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UK visa in 15 days!

Applicants to get UK visa in 15 days
Islamabad, Dec 20: Getting a British visa early has not been easy for Pakistanis. But this is likely to change as the UK Border Agency, with its commercial partner Gerry's, has launched a premium lounge service at its Visa Application Centre (VAC) in the city to facilitate applicants.

All categories of people, especially the business community, will benefit from this facility and now a visa will be issued within 15 working days on receipt of complete and genuine documents.

British Deputy High Commissioner Francis Campbell, who is also director of the UK Trade and Investment Pakistan, briefed the media on the additional service, and said it would prove very helpful in growing the UK-Pakistan relationship on many fronts, especially in boosting the bilateral trade.

This premium service would provide top-class service to the business community in Pakistan, he said. He said the premium lounge service would also help facilitate Pakistani people to participate in the golden jubilee celebrations of Queen Elizabeth-II and the London Olympics scheduled for 2012.

Answering a question, Campbell said the United Kingdom had been and would be supporting Pakistan in getting the GSP plus facility in Europe. The UK, he said, wanted to raise the bilateral trade up to 2.5 billion pounds by 2015 from its current level of 1.9 billion pounds.

He said his country gave a great importance to strong ties with Pakistan as they were in the interest of both the nations. Regional Director UK Border Trade Agency Mandy Ivemy said the premium lounge service was already functioning at the British visa centres in Lahore and Islamabad.

Pakistan, she said, was very important for the UK regarding trade and family visits. "We want to encourage people of Pakistan to visit UK. We want bright students from Pakistan to study in UK", where so many students were already studying in various institutions in her country, she said.

She urged that the people, especially Pakistani students, should make sure that they submitted complete and genuine documents/ information while applying for the UK visa to escape any delay or rejection of their applications.

The information released by the UK Visa Centre on this occasion said the Gerry's premium lounge in Karachi was a luxurious, dedicated and convenient lounge for visa applicants, which provided a personalised service for the submission of theirapplications and passports for visa processing. In 2010, the UK Border Agency received close to 100,000 applications from Pakistani nationals, and the majority of them were processed within the published customer service standards. The news

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Salary before Christmas at AIOU
Islamabad: Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) has announced that it will pay salaries to all its Christian employees before Christmas.

This was said by AIOU Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Nazir Ahmed Sangi at a function on Monday.

Dr Sangi said all employees were equal before him and the university was just like a family unit.

Father of Thomas Church Islamabad Nadeem Kamran participated as a chief gust in the function. Dawn

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Unregistered Madaris to become illegal after Dec 31
Islamabad: Interior Minister declared on Monday that seminaries (Madaris) not registered with the Wafaq Tanzeemul Madaris by January 1, 2012 would be considered illegal.

Talking to the media persons after a meeting with Ulema here, he said those Madaris which do not have any affiliation with Wafaq/Tanzeem Madaris should register themselves as early as possible; otherwise, legal action would be taken against them.

The minister said: "We all condemn the Sohrab Goth incident in Karachi where police rescued around 50 students of a Madrassa found chained in the basement," adding that the Inspector General Sindh had presented a report in the meeting about the incident.

Rehman Malik said the Sohrab Goth incident had defamed 'good Madaris' functioning in the country. He appreciated the Ulema for their cooperation during Muharram in which no untoward incident occurred.

The minister said there were around 24,000 registered Madaris and the government would now take legal action against those which were working illegally.

Chairman Ruet-e-Hilal committee Mufti Muneeb-ur-Rehman and other Ulema who attended the meeting appreciated the government for taking steps to improve the security situation and said they would continue extending their cooperation for peace and betterment of the country.

The minister said, "We should not believe in rumours and those who are spreading baseless rumours should avoid doing so. President Asif Ali Zardari has arrived in Pakistan and I welcome him and wish him good health."

Rehman Malik said he also held a meeting with secretary information technology and chairman Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to discuss the issue of threatening e-mails and unwanted Short Messaging Service (SMS).

