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Classes I to X books shortage & new academic year

STB fails to supply books for new academic session
Karachi, April 13: Hundreds of students and their guardians return home disappointed from book markets like Urdu Bazaar, as the Sindh Textbook Board (STB) has failed to supply the market with books for classes I to X prior to the commencement of the new academic year beginning today, It has been learnt after surveying the concerned markets.

By no means an unusual occurrence, the STB has once again delayed textbook supply at a crucial time, thus causing a serious inconvenience to students and their parents, who were told by salesmen that approved publishers of the STB were unsuccessful in printing and distributing this year's academic material to the market to date.

Urdu Bazaar is the city's largest and oldest book market and hundred of people throng this bazaar to procure books, stationary and many other materials. However, textbooks are the highest-selling item, and shopkeepers were left waiting in confusion for the supply of their most lucrative product when demand was at its peak.

Urdu Bazaar Welfare Association President Nasim Ahmed claimed that the delay in providing textbooks is pre-planned by the publishers to boost their own profits. He added that the STB has a history of lagging behind in the printing process beacause of the unfair practices of publishers, thus causing students to suffer for in anticipation of their course material, without which their academic progress is adversely affected.

Ahmed explained that he chairman of STB issues the tenders for textbook printing to those publishers who are registered with the board itself. However, these publishers give priority to private sector tenders, and hence the process of publishing books for private schools causes delays in printing the textbooks approved by STB, he added.

He pointed to the economics of this scenario in which the cheaper STB books yield a 12.5 percent profit, while private sector textbooks allow a hefty profit margin of up to 30 to 50 per cent, as these are sold at a higher price in the market. Therefore, publishers first print the more profitable items and tend to STB approved course material later, he said.

Ahmed further explained that ultimately, the parents are left with no choice but to purchase the more expensive books in the absence of the more economical STB ones, thus leading to a monopoly in the market for publishers who have unfair practices.

He recommended that if STB is serious about providing textbooks to the market on time then they should cancel the licenses of the current publishers and issue tenders to only those company's who are committed to printing textbooks approved by the board on priority. He advised further that to ensure the latter cooperation, the board should also consider increasing commission for both publishers and retailers as added incentives.

Ahmed also highlighted that although STB has set a target of releasing textbooks into the market from April 20 onwards, it will not be successful. The printing process is not even in its final stages, hence it is close to impossible for the board to deliver in the proposed timeframe, said Ahmed.

Sadly, students fear that they will be reprimanded in school if their parents fail to purchase this year's textbooks, said Aziz Mirza, a concerned father. "I have visited several shops in Urdu Bazaar and each salesman has pointed to the delay in the market's supply of textbooks," he added in frustration.

Muhammad Ali, another disappointed parent roaming the bazaar with a list of books in hand said that he had purchased several books which were recommended by his child's school, but the cheaper STB books were not available at any shop he has visited thus far. The news

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ICAP holds certificate awarding ceremony
Karachi: The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan (ICAP) organised its certificate awarding ceremony at a local hotel Monday evening.

On this occasion, certificates were awarded to the students who passed their final examination held in winter 2010. Addressing the ceremony, speakers, including Jamaat-e-Islami Karachi chief Muhammad Hussain Mehanti, Karachi Electric Supply Company's CEO Tabish Gauhar, Meezan Bank President and CEO Irfan Siddiqui, former President ICAP Muniff Ziauddin, Afzal Munif of Junaidy & Co and ICAP President Saqib Masood felicitated the newly qualified chartered accountants (CAs).

They urged graduates to keep up the hard work for betterment of economy and society as a whole. They highlighted positive approach, hard work and modesty as the key to success in life and underscored that in order for CAs to continue enjoying the trust of society, highest level of professional ethics and integrity needs to be maintained.

Speakers shed light on their experiences, student life and on emotions of the parents, whose children were studying CA. While elaborating the importance of the due role of accountants and accountability in the society they said that the CAs can play a significant role in eliminating the menace of corruption from the society.

While congratulating the young CAs, ICAP president wished the graduates excellence to achieve goals in corporate world. In this regard, he underlined the importance of interpersonal skills and broadened horizons to bring the best possible changes in businesses. The ceremony, organised by the Southern Regional Committee of ICAP, was attended by ICAP Council members and past presidents, eminent professionals, representatives of trade and industry as well as parents of students.

