Saturday, May 31, 2014

Toronto’s Sindhi leaders meet Canadian Minister

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Sindhi Community of Toronto held a meeting with Jason Kenney, Federal Minister for Employment, Social Development and Multicultural, together with Tim Hudak, opposition leader of Ontario Legislative Assembly to discuss various issues including visas to spouses, delays in immigration, educational, health, and culture.

The delegation conveyed its grave concerns in relation to the worsening law and order situation in the region and requested the Canadian government to play its due role.

Senior community members, Khair Mohammad Kolachi and Shah Nawaz Shah thanked Canada’s ruling PC Party leader Jason Kenney for his support and further explained the dynamics of the Sindhi community in conjunction with its cultural integration to Canadian society and vibrant role to multiple the plurality of Canada.

The Secretary of the Sindhi Adabi Sangat, a society promoting Sindhi literature inCanada, Zulfiqar Shaikh, highlighted the efforts of the society with respect to literature and culture. He also expressed concern over visa issues that the Sindhi singers and artists are facing, whose presence to the events in Canadian society will promote cultural integration. Spousal and parental visa issues were also brought to light and that family reunion times should be shorter.

The Sindhi Association of North America’s Vice-President, Aijaz Ahmed Kolachi, praised the efforts of Kenney and apprised him of the continued philanthropic and social development activities including education, poverty and disaster relief in Pakistan.

Kolachi stressed the need for CIDA’s mutual co-operation with SANA and Literary Society so as to ensure the proper and transparent allocation of funds to the grassroots level.  He also brought to his attention the role of Central President SANA, Jamil Daaudi, General Secretary, Noornisa Ghanghro, and community donor Aijaz Turk for establishing a school system in Sindh for needy and poor people.

The Executive Council member of SANA Toronto Chapter, Khalida Memon, Rashid Pirzada, Rajesh Rathi and Vishan Lohana, expressed their concerns over intolerance and health issues and deteriorating standards of education in Sindh and other parts ofPakistan.

They also pledged their co-operation with the government of Canada and further added that, such meetings will surely bring a positive result. The both sides agreed upon to explore ways to work together in the sector of education being a best way to enlighten people, address issues of poverty and extremism. 

Federal Minister Jason Kenney praised Aijaz Kolachi for hosting and arranging such a high profiled meeting with the Sindhi community, Literary Society and SANA. He recognized the core issues inPakistan, especially those of Sindh and ensured his support in future.

In the end, Tim Hudak, Opposition Leader of Ontario, promised to solve the local issues and requested to join hands with him to help formulate and implement his manifesto. The Sindhi Diaspora presented Canadian leaders the gift of Ajraks a symbolic cultural identity of Indus Valleycivilization since 5000 years.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Fruit exporters seek VHT Plant installation

By Syed Sajid Aziz
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

While the axe is falling on Pakistan’s fruits’ exports to European Union (EU) due to fruit fly’s threat, the much talked about Vapour Heat Treatment (VHT) Plant has been cleared by the customs department and dumped at the backyard warehouse of Expo Center by Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP).

Though the VHT Plant was imported in very dubious circumstances by the previous management of the TDAP, headed by Tariq Puri, about two years back, it however, became ultimate need of the hour as Pakistan’s fruits and vegetables exports remained under threat due to various reasons particularly fruit fly.

While stakeholders have earnestly demanded TDAP’s present leadership to install it immediately at some independent location so that country’s exporters could be able to utilize it and get away from possible threat of ban on their exports as EU has already slapped a ban on Indian mango due to the same reason.

According to the sources among stakeholders the country has to pay a massive amount on VHT Plant’s duties and demurrages and the cost of the machinery import has shot up to several millions. The TDAP has to pay an amount of Rs33 million in demurrages only, they say.

Despite a big urgency the new leadership of the TDAP is in deep slumber as the Secretary, a junior level officer, has her own priorities. She has looked more interested in foreign trips and some fashions shows than taking the responsibility to safeguard country’s exports.

It is pertinent to note that exports during April and may have dropped significantly, sources said adding that the newly appointed Chief Executive from private sector has proceeded to long vacation after making tall claims of bringing Pakistan’s exports to over $50 billion, while exporters have been left to suffer once again.

Sources said that while VHT Plant remains dumped in warehouse for the last several days and stakeholders are crying for its earliest possible installation as the mango crop is fully ripe and ready for export; the TDAP management has left it on the mercy of vested interests.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

TDAP deprives Pakistan from World Expo participation

By Syed Sajid Aziz
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

At this juncture when the nation has been deprived of its representation in world’s most important and biggest trade event, the World Expo Milan 2015, Sartaj Aziz, the Advisor on Foreign Affairs has asked the UAE government to acquire its expertise in organizing the next similar event to be held in UAE in 2020.

The World Expo is considered as biggest trade event in the world and it held after every five years to the country declared successful in the bidding. This event is almost six month long in duration.

