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Quaid-i-Azam University closure after clash

Quaid-i-Azam University closed after ethnic strife
Islamabad, Oct 15: Authorities closed the Quaid-i-Azam University and the boys' hostels on Wednesday after ugly clashes between ethnic groups of students over hostel accommodation.

University and police sources said no one was badly hurt but some buildings and four vehicles suffered damage as students rioted under the banners of Punjab Council and Mehran Council.

Students belonging to Seraiki and Baloch councils were taken aback by the general order to boys to vacate the hostels. Their pleadings were appreciated but went unheard.

About 2,000 students reside in the university's hostels. Girl students were not asked to vacate their hostels, however.

It was said the rumpus ignited Tuesday evening when jealous Punjab Council members sneered at some Mehran members who were lucky to be allotted rooms in the newly-built Hostel No. 9. But nothing more than harsh words, threats and a few punches were exchanged on the occasion.

Police arrived to investigate but returned when the university authorities told them that they would pacify the students themselves and police did not need to intervene.

Provost of the university, Dr Ghulam Khan Shahber Niazi, when contacted said that a foolish game of making fun of each other led to a series of brawls between the two groups.

At 3pm on Wednesday, some 70 to 80 students affiliated with Mehran Council gathered at the bus stand to stage a protest with the permission of university administration. The protestors alleged that the university administration did not take any action on their complaint against the student of Punjab Council.

It was when they started making speeches against Punjab Council and the administration, and tried to take their protest outside the university area, that the university officials rushed to the spot and persuaded them to disperse.

The Mehran Council members did disperse but as they were going past Hostel No. 6 a clash erupted between the groups.

No independent source was however available to say who started the clash and how. The students of Mehran Council alleged that their rivals had positioned themselves on the hostel's rooftop, and, waiting in ambush, started pelting stones and fired shots when they were passing the building.

On the other hand, the students of Punjab Council claimed that Mehran students went after them with baton and weapons shortly after the end of their protest.

They also damaged the vehicles parked outside the hostel.

When contacted, the resident officer and Natural Sciences' dean, Dr Aslam Baig, said that it was yet to be established which group started the brawl and firing.

However, according to him, the students of Mehran Council moving towards Hostel No. 6 had batons and iron rods in their hands. Most of the residents of the hostel belong to the Punjab Council.

Gunshots and flying stones started the brawl in which both sides used batons and iron rods, the dean said, adding that the shots were fired mostly in the air.

The area police were called in to control the situation.

A police party soon arrived, led by the assistant commissioner and sub-divisional police officer.

They cordoned off the university and the boys' Hostels No. 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, and 9 at around 5pm.

The hostel administration then announced that the university has been closed for indefinite period and asked the boys students to vacate the hostels until the university is reopened.

The university is likely to be opened within a week, according to Dr Baig. Dawn

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Extensive research and firsthand knowledge
Islamabad: Learning people's ideology about a certain sacred place or shrine needs extensive research and firsthand knowledge, otherwise, it is difficult to understand the real phenomenon behind it.

These views were expressed by Linus Strothmann during his lecture on 'Approaching the Sacred: How to Study the Shrine of Data Ganj Bakhsh', organised by the Department of Pakistan Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University.

Linus Strothmann, who is a student at Berlin Graduate School of Muslim Cultures & Societies, has arrived in Pakistan on an eight-month visit to conduct research for his PhD thesis.

He said when he visited Pakistan for the first time, he did not know the local traditions and those sitting in the shrine compounds and courtyards used to look at him in a somewhat strange manner. "I have learnt the local rituals and now I wash my hands, feet and mouth, and put on a cap before entering the shrine compounds," he said.

Referring to his ongoing research work about the shrine of Hazrat Data Ganj Bakhsh, Linus said thousands of people visit the shrine, especially during the 'urs' days, adding, "I am here to see how they think and behave that will certainly help me understand the real phenomenon about how to study this place that has so much importance for people of various walks of life."

Linus Strothmann is currently getting help from a local translator during his visits and interaction with people but he is learning the Urdu language, using direct methodology.

Replying to a question, he said one must have some knowledge about the teachings of Islam when it comes to understanding the real thinking of the people, who visit shrines time and again. The news

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Government to educate the visually impaired youth
Islamabad: President Asif Ali Zardari has reiterated the government policy to educate the visually impaired youth and children, provide them adequate skills and technical training and generate employment opportunities for them. "It is a measure of this policy that recently the government announced special quota in jobs and economic opportunities for the handicapped people including those with impaired sight.

