Former vice chancellor of the University of Karachi and head of the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) Dr Abdul Wahab passed away here on Tuesday after a prolonged illness. He was 77. He is survived by his wife, three sons and a daughter. Dr Wahab was born in the state of Tonk, Rajasthan. In 1948 he migrated to Pakistan. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in psychology from S.M. Arts College and did his master’s in business administration from the IBA. He joined the same institute as a lecturer. Afterwards, he got his doctoral degree from the University of British Columbia, Canada. On his return to Pakistan in 1978 he was appointed deputy director of the IBA. He retired from the institute as its director in 1999.
Dr Wahab also served as vice chancellor of the University of Karachi (1994-96) and president of Mohammad Ali Jinnah University (2002-2016). Dr Wahab was known for his upright attitude towards education. Under his leadership the IBA emerged as the premier educational institute of the country. He was a hard taskmaster who did not tolerate any laxity on the part of his faculty or those who ran the IBA administration. He himself set an example by refusing to act submissively in front of the high and mighty. Not just that, he turned down one of his own sons admission application to the IBA because he had fewer marks than required.
Dr Wahab’s stint at the University of Karachi was not a smooth one. Student wings of political parties were hyperactive at the time. He had to deal with quite a few contentious issues, including the matter of clearing the boys’ hostels of students who were not enrolled. Talking to Dawn, former vice chancellor of Karachi University and poet Dr Pirzada Qasim said: “I had known Dr Wahab since 1965-66. The IBA was the first business management school outside of America. Therefore it had a great deal of significance, and naturally it needed top-notch faculty to run it. Dr Wahab was one of those who ran the institution successfully, both as a teacher and as its director. He was known for attaching great importance to discipline. It showed in the way things functioned. Then he worked with other institutions as well, which means that he was an important figure in the field of education in the country.
“As far as his KU tenure goes, he did not work there for a long time. He tried to run it like he ran the IBA. But the KU was a much bigger institution, because even at that time there were 17,000 students, which was why some problems reared their heads,” said Dr Qasim. Dr Wahab’s son Farooque said: “He was loving and scholarly, and because of that the atmosphere around the house was scholarly.”Another son, Babar, said: “We have 50 years of memories of him. He was a loving and kind-hearted man. People used to ask me whether he was as strict at home as he was at the IBA. I would tell them that nothing like that. He was a gentle soul.”Dr Wahab’s funeral prayers will be held at Karachi University’s main mosque on Wednesday after Zuhr. He will be buried in the university graveyard.
Published in Dawn, September 7th, 2016