History of The Shaikh Ayaz University
The inception of Shaikh Ayaz University, formerly the Shikarpur Campus of Shah Abdul Latif University Khairpur, was marked by a government notification on December 12 to this effect. The university derives its name from the illustrious Sindhi poet, Shaikh Ayaz, who hailed from the city of Shikarpur. This transition garnered wholehearted support from students, faculty, and staff, with local political leadership and the provincial government earning praise for their role in this significant step forward. However, this elevated status necessitates heightened attention and material assistance from the Sindh Government to sustain its past prestige and achieve new echelons of success.
Established in 2011, the Shikarpur Campus flourished under the inaugural leadership of Prof. Dr. G. Raza Bhatti, its founding Pro-Vice Chancellor. With visionary zeal, he transformed the barren campus grounds into a thriving center of higher learning. This journey was complemented by the inception of “Campuspeak,” a medium to broadcast the array of activities and progress taking place within the campus. Successively, Prof. Dr. Lutfullah Mangi assumed the role of Director and later Pro Vice Chancellor. Under his guidance, new academic departments, including English Language and Literature, Education, and Mathematics, were introduced alongside the pre-existing disciplines of Business, Computer Science, and Commerce. Masters programs in English and Commerce were launched, while the transition from hourly to midterm examinations was embraced to bolster the examination process. Subsequently, Prof. Dr. Abdul Razzaque Mahar took the helm as Director, infusing the campus not only with academic vitality but also invigorating business fairs and sports events, garnering substantial media coverage and widespread community engagement.
The triumph of Shikarpur Campus in disseminating higher education among regional students was pivotal in fostering a sense of ownership and catalyzing the transformation of the campus into a full-fledged university. Thus, the erstwhile Shikarpur Campus proudly stands today as The Shaikh Ayaz University. Dr. Nisar Ahmed Siddiqui, concurrently Vice Chancellor of IBA Sukkur, assumed additional responsibilities as the head of the newly established university. The founding Pro Vice Chancellor of Shikarpur Campus, Prof. Dr. G. Raza Bhatti, was subsequently reinstated to lead once more, this time as head of The Shaikh Ayaz University. With each passing year, the graduating cohorts of the university, formerly SALU Campus, are carving notable niches in their specialized domains, substantiating their professional prowess and attesting to the quality of higher education imparted by the institution. The socio-economic and cultural impact of the university is making promising strides in transforming the region, which has long grappled with social, cultural, and institutional challenges.
The Shaikh Ayaz University endeavors to rekindle Shikarpur’s bygone socio-economic, cultural, and educational splendor, alongside its pursuit of elevated standards in research, human development, and intellectual growth. The university remains resolutely committed to these goals, cognizant that its expansive role is intrinsically linked to the support and collaboration of the Sindh Government.
The university site spans over approximately 98 acres, situated proximate to Shikarpur city along the primary Shikarpur-Jacobabad Bypass. The current proposal outlines the construction of academic blocks, male and female teacher hostels, internal infrastructure development, and the establishment of a boundary wall.
History of Shikarpur District
The historical significance of District Shikarpur places it among Sindh’s oldest cities, akin to Larkana, Khairpur, Jacobabad, and Hyderabad. The ancient city of Shikarpur, situated in lower Sindh, stands 29 kilometers west of the Indus River, drawing the attention of numerous tourists from across Pakistan. Revered as one of the oldest and most historical cities in Sindh, it boasts an array of venerable cultural heritage monuments, hospitals, colleges, schools, and markets. Notably, it is home to one of Asia’s distinguished markets – the famed “Dhuk Bazar.” Renowned across Asia, the Dhuk Bazar is a narrow thoroughfare flanked by shops, its roof adorned with intricate woodwork. Much like Lahore, Peshawar, and Multan, Shikarpur takes pride in its historical gates, including Lakhi Gate, Hathi Gate, and Karan Gate. In its historical context, Shikarpur was a pivotal trade hub, its strategic geographical location rendering it a critical region for commerce in the subcontinent. Merchants and travelers from distant lands, spanning Afghanistan, Burma, Geneva, Japan, Rome, Honolulu, and beyond, engaged in trade and voyages here. This bustling trade encompassed commodities like cotton, metals, gold, embroidery, carpets, and a myriad of other goods. The 17th century saw Shikarpur emerge as a nucleus of trade.
