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KU slipping down | SPSC missing admit cards

KU slipping down the slippery slope
Karachi: The University of Karachi (KU), also commonly known as 'university' among Karachiites, is going through rather lean times financially, educationally and morally. The biggest university in Pakistan seems to be crumbling under the weight of nepotism, political pressures and the indifferent attitudes of the teaching and non-teaching staff. There are indecisions in the university, bad precedents are being set, and a sense of love for the university, it seems, has simply eroded.

Last week witnessed unruly mobs of students demanding the appointment of a controller of examinations of their choice after the previous one had resigned under the shadow of incompetence and corruption of enormous proportions. The students, belonging to an ethnic party, locked classrooms, forced the postponement of examinations and misbehaved with teachers and the staff of various departments.

The Mass Communication Department continues to show its incompetence in holding seminars (but insist that they do it with incomparable precision), where language is butchered, students are awarded grandiose titles that are misnomers, and misspelling is the norm - the reason behind this charade is to prepare a teacher of their choice to chair the department.

Students and some teachers are surprised to see the fear in the eyes of some in the department on the news of the arrival of Dr Seemi Naghmana, a PhD in Mass Communication who is currently Dean of Arts at the University of Balochistan. Some students and senior professors think that the department wants to continue having mediocre and incompetent teachers to hide their ineptitude. The department has a history of shooing away foreign faculty fearing exposure of their unworthiness. One such glaring episode is that of a teacher who came from the United States, who had a Masters in Journalism from Columbia University, New York. The gentleman was offered the post of Cooperative Teacher, and he returned to the States in disgust and utter disbelief due to the nasty behaviour of the department chairman and ability-fearing teachers.

The students and teachers of the university are still in a state of shock and disbelief on the appointment of the Dean of the Faculty of Islamic Studies for a second term. The learned professor has an extended CV of malpractices, including plagiarism, production of fake degrees, tampering of CNIC to decrease age (by six years) and producing hordes of PhDs without much ado. Questions had been raised from some concerned quarters before his reappointment: Will the university stoop so low to make him Dean once gain? Yes, the university did. But to be fair to the university and the Vice Chancellor, he did, as reports suggest, write a "not him again" note. However the wizards at the Governor House did so anyway, supposedly, on the "strong recommendation of a leader of a religious party", who has direct access to the honourable governor.

Then there is the (true) story of a high profile senator from the ruling Pakistan People's Party who tried to procure a fake degree from the university. Some print media hounds got wind of the story and he had to retreat. But not for long, mind it. The reporter had the audacity to write a report and dared to ask the senator's version. This drew the senator's ire, who, from atop his lofty political Mount Olympus, rained a deluge of profanities at the mortal reporter and also threatened him with a Rs500 million law suit. The senator had to apologise later, but the story was scrapped and died an unnatural death. Some people, to quote an Orwellian concept, are more equal than others. They really are.

KU devises new method for mango classification
Karachi: A group of scientists, led by Dr Kamran Azim at the International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), University of Karachi (KU), has devised a novel method for the classification of Pakistani mangoes.

The classification of 20 different kinds of mangoes will be possible through this novel scientific method, which is devised in the state-of-the-art Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) sequencing laboratory of the Dr Punjwani Centre for Molecular Medicine and Drug Research at KU, according to a statement issued on Sunday by the ICCBS.

Dr Kamran Azim, assistant professor at the ICCBS, along with his team, has been researching the molecular genetics of mangos for the past many years. Their discovery will be helpful in recognition of Pakistani mangoes at the global level and will be beneficial in fulfilling scientific and regulatory requirements for mango exports to technologically advanced countries in particular the United States.

According to Dr Azim, international scientific and trade organisations emphasise on classification of mango varieties based on modern biotechnological standards.

It is pertinent to mention here that Dr Azim has already discovered more than 20,000 base pairs of DNA sequences of mangos at the same laboratory, while the obtained genetic data, the blueprint of living organisms, has been submitted to the international GenBank located in Washington.

According to the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Pakistan stands fifth among mango growing countries in the world.

