Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Progress on National Health Vision 2016-2025 discussed

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The worsening of key indicators related to female health, education and social development is a key issue holding back Pakistan’s ability to meet global targets under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), according to experts.
Pakistan has incorporated 169 targets under the SDGs into long-term planning frameworks such as Vision 2025 and the National Health Vision 2016-2025. 

New insights on Pakistan’s progress in achieving these policy objectives were discussed by federal and provincial government officials, researchers and civil society experts at a conference Pakistan’s Challenges of Health and Nutrition in the context of Sustainable Development Goals: issues and progress at Aga Khan University on November 18. 

The researchers emphasised that Pakistan’s girls continue to be less likely to receive a full course of vaccinations than boys of the same age. Even though the latest data shows a narrowing of the gender gap in immunization, the persistence of this inequality for three decades means that young girls and women are more vulnerable to preventable illnesses. 

Alarmingly, there has been an overall decline in demand for treatment of diarrhea and pneumonia for both sexes over the past three decades with the extent of the drop being much larger for females. This means that female children are also less likely to receive treatment for these diseases than in the past, the experts pointed out. 

“A lack of attention to female health and education both reflects and perpetuates a feudal, patriarchal mindset in society. This limits the ability of Pakistani women to participate in the national development process and has cross-cutting and far-reaching impacts on our social progress,” Dr Zulfiqar A Bhutta, founding director of the Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health at AKU, remarked. 

In presentations on Pakistan’s efforts to combat child malnutrition, speakers noted that the country had not made encouraging progress. Even though the proportion of children who are underweight has declined slowly, one in three young children continue to have low weight for their age. 

When it comes to stunting, low height for one’s age, experts noted that the situation has worsened between 2001 and 2011 with the proportion of children suffering from this chronic form of malnutrition rising from 37 per cent to 44 per cent. 

Micronutrient deficiencies also remain prevalent with nearly half of women of reproductive and children under the age of five suffering from anemia (a shortage of iron in the body). The proportion of children with severe and moderate vitamin A deficiency has also risen since 2001. 

The speakers at the event noted that achieving progress in the health and nutrition indicators laid down in the SDGs required a multi-sectoral approach with a focus on the underlying determinants of health such as poverty, education, food security, water and sanitation, and population growth. 

“We now have the data that tells us where we need targeted interventions in nutrition and healthcare. Since the SDG targets are interconnected policymakers should remember to look at the inter-linkages between issues. You cannot achieve gains in adolescent health without looking at gender equality and you cannot tackle the challenge of diarrhea without access to clean water and sanitation,” Dr Bhutta added. 

Barrister Pir Mujeeb-ul-Haq, Sindh convener of the Parliamentary Task Force on the Sustainable Development Goals delivered the opening address at the conference. 

The other prominent officials at the event included Dr Assad Hafeez, Director-General of Health at the Federal Ministry of Health Services and Regulation and Dr Zafar Mirza, convener of the World Health Organization’s Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean Taskforce on SDGs.

Friday, November 17, 2017

AKU-EB recognises SSC and HSSC high achievers

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services) 

The Aga Khan University Examination Board celebrated 172 high achievers from across Pakistan for their outstanding performance in the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSSC) examinations in Karachi on November 16. 

As many as 216 awards were given out to students for high scores in individual subjects, top positions overall and in subject groups for SSC and HSSC both. 

Munnawar Hamid, Board of Trustees, AKU, praised the students for their hard work and told them that they were now prepared for the challenges to come. 

"As you enter a new chapter in your life, the critical thinking and problem solving skills you have learned have not only prepared you for your academic journey, but also helped you to understand how to navigate the challenges in the future," he said. 

The AKU-EB conducted its annual SSC and HSSC examinations in 30 exam centers across 26 cities in Pakistan this May. 

The AKU-EB exam centers across the country were monitored using state of the art technology to ensure that no cheating took place. A comprehensive e-marking process was then utilised to assess all exams fairly, with results announced on July 20. 

21.5% of SSC and 17.4% of HSSC students secured an A-1 Grade, with an overall pass rate of 92.51%. For the fourth year in a row, girls topped both SSC and HSSC examinations, securing the top three positions. 

“Studying under the AKU-EB system infused a sense of curiosity and a thirst for knowledge. The application-based approach helped me in my everyday life,” the HSSC first position holder, Mariam Sajjad from Aga Khan Higher Secondary School, Karimabad, Karachi, remarked. 

