No change in summer holiday schedule
Karachi, May 23: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah has announced that the schedule of summer vacation in schools and colleges will remain unchanged.
However, he added, he had not yet seen the summary of the education department's steering committee's recommendation for revising the timetable.
The chief minister stated this on Sunday in reply to a question at a press conference on his return from a five-day visit to South Korea.
"The vacation period remains the same as that of last year [June and July]," he said. In the same breath, he added, "The summary containing the education department steering committee's recommendation that the summer vacation be observed in July and August was sent to him when he was away from the country and, as such, he has not yet seen it."
As soon as private TV channels broke the news, a number of students, parents and teachers - mostly belonging to private schools - hailed the decision. They said the chief minister by making the announcement had saved them from revising their vacation plans, which they had made much before the steering committee's recommendation. They added that they would not need to cancel train and air tickets they had purchased for spending holidays with their relatives living abroad and in other parts of the country.
Welcoming the chief minister's announcement, students calling from different parts of the city said that the decision had saved them from going to schools in June when temperature usually touched its peak.
It was on May 7 when the education department steering committee at a meeting with Senior Minister for Education Pir Mazhar-ul-Haq had recommended that summer vacation in schools and colleges be observed in July and August to avoid holding classes in Ramazan when teaching hours are shorter.
But only a week later, the education minister allowed schools being run under the Cambridge system of education to continue with their previous schedule of summer vacation when a representative delegation of the schools expressed their inability to implement the steering committee's decision on the plea that their examinations and courses were linked with the Cambridge University.
However, the relaxation given to these schools was bitterly criticised by chairman of the All-Private Schools Management Association Syed Khalid Shah, who was of the opinion that there should be no discrimination between the schools being run under the Cambridge system of education and those being run under the matriculation system.
Mr Shah had hailed that the steering committee's decision, saying that the schools by following the new schedule for summer vacation would be able to avoid holding classes in Ramazan, falling in August.
In a statement issued on Sunday, the Jamaat-i-Islami criticised the chief minister's announcement about keeping the vacation schedule unchanged this year. The party stated that the chief minister should have respected the decision taken in view of Ramazan.
No electricity at KU
Karachi: The University of Karachi has been without electricity for the past two days due to a major cable fault developed on Thursday morning, sources said on Friday evening.
They said that although classes at the university were off nowadays due to the forthcoming summer semester, working of the entire administration block, the examinations department and research work being conducted at its various departments had badly been affected by the unavailability of electricity on the campus, especially in the current hot and humid weather.
The outage also affected the university water supply, KU officials said, adding that if the power supply to the university was not restored immediately, there would be a serious water crisis on the entire campus and those residing on the campus would suffer the most.
The KU officials deplored that although the issue concerning the prolonged power outage had been brought to the notice of the KESC officials concerned, power supply to the university could not be restored till Friday evening.
This was despite the fact that the power utility officials who had turned up to identify the nature of the fault told KU authorities that it was a cable fault and would be rectified soon, they said. Dawn
From promising student to feared militant
Karachi: When Maaz Ali's father sent him to the Karachi University for his higher education, little did he know that his son would end up becoming an integral part of one of the most feared militant outfits of the country, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
Maaz Ali, also known as Irfan, was recently arrested by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and a suicide jacket along with a huge cache of arms and ammunition was recovered from his possession. Three others were also taken into custody during the raid.
While he was being interrogated, Maaz revealed to investigators that he was born in Narowal district of Punjab. Soon after his birth, his father migrated to Karachi and settled in the Green Town of Shah Faisal Colony. To support Maaz's education and meet other expenses, his father started working in the ticketing and reservation department of an airline.
The young student passed his matriculation from the PAF Degree College and went on to do his FSc from Bahria College in Karsaz. For his higher studies, Maaz gained admission to the Karachi University. However, it was before this that he came across a teacher who would play a major role in planting the seed of extremism into his mind. Maaz would go for tuitions to Shafiq Afzal's house in the Golden Town of Shah Faisal Colony. He was joined by 10 other students to whom Shafiq would preach Jihad. It was during these lessons that Maaz and two of his fellow students were convinced that their teacher was showing them the right path.
