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European countries flight chaos & Pakistan students

Students suffer amid flight chaos
Karachi, Apr 21: Study plans of hundreds of Pakistani students studying in European countries and the United States have gone awry because of the flight clampdown prompted by the clouds of ash spewed into the atmosphere by an Icelandic volcano.

Realising their plight, the Pakistan International Airlines has pledged that it will fly students on a top priority basis to their respective destinations as a soon as it gets a green signal about the reopening of the European countries' airspace.

A Pakistani student doing his graduation in journalism from Howard Community College, Columbia, Maryland, Mohammad Arsalan said that he and a number of other students studying in the US educational institutions had come here on vacation. But in the wake of the cancellation of flights to Europe and the US, they had already missed two papers of their semester exams.

Arsalan said he feared that if he and other students were not accommodated in the first flights leaving for the US after reopening of European airspace, they would lose their entire semester.

According to a contingency plan chalked out by PIA on the directives of the prime minister, students would get first priority, followed by those Pakistanis who are here on vacation and are to join their workplaces and sick and those going abroad on medical grounds. The airline has to clear a backlog of over 20,000 passengers 50 per cent of whom are in Pakistan and 50pc are stranded abroad.

PIA spokesman Sultan Hassan, on being asked what arrangements were being made to send the stranded students to European countries and the US, said on Tuesday that the national flag carrier's task force headed by its managing director Capt Aijaz Haroon had decided that soon after the reopening of the airspace such students would be flown to their destinations on first priority. People going to resume their duties would get second priority while sick and other people going to Europe and the US on medical grounds would get the third priority.

Asked about the prospects of resuming of flights to the UK, Europe and the US, he said that although PIA's official in charge of the central control, Capt Saleem Ahmed, was constantly in touch with the traffic controllers of the relevant countries, nothing could be said about it with certainty as confusion concerning reopening of the airspace for traffic continued to prevail even on Tuesday.

He pointed out that PIA had sought the US government's permission for its flights to land directly at New York via South Atlantic, but permission was not yet received.

Under a contingency plan, PIA's task force has geared up its efforts to start its scheduled flights within a couple of hours once the affected airspace reopens for traffic. Besides, it was making arrangements for operating extra flights on these sectors to clear the backlog of passengers stranded in the country as well as abroad since Thursday.

Elaborating, he said that although efforts were being made to operate wide-body aircraft such as 747, which has a capacity for 450 passengers, instead of 777 and Airbus, having a capacity for up to 300 passengers, the entire operation aimed at clearing the backlog of stranded passengers would take three to four weeks as the airline is fully booked till the end of May.

At the outset, Mr Hassan said the airline on Tuesday successfully operated a flight with 320 passengers who had been stranded in Paris since Thursday and the flight which took off at 1.30am PST from Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport was scheduled to reach New York by 12noon US time on Tuesday via South Atlantic. Among the passengers on the flight, there were 72 senior citizens, 16 infants and three sick people, the PIA spokesman said.

A PIA flight that left Lahore for Oslo on Tuesday and since the destination of some of its passengers was Copenhagen, arrangements had been made to take them from Oslo to Copenhagen on land, he added. Dawn

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PSMA slams BSEK's decision to delay results
Karachi: The Private Schools Management Association (PSMA) has criticised the leadership of the Board of Secondary Education Karachi (BSEK) for announcing the board would withhold the Matriculation results of all those students who took exams through schools that were not registered with the BSEK. The announcement came as a result of an inquiry report that probed into the causes behind the postponement of the first Secondary School Certificate (SSC) examination last month and found out that students of around 20 to 30 schools had not received their admit cards on the eve of their first exam. PSMA chief Sharfuz Zaman condemned BSEK's decision and said the fact that the board was taking action against the students instead of the administration of their schools showed corruption on the board's part. However, the BSEK media coordinator said if schools were not registered properly, withholding their students' results was the only way to set an example for the future. Daily times

BIEK late form submission
Karachi: At least 2,000 students submitted their examination forms at the Board of Intermediate Education Karachi (BIEK) on Tuesday. The board has given the last chance for the regular students of Pre-Engineering, Pre-Medical and candidates of Improvement of Division to submit their enrolment, registration and examination forms for the annual exams 2010. The annual examination would commence from April 27. Chairman BIEK Anwar Ahmed Zai had directed the board to entertain the students who could not submit their examination forms till April 20. The news

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Homage to a teacher
The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.- Kahlil Gibran

HOW many university teachers in Pakistan would fit this definition? Today there are over 46,000 academics in our universities and the quest for better standards in our institutions of higher education is endless.

