Celebrating Franco-Pakistani relationship through PFAN alumni network
By Ami Qayyum, President of PFAN
Pak-France Alumni Network (PFAN) is an association to bring together Pakistani scholars who have visited France for their higher education. It is formally registered with the government of Pakistan and also sponsored by the French Embassy in Islamabad. The association is founded in 2009, to bring together and help maintain a network of Pakistanis who have pursued their higher studies in French universities and institutes. PFAN was started with 15 members initially, and during past couple of years, the number of members has increased rapidly and it currently has more than 190 active members. Members are mostly PhDs serving in various higher education institutions and different industries of Pakistan. Types of members include full members, associate members and affiliate members. PFAN has its branches in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi, with four branches in France (Paris, Lyon, Aix-Marseille and Grenoble).
PFAN is guided by its Board of Directors, consisting of 9 members who are highly qualified and experienced professionals. Vision of the association is defined by its BoD which helps shape the activities of the association. PFAN is managed by its Executive Committee comprising of President, Vice President, CEO, Treasurer and Secretary, and also includes the coordinators for various activities. To promote PFAN and to facilitate timely communication among its members, a Facebook group and various mailing lists have been created which provide an opportunity for the members to network effectively, exchange their ideas and discuss without any barriers. Details can be seen on our website www.pfan.org.pk.
Objectives and Activities:
The objectives of the association are numerous, ranging from keeping the ties with French language and culture among its members, to assisting its members to strengthen research links with French institutions. Apart from providing the opportunities to the Pakistani French scholars to network with one another, PFAN also organizes various research related events and meetings and different cultural, scientific, and educational activities for its members and their families. An important aspect of cultural events is to continue keeping the ties with French language and culture whereas scientific events help in developing further the links with French institutions. PFAN also takes benefit of a visit of any French professor in Pakistan, to arrange a formal seminar or a formal gathering of the professor with its members. Moreover, PFAN has also organized an event for its members where one of the French mountaineer Ms Sophie Denis was in Islamabad after her adventurous trip to K-2 base camp.
Apart from organizing scientific, cultural, and educational activities for its members locally, PFAN has also helped its members to maintain research collaboration with their counterparts in France. Members are encouraged to apply for various research collaboration and funding opportunities through various channels, mostly in cooperation with the French embassy. During various occasions, the French embassy has sponsored the visit of PFAN members to attend science and technology meetings in other countries (e.g. ICT-Asia and Bio-Asia regional conferences, etc.).
Background and Motivation for PFAN:
Pakistani scholars have been trained in the higher education sector in France since early fifties. In the nineties, under the scholarship program of Ministry of Science and Technology, several researchers visited France for their Masters and Doctoral studies. The collaboration between the two countries further enhanced and since 2004, the government of Pakistan, through Higher Education Commission and support from French government, has sponsored hundreds of Pakistani scholars for higher education in France. Under the said scheme, currently there are more than 600 Pakistani scholars pursuing doctoral degrees in France. Other than Pakistani government sponsored schemes, hundreds of students have also traveled to France for higher education, many financed by the French research institutions. These scholars have started to return and getting involved in research activities in different institutes and universities of Pakistan. The need arise that the work done by these scholars must continue in the form of liaison between the research institutes of Pakistan and France. The idea of alumni network inception is therefore a step to achieve this objective. The French and Pakistani cultural, scientific and research bodies have committed to support this cause of PFAN. The support of French embassy in Islamabad is tremendous in this regard, and the embassy always welcomes ideas and events which can strengthen the educational and research links between Pakistan and France.