On the occasion ICAP president presented the Gold Medal to Bilal Asghar for his outstanding performance in CA final examinations, while examination certificates were distributed among 138 successful candidates. Daily times

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Teachers reject proposed changes in MBBS curriculum
Karachi: Senior medical professionals and teachers on Tuesday took exception to the proposed exclusion of forensic medicine from the MBBS curriculum, expressing fears that this might jeopardise the availability of medico-legal officers at hospitals.

The doctors and professors said the proposal to abolish forensic medicine as a fully-fledged subject and to incorporate it in the subject of pathology for MBBS students would have serious fallout.

Presently, any medical graduate, who has sufficient knowledge and training in the subject of forensic medicine and is registered with the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council, is authorised to perform medico-legal procedures and discontinuation of the subject would affect the availability of qualified medico-legal officers at hospitals.

"Discontinuation of the subject, being taught in two parts as Medical Jurisprudence and Toxicology in third-year MBBS, will deprive graduates of essential and extremely relevant medical knowledge," said Prof Qudsia Hasan, a senior medical teacher.

"This is already a neglected subject and we need to focus on its improvement at the undergraduate level too instead of doing away with it," said Prof Said Minhas.

Dr Mohammad Qutub Siddiqui of the Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) said that placing forensic medicine with pathology would lead to confusion among the students as pathology in itself was a wide subject with its own sub-groups.

"This confusion will deny students of the knowledge and enhance chances of error among graduates assigned the responsibility to perform autopsy or any other medico-legal examination," the former medico-legal officer said.

"The poor knowledge among doctors on one hand may turn beneficial for the criminals or culprits and on the other may compromise concerned doctor's proficiency to handle varied forms of inflicted injuries, assaults or de-poison and may lead to unintentional murder," he warned.

Prof Minhas associated with the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre called for a proper mechanism under which more and more teachers could be available to impart updated training in forensic medicine to undergraduates.

Prof Hasan said that the country would be exposed to serious shortage of MLOs and the fallout would be most severe in small cities and towns.

In reply to a question, she said there were around 15 doctors holding FCPS degree in Forensic Medicine and that the postgraduate level training was introduced by the CPSP some eight years ago.

The teachers alleged that the move to exclude forensic medicine from MBBS curriculum was mainly manoeuvred by private medical colleges.

"These colleges are mainly catering to needs of international market for doctors as their graduates rarely stay back in the country," said Dr Syed Ali Ashad.

He mentioned that since medico-legal procedures were only performed at public-sector hospitals, private medical colleges and universities were little interested in teaching Forensic Medicine to students.

Prof Hasan said most medical graduates, who went to rural areas, had an added responsibility of dealing with medico-legal cases that could be done only when the graduate had sound basic knowledge of Forensic Medicine.

She referred to a Supreme Court decision passed some 15 years ago under which women medical graduates were also to be necessarily assigned as medico-legal examiners at all levels of healthcare facilities to ease the process of justice in cases involving women.

"Our medical and legal systems are in equal need of easy availability of qualified MLOs so that justice could be ensured without any compromise," the doctors said. app

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VC hopes for positive result of research on salt-tolerant plants
Karachi: While appreciating the invaluable research on the halophytes in the coastal areas of Sindh and Balochistan, Vice Chancellor of the University of Karachi, Prof. Pirzada Qasim, hoped that successful results on the research of these salt-tolerant plants would help the economy.

Prof Qasim said this while addressing a seminar on "Advances in Eco-physiology of Salt Tolerance" organised by the Institute of Sustainable Halophyte Utilization (ISHU), KU, the other day.

He reminded the audience that Pakistan was an agro-based economy, and some issues, especially salinity, was putting a negative impact on crop cultivation. The university's scientists, in collaboration with foreign agriculturalists, were conducting research to overcome issues of salinity and shortage of sweet water.

Salt tolerance was among some of the major global problems in crop cultivation and there was a dire need to address this issue.

Like other countries, Pakistan was also conducting research of international standards to make un-cultivatable lands cultivatable and the varsity's scientists were playing a pivotal role in this regard.

He lauded the efforts of Prof. Dr Ajmal and expressed satisfaction over the ongoing research at the ISHU.

The VC said the ISHU had conducted successful experiments in crop cultivation with saline water in the coastal areas of Balochistan, which might prove beneficial for cattle farming in the area. "Pakistan is an agricultural country, but the farmers are not aware of the latest technology and techniques of agri-business due to which they have failed to collect their due share from the final outcome," he said, adding that development in the agriculture sector would strengthen the local economy.