In addition, Mariam Sajjad secured first position in Pre-Medical subject group and is also a high achiever in Biology, Physics and Urdu Compulsory, taking home five awards. 

Previously she had also secured top position in SSC in 2015, as well as in Science group and obtained three subject awards. The awards also celebrated AKU-EB’s Bridge Scholars. 

The scholarship, funded by the Fancy Foundation, covers two years of HSSC education for Karachi students selected on merit and need based criteria. 

The chief guest, Ms Ameena Saiyid OBE, managing director Oxford University Press, Pakistan said, "The quality of education that you have been fortunate to receive is being offered in areas where it is needed most. It is helping to change the landscape of education across the country, and is one of the most impactful ways through which social transformation in Pakistan can be guaranteed." 

"Regardless of whether you are a High Achiever or not, the fact that you have concluded your secondary education under a Board that emphasises fairness and transparency as part of its mandate is remarkable,” Dr Shehzad Jeeva, Director, AKU-EB, added.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

International Conference on biomedical engineering held in Karachi

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Quite a few acclaimed experts of biomedical engineering enlightened the audience by sharing their experiences in the recently held conference in Karachi. 

The International Conference on Biomedical Engineering and Medical Sciences was organized by a private sector university with the collaboration of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) as a part of the 200th birth anniversary celebration of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, the great reformer and educationist. 

As many as 23 PhDs presented their paper on the occasion including four from the US, Canada, UK and Spain besides presentation of 43 posters. 

The Chairman of the Biomedical Engineering department of the host university, Prof Dr M A Haleem stated that thirst for knowledge has been a focus of mankind since the beginning of civilization. 

"Innovation and exploration of nature is also important in Islam and is the teaching of Prophet Hazrat Mohammad (PBUH)" Prof Haleem observed during his thought-provoking speech on the occasion. 

"We all know that knowledge only becomes valuable when it is disseminated and applied to benefits of humankind", Prof Haleem remarked and hoped that this conference will be a platform to gather and disseminate the latest knowledge in biomedical engineering. 

He pointed out that the growing field of biomedical Engineering is a field that applies engineering principals to explore biological system in health and disease. It has application in nano-medicine. Nano robotics are used to diagnose site of disease I human body and also to administer medicine at specific site. Synthetic tissues are used to replace diseased or degenerated parts. The knowledge of engineering, medicine and biological system are therefore equally important for a biomedical engineer. 

During the last 35 years, 11 of the Nobel prize-winners for medicine have had a background in chemistry, physics or engineering, he disclosed adding that Chemistry Prizes have been awarded for biomedical engineering related discoveries such as making artificial muscles, limbs and nerves (conductive polymers) and enabling tagging of proteins to observe disease processes such as cancer (green fluorescent protein). 

According to him, Physics Prizes related to biomedical engineering include key developments in medical imaging, sensors and ophthalmology, whilst graphene-based nano-materials offer opportunities for tissue engineering, molecular imaging and drug delivery applications while Medical imaging is also used for computing vision and making bionic eye.

Brain mapping studies are done to locate parts of the brain involved in memory formation, learning and many other important functions. 

Prof Haleem informed that the department established in 1996 was the first biomedical engineering department in Pakistan. Since its inception it has produced a number of MS during last few years and very soon it is going to start PhD program for which NOC is given by the HEC. 

In his speech on the occasion, Prof Dr Samir Iqbal, now a Professor at School of Medicine, UT Rio Grande Valley and previously Associate Professor at Electrical Engineering and Bioengineering, University of Texas at Arlington, disclosed that USA has developed a novel cancer cell detection method that will improve early diagnosis through a tool that tracks cellular behaviour in real time using nanotextured walls that mimic layers of body tissue. He said that determination of biomarkers can help in early diagnosis of many cancer types. 

Prof. Dr. Naweed I. Syed, Professor and Scientific Director at Cumming School of Medicine in University of Calgary, Canada talked about his research based on creating the neurochip and said he has made a way possible to know the communication between a tissue and an electronic device 

This discovery has started a flux of drug testing research for neurodegenerative diseases and disorders. A new set of clinical trials are in progress. 

