Governer security plan for KU still not enforced
Karachi, Nov 10: The Karachi University administration is sitting on the security plan approved by its chancellor more than 10 days ago in the wake of the suicide attack in the International Islamic University in Islamabad.
A number of teachers expressed their common concern about the worsening law and order situation on the campus in recent years. They all felt that the current security setup needed an immediate overhaul as it was insensitive to security concerns, letting the law and order situation on the campus worsen.
They said not only had violence increased and students been injured and killed, but the overall security on the campus had been compromised due to growing political interference. The loose arrangements had affected the university's academic activities also, they added.
"The campus is no longer secure. In fact, the situation is dangerous here. In recent years, there have been many cases of robberies in the residential area. Thefts at departments have now become common. Nothing, however, has been done by the administration to rectify the situation," said a KU teacher, wishing not to be identified.
Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad, the chancellor of the public sector universities in the province, had approved a security plan last month in the wake of the terrorist attack on the International Islamic University in Islamabad.
The plan included the establishment of campus security cells, installation of walkthrough gates, closed-circuit TV cameras, barbed wires, regular patrolling of trained security staff on the campuses, placement of a ban on political gatherings and wedding parties. It was immediately forwarded to the heads of the institutions, with a directive that they take urgent steps to implement it.
Sources also say that a comprehensive plan that included restructuring of all administrative departments and overhauling of the security system has been pending with the university since 2005. The plan was prepared by a former pro-vice-chancellor. Opened initially with 50 students in 1951, the university has more than 24,000 regular students now. Spread over 1,200 acres, its infrastructure has witnessed remarkable development in a decade. There are 53 departments and 20 research centres and institutes now. Classes are also held in the evening.
However, this large-scale expansion has not made the administration envisage a proper security system for the institution. The university's boundary wall remained broken for decades, which the officials now claim has been repaired after the approval of the chancellor's security plan.
What is the main worry is the small height of the boundary wall, which can be easily crossed over at many points.
"At some places, it is hardly four-foot-high. The small grilles installed at the botanical garden's main gate and Sheikh Zayed Islamic Centre provide trespassers with convenient passages into the university. The university is also very vulnerable from the sides of Ayub and Sachal villages (which allegedly squat on university land)," said a KU employee, adding that there had been cases in which addicts and thieves who had entered the university from those places were arrested.
Despite these infrastructural inadequacies, one need not use the harder way for jumping into the university from the boundary wall. There are other convenient places. The section on the main road designated for giving out admission forms to newcomers is one such spot.
A visit to the area showed that outsiders could make their way into the university unchecked.
When asked if any strictness had been observed in security during the last 10 days, teachers and students said no tangible change had occurred."Some cosmetic measures have been taken, but no real change is made. Student activists still drive about freely in the evening, though morning students are not allowed to bring vehicles in. No body search with metal detectors is done as has been suggested in the governor's plan," said a teacher.
A number of teachers expressed concern at the leniency shown in the evening and demanded that the administration maintain the same sternness as was followed in the morning hours.
"There are too many outsiders in the evening who stay on the campus as late as 10pm. And nobody can dare question their late presence there. Most troubles on the campus in recent months have taken place in the evening," said another teacher. One of the major flaws in the university security is that it is being run on the old chowkidari system. Most guards have had no training for the job. No equipment is provided to them to communicate with one another.
Though officials claim that the guards are provided with a baton, generally they are seen empty-handed.Another major flaw is that there are only four women among the 140 persons employed as guards, ignoring that about 75 per cent of the university students are women.
"The man who blew himself up at the Islamabad university was wearing a burqa. This makes more sense in employing more women guards at the university. All students should be subjected to frisking if we want to make our security efficient. But this can be done only if there are more women guards," remarked a teacher.
Pointing to another problem, Dr Abid Husnain, the president the Karachi University Teachers Society, said: "The security system needs overhauling. As a first step, an expert trained in security matters be made head of the university's security. No university teacher can do the job properly. We desperately need more staff and adoption of modern techniques."
At present Prof Dr Khalid Iraqi is dealing with security issues on the campus. "All flaws can be removed if pressure from student activists and the employees' union backed by political parties decreases.
"Time and again guards have been found involved in thefts. But instead of taking action against them, they are transferred to another section. The administration has become a hostage to student activists," said a KU employee.
Over the past few months, thefts of all types have been committed on the campus, including that of equipment, vehicles, cash, cables and cellular phones. Even taps have been taken away from washrooms, which are left unlocked in some departments.
The major robbery, however, took place in the pharmacy department, where thieves took away research equipment worth Rs2 million.
"We had never heard of such a theft on the campus before. And it is difficult to imagine why someone would take away highly scientific equipment. An FIR was registered, but nothing happened afterwards," said Prof Dr Fayyaz Vaid, the chairman of the pharmaceutical chemistry department.
Dr Iraqi said that the university was taking steps to improve security. "We will raise the wall height. New roads and exit points are being made. There is a severe shortage of staff and we have sent in a request for hiring more people. The staff would be trained in security matters."He said some suggestions, including installation of closed-circuit cameras, had been forwarded to the vice-chancellor.
He admitted that there were a number of issues related to security that needed to be addressed. He stressed the need for cooperation of all stakeholders for it.When asked about the rampant thefts, he said, "Educational institutions reflect what is happening in society and, I believe, the thefts are apparently due to the growing unemployment and inflation in the country." Dawn
KU professor research
Karachi: A professor at the University of Karachi (KU) is investigating the psychological effects of serotonin, a special chemical present in the body and brain, to diagnose mental disorders, it has been learnt.
