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Fake admission to SMC | SSC exams resumed

Students attending classes without legal admission in the college
Karachi, April 13: It has been alleged that during the checking of the first semester of the MBBS first year, the Sindh Medical College (SMC) Academic Council Principal and Chairman found two students, Nazia Perveen and Sonia Seher, attending classes without legal admission in the college.

On a report made by the SMC Academic Council's Principal and Chairman, the Enquiries and Anti-Corruption Establishment Chairman has ordered a thorough probe into the matter. Enquiries by Anti-Corruption Establishment revealed that during routine checking, Parveen d/o Ghous Bux Khand and Seher d/o Shamshad Ali were attending classes without legal admission at Sindh Medical College, Karachi. Perveen was in possession of a fake ID card of SMC and on further investigations, she also presented a fake admission letter, along with fake fee voucher of Dow University of Health Sciences, whereas, Sonia Seher failed to produce any documents in her support and stated that she was just attending the lecture. Perveen admitted to making fake documents in order to get in the college. App

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SSC exams resume today under ad hoc arrangements
Karachi: The Secondary School Certificate Part-I and II (Class IX and X) Science group annual examinations resume on Monday after a break of four days amid reports of some internal arrangements having been made to fill the void created by the sacking of three top officials of the Board of Secondary Education Karachi (BSEK).

The board's secretary, controller of examinations and deputy controller of examinations - who were employed on a contract basis - were sacked and seven other officials placed under suspension on the recommendations of a two-member committee constituted by Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad. The committee was assigned the task of investigating malpractices in the on-going SSC examinations and discovery of an illegal examination centre recently.

The seven officials facing action under the Removal of Service Ordinance-2001 include two assistant controllers of examinations and one system analyst.

Two important papers - Chemistry (theory) of Class X and Biology (theory) of Class IX - are scheduled to be held on Monday from 9am to 12noon and from 2pm to 5pm, respectively.

Sources in the BSEK said on Sunday that the board's chairman had made ad hoc arrangements to avoid any disruption in SSC examinations until appointment of the sacked officials' successors.

According to the sources, the senior-most deputy controller of examinations, Aminuddin, has been given the charge of acting controller of examinations and the deputy secretary, Kalim Asghar Kirmani, the charge of acting secretary of the board.

On Sunday evening, Mr Aminuddin and all other board officials concerned, as well as paper-setters, were present in the BSEK confidential branch to finalise arrangements for Monday's papers.

Sources in the Governor's House secretariat said that a final decision about the sacked officials' successors would be taken in a couple of days.

The All-Pakistan Clerks Association (APCA), Karachi chapter, has urged the governor to give preference to the senior-most officials of the board in appointing the new officials.

In a statement issued here on Sunday, APCA senior vice president Khawar Kamal Siddiqui hoped that outsiders, inexperienced or inefficient people would not be brought in as the posts required highly-experienced hands from within the board. Dawn

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CS takes notice of textbooks' unavailability
Karachi: Sindh Chief Secretary Fazalur Rehman on Sunday advised the department of supply and prices to make coordinated efforts in association with the provincial education department and the Sindh Text Book Board (STBB) and ascertain the causes of non-availability of textbooks at shops and markets or their sale at higher prices.

Taking notice of the public complaints received by his office, the chief secretary said that suitable arrangements must be made to ensure a smooth supply of textbooks and other relevant academic accessories to students at reasonable prices.

There should be no compromise on material, he said, adding that attention must be paid to the quality of printing in the case of textbooks.

Mr Rehman said that although textbooks were being provided to the students of public schools free of cost and at a subsidised rate to all other students, it was the responsibility of the government functionaries to ensure availability and sale at the prescribed rates.

The chief secretary also sought a report from the education department about distribution of free textbooks to the students of government schools, and noted that the department was assigned the task of ensuring provision of the textbooks to each and every student latest by the start of the new academic session. App

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NED explains position on audit report
Karachi: The registrar of the NED University of Engineering and Technology has clarified that it has been repeatedly brought to the notice of the Audit Department that the university, being an autonomous body, is not bound by any decisions of the finance department. The Senate of the university, presided over by the chancellor (governor of Sindh), has final authority on all finances.

This clarification was issued with reference to a report in Dawn's issue of March 18. The report was based on the audit report 2005-06 in which it was pointed out that the university paid over Rs0.836 million as non-practicing allowance to 162 engineers during the year 2004-05, which was not admissible.