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SPSC candidates left in the lurch as officials clueless about missing admit cards
Karachi: A large number of candidates who registered for the Sindh Public Service Commission Exam (SPSC) for Deputy District Officer (DDO) to be held on Monday have not been issued their admit cards, thus making it improbable for these students to take their exam. The lists displayed at SPSC Karachi office did not include names of several candidates while the official website was not updated either, leaving candidates in the dark about their roll numbers and location of examination centre, it was learnt.

Dozens of candidates, including a couple of girls, who submitted the fee and the mandatory documents to register for the aforesaid exam, complained that their admit cards were not dispatched to them until Friday. Many of them who visited the SPSC Karachi office were not entertained by the staff and turned away unheard.

"I have my exam on Monday but I don't know which one of the four examination centres I have to go to," said Majid Ali, son of Muhammad Rafiq, who submitted his application on October 20, 2008. He further said that he had made several phone calls at the SPSC Karachi office but no one answered, and thus he had to visit the office in person. "When I arrived at the office, many other candidates were also present and none of us was given any guidance," he said. "No officers were present on their seats despite it being the last day before the commencement of examinations, while the clerical staff had no information regarding our admit cards."

When Divisional Superintendent of Karachi region Abdul Aziz Sheikh was contacted, he said that they had twice issued press releases saying the candidates who had not received their letters by March 22 should contact SPSC Secretary in Hyderabad. Responding to a question, he said that students can still contact the secretary at 022-9200162. When this number was dialed, the automated response voice said that the number is not listed.

When SPSC Controller of Examination was contacted at his office in Hyderabad, he said: "If their admit cards were not issued, they can refer to the lists displayed at the Karachi office, and note down their roll numbers and examination centre. These lists are also available at our website." Asked about his website, the controller could not recall it and asked this correspondent to search it. When the website was browsed, it displayed one year old lists of 2008.

While officials from Karachi and Hyderabad tried to place responsibility on each other, candidates suffered a great deal of mental stress and feared they might not be able to take their exam on Monday. The Sindh Government has announced a public holiday on April 4 (Saturday) and Friday was the last working day before the exam. This has left the candidates clueless about whom to contact, and where to take their exam.

The SPSC falls in the jurisdiction of Sindh Chief Minister (CM) Syed Qai Ali Shah, it was learnt. While these candidates were undergoing undue hardships and mental stress, most of the staff at the CM House had left for Larkana to observe the death anniversary of former Pakistan Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.

SZABIST remembers Bhutto in memorial lecture
Karachi: Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's judicial murder was a murder of justice and murder of Pakistan, said Prof. Sikandar Mahdi in the Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Commemorative Lecture organised by Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (SZABIST) on the 30th Death Anniversary of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto on Saturday.

Prof. Mahdi, former Chairman of the University of Karachi (KU) Department of International Relations (IR), spoke about the importance of remembrance. He said that societies which do not promote the culture of remembrance are lost, while those who value their past and heritage flourish and are respected in the world.

Comparing Bhutto with Socrates, he said that both asked questions, which was their crime. Socrates was also dragged in court and wrongly accused. Like Socrates, Bhutto did not wish to live with dishonour.

He said that General Zia, who led the coup against Bhutto, laid the foundations of extremism which is now destroying the fabric of Pakistan today. Bhutto's trial was fabricated by Zia, while judges on the bench of the Lahore High Court were biased and against whose inclusion in the bench Bhutto himself objected. Prof.

Mahdi emphasised that Bhutto knew that the trial was an affront against the integrity of Pakistan. However, Bhutto believed in honour and was willing to die for his country.

Commenting on Bhutto's judicial murder, he said that Bhutto was executed in a split 4-3 decision. He said that those who acquitted Bhutto were from Sindh, Balochistan and NWFP, while those who convicted him were from Punjab. History has looked down upon General Zia and the Chief Justice who sent an innocent man to the gallows. The last words of Shaheed Bhutto were "Oh God, I am innocent."

SZABIST President Senator Dr Javaid Laghari said in his address that Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto were true leaders and they met the definition of world leaders.

True leaders have followers whether they are in the county or in exile, with power or without, alive or dead. Millions of people continue to carry the legacy of Shaheed Bhutto even after 30 years, he further added. The News

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