He said that the electrical signaling in brain cells can be studied in detail with this technology. The brain cells of a patient suffering from epilepsy have been studied. The brain cell activity can be studied in powerful detail now. All the results and findings can then be stored in a database for further research 

Prof. Dr. Javier Poncela Gonzalez is Professor at ETSI Telecommunication, University of Malaga (UMA), campus de teatinos, Spain. His research focuses on analyzing the performance of protocols designed for the control of Medium Access in the underwater environment using Underwater Acoustic Wireless Sensor Networks (UW-ASNs). 

The sectors that can benefit most from this research are industries dealing with biomedical instrumentation, oil and gas, fisheries, UW instrumentation, armed forces, research and exploration bureaus, etc. 

Existing terrestrial Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN) Medium Access Control (MAC) protocol which mostly use radio waves for communications are unsuitable for underwater atmosphere and underwater sensor networks (UWSNs) using acoustic wireless networking finds application in the supporting tools for such applications. 

Dr Engr Muhammad Salman Haleem, currently working in Big Data Centre, School of Computing, Mathematics and Digital Technology, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK, recipient of prestigious EPSRC-DHPA (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council- Dorothy Hodgkin Postgraduate Award-UK) for pursuing his PhD and graduated from NED University of Engineering and Technology and Illinois Institute of Technology, USA for B.Engg.and M.S.E.E respectively, has developed the novel software tool for automatic determination of features associated with the retinal diseases. 

He said that automating steps in the retinal diagnostic process has the great potential to reduce the time eye clinicians need to look up at the images which can expect more patients to be screened and early treatment can be provided in a time-efficient manner. 

From among the national presenters, Prof. Dr. Bhawani Shankar Chowdhry, a distinguished National Professor and Dean, Faculty of Electrical, Electronics, Biomedical & Computer Engineering Mehran University of Engineering & Technology, Jamshoro, gave a keynote talk on 'Improving Biomedical Engineering Education to Brighten up Career Prospectus: A Multidimensional Approach.' 

Prof. Dr. Darakhshan Jabeen Haleem, former Dean Faculty of Science University of Karachi and among the top scientists of Pakistan, currently working as meritorious Professor of Neuroscience at Dr Panjwani Centre for Molecular Medicine and Drug Research (PCMD) presented an internationally patented work from her laboratory. 

She said that chronic pain conditions such as Osteoarthritis and low back pain are the prominent causes of disability across the world. 

Prof. Dr. Ather Inam is Professor and Chairman of Neurosurgery, Department of Surgery, Aga Khan University Hospital, PhD from Northwestern University Institute of Neuroscience, USA and FRCS from Canada and Ireland. He received Sitara-e-Imtiaz and Excellence Award in Neurosurgery Pakistan. 

He discussed various methods of synthesizing neural cell cultures. He described how to obtain and culture neural cells from rat embryos as well as embryonic chick embryos. 

Prof. Dr. Kamran Azim currently working as Dean at Muhammad Ali Jinnah University presented his work which performed at PCMD Karachi. He showed how genomics data can be applied for diagnosis and management in personalized medicine. 

Prof. Dr. Jawwad Shamsi emphasized about applications of advanced technologies from Computer Science in Biomedical Engineering. He demonstrated how the innovative applications from computer science (machine learning techniques and wearable devices can be used in medical sciences such as remote patient monitoring, assistance in disease diagnosis.

Dr Engr Zeeshan ul Haque developed the computational nerve model of the foot by determining the nerve conduction velocity in various myelinated nerve fibre of the foot. The developed functional model will be used in the future studies to investigate different functional outcomes of large fibre neuropathy. 

Dr Nabeel Anwar has presented his non-invasive neuro-stimulation techniques which possess unique possibility to alter neural activity in the brain. These techniques has established a causal relation between specific cortical areas and perceptual, motor and cognitive functions as well as to their ability to modulate these functions and in turn modulate cognitive behaviour.

Dr Riazuddin emphasized upon the use of genomics data available for various subtypes and use of bioinformatics approach to identify the mass signature associated with the specific subtype of Hepatitis C Virus (HCV). He said that those mass signatures when combined with the mass spectrometry data gives us the direct confirmation of the type of HCV. 