Besides, over Rs0.80 million paid as advance to officials were neither adjusted nor recovered.

The registrar in his clarification referred to non-practicing allowance for engineers and said the allowance was approved in the Senate meeting on Jan 11, 2000; minutes of this meeting were approved vide letter No GS/3-II/99(SO-I)/1013 dated August 16, 2000.

This approval was shown to them (auditors); the statement that it was not shown is false and malicious.

Regarding the recovery of advances, the clarification said that there had been difficulties in recovery of these temporary advances, especially during the period while one officer from the audit department was on deputation to this university from 1-1-2004 to 31-10-2005. During this period the financial condition of this university was also unsatisfactory; the director finance was continuously holding up bills of contractors as well as payments to employees.

Only after this officer of the audit department was removed from this university on October 31, 2005 was it possible for its finances to stabilise. The position of advances on February 28, 2009 was only Rs1.694 million against the budget of Rs907 million, i.e. only 0.187 per cent of total expenditure. Dawn

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Botany Dept chief stakes claim to research
Karachi: University of Karachi (KU) Department of Botany Chairperson Dr Surayya Khatoon has accused a senior colleague of claiming credit for and publishing a work about mangrove growth in the close vicinity of the Keenjhar Lake in Thatta district, which according to Khatoon, was discovered by her in 2001.

Dr Surayya Khatoon said that when the mangrove growth was first discovered, it was as thick as a tropical rain forest with sunrays failing to pierce through the thick canopy of the Avicennia trees. "It was indeed a unique discovery as Avicennia marina, being a mangrove, was hitherto known to grow only in inter-tidal zones at sea coasts. This mangrove stand, on the other hand, had grown inland."

The discoverers continued to note their observations for two years, but in the meantime, the timber mafia detected the forestation, and the activity of wood-cutting and burning of trees started. The scientists Dr Surayya Khatoon and Qadeer Muhammad Ali (both belonging to KU) had to make public their discovery prematurely in 2003 in the hope that it would attract the attention of government functionaries, and protective measures would be taken to halt any further destruction of this unique mangrove stand.

The authorities concerned however did not pay any heed to the mangroves; instead, plagiarists felt it was an excellent target. An article by the title "A unique basin mangrove stand of Indus delta" authored by KU's Dr S M Saifullah and Karachi Port Trust's Fayyaz Rasool was published in the Pakistan Journal of Oceanography in December 2007, in which the authors claimed to have discovered this unique inland mangrove stand.

"Our scientific paper with detailed chronological studies is still in process with a foreign journal, but there are a number of other documents that unequivocally prove our claims. Various newspapers published the news, after which this stand was shown to experts from World Wildlife Fund (WWF), International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the Sindh Forest Department (SWD). Even the then KU Vice-Chancellor (VC) Dr Zafar Saeed Saify visited the site along with media personnel," Dr Khatoon said.

The then VC had also appealed to the Sindh Government to declare it as a protected site. All these events got wide coverage not only in the local media. but also in international documents such as the newsletter of US-based Mangrove Action Project ( and the US-based Access My Library (

When the Editor-in-Chief of the Pakistan Journal of Oceanography was asked to retract the plagiarized article, he downplayed the issue on the grounds that Dr Khatoon and. Ali had not presented any scientifically published material. This argument, particularly in this case, said Dr Khatoon, is absurd as there is ample evidence to make a case of plagiarism against Dr Saifullah and Fayyaz Rasool. The scientific articles (versus popular media articles) are considered authentic. because they were reviewed by peers prior to publication. However in this case, peer review of the original discovery has been practically done by the experts from WWF, IUCN, SWD, and the former KU VC, and all relevant documents are recorded in international archives, retrievable from relevant websites.

Dr S M Saifullah, when contacted said that in his opinion it was not a case of plagiarism. "We visited Keenjhar Lake area, and noticed that the mangrove stand was being cleared by the timber mafia and road builders. I thought it was the time that the discovery should be published, which we did it with the best of our intentions. Besides, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) and KU had constituted a Plagiarism Committee to investigate the issue, and their findings cleared my colleague Fayyaz Rasool and me from charges," he pointed out.

However, Saifullah's statement seems to be based on verbal assertions, rather than any documentary evidence. The matter is yet to be taken up by the Plagiarism Committee of the University. However, its past record present a dismal picture as the KU has not yet taken any strong action against any plagiarists. The News

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KU-Unesco accord on halophytes hit by financial crunch
Karachi: Facing a financial crisis due to budget cuts, the University of Karachi is finding it difficult to honour an international agreement under which it is required to establish a chair in sustainable halophyte utilisation at one of its institutes, it has been learnt.