"I have also decided to invite the special people in the Presidency on a regular basis to meet and talk with them about the measures that need to be taken to address their problems", the President said in his message on International White Cane Safety Day being observed on Thursday (October 15).The White Cane Safety Day observed worldwide on October 15 every year is an occasion to create awareness about the problems and requirements of visually handicapped persons on the one hand and to take practical steps to address those problems on the other, he said.The President said, "a white cane in the hand of a person is a signal that he or she is visually handicapped and therefore deserving of great consideration and respect of all of us who are blessed with sight".

A white cane in the hand of a person determined to move along the road of life also demonstrates that no disability is too great to conquer human will, he added."Our visually handicapped brothers and sisters are men and women of great courage. They have taught us, who are blessed with sight, that we will never be able to count the blessings of Allah for bestowing a life free of any disability to pursue a life according to their desires", the President said.President Zardari also complimented the Rawalpindi Eye Donors Organization for arranging a "Most Caring Families and Best Teachers Award Ceremony".

"The institution of such awards will, I hope, encourage and motivate people to be caring to the needs of visually handicapped citizens. I commend all those individuals and associations who are engaged in the task of rehabilitation of disabled and honoring those who are engaged in this noble task," he added.The President also called upon the people and relevant government agencies to reflect on the problems of visually handicapped people and think about what needs to be done to achieve the same standards in caring for the disabled as exists in other civilized nations and to work towards achieving those standards. APP

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OUP launches book on rural development in South Asia
Islamabad: Oxford University Press (OUP) launched a book on rural development in South Asia titled 'A Journey Through Grassroots Development: Agha Khan Rural Support Programme', written by Shoaib Sultan Khan.

Finance Minister Shaukat Tareen chaired the launching ceremony, held at the National Library here Wednesday. Sartaj Aziz, Vice Chancellor Beaconhouse National University, was the guest of honour, while Ghazi Salahuddin, Editorial Director Geo, and Muhammad Amjad Saqib, Executive Director 'Akhuwat', were present as the keynote speakers.

Appreciating the important and productive role of AKRSP in various poverty alleviation projects in Gilgit-Baltistan, Shaukat Tareen said the government is keen to exploit the economic potential of Gilgit-Baltistan for the prosperity of the poor people of the region.

Eulogising the efforts of the author in compiling the valuable book, he said the book would make an important contribution towards recording firsthand experience in rural development. He also stressed the need to redefine and address rural development with utmost urgency to find remedies of the current economic crisis through community development and offer guidelines for changing the lives of millions by mobilising their own potentials.

Ameena Saiyid, Managing Director Oxford University Press, introduced the author and the book by saying, "The book has been distilled from the richness of the author's experience in a highly readable style, with useful insights of rural development in South Asian environment."

The speakers, Ghazi Salahuddin and Amjad Saqib, welcomed the book as a valuable addition to the knowledge base of people centred development and evidence-based advocacy for policy change, conducive to sustainable development.

The book relates to the story of participatory development experience in the rural areas of South Asia. The lessons learned in rural development, based on the author's work over the last 50 years in various areas of South Asia, are narrated in the context of 'working within the system and living within the means'. The author also describes the basic principles of rural development through engaging and interacting with the rural community to shape their lives. Operational details of such interactions between communities and professionals are also combined by the author as an inspirational content on the efforts of these people to ignite hope. The book also provides personal insight into AKRSP.

The author, Shoaib Sultan, has served the government of Pakistan as CSP Officer for 25 years and is the recipient of 'Hilal-e-Imtiaz', 'Magsaysay Award' from the president of Philippines, and World Conservation Medal from WWF International for selfless dedication to his work. He has also worked with Unicef, UNDP, RSPN, NRSP, SRSOGBTI, AKRSP, SRSP, PRSP, and BRSP.

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Art contest at FG schools for girls
Rawalpindi: The students of around 40 middle and higher secondary levels of Federal Government Girls Schools Cantonment and Garrison region participated in an art competition held at by FG Girls High School Misriyal Road here on Wednesday.

According to a press release, in the higher secondary school section competition the students of FG Girls Public School, Abid Majeed Road, secured first position, students of FG Girls High School, Darya Abad, got second position while FG Public School, Lalazar, came third. In the middle section competitions students of FG Girls High School COD, Kala Jehlum, got first position, students of FG Girls Public School, Abdi Majeed Road, got second position while FG Girls High School No 1, Chaklala and FG Girls Public School, Abbotabad, jointly got third position.

Spouse of Lieutenant Colonel Ijaz Malik (GSO-1) Rawalpindi Region was the chief guest on the occasion. The news

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