In the times that I am writing about - the 1960s, when I was a university student - there were just over 1,200 university teachers in the country (that included East Pakistan) and only 72 of them were women. And I may add that each and every one of them did his/her best to lead us to the threshold of our mind as Gibran suggests a teacher should.

Those were not easy times for university academics - talent was in tough competition, resources were few and access to knowledge was restricted to books and journals as the Internet age had not yet dawned. There was no television and the radio did not entertain free academic debates.

Nevertheless, all my teachers were PhDs - there was one who wasn't but he was preparing to enrol in a doctorate programme abroad. The environment was a male one and a woman had to be strong and academically sound to survive. That is why Dr Khurshid Hyder, my lecturer (subsequently Reader) in international relations at the University of Karachi who later became a friend, guide and mentor, could make her mark on the intellectual scene.

Today it is exactly 20 years to the day when Dr Hyder passed away in Vienna where she was serving as Pakistan's ambassador to Austria, also accredited to the IAEA. She had left the academia in 1973 and moved into the Foreign Office when the first PPP government announced the 'lateral entry' scheme.

From Karachi she moved to the Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, where she was appointed a professor at the department of international relations. Her love for research and teaching never deserted her. With a Masters from the Institute of Social Studies at The Hague and a PhD from Columbia, she went on for post-doctoral research to the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, on a Nuffield fellowship.

What qualities are considered essential in a teacher? As the Chinese, the epitome of wisdom, say, "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime".

Hence one would expect a university teacher to teach students the basics of research and communication skills while developing in him/her the capacity to analyse and think critically. And obviously this is not possible without a rich stock of knowledge and education. How can you teach a student to separate grain from chaff if you do not know what is grain and what is chaff.

It was her capacity to distinguish good from evil and her immense knowledge that gave Dr Hyder the confidence to stand her ground. Those were days when Pakistan was virtually a satellite of the US but there was tension in the air as China was looming large on the horizon.

We had two American teachers in our department brought to Karachi, courtesy the Asia Foundation. They took their assignment with a pinch of blind patriotism - they were determined to convince us that the US could do no wrong and the USSR was the biggest curse that had visited mankind.

Khurshid proved to be a countervailing factor as she taught us the virtues of self-reliance and independence in foreign policy and the dangers of imperialism. She helped us place America in a balanced perspective.

She was far from being a screaming Das Kapital-waving socialist. But she certainly had the confidence to expose us to all points of view to expand our minds. She invited Dr Henry Kissinger, at that time on the faculty of Harvard, who was visiting Karachi to speak to the students of the university.

We were then introduced to the other point of view by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, then minister for fuel and power in Ayub Khan's government, who came as a guest speaker to the department of international relations shortly thereafter at a time when he was in the process of developing the 'China card' for Pakistan.

That was Dr Khurshid Hyder's style of teaching - she wanted her students to learn about ideas from across the spectrum to enable them to arrive at their own judgment.

More was in store. Dr Mahmud Husain, the great scholar of history and the vice chancellor of the Dhaka University, was invited for a lecture on Afghanistan for a solid historical perspective on southwest Asia. A mock session of the UN Security Council was a very practical lesson in the working of the world body, while our department's reading room initiated us in the world of archiving and its indispensability to research.

All this gave the department a high profile but we were brought down to earth with a practical demonstration on the dignity of labour when one windy day we found Dr Hyder with broom in hand sweeping the corridor in front of the staff room because it had not been swept that morning. She was a stickler for order in her environment.

Her first love was teaching and all that goes with it. In essence it meant research. Writing in The World Today (journal of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, London) in November 1966 she had forecast: "In the coming years Pakistan will continue to follow a policy of qualified alignment. The existing links with the United States will not be formally severed but they will be superseded by new sets of relationships."

She however advised the government to maintain a delicate and sensitive balance between its relations with China, Russia and the US. We do see feeble attempts at that today. But would Dr Khurshid Hyder have found it to be satisfactory had she been around and commenting on Pakistan's foreign policy?. - By Zubeida Mustafa (

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SU to remain open for five days a week
Hyderabad: Executive Council of the University of Sindh has decided that the university will remain open five days a week, from Monday to Friday, from September.

The council also decided in a meeting to start regular training of university's administrative staff.

It decided that in future, opening of new departments or upgradation of existing ones would be linked with feasibility reports and proper planning. Dawn

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