The halophyte, a plant which grows in saline areas, has become a major focus of research over the recent years throughout the world, especially in water-deficient countries, where increasing soil salinity, pollution and mismanagement of freshwater resources present a bleak scenario for human development.

Sources said the University of Karachi signed a four-year agreement with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) eight months back under which it's required to establish a chair in sustainable halophyte utilisation at the Institute for Sustainable Halophyte Utilisation (ISHU), Karachi University, in collaboration with the international organisation.

Though Unesco has many chairs on different subjects, this is the organisation's first chair on halophytes, for which a KU institute has been selected. Researchers at the institute say this initiative is in a way an acknowledgement of the high quality research work being done by the institution in the relevant field.

The purpose of the chair is to promote an integrated system of research, training, information and documentation in the field of halophyte utilisation and eco-physiology.

It is aimed to serve as a means of facilitating collaboration between high-level, internationally recognised researchers and teaching staff of the university and other institutions in Pakistan, Asia and the Pacific region.

According to the agreement, the objectives of the chair's activities are to explore the potential of indigenous halophytic plants by using brackish water and saline soil and to prepare a team of scientists capable of conducting state-of-the-art research in various aspects of halophyte biology.

The chair is required to submit an annual report to Unesco about its work and the organisation shall contribute to the international dissemination of information on the experience and potential benefits of the chair's activities.

Unesco shall also take steps to facilitate participation of the university in its programmes and promote exchange of researchers and students with other universities, besides endeavouring to link the KU institute with the activities of other chairs and inter-university networks.

The accord clearly states that all the expenses for the chair's activities will be completely borne by the university. Wherever possible, however, Unesco shall endeavour to provide 'seed money'. But, for such a contribution a separate agreement is required to be signed.

Lack of initiative: There has been no initiative on part of the KU administration so far to make a beginning by appointing staff for the chair, which is the first requirement under the accord, the sources say.

The major reason for delay in setting up the chair is reportedly the cuts in the Higher Education Commission's budget, though the Pakistan National Commission for Unesco was also partly responsible as they didn't act swiftly on the case.

The KU's vice-chancellor had signed the accord in the hope that funds would be acquired later on.

When contacted, ISHU project director Prof Dr M. Ajmal Khan said that the hiccups in establishing the chair would be removed once funds would be available with the university.

"The Unesco chair would be established for the first time at the university. It is indeed a great honour. Apart from government support, we also seek the help of private investors who might find the research being carried out at the institute useful," he remarked.

When Prof Dr G.A. Miana, an HEC nominee in the university's syndicate, was asked if the university had forwarded any proposal to the HEC for the implementation of the Unesco accord, he said the matter was not in his knowledge.

"I am not aware that the KU vice-chancellor has signed an agreement with Unesco. If the case is presented in the next syndicate meeting, which is normally held at month's end, the commission will consider the case on merit."

ISHU's contribution: Trials at the institute have shown the recovery of edible oil from certain halophytic species, ranging from 22 per cent to 25 per cent with 65 to 74 per cent unsaturated fatty acids, which are as good as other conventional edible oils.

Dr Bilquees Gul, assistant professor at KU's botany department and principal investigator of the seed oil project at the ISHU, said: "Pakistan can significantly reduce its import bill on edible oil by making an investment in the indigenous seed-bearing halophytes, which are found abundantly in the country and can be grown in brackish water. Laboratory analysis shows that their oil quality is comparable with conventional edible oils such as those from sunflower and canola."

Seventy per cent shortfall of the nation's edible oil requirement is currently met through imports to the tune of Rs38 billion annually. Palm oil, which is said to be injurious to health for having 52 per cent fat saturation, constitutes the bulk of these imports.

The institute has also successfully made use of halophyte species as fodder.

Dr Ajmal elaborated: "The institute has a package that, if properly implemented, can contribute significantly in rehabilitating saline land and providing fodder in arid areas like coastal Balochistan that has plenty of saline water resources.

The introduction of the grass will not only help alleviate poverty but will also assist in meeting meat and dairy product requirements of the country."

There are about 400 halophyte species in Pakistan, of them 100 are found in coastal areas alone.

The institute is also carrying out research for using this plant for medicinal purposes and as bio-fuel.

The project is funded by the Higher Education Commission. Dawn

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