He said he has directed the PTA to ensure monitoring of e-mails so that those involved in such e-mails could be nabbed and brought to justice. Similarly, he said, he has constituted a committee to look into the matter of unwanted SMS. The body would prepare a report in this regard. He said some people were spreading propaganda against the country and unethical comments and disinformation through SMS, which was not fair. Answering a question, he said all Ulema wanted that terrorists should lay down arms and work for peace and development of the country.

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Preston University organises 'Fall Fest 2011'
Islamabad: Fall Fest 2011, a weeklong festivity comprising several inter-university events, organised by the Preston University, kicked off here on Monday, says a press release.

Inter-university sport competitions comprising cricket, badminton, table tennis and football tournaments was declared open at the Islamabad Sports Complex by Ahmad Yahya Khan, director general sports at the Higher Education Commission (HEC). Universities participating in the cricket tournament are Bahria University, International Islamic University, Hamdard University, ISRA University, Preston University Islamabad, Kohat and Lahore, COMWAVE Institute, Northern University and Quaid-i-Azam University.

The universities participating in table tennis and badminton competitions are Women's Institute of Science and Humanities (WISH), Quaid-i-Azam University, ISRA University, International Islamic University, Bahria University, Hamdard University, COMWAVE Institute and Preston University Islamabad and Kohat. In football tournament Bahria University, International Islamic University, Hamdard University, Preston University Islamabad, Northern University and Islamia College, Peshawar.

The second event was inter-university Qirat competition. Quaid-i-Azam University, International Islamic University, Hamdard University, COMWAVE Institute, Punjab University, Islamia College University, Peshawar, and Preston University, Islamabad, Kohat and Peshawar participated. In the Qirat competition first position was won by Muzzamel Shah Hashmi of International Islamic University while Hamid Younus of Preston University, Islamabad won the second position, Hafiz Tayyab of Preston University, Lahore, got third position.

Abdu Mohammad Atian, Director General, International Islamic Relief Organization (IRRO), Islamabad, was the chief guest and distributed prizes among the position holders of the competition.

The third and last event of the day was bilingual (English/Urdu) debate competition. Quaid-e-Azam University, International Islamic University, Hamdard University, Bahria University, Women's Institute of Science and Humanities (WISH), COMWAVE Institute, Punjab University, Islamia College University, Peshawar, and Preston University, Islamabad, Kohat, Peshawar and Lahore participated. In English debate first position was grabbed by Amber Nadeem Malik of International Islamic University, second position was awarded to Shajar Abbas from the University of Punjab, and Tehreem Gul Afridi of Women's Institute of Science and Humanities (WISH) got the third position.

In Urdu debate, Hamza Tarar of the University of Punjab won the first position, Second position was awarded to Haseeb ur Rehman of Preston University, Islamabad while Ammara Sajjad Qazi of International Islamic University got third position.

Senator Dr. Saeeda Iqbal, presided over the bilingual debate competition and distributed prizes among the position holders. The chief guests of all the events appreciated the talent of the students. They congratulated the position holders of all the competitions. They lauded efforts of the Preston University for organizing inter-university competitions.

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Schools lack libraries, playgrounds
Islamabad: Libraries, playgrounds and apparatus for laboratories were found lacking in some of the 109 boys' secondary schools monitored nationwide in November, reveals report of Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN).

The report said nearly two-fifths of the monitored schools did not have libraries. FAFEN visited 109 boys' secondary schools in 68 districts i.e. 46 schools in 27 Punjab districts, 32 in 22 Khyber Pakhtunkhwa districts, 26 in 14 Sindh districts, two in as Balochistan and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and one school in Islamabad.

More than 22% schools did not have apparatus for science experiments, one-third did not have playgrounds while a quarter of them without physical training instructors (PTIs). However, conditions of physical infrastructure were well met as at least 85% of 109 boys secondary schools were housed in buildings, had boundary walls, electricity, and fans, were well lit, and had chairs and tables for teachers as well as black/white boards. However, there were no sanitary workers in 27% schools.