Prof. Dr. Nasir Raza, Dr. Huma Ikram, Dr. Noureen Samad and Dr. Darakhshan Saleem from various universities of Pakistan emphasized their work in developing biomedical tools for diagnostics and treatment of neurological diseases and psychiatric illnesses. Dr. Fazli Wahid, Dr. Shabeer Ahmed Mian, Dr. M. Ajmal, Dr. Tariq Javid, Engr. Wajih Abidispoke on functional bacterial cellulose-based nanocomposites, study of authoritative control of field assisted desorbed amino acids, nano-phosphors for biomedical and display applications, biomedical image processing using R, and neural plasticity and treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome with photic simulation respectively.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Emerging heart, lung innovations improve treatment options

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The availability of new life-saving techniques in Pakistan promises quicker diagnosis and better treatment options for those suffering from chronic cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases, the experts reckoned at the National Health Sciences Research Symposium at the Aga Khan University (AKU). 
Hospitals in Karachi and Islamabad have recently introduced cardiac procedures such as TAVI, transcatheter aortic valve implantation, and EVAR, endovascular aneurysm repair, which were previously only available in leading hospitals in the developed world. 

Both procedures enable the treatment of late-stage patients whose delicate health and advanced symptoms meant that open heart surgery is too risky to pursue. Together, TAVI and EVAR represent a new way to treat complex heart and vascular disease, according to speakers at the three-day conference Heart and Lung: From Prevention to Regeneration. 

“TAVI and EVAR are minimally invasive procedures that require small incisions in the leg rather than opening up a patient’s chest. Pakistan now has a handful of trained specialists who can practice these advanced techniques. The challenge is to understand how to make these treatments more widely available in a cost-effective manner for all our patients,” Dr Osman Faheem, Assistant Professor of cardiology at AKU and an expert in the field of structural heart disease, remarked. 

Specialists in pulmonology, the study of the respiratory system, added that minimally invasive techniques such as video-assisted thoracic surgery and bronchoscopy have brought vast improvements in the quality of care offered to lung cancer patients in the country. 

Both procedures require only tiny cuts to the body and enable surgeons to detect and tackle tumours in a more precise, less painful way for the patient. Pulmonology specialists also discussed developments in how to treat lung cancer without surgery, through radiotherapy and medical regimes.

The results of new stem-cell based therapies for patients suffering from heart failure were also presented at the conference. 

While still at experimental stages, speakers noted that the placement of stem cells into damaged and diseased hearts offered a way to ‘regenerate’ and thereby regain lost function. Improvements in existing technology and diagnostic methodology were also explored. For instance, 3D echos and cardiac MRIs presented a much more detailed picture of the heart to all healthcare providers. 

When combined with 3D printers, they offer the ability to create accurate heart models which provide surgeons and physicians with the best information to tackle chronic and acute heart disease. 

The experts also pointed out the important role played by nurses, working in hospital and community settings, in the care for those suffering with cardiopulmonary diseases. 

In addition to understanding the physical, psychological and social needs through research, nurse practitioners are actively involved in areas such as cardiac rehabilitation and in advising patients on lifestyle changes that will boost their quality of life. 

These were some of the discussions at the event which saw specialists in cardiopulmonary medicine from around the world share cutting edge research and discuss the most effective ways to treat the threat posed by such diseases. 

Special sessions on a wide variety of topics spanning the fields of critical care, basic sciences, cardiothoracic surgery, family medicine and the humanities were also held at the conference. 

Speaking about the goals of the event, the Conference Chair, Professor Saulat Fatemi, said: “Our goal is to establish a range of collaborative projects at the University so that cutting edge research and clinical innovations from around the world can benefit Pakistani patients. To this end, we are setting up collaboration committees with our international speakers so that this conference has a long-term impact.” 

The conference’s objectives are in line with global efforts to achieve targets under goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals: ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. Target 3.4.1 of the goal calls for special efforts to reduce premature deaths caused by cardiovascular conditions by a third by 2030. 

The conference was preceded by a day of workshops at the University’s Centre for Innovation in Medical Education where participants gained advanced skills on state-of-the-art simulators. Over 500 participants were in attendance over the event.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Opportunity to advance East-West neuroscience collaborations

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Neuroscience research investigating the brain and how this ‘supercomputer’ controls every aspect of our body and behaviour, needs to be actively promoted and investigated in Pakistan and The Science Bridge initiative offers opportunities for local neuroscientists to participate in global efforts. 

