Washington Accord Success for Pakistani Engineers

Written by: Engr Asghar Hayat

Pakistan has achieved a significant milestone in the field of engineering education, being re-elected as a permanent member of the Washington Accord for the next six years. This prestigious status, approved by the International Engineering Alliance (IEA), means that Pakistani engineering degrees will continue to be recognized and accepted worldwide, enhancing the global mobility and professional opportunities for Pakistani engineers.

The decision to extend Pakistan’s membership was made during a two-day meeting of the IEA held in New Delhi. Despite facing diplomatic hurdles, including India’s refusal to grant visas and a No Objection Certificate (NOC) to the Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC) delegation, the meeting concluded with a unanimous decision in favor of Pakistan. The PEC’s case was robustly presented by representatives from Turkey, China, and Hong Kong, who participated in the review and evaluation of Pakistan’s engineering accreditation standards.

Officials from the PEC joined the meeting online, underscoring their commitment to maintaining high standards in engineering education. The PEC’s accreditation procedures were meticulously reviewed by Turkey, China, and Hong Kong, focusing on institutions such as NUST Islamabad, NED University of Engineering and Technology Karachi, and the Capital University of Science & Technology (CUST) Islamabad. The evaluations, which took place in October 2023 and included a follow-up visit in January 2024, confirmed that the PEC met the Washington Accord’s rigorous standards.

In a statement, the PEC highlighted the efforts of its leadership, particularly Chairman Engr. Muhammad Najeeb Haroon and Convener EAB Engr. Dr. Niaz Ahmad Akhtar, in achieving this milestone. The PEC WA Review Committee, led by Engr. Dr. Fazal Ahmad Khalid, also received special recognition for their guiding principles and dedication.

Pakistan first became a full signatory of the Washington Accord in 2017, joining an elite group of countries committed to the highest standards in engineering education. The Washington Accord, established in 1989, is a multi-lateral agreement among bodies responsible for accrediting engineering qualifications. It aims to facilitate the mobility of professional engineers and promote good practices in engineering education globally. Currently, there are twenty signatories to the Accord, with additional organizations holding provisional status.

Chairman PEC Najeeb Haroon expressed pride in the global recognition of Pakistan’s engineering education and emphasized the need for engineers to play a more significant role in national policy-making. He pointed out that engineers in Pakistan have historically been neglected in policy-making roles, which has hindered the country’s progress in technical and engineering sectors. Haroon called for engineers to be given their due share in decision-making processes, particularly in ministries and departments where technical expertise is crucial.

The extension of Pakistan’s membership in the Washington Accord is a testament to the quality and international standards of Pakistani engineering education. This achievement not only enhances the credibility of Pakistani engineering degrees but also opens up global opportunities for Pakistani engineers. It is now imperative for the government and policymakers to leverage this recognition by involving engineers more significantly in national development projects and policy-making processes, ensuring that technical decisions are informed by expert knowledge and experience.

To build on this success, there is a pressing need to establish a clear service structure for engineers. This would ensure their professional growth and enable them to reach senior administrative and decision-making positions within federal and provincial ministries. Moreover, it is crucial to appoint engineers as heads of technical organisations, including power generation and distribution companies and other technical departments. These steps would ensure that technical projects are led by individuals with the necessary expertise, reducing the risk of failure and promoting efficient and effective implementation. With the Washington Accord membership secured for another six years, Pakistan stands poised to make substantial contributions to the global engineering community while driving domestic progress through the expertise of its engineers.

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