Good student-to-teacher ratios were observed in the schools where on average, a class of not more than 28 students was assigned to one teacher. Attendance levels were also good with teachers' attendance falling between 76% and 100% in 101 schools. Students in 94 schools maintained the same level of attendance. The report said 334 teaching posts and 136 non-teaching positions were lying vacant nationwide.

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Student Council of BEC takes oath
Islamabad: The Student Council of BEC 'O' Level, both for girls and boys, took oath of their offices at the Beaconhouse Educational Complex, Rawalpindi, says a press release.

Colonel Nausherwan Janjua (Director Students' Affairs and Central Academic Head) of Foundation University Institute of Engineering and Management Sciences was the chief guest who awarded sashes and armbands to the members of the newly inducted Student Council. Farooq Aqdas, senior journalist of daily Jang and Saeed Akhtar, GM Dewan Petroleum were the guests of honour. School Group Head, Safia Cassim, was also present.

The event started with recitation from the Holy Qura'an. Ameena Rahman heads the BEC Girls 'O' Level Student Council while the BEC Boys 'O' Level Student Council is headed by Salaar bin Waleed. The students heading the societies of the council were appointed to the office after a vigorous selection procedure.

Dr Shagufta Minhaj, Headmistress Beaconhouse Education Complex, administered the oath from the council members. She congratulated the newly appointed student body and advised them to be role models for their peers. A soulful performance by the students' choir entertained the guests while the ceremony.

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Students at SLS depict syllabus-related themes
Islamabad: The annual open day was held at SLS Montessori and High School, Peshawar Road.

Students with the help of teachers transformed their classes into themes designated to them. Parents appreciated efforts of students as they took rounds of classes that depicted different themes related to syllabus. Parents interacted with children and keenly listened to information they were providing to them.

Plant life, village life, marine Life, the festivals of Eidul Azha, Eidul Fitr, Christmas, religious places like temple, church and mosque were created in the classes. Neighbouring countries of Pakistan were presented in the class where the students were providing information regarding Iran, Afghanistan, India and China. The students were dressed in their traditional dresses and offered the parents to try out different cuisines that were the speciality of that country.

Life in the polar region and the life in the desert were also depicted. An igloo was also made along with 'Eskimo' who highlighted various aspects of life living in a polar region. Children presented solar system, ancient civilization and Horror House. Greek mythology was also presented, where the 'Gods of Greek Mythology' provided information about themselves. The Greek Gods Medusa, Athena, Zeus, Hades, Chinaera were dressed in the typical Greek dresses and holding swords in their hands.

Principal Najma Shahid said that it is fun and learning way to incorporate their studies into themes that they are depicting today. The children's participation is tremendous as they are keen to learn about science and history and gathered relevant information about different themes they were assigned to. We have arranged for the eatables, face painting and games for the children and their siblings also so that they can enjoy the open day to their fullest.

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Costume party at City School
Islamabad: The students of City School's junior branch in Sector F-11 were part of a fun-filled day when all children at the campus were dressed up in different costume characters to celebrate the annual costume party.

Sharing details of the activity, Anila Paracha, the headmistress of the branch said that each and every class was decorated differently by the students, who were asked to dress up according to the decoration mood of the class. "The themes included various Disney characters including some from Hollywood. All students, especially boys, were extremely thrilled to see Spiderman and Batman themes," she said.

"It was amazing to see children spend the whole day in joy and laughter. This is how where you change going to school every morning from something the kids have to do to something the kids love to do," she remarked.

Students were dressed up in different costumes depicting Snow White, Dora The Explorer, Ferries from Wonderland and different animal characters. Parents visited the activity and appreciated the efforts of the school management for coming up with innovative activities that keep kids involved in school life.

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SLS School holds colourful sports day
Islamabad: Keeping up with the tradition that began many years ago when the school first opened its doors to impart education to the children of the sister cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad and with the firm belief that sports are an integral part of education, the SLS School and Montessori held its annual sports day over the weekend. The event was held at the St Mary's Academy because of the large number of students belonging to the Lalazar branches participating in the event. The guest of honour was Major General Tahir Ali (Air Defense - R).