In June 2007, Shafiq Afzal took Maaz on his so-called Jihad to the Bannu area of Waziristan. Maaz lied to his parents and told them that he was leaving for Tableeg and the two departed from Sohrab Goth's Intercity Bus Terminal.
The detained suspect further disclosed that upon reaching Bannu, they made their way to Maqqani via Mehran Shah. Once they reached their destination, the men met a militant named Ibrahim at whose residence they stayed for 15 days. During this period, Ibrahim, who was a senior member of the TTP's Badar Mansoor Group, trained Maaz to use a pistol as well as the more powerful Kalashnikov.
When his training was complete, the student left for Bajaur where he met a man named Habib, with whom he stayed with for five or six days. They would travel together through the region and after the sixth day, Maaz returned to Karachi after fighting alongside militants against Pakistan's security forces.
Maaz also told the investigators that while he was in Wazirisitan, he saw the notorious Badar Mansoor from a distance of 10 feet, but never had the opportunity to engage him in conversation.
One of the questions which baffled investigators was: who is the mysterious Shafiq? Maaz told them that the he resided in the Golden Town of Shah Faisal and after living in the city for a year, he moved to settle in the Punjab. However, Maaz was unable to provide an address for the mentor who taught him about militancy and extremism.
Narrating his transformation from a student to a feared militant, Maaz told the investigators that he became proficient in using computers and would use his skills to remain in contact with his senior TTP leaders and spread their message of war against the 'enemies' of Islam.
Booklets promoting violence would come from the Punjab and Maaz would take delivery of these books. He would then deliver some to group leaders operating out of Quetta and distribute the rest among political groups at the Karachi University. Through the internet, Maaz also downloaded videos containing hate material, which he would put onto a CD and send to people throughout the country. In addition to this, his group leaders provided him with a USB containing videos of militant training camps in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as speeches by prominent extremist leaders.
The student was also instrumental in delivering electronic goods to the TTP's Badar Mansoor Group. The militant outfit's leaders would deliver the cash to Maaz and it was his responsibility to procure items such as remote controls, capacitors, resistance and ICs used to make bombs and other weapons of destruction. The TTP member himself gained expertise in manufacturing bombs and prepared a number of explosive devices.
The suspect told investigators that the instructions from the TTP's Badar Mansoor Group were crystal clear. They wanted him to increase the organisation's manpower by distributing hate material maligning the state as the group was against Pakistan. Up until his arrest, Maaz had been ordered to prepare bombs and suicide jackets as the militant outfit was targeting police and military installations. Among their targets was the Police Training Centre in Saeedabad.
Maaz also revealed details about an accidental blast in Baldia that resulted in the death of five suspected militants. He told the investigators that a member of the Harkatul Mujahideen was in Karachi and staying at the residence of Imran and Mohsin.
He added that these people were in the process of preparing suicide jackets when the explosives detonated accidentally. The blast claimed the lives of Riaz, Ijaz, Dilawar, Mohammed Hussain and another unidentified person. Maaz and his accomplices also carried out a terrorist attack on an under construction mosque on the KU campus in which some students suffered injuries.
32 more students caught cheating in inter exams
Karachi: A high-powered committee of the Board of Intermediate Education Karachi (BIEK) and other vigilance teams caught 32 candidates using unfair means at different exam centres in the annual intermediate examinations on Saturday.
The cases were handed over to the inquiry committee for further action.
On the sixth day of the Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) examinations, the students of the pre-medical group (Part-II) took the paper of physics in the morning shift, while the students of the commerce regular group took the English paper in the evening shift at 90 centers established in different parts of the city.
Chairman BIEK Prof Anwar Ahmed Zai, along with Controller Examinations BIEK Mohammad Imran Khan Chishti, Director General Colleges Sindh Dr Nasir Ansar and Secretary BIEK Hyder Ali Naveen, paid surprise visits to different examination centers.
During the visits, the BIEK chairman monitored the examination process and facilities at the examination centers. He also directed all centre superintendents to ensure the examination process was transparent. The news