A WRIT petition has been moved in the Lahore High Court seeking judicial inquiry into alleged corruption in the Punjab government’s laptop scheme.

 

The petitioner Mian Shahid Abbas has made Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz President Nawaz Sharif and Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif respondents in the petition.

 

The petitioner submitted that as per a report of the Transparency International the laptop scheme launched by Shahbaz Sharif would cause a loss of Rs1.70 billion to the national exchequer.

 

He said that the Punjab government had purchased laptops at higher price, adding that each laptop was worth Rs25,000 but it was purchased at a rate of Rs35,000.

 

He said the laptop scheme was being used as a tool to carry out political campaign of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.

 

The petitioner further said that pictures of Nawaz Sharif were being used in newspaper advertisements of the Punjab government which was against the law.

 

He prayed to the court to order a judicial inquiry into the matter to get back the embezzled money.

THE Punjab University examination staff nabbed two candidates attempting English paper-B in the ongoing BA/BSc annual examination 2012 at home in connivance with officials on Tuesday.

 

According to a Punjab University spokesperson, the examination centre for Sana Sabir (Roll No 125304) and Mehak Saba (Roll No 125189) was set up at Government College for Women, Band Road, but both attempted their papers at home in connivance with superintendent Ruhi and additional superintendent Humaira Younas.

 

He said unfair means cases (UMCs) had been registered against the candidates and an inquiry initiated against the examination officials while staff was also been replaced.

 

A couple of days ago, PU examination staff had nabbed a BSc candidate, Shanzay Sadiq, attempting papers at her home in connivance with superintendent Alia Anwar in the ongoing BA/BSc annual examination 2012.

 

‘Literacy rate increases by 4pc’: The 56th convocation of Government Postgraduate Islamia College for Women, Cooper Road, was held on Tuesday in which degrees were awarded to 378 students.

 

Punjab Minister for Education Mian Mujtaba Shuja-ur-Rehman was the chief guest who awarded degrees to graduating students and distributed medals and certificates among students who performed excellently in various examinations.

 

In his address, the minister said education was top priority of the Punjab government which had taken many new initiatives in the field. Mujtaba said the Punjab government aimed to set up women universities in Bahawalpur, Multan, Sialkot and Faisalabad, so that new opportunities of higher education for women could be enhanced. He also said Rs 1 billion stipend was being distributed among girl students who belonged to remote and deprived areas to encourage female education.

 

He said the government was implementing a comprehensive programme for providing modern education facilities to children, adding the Daanish School project was a revolutionary step of the Punjab government which would minimise the divide between rich and poor students to play their role in national development and prosperity.

 

Mujtaba said the Punjab government had provided a sum of Rs 10 billion to promote school education in the marginalised strata. He also claimed that as a result of education-friendly policies of the present government, the literacy rate had been raised from 58 percent to 62 percent in four years.

 

PU seats for Baloch students: Punjab University Vice-Chancellor Mujahid Kamran has announced allocating one seat from each department of the varsity for students of Balochistan, saying that the university will bear all their expenses.

 

Addressing a seminar on “Balochistan – Problems and Solutions” organised by the PU and Academic Staff Association (PUASA) here on Tuesday, he said the lack of education was the cause of all the problems of the country.

 

Senator Mir Hasil Bizenjo, ex-senator Abdul Hayee Baloch, ex-DG Military Training Centre General (r) Javed Iqbal, Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (FAPUASA) President Kaleem Baloch, ex-chief secretary Hakeemullah Baloch, Syed Mowahid Hussain, Asadur Rehman and Dr Mujahid Mansoor, Chaudhry Akram, President Academic Staff Association Prof Dr Amir Sarwar, Dr Shaukat Ali, Javed Sami and senior faculty members attended the seminar.

The vice principal of a government technical college was targeted near the Board of Secondary Education in the Nazimabad area on Tuesday evening.

 

Syed Imran Zaidi (52) was fired upon and seriously injured inside his car (T-8473) while he was passing through Dadabhoy Institute in the North Nazimabad area.Police and rescue teams shifted the injured to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital (ASH) where he expired during treatment. He received four bullet wounds on various parts of his body.