This was the discussion at the 3rd Annual Neuroscience Meeting themed Building Bridges through Neuroscience organised by the Aga Khan University and the Pakistan Society of Basic and Applied Neurosciences in collaboration with The Science Bridge initiative, the International Brain Research Organization, the Advance Educational Institute and Research Centre, and the Canada Pakistan Research and Development Council. 

Prof Mazahir T Hasan of the Achucarro Basque Center for Neuroscience described how The Science Bridge’s mission is to “promote sustainable scientific collaboration between cultures and nations to understand the working principle of the brain, a global effort to find treatments and, possibly, cures for different neurological and psychiatric conditions.” 

He spoke about a new and innovative concept, the Twin Institutes, that aims to link research institutes together, one in a Western country and another one in an Eastern country, around common goals in basic and applied neuroscience. 

“The importance of neuroscience research cannot be overemphasized,” Prof Syed Ather Enam of the Aga Khan University remarked. “There are more than 1,000 disorders of the brain and nervous system that need to be managed and more than 50 percent of all diseases affect the nervous system.” 

In 2007, the World Health Organization (WHO) had estimated that neurological disorders affect up to one billion people worldwide, irrespective of age, sex, education or income. 

During the meeting, the speakers discussed advances in basic understanding of the brain. In one example, Prof. Naweed Syed of the University of Calgary spoke about progress in understanding the communications between a living organism's brain cells and a computer chip. It raises the possibility of neurochip implants that could activate artificial limbs, help restore sight or speech after a stroke, or repair nerve cells in a wide range of brain disorders, from Parkinson’s disease to Alzheimer’s. 

In another discussion, Prof Joshua R Sanes from the Center for Brain Science, Harvard University, explained how the eye’s retina as complex as any other part of the brain but with several features that facilitate analysis can be used to understand the formation of synapses, the junction between two nerve cells. 

The experts at the conference also discussed the status of neuroscience in Pakistan and how to proceed further. They agreed that there is a need for public awareness about the importance of research in understanding basic brain functions and neurological and psychiatric conditions in ‘local’ South Asian populations. 

With collective international efforts and East-West collaborations, the experts expressed a hope that neuroscientists will eventually find innovative ways to treat and cure many neurological diseases.

AKU launch scholarship programme

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

 A total of 45 students from across Pakistan have come together to attend the Aga Khan University’s Challenge Scholarship Programme that aims to prepare young people for higher education.

The students, a mix of young women and men, come from 24 cities and towns across Pakistan, from Parachinar and Bhimber in the north all the way to Dera Ghazi Khan and Badin in the south. 

The Challenge Programme, a two-week residential ‘boot’ camp, gave students the opportunity to be coached by well-known professionals and academics; conducted community research, explored complex topics from critical thinking to gender and ethics while gaining valuable life skills including first aid training. 

They took part in sports and went through formal coaching for swimming; they also toured Karachi. A field trip to Rehri Goth, an old fishing village on the outskirts of Karachi exposed students to how community research can help understand lifestyles and advocate for solutions to local problems. 

Amtul Wadood from Chenab Nagar regarded the field trip as something that left a big impact on her. “Seeing people living in the conditions they were in (Rehri Goth) encouraged us to do something for them. It inspired me to try and make a difference in the world,” she said. 

Waseem Jamil, who came all the way from Parachinar, enjoyed the critical thinking seminar the most “because they encouraged you to ask questions, which I had never experienced before,” Nouman Tariq, from Bhimber, agrees: “the best part is that the sessions are interactive. We are having a dialogue and not just listening silently.” 

Other sessions during the programme included career guidance by academics and professionals, who while speaking about their own life experiences, inspired students to pursue their goals actively. 

One of the highlights of the programme was a dialogue with Pakistan’s first Oscar-winning filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, who has directed acclaimed documentaries such as ‘Saving Face’ and ‘A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness’. 

She spoke to the participants about her own experiences and how she pursued a career as a filmmaker and journalist. She told them to never be discouraged by setbacks, and that hurdles in life were meant to be overcome. 

The temperamental celebrity urged students to pursue their life goals through hard work, determination and strong ethics. She also praised the students and told them that they were the future of Pakistan. 

For many of the students, this has been a life-changing experience. It has given their confidence a great boost. 

