Karachi Literature Festival 2012

Karachi Literature Festival on 11th, 12th
Karachi: Writings in the English language emanating from Pakistan are very dynamic and vibrant, speaking volumes for the intellectual potential the country possesses.

These views were expressed by Martin Fryer, Director Programmes of the British Council Pakistan at a press briefing to announce the holding of the third Karachi Literature Festival on February 11 and 12 at the Carlton Hotel.

The briefing was jointly hosted by the Oxford University Press and the British Council and was held at the Oxford University Press Head Office on Thursday evening.

Talking about the festival, Fryer said: "Based on the age-old cultural and literary histories as well as the creative opportunities of the moment, the Karachi Literature Festival draws upon this dynamism by bringing together writers, poets, scholars and academics from a diversity of cultures, languages, academic disciplines and intellectual traditions to create an opportunity for cultural dialogue and exchange through celebration and writing of books".

Ameena Saiyid, OBE, Managing Director Oxford University Press (Pakistan), said that apart from other things, this year's two-day festival would feature many debates on wide-ranging current regional issues.

"Through dialogues and discussions, readings and renderings, the festival is supposed to create an intellectual space in which the diversity and plurality of Pakistan's society is expressed by authors from traditions both from within and beyond the country's borders."

She said that this year's festival would feature special programmes for children, something that hitherto had not been there. These would include films and puppet shows. The festival, she said, was meant to introduce Pakistan to foreign authors and foreign authors to Pakistan.

Besides, she said that this year there would be quite a lot of emphasis on film shows and one of the films to be screened is an international prize-winning production, "Harun Arun", set against the backdrop of the partition of the sub-continent, highlighting the human angle of the watershed event in world history.

Another important organiser of the festival, noted intellectual and literary critic, Asif Aslam Farrukhi, said, "We think of the festival as a window through which the world can see and connect with the realities of Pakistan, and through which Pakistan can see what is happening in the world". The festival, he said, had a vital function.

"The strong international reputation enjoyed by so many writers from Pakistan, will, I hope, encourage a new generation of writers here to find their voice, said Shreela Ghosh from the British Council in Dhaka. She said that she was going to Afghanistan in a day or two to explore the possibilities of expanding the scope of the Council's activities there. According to her, she had been asked by many as to why she was going to Afghanistan out of all the places, to which, she replied that by fostering cultural and literary awareness of other groups and through fostering cultural harmony could they mitigate the feelings of acrimony, the misunderstandings and the misgivings that exist among various groups and hence they could go a long way in mitigating hostilities and tensions, be they regional or international.

Three important personalities that are set to feature are William Dalrymple, the UK citizen, now based in India, whose brainchild the festival really is; London-based internationally-acclaimed academic Anatol Lieven; and London-based Pakistani author Hanif Kureishi.

Saiyid said that the opening keynote address would be by William Dalrymple, and the closing one by Kureishi. Apart from the two main sponsors, the British Council and the Oxford University Press, the co-sponsors are: the US Consulate-General; Consulate-General of the Federal Republic of Germany; the University of Texas at Austin; the Goethe-Institut, Pakistan; the French Consulate-General; and the Embassy of France. The news

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Teachers vow to continue drive for reforms on campuses
Karachi: Teachers at a gathering held at Karachi University on Thursday warned the authorities that the movement launched at Sindh University, Jamshoro, was just a beginning and it would continue till the desperately needed structural reforms were made at all public sector universities in the province.

"Puppet vice chancellors" appointed through the discretionary powers of the chancellor's office, they said, were the main cause of deterioration of all public sector institutions of higher learning in the province and there was a dire need to review the role of the Governor's House in the light of the 18th constitutional amendment.

The gathering was organised by a group of senior KU teachers in honour of their colleagues from Sindh University, where a teachers' movement has gained impetus following the murder of a professor. The agitation has led to the removal of the SU's vice chancellor whom the protesting teachers blamed for the professor's murder besides accusing him of massive corruption and malpractices on the campus.

Eleven of the 12 public sector universities in Sindh, including Karachi University, are headed by retired professors.

Sharing their experiences, the teachers from the SU extended support to their colleagues at the KU and urged them to raise their voice against the likely appointment of another retired professor as head of the KU.

"Teachers at the KU still seem confused. Start a struggle now," remarked Dr Arfana Mallah, secretary of the Sindh University Teachers' Association (SUTA), while looking at the small attendance of KU teachers in the university's audio visual centre.

She regretted that the representative body of the KU teachers did not attend meetings concerning the teachers' movement.

The SU movement, Dr Mallah told the audience, was born out of decades of academic degradation and increasing lawlessness at the university.

"The university's statutory bodies have virtually been paralysed as the vice chancellor handled all affairs single-handedly," she said.

Recalling some recent related developments in the Governor's House, she said the relevant officials never rejected the allegations against Prof Nazir Ahmed Mughal, the SU vice chancellor, but their contention was that if the teachers' demand was accepted, the movement could spread to other universities being headed by retired professors.

"It was the fear of the movement spreading to other institutions that the officials gave in to our demands," she said, adding that they had to face a lot of pressure and even threats to discontinue the movement.

The university had no in-service, capable employee as vice chancellor for 22 years which was one of the major causes of the falling standards of education and rising violence on the campus, she said.

Regarding the murder of Prof Bashir Ahmed Channar, the SU's director for student affairs, she said the teachers' investigation showed that the removed vice chancellor was directly responsible for the murder as he, at a meeting with affected students, had reportedly put the blame for the rustication of the students on the late professor, though the vice chancellor himself had done it.

"That's why we demanded a judicial inquiry into the murder, which has been accepted," she said.