Dr Kaneez Fatima Shad, a professor at the KU Panjwani Centre for Molecular Medicine and Drug Research (PCMDC) is working on peripheral markers for the diagnosis of mental disorders. According to the professor, it is not possible to remove neurons from a living person, but it is possible to isolate platelets and serum from the blood samples to identify biological markers for the diagnosis of brain diseases such as depression and schizophrenia.
"Though serotonin plays an important role in the brain in regulating mood, learning and sleeping, most of the body's serotonin is made in the gut which never crosses the blood-brain barrier but travels through out the body and bones via platelets. When excess of gut serotonin binds to 5HT1b (a type of serotonin receptor) present on the bones, it stops the formation of new bone cells and lowers bone density resulting in the disease osteoporosis," Shad informed.
The professor is currently trying to find a relationship between serotonin and its end products in different areas of brain and platelets, and their relationship in gut feelings.
Shad found that neuronal serotonin its receptors and metabolite (5Indol Acetic Acid) can be measured and compared with that of human platelets. The rationale for these comparative studies is to observe if platelets can be used as a peripheral model of central nervous system (CNS) neuronal function.
"The chemical which makes us happy is known as serotonin which is produced by a special group of cells in our brain and small intestine. There are more than 17 types and subtypes of serotonin receptors in our brain and body. When serotonin occupies one of this receptor it generates a very specific effect according to its location and need," she elaborated.
The time taken by blood to clot can be taken as an indicator for serotonin level in the brain. To examine the role of serotonin in platelet aggregation and anxiety, she investigated the combined effect of 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT, serotonin) and calcium ionophore (A23187) on human platelet aggregation.
"Interpretation of the effects of these blockers is complicated by their lack of specificity. We conclude that platelets have similar serotonin receptors like that of neurons and can be used as indicator not only for the mood disorders but also in the gut feelings because Platelets exhibits serotonin's gut feelings," Shad explained.
Searching for a biological marker for Schizophrenia: Initial patch clamp studies of human platelets indicated the presence of similar serotonin currents in platelets and mammalian neurons. Platelets could be used as a peripheral marker to study the neuronal receptor channels. The news
Plan to open Lyari medical college next month
Karachi: Work on the renovation of the Lyari General Hospital and the Ayaz Sammo Nursing and Training School would be completed by Dec 15 to pave the way for the setting up of the Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Medical College, a top aide to President Asif Ali Zardari was told on Monday. The secretary-general to President Zardari, Salman Farooqui, was given a briefing at a meeting held here to review the pace of work on the Rs930 million Lyari Development Package that includes the establishment of the medical college in the Pakistan People's Party's stronghold.
The meeting, presided over by Chief Secretary Fazal-ur-Rehman, was attended by the health and education secretaries and other senior officials.
President Zardari would inaugurate the medical college next month. He would also open a fully-fledged cardiology department at the Lyari General Hospital, which is being upgraded at a cost of Rs278 million.
The admission policy of the Benazir Bhutto Medical College is likely to be announced by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah within a week or so. Fifty per cent seats of the college would be reserved for students of the Lyari, Keamari, SITE and Gadap towns while the rest of the seats would be filled through an open-merit policy.
The health secretary informed the meeting that the admission policy for the medical college has been prepared and it would be submitted to the chief minister for his formal approval so that it could be announced soon.
The project director of the Benazir Bhutto Medical College, Prof Hassan Dost Afridi, said that renovation and infrastructure of two floors of the hospital had already been completed.
Informed sources said that the new building of the medical college would be constructed on the premises of the Marine Academy where, in future, a medical university would be established on 137 acres.
The president's secretary-general was informed that work on Hyderabad-Mirpurkhas dual carriage road would begin within a month and would be completed within a short span of nine months.
Mr Farooqui also inquired about a project to build high-rises on the premises of the Sharea Faisal and Saddar police stations for policemen. Upon which the chief secretary directed the city police chief to submit a report to him on Tuesday. Dawn
Arrangements for Urdu Aalmi Conference reviewed
Karachi: A meeting of the Governing Body of Karachi Arts Council was held under the chairmanship of District Coordination Officer (DCO) and the president of the Arts Council Karachi Jawed Hanif Khan at the premises of the Karachi Arts Council.
The meeting reviewed the arrangements of the Urdu Aalmi Conference being held by the Karachi Arts Council. The meeting was told that invitations to the guest Urdu writers and critics around the world have been extended and hopefully a large number of writers from different countries including US, Canada, UK and other European countries, India and the United Arab Emirates would attend the conference.
In this regard a special committee was formed to look after the arrangements of the Urdu Aalmi Conference and to prepare the minute to minute comprehensive implementation plan of the conference.
Saifur Rehman Grami, Sehar Ansari, Ahmed Shah, Jawed Saba, Sahid Rassam and Naqash Kazmi were selected as members of the organizing committee for the conference. The DCO asked the organising committee to prepare its plans/recommendations regarding the conference immediately to further consideration in the next governing body meeting.
The meeting also reviewed the present policy of membership of the Arts Council and decided to open the membership process after the approval of the general body meeting. It also deliberated the new policy for the membership and prepared its recommendations with regard to the revision of the same.
According to the new membership policy new criteria for the membership in the different categories has been decided so that the Arts Council could be transformed into a model organisation working for the promotion of art and culture.
The DCO asked the meeting that all literary and cultural programmes should be held as per expectation of the people. He hoped the conference being held would serve the purpose of the promotion of literature and create opportunities to the local writers to interact with other parts of the world. He hoped all members of the Arts Council would play their role to make the event successful. The news
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