This was certainly the case for Inam Ullah from Dera Ghazi Khan, who felt that he has become a new person after this experience. “Back at home my principal would always call me on stage to speak, but I used to shy away. After this experience I will go back home and tell my principal that I want to go speak on stage,” he excitedly said.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Pakistan, EU enjoy strong bonding: Ambassador

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi 
(Pakistan News & Features Services) 

The Ambassador Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Pakistan, Mr Jean-Francois Cautain has remarked that the EU-Pakistan Five Year Engagement Plan was a proof of strong ties between the EU and Pakistan. 

He added that the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) Plus granted to Pakistan by the EU in 2014 had been very successful in building ties. 

He was speaking at a programme, organized by the English Speaking Union of Pakistan (ESUP) at the Beach Luxury Hotel, Karachi, on September 26. 

The President of the ESUP, Aziz Memon, formally introduced the distinguished guest who candidly shared his views with the august gathering present on the occasion. 

“We may have several issues such as migration, human trafficking, etc, but we are working with Pakistan to tackle all that. We need to look at legal ways of migration. We also need to fight smugglers together. But after GSP Plus, Pakistan’s exports have gone up by 38 per cent. The EU provides the GSP Plus facility to 10 countries including Pakistan,” Jean-Francois Cautain observed. 

“The EU also provides Official Development Assistance (ODA) funds to Pakistan, especially for education. This is my third visit to Pakistan. Earlier, I was here working with an NGO in Peshawar. Pakistan is a country that I appreciate and love,” he added. 

“The UK is still there but a change would take place in 2019. The EU was sad to be losing UK but politicians should not be blaming the EU for their own national failures. The EU was not a project of the past that had lost its ambition. The ambition is still very much there. The EU remains the best tool to strengthen sovereignty. With the USA’s collapse of ambition, we work on climate change, human rights, building peace amid hostility, stability of borders and we are still the largest global market, and we will continue to play a key role in trade. We are capable of producing one-quarter of the world’s wealth,” he said, confirming that the EU still comprised of 28 member countries. 

“The EU works at building bridges between its nations for lasting peace. But even if you have peace you don’t take it for granted. From Syria in the Middle East to India there are refugees in search of safe harbours. During the last several months a number of countries have approached the EU, seeking cooperation and a sense of direction while the US takes a back seat in such endeavours. We have given 75 billion euros for human assistance,” Jean-Francois Cautain elaborated. 

Replying to a question about why Turkey was still not a part of the EU, the ambassador said that Turkey needed to meet EU’s standards in mode of government and fundamental values to be able to be a part of the EU. 

Answering to another question concerning the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, he considered it a tragedy, stating that the issue was close to their heart and they were looking for the solutions. 

Jean-Francois Cautain was uncertain how the EU could persuade India to talk with Pakistan to discuss Kashmir. 

“We are not sure in what capacity the EU could help in this matter. The issue of Kashmir and the human rights issues there need to be dealt with by Pakistan and India on their own,” he opined.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

University of Karachi’s Urdu department to hold international conference on Sir Syed Ahmed Khan

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The department of Urdu of the University of Karachi, with the collaboration of the Anjuman Tariqqi Urdu and Higher Education Commission (HEC) will be organizing an international conference to commemorate the 200th birth anniversary of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan from October 16 to 18. 

The central theme of the conference will be focused on Sir Syed Ahmad Khan’s contribution to literature, culture and history of South Asia. 

The department of Urdu of the University of Karachi, under its dynamic chairperson, Prof Dr Tanzeem-ul-Firdous, has taken up the initiative of holding a mega event to pay tribute to the multi-faceted personality of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, who is credited to have played the lead role in the reawakening of the Muslims of South Asia. 

The three-day international conference will throw light on the monumental contributions of the legendary scholar and educationist who changed the mindset and the thinking of the Muslims, successfully persuading them to take to modern system of education. 

During the conference, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan’s role in the promotion of Urdu literature will also be discussed while a few speakers will present papers on his legendary services to the field of education. 

It’s in the fitness of things that the department of Urdu, having a prominent position in the University of Karachi for research, has chosen to take part in the 200th birth anniversary celebrations of the great Sir Syed Ahmad Khan in a befitting manner. Over 75 scholars of the department have already completed their Ph.D. research programme while about a dozen projects were in progress. 

Historically the department had come into existence way back in 1955 when the University of Karachi decided to organize postgraduate classes in Urdu under its own management instead of through the colleges. 

At the time of its establishment, Moulvi Abdul Haq, ‘Baba-e-Urdu’ was designated as honorary Professor and the Chairman of the department while the teaching responsibilities were carried out by the teachers of local colleges. 