As did the other speakers, Dr Mallah severely criticised the role of law-enforcement agencies on the campuses and said: "They have become a party to campus politics and are actually involved in crimes happening on the campus.

"Ten students have been killed and hundreds of others wounded at the university in 10 years. Of them, four students and a professor were killed in the tenure of the removed vice chancellor alone. If the Rangers and police had maintained peace, the situation wouldn't have been as it is," she said, arguing that poor public sector universities, which did not have money even to buy chemicals and books, certainly could not afford to pay for the law enforcement agencies.

"What academic activities could take place in the presence of a gun?" she said.

Dr Syed Azhar Ali Shah, heading the SUTA, regretted that every government post had criteria for appointment, but this was

none in the case of the head of a university in Sindh. The Higher Education Commission had set criteria for the appointment of a vice chancellor, but that was not being followed.

"A vice chancellor search committee should be set up for each public sector university that must include representative teachers of the university," he said.

He alleged that the vice chancellors' committee headed by a government secretary had fuelled nepotism and corruption.

Dr Amar Sindhu, another teacher from SU, said the success of the SUTA movement had proved that goals could be achieved if there was commitment and dedication.

Navin Haider, a teacher at Pakistan Studies Centre, KU, explained why it was necessary to have an in-service person as vice chancellor. "He is part of the teaching community and as such feels accountable for all his actions."

There was consensus among the speakers that a united movement be launched across the province against the appointment of retired professors as vice chancellors, for the restoration of universities' autonomous status and student unions, withdrawal of law-enforcement agencies from the campuses and their de-weaponisation with the support of political and religious parties.

Prof Dr Aqeel Ahmed, Dr Riaz Ahmed, Dr Shakeel Siddiqui, from the KU, and Dr Iftikhar Tahiri representing the Federal Urdu University Teachers' Society also spoke.

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Ajrak as school uniform: Minister hints at tabling bill in PA
Larkana: The Sindh Minister for Law, Ayaz Soomro, has hinted at introducing a bill in Sindh Assembly soon for adoption of Ajrak as part of uniform in girls' schools in the province.

Talking to journalists after inaugurating a computer centre in the central prison here on Thursday, he said introduction of Ajrak as 'scarf' in school uniform would be a great service to promote Sindhi culture.

He appreciated the efforts of Deputy Commissioner of Larkana Abdul Aleem Lashari who took lead in it by distributing Ajrak among 3,200 girls' students in different high schools on 21 Jan.

He said Larkana jail was the second prison facility after Karachi in the province where computer centre had been established, adding that such centres would be opened in all district jails in Sindh to make prisoners computer literate, he said.

He said weapons of Rs530 million would be purchased for jails and very shortly 300 policemen would be posted in different jails.

He said close circuit cameras would be installed in the jails.

The present government had opened public call offices inside jails to facilitate prisoners to talk to their relatives.

The minister handed over five computers to the jail administration to start imparting computer training.

The minister later inaugurated an intensive care unit with ventilator facility recently established in Chandka Medical College Hospital (teaching block) and said that within 10 days Rs10 would be released for the ICU. The government was committed to provide best medical facilities to CMCH which caters to the needs of Larkana division and parts of Punjab and Balochistan, he said.

He said Sindh had collected Rs11.5 billion as sales tax within six months after the National Finance Commission award and disclosed that Sindh had previously been receiving only Rs40 million to Rs60 million. He claimed absorbing more than 100,000 educated youth in services.

Speaking on the occasion, Deputy Commissioner of Larkana Abdul Aleem Lashari said from now on poor patients would be financially assisted through recently established the Patients Welfare Fund by the Sindh government.

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Admissions to SU distance learning begin/em>
Hyderabad: Admissions in MA Economics, Sindhi, English, Urdu and Islamic Culture under the Distance Education Programme for session 2012 have begun at the Sindh University.

Interested candidates have been asked to collect admission forms from February 11, from the HBL Old Campus branch Hyderabad and submit these, latest by March 30.Candidates vying admissions under the distance programme are advised to contact centres in Umerkot, Shahdadpur, Mithi, Nawabshah, Thatta, Khipro, Matli, Sanghar, Badin, Tando Adam and Mirpurkhas for further information and guidance.

Candidates with bachelor degree and minimum 45 per cent marks will be eligible for admissions.

VIVA-VOCE: Controller of Examinations, University of Sindh Mohammad Nawaz Narejo on Wednesday announced the starting of viva voce of MA final from February 6.

Concerned candidates have been advised to contact their concerned colleges for a detailed schedule. Dawn

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PhD dues issue
Karachi: The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Thursday issued contempt of court notices to Sindh education and finance departments' secretaries, director general colleges Sindh and accountant general of Sindh, directing them to submit their comments.

The order was issued by a division bench of the SHC, headed by Justice Maqbool Baqar, hearing a contempt of court petition filed by Prof Kamal Jamro, who impleaded the provincial secretaries of education and finance departments, accountant general Sindh and director general colleges Sindh.

He stated that the Sindh government and its departments did not comply SHC orders on his petition seeking PhD allowance dues. Prof Jamro stated that the Sindh Services Tribunal (SST) had equaled other languages Phd holders. He prayed the court to take action against the respondents and direct them to pay him outstanding dues as soon as possible. Daily times

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Last chance for SSC candidates
Karachi: The examination forms of the leftover candidates of the Secondary School Certificate Part-I (Class-IX) and SSC Part-II (Class-X) Science Group and General Group (Regular and Private) could be accepted with a late fee to facilitate the students, controller of examinations, Board of Secondary Education Karachi, Rafia Mallah said on Thursday. The news

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