 

Police found several empty casings of 9mm pistol from the spot and sent the deceased’s blood sample to the Sindh Police Lab for forensic test.Syed Imran Zaidi was the Vice Principal of the Jinnah Poly Technique College situated near the Board Office.

 

According to Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) Abdul Rasheed, deceased Syed Imran Zaidi had left his college for home in the evening and when he covered a short distance two armed men, riding a motorcycle, intercepted his vehicle and sprayed him with bullets. He was a resident of North Karachi.Police termed Imran Zaidi’s murder a sectarian killing.

 

Murder condemned

 

The Jafaria Alliance and the Majlis–e-Whadat-e-Muslimeen (MWM) strongly condemned the murder of Imran Zaidi.A spokesman for the alliance, Ali Ahmer, told The News that educationists, traders and lawyers were being targeted. He said 23 Shias had been killed in the District Central alone due to which a sense of insecurity was prevailing among the Shia activists who have restricted their movement.

 

He said that not a single culprit had so far been arrested, which reflects the failure of Sindh Home Minister Manzoor Wassan to take action against the target killers.He appealed to Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry to take suo moto notice of the target killing of Shias across the country.

 

The Shia Ulema Council also condemned the murder of Imran Zaidi, saying that they would soon chalk out a strategy by taking all the religious and political parties into confidence in order to press the government to take the terrorists to task.

 

Jamat-e-Islami leader Sarfaraz Ahmed also demanded the immediate arrest of the murderers of Zaidi, saying the government must take concrete measures to arrest the culprits.Condemning the murder of Imran Zaidi, Sunni Tehrik chief Sarwat Ejaz Qadri said that the government had miserably failed to stop target killings in Karachi.

At least 25,000 children have been deprived of their right to education in Kati Pahari and its adjoining areas as 30 government schools have been closed and some 400 teachers have stopped coming to work after the area was hit by a wave of targeted killing and violence in July 2011.

 

The closure of schools has only exacerbated the already appalling educational standards in the area. The education rate in Kati Pahari is a paltry 17 percent, drug use among youngsters is rampant and the poverty so excruciating that half of all households eat the same stale bread for dinner as they do for breakfast, according to an Education Sector Reform Assistant Programme (ESRAP) report by the USAID.

 

The road which cuts between the two hills of Kati Pahari is filled with signs of the area’s troubled past. On one side lies a drug den where teenagers flock to buy heroine or charas. The wall of a nearby school is punctured with bullets; three other schools lie in ruins, with one of them being used as a garbage dump.

 

The lack of schools is felt most in the areas that surround Kati Pahari, such as De Silva Town, Qasba Colony, Bhutto Colony, UC-13 Orangi Town and Manghopir Road Colony.

 

The education department was taken by surprise when contacted about the shutdown issue. Unfortunately, Secretary Education Siddiq Memom could not comment on the issue because of a health condition.

 

Niaz Leghari, Director Schools, after asking for a day to give his comments on the issue, informed The News that “the schools were closed due to prolonged violence in the area; the teachers were being harassed, and the students felt insecure”.

 

Though the education department could not come up with a list of affected schools, Leghari maintained that notifications to inquire into the matter had been sent after he had been informed by The News about the issue.

 

However, there is a glimmer of hope for the people of Kati Pahari. This hope comes in the form of a 23-room co-educational school run by the Bright Education Society. The school imparts education to some 700 students from all backgrounds in an area torn by ethnic violence. The Muslims, Christians, Punjabis, Pakhtuns and Urdu-speaking eat together in the school’s dining hall during the lunch, and once a month they gather to watch a movie.

 

Headmaster Abdul Waheed Khan says that the school follows the principles laid down by Socrates for his own schools. “No one is allowed to fight and everybody has to wait for his turn,” he says.

 

Khan was born in the locality. Though his fair sun-burnt skin and accented Urdu gives him the air of a Pakhtun, he says that he is actually a “mixed-breed”. “My mother was Urdu-speaking and my father was a Pathan,” he says proudly.

