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UK visa-processing procedure for Pakistan

British visas
Oct 28: Britain is not about to revert to its earlier, relatively hassle-free visa-processing procedure for Pakistan. This in a nutshell is the disappointing outcome of British Home Secretary Theresa May's visit to Islamabad. Visa applications will continue to be processed in Abu Dhabi, and passports, we regret to say, may well continue to be lost. There was a time when the British visa service in Pakistan was considered the best among that of all foreign missions; however, last year it deteriorated considerably, with hundreds of students, businessmen and tourists complaining that their passports had been lost - either in the mess at Abu Dhabi or between Pakistan and the UAE - leading many to fear that they would recover neither their passports nor the hefty visa-processing fee they had been charged. While issuing or refusing a visa is a country`s prerogative, consular officials have to be mindful of the requirements of life in a global village and cope in a coordinated and efficient manner with the ever-increasing number of students, government officials and businessmen on the move. This is in the mutual interest of the applicant and the visa-giving country. The processing of visa applications in Abu Dhabi places Pakistani visa-seekers at a disadvantage, since the staff at the `hub` is unlikely to have that understanding of the applicant`s credentials which the high commission's Pakistan-based staff is in a position to possess.

Because of the uproar last year over what can only be called the visa scandal, the situation has considerably improved this year, especially where students are concerned. But that doesn`t address the core issue. It is true terrorism stalks the land, but no diplomatic mission seems to be as nervous or panicky as the British high commission. All western governments have kept their visa missions in Islamabad and seem satisfied with the security provided by the host government. Britain alone has acted with unwarranted haste which has earned it adverse publicity. It is time Britain reconsidered its decision and activated its visa office in Islamabad. This will do more to improve its image than the aid it gives. Dawn

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PIMS student sexually abused
Islamabad: A first-year male student of the College of Medical Technology (CMT) - affiliated with the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) - was sexually abused allegedly by his three hostel roommates. The college authorities were reluctant to take any action against the accused.

Ali Hasnain, 15, a student of the Operation Theatre (OT) Technician Course, was residing in the college hostel. His three roommates allegedly molested him last Thursday, but he did not report the matter out of shame and due to threats hurled by the culprits and instead went to his home in Dera Ghazi Khan.

When contacted, Ali Hasnain confirmed the incident and said he had returned to the college hostel on Monday evening after getting encouragement from his course-mates that the issue should be taken up with PIMS Executive Director Dr. Mahmood Jamal and the culprits should be brought to justice.

Giving details of the incident, he said, "I was living in Room No. 2115 of the hostel, but warden Niaz Ali shifted me to Room No. 2130 with second-year students. All my roommates were older than me. I was sleeping on Thursday night when my roommates - Faheem Ahmad, Habibullah and Zaheer - gagged me and stripped me off. They all molested me besides making a movie of me in nude. They threatened me that if I told anyone about the incident, they would upload my nude movie on the YouTube."

Ali Hasnain alleged it has now become clear that the shameful act was performed by the accused at the behest of the hostel warden, as there was no cogent reason behind shifting me from one room to the other.

Niaz Ali, warden of the college hostel, when contacted, dispelled the impression of his involvement in the incident. According to him, it is a matter of routine to shift students from one room to another. He said that Ali Hasnain was shifted because space for a student was lying vacant in another room. He said that Ali Hasnain's roommates should be punished if their involvement in the shameful act is proved. "If Ali Hasnain is saying that he was molested, his statement should be given weight because he is not an insane person," he remarked.

However, Ali Hasnain informed this scribe that two of the culprits - Faheem and Habib - had fled from the hostel after the matter was brought into the notice of hostel authorities.

About 70 students of the College of Medical Technology staged a protest demonstration at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) here on Wednesday morning against the college administration and the PIMS executive director. They protesters demanded the concerned authorities to immediately expel the culprits from the college and warden of the hostel should be changed; otherwise they would stage a protest demonstration in front of the Parliament House to highlight the issue. Students also observed a complete strike and boycotted their classes to press the college administration to take action against the accused.

"I had earlier submitted an application to our class teacher Madam Fauzia against the three accused but no action was taken against the culprits. Finally, my course-mates decided to register their protest against the college administration and the PIMS executive director for protecting the culprits. The PIMS executive director has now assured us that he will resolve the matter by Wednesday evening," Ali Hasnain added.

College of Medical Technology Vice Principal Dr. Naseer, when asked that what delayed action against the culprits, he said that the concerned authorities took up the matter as soon as it came to their knowledge. "There is no delay and the college administration will take legal action against the accused if they are proved guilty by the inquiry committee," he added.

PIMS Executive Director Dr. Mahmood Jamal, when contacted for his comments on the issue, he said that an inquiry committee has been constituted to ascertain the facts and further action would be taken after getting its report. However, he refused to talk on the issue further. The news

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AIOU' Semester Spring exams from Nov 4
Islamabad: The Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) has scheduled Semester Spring 2010 Examination for PT/CT/ATTC and B-Ed programmes from Nov 4. Roll number slips have been dispatched to all the eligible enrolled students at their given address by Postal Mail Service.