The ground was well marked for the different races, with motivational slogans around three sides of its perimeter eg: "If you believe in it you can achieve it.' 'If you learn from losing you can become winners in the end' etc. Announcements were made both in English and Urdu which was a good move so that everyone understood what was going on. The field was a riot of colour, with balloons and streamers and when the girls entered in their different cheer-leading gear, complete with multihued pom-poms and the boys in their capes, it looked as if 'spring had descended from the heavens' in the cold winter season, to quote the announcer!

With about eight hundred students taking part in this activity, there was palpable excitement in the air as parents and siblings - armed with cameras and mobile phones to record their children's prowess - arrived and settled down to enjoy the proceedings. The programme began with words and translation from the Holy Qur'aan and a colourful welcome to the attendees by all the participating students, who spelled out 'Welcome' in formation and dislayed their PT skills to music with a lively beat - geared to wake up anybody who was still drowsy on this chilly Sunday morning!

The event was very well managed with a minimum time frame between regular races like 100 meters; sack race potato race; cycling; the cute bumble bee race and of course the relays. These were interspersed with colourful displays by cheerleaders to keep everyone entertained as well as showcase the ability of the students to work in coordination and timing for a syncronised display. Here it will be pertinent to mention that cheerleaders in Pakistan are different from those seen abroad, just in case readers get the wrong idea! Girls taking part are in the cheer-leading are dressed in full white uniforms with coloured ribbons and capes or in the case of the younger ones, specially made, pretty dresses with white leggings and they perform aerobic movements to music.

While all the events showcasing PT in all its forms were very good, it has to be said that the display by the younger students under the tutelage of their instructor, Mohammed Azad was almost perfect as far as coordination and timing was concerned, as was the Taekwondo display under the guidance of their teacher, Hashim Khan. These young children were disciplined; full of confidence and quite the little experts of what they were doing and that too with such precision, which shows what commitment and proper guidance can achieve.

It is hoped that some lessons were learnt by the parents about discipline! Before the prize distribution ceremony, SLS Schools MD Asiya Talha thanked the chief guest and others for their presence and highlighted the importance of extra-curricular activities in building different characteristics like sportsmanship, determination, perseverance with good health being a bonus. "It has been SLS's endeavor to provide children the best possible schooling with special emphasis on academics, personal, physical, social and religious growth," she said. "I would like to take this opportunity to mention that our students who excel in academics and staff members have been working with International and National Organizations and the Global School Projects in developing strong communication, written, spoken, creative and artistic skills and most importantly, learning to respect each other culture and religion." She concluded by saying a few words about the free school for underprivileged children, 'Bostan-e-Ilm' being run by SLS and thanking the faculty and staff for their hard work in making the event a success.

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Funfair held at ISS
Islamabad: To help students with personal, leadership and group activities, International School Systems (ISS) organised a funfair and sports gala on its campus.

The programme started with the performance of students on a rhyme 'Hokey Pokey', which was followed by sport activities including flat race, hopping, limbo, kick the ball and basketball. The stalls offering a variety of food items were also set up on the occasion by teachers and parents.

For the pre-school students, this was a first of its kind of sports activity and was meant to encourage young learners to enhance their social skills, team building, collaboration, leadership, as well as to improve their motor-skill in a fun-filled way.

During her welcome address ISS Pre-school Director Aliya Shahid said that every education institute's goal is to equip its students with strong intellectual abilities, sound moral values, and enhanced physical abilities such that they become effective leaders of tomorrow. "With clear goals in our minds, we at ISS, are creating a differentiation by providing more than day care facilities to our students and their parents," she added She said that ISS have designed a curriculum that not only challenges their students in bringing out problem-solving and language development skills, but an equal focus on building a strong character and physical strength.

ISS Chief Executive Ameer Jahanzeb and ISS Chairman Colonel Mushtaq Ahmed was also present on the occasion. The news

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