 

When the school first came into existence back in 1997, it was nothing more than a collection of straw huts. Now, 14 years later, the school features a spacious building, boasts a 90 percent A1 result in the last matriculation exam, and has teachers trained by the Aga Khan University-Institute of Education.

 

Khan recalls how the students were affected by the wave of violence last year. “They would come with toy guns in their bags, and play “kill the other ethnicity. The teachers had a tough time getting them to mend these habits.”

 

However, the school has not been completely spared by the violence in which it finds itself. “From August 1, our funds will be exhausted,” he shares. Khan does not take foreign funds, as he is scared that the community may brand him as an American agent. Instead, he relies on philanthropists and businessmen from the locality. But the violence has had its toll on the finances of philanthropists and businessmen too.

 

But this school is unable to cater to the needs of all the students in the area. Given the dearth of local education facilities, youngsters have drifted to drug abuse and political vandalism in the area. The few private schools that are still functioning have seen a marked drop in attendance.

 

“Students who once went to school now roam around on the streets, waiting for a law and order situation to erupt, for this is when they can pick pockets and indulge in petty crimes,” says Sajid Hussain, a private schoolteacher from the area.

 

He maintains that during strikes, political parties use these children for arson, stone pelting and blocking roads. “They say criminals are born here: how can they not be? What has the government and society done to provide them with a good life? They will react by burning the factories of the rich.” Over 7,000 of Sindh’s schools are closed; however, the education minister recently claimed to have made about 3,000 closed schools functional.

Islamabad Rawalpindi-Islamabad Union of Journalist (RIUJ) in collaboration with Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) organised ‘Education-journalists training workshop’ for the understanding of ‘Article 25-A (Right to Education)’, here on Tuesday.

 

Senator Talah Mehmood was the chief guest on the occasion. Civic Centre for Education Executive Director Zafar Ullah Khan, Pakistan Federation of Unions of Journalists (PFUJ) President Pervaiz Shauqat, RIUJ General Secretary Bilal Dar were the guests of honour.

 

While addressing the participants Senator Talah Mehmood said that education is key to success and there is a need to pay full attention towards the education and to make strong policy for it.

 

He said media is paying very important role and contributing a lot to spread education among the general public. “Media is highlighting the social issues that’s why concerned authorities are also paying attention to solve these issues first,” he said and added, “now we are talking about the implementation of Article 25-A and this credit also goes to media.”

 

He appreciated the role of RIUJ and ITA for organising workshop for working journalists.

 

PFUJ President Pervaiz Shauqat said that Article 25-A was passed two years before but still there is no implementation of it. He said under this law this is the responsibility of the state to provide free education everyone.

 

RIUJ General Secretary Bilal Dar has said that unfortunately our leaders are taking no interest to educate our next generation. It has become very difficult for the common man to give education to his children because of high inflation rate, whereas it is the responsibility of the state to provide free and quality education to everyone.

Students were taught to employ latest tools of geographic information system (GIS) in a workshop held at the Foundation University Institute of Engineering and Management Sciences (FUIEMS).

 

Over 100 participants from different universities including FAST, NUST, UET, and IQRA as well as participants from within FUIEMS took part in the daylong workshop mainly organised by the students of software engineering (6th semester) and Professor Foundation University Dr M Ramzan.

 

Rector Foundation University, Dr Bilal A. Khan was the chief guest. Others who spoke included Director FUIEMS Dr Aftab Ahmed, President FUIEMS Continuous Professional Development (CPD) workshop Dr Muhammad Ramzan, Chief Resource Person from FAST National University Islamabad Naveed Iqbal, ArcGIS trainer from NUST Sahar Murad and Google Maps trainer Usman Younas from FAST National University.

 

A geographic information system (GIS) integrates hardware, software, and data for capturing, managing, analysing, and displaying all forms of geographically referenced information. The GIS allows viewing and understanding data in many ways that reveal relationships, patterns, and trends in the form of maps, globes, reports, and charts.

 

“The GIS is a location based information system useful for almost all fields of life. It enhances the capability of informed decision making in day to day life. For example, by analysing the location of RWP with most traffic flow through GIS or indicating the change in the trends of property dealing over time through this system can make things much easier for common public,” said Dr Naveed Iqbal, a GIS specialist from FAST.