All those students who may not receive their Roll Number slip up to Nov 2, should contact the nearest regional office or superintendent (Teacher Education Section) Examination Department at main campus of the University personally to get the duplicate Roll Number slip.

For issuance of duplicate roll no slip students are required to bring two passport size photographs duly attested by the gazetted officer.

The roll number slip is also available at web site www.aiou edu.pk of the university. app

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AIOU vacant positions
Islamabad: The administration of Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) has ordered filling of vacant positions and regularisation of contract employees.

The university`s spokesperson said it was all due to the hard work of the teachers, workers and officers that the university had achieved its targets. online

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'Quaidian Family Festival' to be held at QAU
Islamabad: The Quaid-i-Azam University Alumni Association is organising the 'Quaidian Family Festival 2010' on Friday in the football ground on the campus. The gala will provide an opportunity to old students to revive their memories and meet new ones.

The festival is a collaboration of the Quaidian Intellectual Forum and the Quaid-i-Azam University Alumni Association. The alumni from across Pakistan are expected to participate in the event with their families.

The family festival would be first of its kind, as it would also try to raise funds for the QAU students hailing from the flood-effected regions. The festival would bring various banks, multinational companies, research institutes, NGOs and government departments to advise and help existing students in getting jobs. There guidance will be provided on the occasion where students can also drop their CVs and resume. There would also be on the spot job assessment and interviews for the flood-affected students.

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ASC interactive session
Islamabad: Dr Hans Frey, senior professor at ASC, Quaid-i-Azam University, has said that outcome of US mid-term elections on Nov 4 will have repercussion for Pakistan in a scenario when India is now jumping to the side of US and Democrats may also jump to Indian side.

Dr Frey was speaking at an interactive session on 'US mid-term elections 2010 - a Tea Party?", organised by Area Study Centre, QAU, at Dr RA Khan Conference Hall, here on Wednesday.

Dr Rukhsana Qamber, Director of the Centre, moderated the proceedings. Zahida Umar coordinated the

seminar. Dr Frey said that Republicans generally were supportive of Pakistan but a change in the Congress could affect understanding between Islamabad and Washington as Kerry-Lugar Bill. He said that a capitalist and a German entrepreneur also supporting the Tea Party. He said that it is quite common that incumbency factor plays its role in the mid-term polls due to disillusionments. This time it is bigger as Republicans are fighting back due to economic problems as Obama administrations massively supported two banks bankrupted during Bush era.

He said that Obama wanted to spend money on social sector whereas Bush spending was on other areas. He said that Bush left huge debt which Democrats had to handle now but the administration was not strong enough to send across the message that turn around will take longer time as unemployment is more than 8 per cent. Obama could not realise many promises and healthcare situation is also not good, he said. There is a big movement within Democrats who worked for handling economic issues in domestic and international arena but see their high hopes dashing.

Dr Frey said that Republicans would gain if there is low turnout that is why Obama is asking people to come and vote. He said that Tea Party is a Right wing of Republicans who did not field candidates in many constituencies to ensure Democrats defeat.

Dr Qamber started with a speech of Barak Obama at the University of Washington where he said that Republicans were drawn into the ditch but now Democrats are in it. Referring to donkey, the election symbol of Democrats, she said in a lighter vein that it may mean hard work or collective ignorance.

She said that drawing from a 1,673 Boston Tea Party slogan, the current Tea Party is saying "No taxation with foolish distribution." A student Raja Azhar said that the issues in this year include social security, healthcare, education, defence, foreign policy, Afghanistan and Iraq wars, unemployment, immigration and budget deficit. Another student Rashid Ali defined Tea Party starting in 2008 as a populist Right-wing, ultra-nationalist conservative party following a Fascist agenda.

Fareena Mughal, a student, said that over all, 37 seats are at stake due to the Tea Party phenomenon which is dangerous not only for Republicans whose votes it would divide but also for the ruling party. Answering a question, Dr Frey said that Tea Party now agrees for social agenda with a proviso that it should be done by civil society and not the government. The news

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Fear-free learning in schools stressed
Gilgit: Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Syed Mehdi Shah has said that teachers should discourage corporal punishment and evolve a fear-free environment of learning to inculcate sense of responsibility among students.

He was speaking at the launching ceremony of a project "Learn without Fear" here. He said that teachers should focus on their prime duty of teaching and refrain from politics in their institutions.

The chief minister said that the government was preparing a policy for promotion of teachers, which would be finalised soon.

Plan Pakistan, a non-governmental organisation, has initiated the project in all the seven districts of Gilgit-Baltistan to train teachers to enhance their professional capabilities.

On this occasion, education minister Ali Madad Sher assured the teachers of provision of facilities. Education secretary Mehboob Ali Khan said that under a Rs50 million project, scholarships would be provided to students of college colleges while a technical college would be set up at a cost of Rs140 million. Dawn

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