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
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
PAGE: Cultural change?