 

The participants were taught how to use Google maps and how it can be altered according to our requirements by some simple programming. The participants were keen to learn. This session was followed by a lecture on ArcGIS by Sahar Murad from NUST. The ArcGIS is software used to design maps in an efficient way.

 

The students who organised the event included Rida Arooj and Yafra Khan as event managers, Sidra Iftikhar, Rimsha Gishkori and Muhammad Ali Shahzad as web developers, Muhammad Hadi Raza, Muhammad Suleman and Mohsin Tanveer as graphic designers, Rashid Nadeem as photographer, Saeed Niazi as one of the leading event managers, and Sohail Ahmed, Nida Tasneem and Aneeba Anwar as other main event organizers.

 

In the end, the participants were awarded with certificates. In his concluding remarks, Dr Naveed Iqbal appreciated the efforts of teachers and students for organizing the event.

Islamabad: Students and teachers of different institutions visited the Pak-China Business Forum & Industrial Exhibition on the third day, says a press release.

 

The Comsats Institute of Information Technology, Islamabad, organised the exhibition. Students and faculty from Riphah International University, Quaid-i-Azam University, Al-Makhtoom Special Institute, NUML and Comsats Wah Cantonment and Abbottabad campuses visited the exhibition. A number of Pakistani and Chinese companies have displayed their products and instruments at their stalls.

 

The workshop titled ‘Information and Communication Technology and Biomedical Materials’ was also held. Presentations were given on ICT as a tool for socio-economic uplift of developing countries, access technologies, latest ICT initiatives in remote areas: Issues and opportunities, ICT needs of social sector organizations, Status of orthopaedic materials in Pakistan, current status and requirements of the biomaterials industry in Pakistan.

The issue of child labour is violence against children and it should be taken up both at the national and Saarc forums, says a press release issued here Tuesday.

 

These were the recommendations of participants at a national seminar organised by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in collaboration with the Ministry of Human Rights. This national level technical consultation was focused on ‘Mainstreaming Child Labour Issues into Saarc Regional and National Frameworks of Child Protection and Violence against Children’ at the ILO Office in Islamabad.

 

Ministry of Human Rights Secretary Saeed Alvi was the chief guest at the consultation and in his opening statement emphasised the role of the government and the commitment of the government at the national and Saarc level to address the issue of child labour and violence and child protection.

 

Jahan Ara Wattoo, The Goodwill Ambassador for orphan children and the proposed Goodwill Ambassador for SAIEVAC requested

 

ILO to formulate a paper on child labour with policy level recommendations for SAIEVAC.

 

Manzoor Khaliq presented the statement on behalf of the ILO Director in which he applauded the role of ILO constituents and the civil society on child labour since the early 1990s. He expressed the importance of the commitment of the SAARC Development Goals.

 

Sherin Khan, ILO Senior Specialist on Child Labour for South Asia, highlighted Saarc frameworks and partnerships for addressing child labour. She reiterated ILO’s commitment to support the new apex body on children namely South Asian Initiative to End Violence Against Child (SAIEVAC).

 

Haji Javed, President Employers Federation of Pakistan emphasised their commitment for the collaboration at the regional Saarc level for resolving child labour issues with the Hague Conference on child labour (2010) as the road map. He expressed the need for child protection mechanisms at the provincial level and the Skilled Development Councils established in all the four provinces and even in the capital.

 

Zahoor Awan, General Secretary, Pakistan Workers Federation expressed the need to set up child protection systems and the need to strengthen efforts and networks at the Saarc Trade Union Council (STUC). He proposed STUC as the Federation working at the regional level to address violence against children at the workplace.

 

Dr. M. Saifullah Chaudhry, Senior Programme Officer ILO, presented the finding of his doctoral research that also included violence against children at the work with focus on the auto repair workshops in Rawalpindi. He provided evidence that how children endure psychological and physical violence at the hands of their Ustaads, which include profanities and corporal punishment. The study was highly applauded by the participants of the workshop as an eye opener on the violence against children in the workplace settings.

 

Riffat Ayesha, Director SAARC HRD Centre, presented a overview of the Saarc Development Goals.

