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Shahzad Qureshi

For the record
Shahzad Qureshi
AMI — Iqra University
Information Technology
Clustering strategy for software industry
The importance of programming languages

By Syed M. Aslam
Jun 05 - Jun 11, 2000

Shahzad Qureshi completed his Bachelor of Science (BS) in Textile Engineering from Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science in 1996. His practical experience in the chosen profession includes working for the now defunct Swiss pre-inspection company, SGS, to ensure the quality of the textile export orders. He has also operated a private consultancy to provide quality systems designing for various apparel manufacturers. At present Shahzad runs a Calcium Carbide manufacturing plant near Port Qasim. He is also a visiting faculty member of Textile Institute of Pakistan, Karachi, one of only two such institutes in the country, the other in Faisalabad. Shahzad is in the process of establishing the firstever industry-based Pakistani portal in Textiles, textileconnexion.com, which is expected to be on line by middle of this month.

PAGE: You are a textile engineer by profession but have made business and teaching your work why?

Shahzad: My plant is an extension of my family business which I have to look after. However, Textile still remains my major passion and my involvement with textile-related teaching at Textile Institute of Pakistan, Karachi as well as establishing a textile-based portal in the country are more than ample proof of this passion.

PAGE: Being a Textile Engineer what you feel is missing from Pakistani textile industry?

Shahzad: It hurts me to see that Pakistani textile industry still seem obsessed with the production of low count yarn and stress on manufacture of cotton based fabrics. There are almost no attempt to produce value-added textile made-ups worsened by an overall lack of diversification. The lack of professionally qualified workers and elementary educated and skilled work force have also taken its toll on the textile industry. The bulk of our cotton and related exports is made up of these cheap products instead of a much better priced products which the much needed value-addition can earn for the country. Cotton and cotton-textile related items make up 60-65 per cent of our total export earnings and yet no efforts have been made to improve the quality of our yarn and cotton-textiles over the years.

PAGE: What could be done to improve the situation?

Shahzad: The stress to export cheap cotton and related products should be replaced by an emphasis to diversify these products. The emphasis should be shifted to cotton-synthetic fabrics aimed at value-addition to fetch much better prices of our textiles in the international markets. There should be a proper mix of cotton and synthetic fibre to achieve the much desired value-addition. Though the Pakistani textile industry is already moving in that direction the process at present is very slow and has to be accelerated.

PAGE: What's needed to be done to accelerate this process?

Shahzad: It is imperative to extend the quality of our textile education. The majority of manpower at all levels in the textile industry, particularly the high and middle management and technical staff, at present is basically experienced-based. It is ironic that a country like Pakistan, whose cotton and cotton-textile industry employs a huge 35 per cent of the total national labour force, reels from an acute shortage of professional textile engineers and skilled textile workers. The Textile Institute of Pakistan where I teach produces an average of 50 graduates in all each year in one of three degrees — BSc in Textile Sciences, BSc in Textile Management, and BSc in Textile Design Technology — which is just not enough to meet the demand. We need to produce at least 10-times more graduates every year to meet the demand. The situation for labour force is no better — the lack of skilled labour makes it impossible for the unskilled work force to realise the ultimate impact the product he is making at a later stage which only comes from, and could only be expected, from an educated work force. Most of all, there is a need for a cultural change in the industry.

PAGE: Cultural change?

Shahzad: The biggest cultural change in the textile industry is that it should start taking risks. The industry as a whole has stopped taking risks years ago. The willingness to take risks to experiment with new products, adapting new concepts, synthetic mix. The industry has to do away with stress on making easy money by exporting cheap quality cotton and low-priced products. It is still not too late to induct latest technology and produce quality textile professionals to produce high-priced value-added cotton textile products. A country with such an awesome dependence on cotton could not remain indifferent to diversification and value-addition in cotton and textiles. Besides the change in the mental attitude on the part of the textile industry and its eagerness to experiment to take risks in product development the textile export base would never be expanded.