Prof. Dr Muhammad Qaiser, the VC of the Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology (FUUAST), said the major portion of our lands was facing the problem of salinity and production and identification of sustainable halophytes had become the need of the hour.

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KU seminar analyses fluid Middle East scenario
Karachi: The Middle East is passing through historic moments and requires a fresh assessment encompassing both internal and external factors for a better future of the region. People of the region are energetically moving forward for their rights and this would lead to positive developments in the region.

These views were expressed by Prof Dr Shahana Urooj Kazmi, Pro-vice chancellor University of Karachi (KU) while speaking at the inaugural session of the two-day international conference on "The Middle East in a Changing World: a Contemporary Appraisal" organised by the Department of International Relations in collaboration with Hanns-Seidel Foundation, Islamabad.

Prof Dr Zafar Iqbal, Dean Faculty of Arts, mentioned that the waves of changes in the Middle East would produce an environment conducive to peace and prosperity in the region.

Professor Dr Shaista Tabassum, Chairperson of the Department, highlighted the significance of the conference and explained why it was high time we took a fresh view of the region both for students and scholars alike.

Martin Axmann, the representative of Hanns-Seidel Foundation, Germany, threw light on the sweeping changes coming in the Middle East and its potential to spread in the other neighbouring parts of the region.

The theme of the First Session was "Security: The Crucial Issue for the Middle East". Thomas Prenzel, Department of Political Science, University of Rostok, Germany, in his presentation on "The Arab-Israel Conflict: Only Costs, No Achievements" said that the recent wave of protests in the Middle East had turned the Israel-Palestine peace process into a deadlock. He explained briefly the history of the conflict and pointed that the Arabs and Israelis must realise that they are destined to live together and without it peace would remain an elusive dream.

Dr Nazir Hussain, Professor at Department of Defence and Strategic Studies, Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad, in his paper, "Iran: the contrast between diplomatic ties and nuclear fear", raised at the beginning some questions regarding Iran's nuclear programme and its implications for the region. He highlighted the fact that United States was following the dual policy in the region when it encouraged some states to acquire nuclear technology and forbade Iran to do so.

Professor Dr Shaista Tabassum, Chairperson, Department of International Relations, in her paper on "Water Conflicts in Middle East" threw light upon the commonly unnoticed but extremely important dimension of the Middle Eastern geo-political dynamics.

Javed Jabbar, former senator, who was the chief guest, said that the region needed Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that were effectively implemented; otherwise the quality of life of people in Middle East would remain a serious question mark.

The theme of the second session was "Great Power Politics: Implications for the Middle East". Dr Talat Wizarat, from Institute of Business Administration (IBA), in her paper on "The Struggle for Oil: Competing Interests between China and the US" said that since the oil was discovered first it had been a focus of great powers in the region for their energy needs. She said that China today is very cautiously following its Middle Eastern policy.

Prof Muhammad Selim, from Department of Political Science, Kuwait University, in his paper on "The Role of the United States in the Arab-Israel Conflict" said that the US was a party to the conflict and not the third party. It had barred the efforts to stop Israeli oppression and also illegal policies in the region. He said that sidelining the Hamas and the forces similar from the political process would worsen the situation.

The theme of the third session was "Politics and Economy: The Two-Sided Contiguity". Dr Rashid Ahmed Khan, Department of International Relations and Political Science, University of Sargodha, in his paper "The International Financial Crisis and its impact on the Middle East" said that the fluctuation in prices of petroleum greatly influenced international politics. The news

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Tanzeem-e-Asatza opposes HEC devolution
Karachi: President Tanzeem-e-Asatza Pakistan Prof Mian Mohammed Akram on Tuesday criticising the proposed devolution of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) said devolving the commission would wreak havoc on national role of universities and research work. He said that devolving the HEC would ultimately affect the international impact of Pakistani degrees. He said that instead of increasing the education budget, the government was bent on destroying higher education in the country. He demanded that government take educationists and experts on board while making any decision regarding the higher education system. Meanwhile, President Pasban Karachi Chapter Saifuddin termed the proposed devolution of the HEC a conspiracy to darken the future of young people. He asked the government to withdraw decision to devolve the HEC for the better future of Pakistani youth. ppi

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