Inter-university ‘bilingual debate’ and ‘comedy skit’ competitions were held at the Preston University here on Tuesday. Students showcased their debating skills as well as their performing art talent in front of the audience.

 

These events were organised as part of the ‘Spring Splash 2012’ currently under way at the Islamabad Campus of Preston University.

 

The universities which participated in the bilingual debate were International Islamic University, Islamabad; Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad; Hamdard University, Islamabad; Federal Urdu University, Islamabad; SZABIST, Islamabad; Islamia College University, Peshawar; Pir Mehr Ali Shah-Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi; Foundation University, Rawalpindi; and Preston University’s Islamabad, Kohat, Peshawar and Lahore campuses.

 

In English debate, Nosheen Fatima of the Pir Mehr Ali Shah-Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi, beat her counterparts to win first position. Second position in this competition was awarded to Amber Nadeem Malik of the International Islamic University, Islamabad. Mahrukh Mustansar of the Foundation University, Rawalpindi, got third position.

 

In Urdu debate, Amna Firdous of the Pir Mehr Ali Shah-University of Arid Agriculture Rawalpindi, grabbed first position. Second position went to Ammara Sajjad Qazi of the International Islamic University, Islamabad. Third position went to Shahbaz Ali of the Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad.

 

Sheikh Hameed, chairman of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Red Crescent Society, who was the chief guest on the occasion, distributed prizes among the position-holders of English and Urdu debates. Preston University Chancellor Dr. Abdul Basit was also present on the occasion. Debating skills of the participating students were highly appreciated by the chief guest as well as the chancellor. They congratulated the students and their respective universities on winning positions in debates.

 

The ‘comedy skit competition’ showcased the artistic talent and confidence of students. The contestants were judged by their use of stage, getup, script and performance. There was no specific theme for the comedy skit and ‘nautanky’, skit, standup comedy, comedy ‘mushaira’ and humorous question and answer sessions were performed by students.

 

The judges for the comedy skit competition were Sajjad Gul, Khawar Lone and Hamoon Rasheed Chauhan. Students presented their best performances and were applauded whole-heartedly by the audience. Hamoon Rashid, while speaking on the occasion, said: “Since it is an inter-university competition so our expectations are much higher.” He said that all students have performed well, but a few have outclassed all.

 

In the ‘comedy skit competition,’ Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad; Islamia College University, Peshawar; Pir Mehr Ali Shah-Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi; SZABIST, Islamabad; Hamdard

 

University, Islamabad; and Preston University’s Islamabad and Peshawar campuses took part.

 

In the competition, first position was won by the team of Preston University, Islamabad Campus. Second position was awarded to the team of Preston University, Peshawar. The team of the Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, stood third in the competition.

 

Islamabad Chief Commissioner Tariq Pirzada was the chief guest at the award distribution ceremony of ‘comedy skit competition’. In his brief address on the occasion, he appreciated the performance of students of participating universities. He particularly appreciated the performance of the students of those universities which stood first, second and third in the competition.

Students of the City School’s Civil Lines Campus painted picture of peace through drama, stupefying performances and breeze of best theatre here on Tuesday.

 

Awami League Chairman Sheikh Rashid Ahmed was the chief guest, while parents and students attended the event titled ‘Peace Fiesta’. Children sang beautiful songs to spread the message of harmony. They were clad in traditional dresses of different countries and danced on the beats of the drum. A mime act titled ‘Pandora’s Box,’ showing the eradication of evils from society was also performed by children followed by a hip-hop dance and a dance by girls on ‘Taare Zameen Par’.

 

Sheikh Rashid said: “The new generation is much more smarter than ours and we have full faith in our youth. A huge change is coming in the country in the form of education.” He said that he has utilised more than 60 plots in the NA-55 by constructing high schools and colleges for girls.

 

He wished that someday his ‘Lal Haveli’ would also become some kind of educational institution. He said that recently he visited some European countries and was shocked to see that students from Pakistan who had gone for studying are looking for jobs there because their parents are unable to fund their studies. “We need to change the scenario through education and I feel proud to say that Rawalpindi is the best city in girls’ education,” he said.