Shikarpur was under the rule of the Kalhoras and was founded by “Daud Potas.” While certain historians contend that its establishment can be attributed to the conquerors of the Shakas, the Scythians, a degree of controversy enshrouds this historical account. Some historical narratives posit that the name “Shikarpur” arose from the hunting activities of the “Talpur Mirs,” yet the city’s history remains somewhat nebulous. A compelling argument put forth by several elders and scholars proposes that Shikarpur served dual roles as both a trading nexus and a hunting terrain.
A visit to Shikarpur reveals a populace distinguished by its magnanimity and hospitality. The city’s inhabitants occupy a spectrum of private and government occupations. The larger context of Shikarpur encompasses villages such as Karan Sharif, Janno, Sultan Kot, Jagar, and Khanpur, where residents earn their livelihoods through the cultivation of various crops – cotton, Puedes, wheat, peas, and more. Augmenting this landscape are Shikarpur’s four talukas – Khanpur, Garhi Yaseen, Laki, and Shikarpur – which collectively contribute to Sindh’s population. As of the 2017 census, Shikarpur’s population was recorded at 195,437, predominantly comprising Sunni Muslims, with a minority Shia community. A diverse blend of Sindhis, Urdu speakers, and Brahvis constitute its demographic mosaic, alongside a small Hindu community.
Shikarpur’s historical lineage has yielded luminaries who have made indelible marks across various domains. Among them, Shaikh Ayaz stands out for his profound Sindhi poetry, while Saami’s literary contributions have also been notable. The city takes pride in fostering accomplished political figures, exemplified by Allah Bux Soomro, Sindh’s first chief minister pre-partition, and A.K. Brohi, a prominent lawyer, politician, and author who served as Minister of Law and Justice in General Zia-ul-Haq’s administration during the 1970s.
Culinary delights also grace Shikarpur’s reputation, with its Achar (Pickle) and the delectable Kulfi Falooda of Deevan Hotel at Laki Dar drawing visitors from far and wide. Acknowledged as the “Little Paris” of Sindh, Shikarpur’s historical landscape is adorned with monumental edifices and forts. The city was nestled within a protective fortress, its seven gates and one window – Lakhi-dar, Hathi-dar, Hazari-dar, Khanpur-dar, Civi-dar, Karan-dar, Naushero-dar, Wagono-dar, and Siddiqui Mari (Window) – serving as guardians. Beyond these architectural marvels, parks enriched the city’s recreational dimension. One such gem, Shahi Bagh (Royal Garden), constructed in 1871, boasted a splendid array of flowers and a striking wooden pavilion designed by Perston Phel and constructed by Sir W. Merewether.
This oasis further housed a zoo featuring cheetahs, lions, bears, and more, although these later found new homes in Karachi Zoo.
Shikarpur’s collection of monuments resonated beyond its borders, capturing global attention. However, the passage of time has witnessed the erosion of its architectural treasures, necessitating the intervention of dedicated preservationists. Dr. Anila Naeem, an academic researcher and champion of architectural heritage, leads the “Shikarpur Heritage Safeguarding Campaign” aimed at safeguarding these historical gems. Despite the challenges, Shikarpur’s remarkable heritage merits the protection, it sorely requires. In the face of fading history, the Sindh government’s involvement is urgently needed to preserve Shikarpur’s legacy for posterity. The title “Little Paris” may have faded, but the resonance of Shikarpur’s history and significance remains undiminished.