O level exams held amidst tension

Karachi, Oct 19: O level exams were held on Thursday amidst tension and fear, as students appearing in the Statistics paper were shifted to different hotels nearer to their venue to avoid any disturbance, as all forms of transport were off the roads, which presented a deserted look owing to the homecoming of PPP's Chairperson and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

While the actual time of the exam was 9.30am, most of the students left their residences three hours earlier to reach their examination centres on time. As O level exams are conducted globally according to their respective time, this paper could not be postponed or rescheduled. Students had to attend the exams no matter what happened, risking their lives in this uncertain situation of the city.

Parents of the students were worried about the law and order situation, recalling the May 12 incidents, which claimed more than 40 lives. They prayed that such a situation would not recur. It may be recalled that the tenth grade exams, too, were held while the city was in the grip of violence in the month of May.

With such apprehensions, entire families of candidates moved to their relatives' houses and many to hotels which were overbooked as multinational companies and the electronic media personnel were accommodated there by their employers.

However, rush was witnessed in the morning at the road side of Regent Plaza, the venue for the exams at the main Sharea Faisal. No security measures were witnessed around the examination centres as claimed by British Council Director Examination, Asim Saeed Khan, who had said that the British Council had arranged for proper security measures.

Mohammed Arsalan and Minha Beg, students of Karachi Public School, residing in Gulistan-e-Rafi, Malir, shifted to Mehran Hotel the night before along with their parents as all roads coming from Malir to the airport were closed late Wednesday night.

Another candidate, Syed Faizan Ali, of the same school, living in Water Pump, also faced a similar situation. He and his family left their residence at 6am. His mother, Mumtaz Ali, was quite worried for her son, saying that he did not sleep the entire night due to stress and mental agony over whether or not he would be able to reach the exam venue.

Humair Zia, son of a Karachi University Professor, had to bear the traffic situation though alternate routes were already announced. He managed to reach the centre by passing through the lanes of Khudadad Colony and Lines Area, as the main roads were closed.

Rafay Samad, a student of Foundation Public School in Defence, who lives on Tariq Road, moved to his aunt's home, as they had a bad experience earlier when he was giving his class 10 exams on May 12, 13 and 14 - the days the city saw uncertainty and turmoil when Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry was to arrive in the city.

Parents waited for three hours outside the hotel with no seating arrangements as they were denied entry by the security guards posted at the main gate of the hotel. The guards said that the British Council management had given orders to not let any parent accompany their children into the exam venue.

However, the exams were held peacefully with no untoward incident taking place. The other venue was the Hotel Pearl Continental, where most of the parents also stayed overnight to avoid any eventuality. The exams will conclude on November 22. The News



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