Later Dr Ghulam Mustafa Khan, a prominent scholar and Professor at Urdu College Karachi, was appointed both as a cooperative teacher and as the Chairman of the department. In the same year, Dr Abul Lais Siddiqui was appointed as a Reader and Chairman and Dr Abdul Qayyum, Dr Syed Shah Ali, and Qudratullah Fatimi joined as lecturers. 

Dr Syed Abul Khair Kashfi, Dr Farman Fatehpure, Dr Aslam Farrukhi, Prof Jameel Akhtar Khan, Dr Haneef Fauq, Dr Younus Hasni, Shamim Ahmed, Prof Sahar Ansari, Dr Vaqar Ahmed Rizvi, Dr Sidiqa Arman, Dr Moinuddin Aqeel and Dr Zafar Iqbal feature among famous academics to have been associated with the Urdu department of the University of Karachi.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Heavy police force deployment for security during Muharram

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Sindh Home Minister, Sohail Anwar Khan Siyal, has issued directives to police to ensure deployment of heavy police force under Muharram Contingency Plan in order to ensure extraordinary security measures in the Province. 

He issued these directives while reviewing Muharram Contingency Plan 2017. 

"Police emergency camps must be established along the route of main mourning processions so as to respond to rapidly in any unwanted situation", the Home Minister stressed. 

Sohail Siyal urged upon police officers to ensure, at police stations level, the proper identification of outsiders who are being accommodated at hotels, guests house and other temporary residents specially near and around bus terminals, railway stations, suburban and slums areas. 

"Besides audio visual recordings of main majalis and processions, steps be ensured for strict vigilance at high rise buildings along procession routes and parking areas; additionally extensive police patrolling in targeted/ identified sensitive areas, random snap checking and advance intelligence collection and its timely sharing", he further stressed.

He directed that all possible steps should also be taken for continuous watch on places of majalis and processions besides technical sweeping, scanning and clearance from bomb disposal squads. 

The Home Minister also instructed to adopt every step for removal of encroachments, abandoned or out of order vehicles near and around Majalis and route of processions besides deploying snipers at selected high rise buildings. 

According to the Muharram contingency plan, Police is ensuring strict security cover at over 1520 Imambarghas, about 12700 Majalis, 4150 mourning processions and 1400 Tazia processions in the Province. 

The security plan disclosed that specific instructions have been passed on to ensure removal of posters, banners and confiscation of hate material, surveillance and monitoring of activists of proscribed organizations borne on IVth schedule of ATA -1997, electronic and visual surveillance, use of sniffer dogs for explosives detection and sweeping of routes and venues by BDU especially under construction buildings, DB boxes of electricity and telephones, sewerage lines and manholes. 

The Home Minister directed to ensure timely coordination meetings with the religious leaders and Ulemas of different sects at range/zone, district and PS level for implementation of code of conduct for maintaining peace and harmony during Muharram.

Initiatives to regain hockey glories hailed

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Former International Hockey player, Mubashir Mukhtar, has appreciated the efforts of the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) for revival of international hockey in Pakistan. 

 In this regard he referred to organizing of Nishan-e-Haider Hockey tournament and arrival of the Hall of Fame World Eleven in Pakistan besides holding of Pakistan Super Hockey League next year will lead to complete revival of international matches in the country. 

Talking to PNFS, Mubashir, who is now serving as Director Sports in a private engineering university, was confident that the decisions and steps being taken by the PHF President, Brig (Rtd) Khalid Sajjad Khokhar, and the Secretary General, Olympian Shahbaz Ahmed, will enable Pakistan to regain its lost stature in the world of hockey.

He observed that the successful talks held with the officials of PHF's Executive Committee in Dubai, have started yielding positive results and Nishan-e-Haider Hockey Tournament, in which eleven international goalkeepers will be participating, is the first step towards revival of international hockey in Pakistan. 

He said that it will be the first occasion when international hockey players will be participating in a country's domestic event. 

Similarly he expressed delight with the upcoming planned arrival of World Eleven in November this year will bring activity in the hitherto deserted grounds of Pakistan with Pakistan playing a three-match series with the World Eleven in Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi. 

Thereafter in the next year holding of Pakistan Super Hockey League will not only help explore the new talent but also contribute to complete revival of international hockey in the country.