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Pakistani PhD students | YMCA ground encroachment

Long journey home for Pakistani PhD students
Karachi, June 30: The students of Pakistan who are completing their doctoral degrees at different universities of Turkey have decided to leave their studies incomplete and return to their countries.

The students held a meeting at Ankara in order to discuss the matter. During the meeting, it was decided that all the Pakistani students, studying under the cultural exchange programme under the government of Pakistan and Turkey would leave the country by the second week of July. Thirteen PhD students, who attended the meeting, contacted this scribe through separate emails, saying that the decision was taken out of haplessness. Most of these students were awarded scholarships in 2008.

It may be remembered that Pakistani scholars who obtaining their PhDs from different universities of Turkey under the Cultural Exchange Scholarship Programme awarded by the Pakistan Ministry of Education in collaboration with Higher Education Commission of Turkey, were offered $150 from the Republic of Turkey and $300 from the Ministry of Education, Pakistan, as stipend. However, the scholars claim that since the last two months the Pakistan Ministry of Education has stopped releasing the stipend without any prior notice.

The amount of money that the students were getting was already not enough for a country like Turkey where the prices are sky rocketing. Several education experts have strongly criticised the government's decision, saying that because of students leaving Turkey, the higher education system would suffer. The students have been lamenting about the attitude of the ministry of education and are saying that they are being mistreated. "Such action was not expected from the ministry of education and it has made our lives miserable and added to our financial woes. It is almost difficult to live here without the stipend that the government was offering," writes Abdul Hadi in his email adding, "When we contact the ministry, they give us a standard response, saying that a meeting will be held in this regard. It seems as if they do not care about our problems. Finally, we have no choice but to return home in July, leaving our studies midway."

Faheem Shehzad Baloch, another student, suspects that the government is avoiding the students and their issue. "In the beginning I was told by the ministry officials that our stipends have been stopped and that we will not receive them again. However, when I contacted them again after a few days I was told that a meeting will be held in June to discuss the issue and the stipends will be released in July," says Baloch.

Prof Dr Nazeer, who has been associated with higher education for the last 30 years, said that the government's step would dishearten the aspirant scholars in future.

"The government has no right to play with the futures of so many youngsters," he said angrily, while adding that, "the government should have thought about its financial capacity before sending these youngsters to foreign lands for higher education."

Nazeer said that the issue is not only creating a bad name for the country but would also have a negative affect on the education system. He is surprised about how the government has sent the students abroad and now are leaving them hanging in the balance.

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Who is behind YMCA ground encroachment?
Karachi: Young Christian Association Bazarta Line office bearers have alleged that Pakistan Minority Front Chairman and former Sindh MPA Michael Javaid has allowed influentials to encroach the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) ground and to establish a charged parking lot in it. However, Javaid has bluntly rejected the allegations and has said that he is not involved.

Young Christian Association Bazarta Line office bearers Joseph and Zara alleged that Javaid has joined hands with influential people in grabbing the amenity plot of YMCA. They said that the Christian leader has given written permission for the establishment of a charged parking lot at the amenity plot. "Javaid has is only protesting against the parking lot to save face and to pressurise the influential people involved, however he has now made an agreement with them," said Joseph.

It may be noted here that recently some mysterious banners appeared throughout the city, inviting the public to park their vehicles at the protected YMCA plot. Javaid had announced that a mass campaign would be started throughout the province against the charged parking at the plot, but despite the fact that many days have passed, Javaid has taken no action. "We demand that Federal Minister for Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhati and other authorities conduct a high level inquiry into the matter and to ensure that if Javaid is guilty, he is punished. We are sure that the federal government will take interest in the matter," said Joseph.

However, when Javaid was called for a comment, he bluntly rejected the allegation and said that he even cannot even imagine committing such an act. "I am very surprised to know that people think I am involved and I personally believe that it is a conspiracy against me. If they are sure that I am involved, they should prove it," he said, adding that he has been struggling since a long time for the cause of his community. Daily Times

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