The previous World Expo was held in Shanghai China in 2010 and Pakistan participated in that event with a great enthusiasm. The forthcoming event is being missed by the Pakistanis due to incompetency and ineptness of the high ups in Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP).   

The World Expo that commences from May 1, to continue till October 31, 2015 in Milan, Italy would be participated by as many as 144 United Nations member countries. In the previous World Expo Shanghai, Pakistan had participated in a big way as the organizers had built a concrete replica of Shahi Qilla, Lahore.

The Pakistan pavilion was highly admired by the many international dignitaries and celebrities including many countries’ head of states and ministers.  The Pakistan pavilion was organized by a private organizer at a cost of   $2.8 million.

However,this time the newly appointed Secretary TDAP, Rabiya Javeri Agha, instead of inviting bidding for the event, had asked for a huge amount of nine million euro ($12 million) from the government and the request was denied.

As the deadline of the event was approaching near, the same organizer who had organized Expo Shanghai in just $2.8 million as against the bids of $12 and $16 million by the other organizers had tried to rescue Pakistan and asked the TDAP to outsource the event.

He even offered to organize World Expo on his own expenses but the TDAP Secretary refused to do so and let the deadline expire by saying that the event is not that important.

Pakistan, desperately in need of boosting its trade abroad, is losing many such opportunities to the whims of incompetent and inexperienced officers to run the organization responsible for the export promotion.

The exporters said that how the Advisor on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz can offer expertise of those to UAE for organizing World Expo 2020, who are not even able to manage their own participation?   

Sharjah to become centre of $3 trillion Halal market

By Syed Sajid Aziz
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is to be made center of World Halal Food (WHF) very soon, this was announced on the occasion of establishment of Gulf Halal Centre which was inaugurated by Chairman, Sharjah AWQAF, Sheikh Sagar bin Mohammad Al Qasmi, at Sharjah recently.

The setting up of WHF was a step in fulfilling the vision of Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid al Maktoum, to make UAE the center of world Halal Food trade. The opening of the cenrre coincided with Sharjah celebrating 2014 as the Islamic cultural capital of the world, and with Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qassimi, Ruler of Sharjahs guidance and support to the Islamic world and great Islamic architecture that can be found and seen in all Sharjah government.

The ceremony was held at a local hotel in presence of  VIPs, senior government officials, diplomats, CIPs, business community and media, who witnessed the official launching of Gulf Halal Center (GHC), the pioneering Halal Certification body in the United Arab Emirates, offering  Halal Audit and certification services to Emirati companies, to help them convert to Halal Management System. Sheikh Sagar al Qasmi, declared it as part of the jubilation celebrating Sharjah as the Islamic Cultural Capital of the World 2014.

Chairman of Gulf Halal Center, Saif Mohammad Jasim al Midfa while talking to media said that the Halal market does not only include food products and ingredients but also food service establishments, Pharmaceuticals, Cosmetics, Personal care products, Animal & Poultry feed, Apparel & leather products, hospitality and tourism, banking, finance, Takaful and logistics, which will all be covered by the Gulf Halal Center.

Asad Sajjad, the CEO of Gulf Halal Center gave an eye opening presentation on how the Haram ingredients are used in our everyday use products and emphasized on the importance of Halal Certification as the demand of 1.7 billion Muslim consumers as well as a lot of non-Muslims, who prefer Halal food as its healthy and wholesome (Tayyab). 

Asad said that Halal Certified has emerged as an internationally recognized and established brand that is a big sales booster for the Emirati manufacturers and exporters to enter the 3 trillion dollar plus Global Halal market. Halal Certified removes the non-tariff barriers for many countries as Halal Certified products are able to enter countries with obligatory Halal requirements.

He said that GHC team consists of qualified professionals including Halal technical auditor, Shariah experts and food technologist, experienced in Halal Audit and certification work as per UAE Halal standards for food safety and Shariah, also compliant with OIC-SMIIC Halal standards that are accepted worldwide. 

The GHC also offers Marketing services for Halal Certified products as well as Halal Training and awareness services, for the company employees and management.   

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Europe becomes popular in Pakistan after GSP status

By Syed Sajid Aziz
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

“Europe has become popular among Pakistanis after it has been granted GSP Plus by the European Union (EU) early this year.”

This was stated by Germany’s Consul General in Karachi Dr Tilo Klinner while addressing the office bearers and members of the Karachi Union of Journalists-D (KUJ) and the Karachi Press Club on May 21.

“The GSP Plus status is a proof of confidence shown by the European countries on Pakistan, because of which huge foreign investments are coming here in different sectors,” he remarked, adding that in order to fully exploit the GSP Plus, Pakistan should have to comply with the international conventions it signed earlier.

He said that a big potential of Pakistan’s agro products did exist but the Pakistani exporters must adhere to the European quarantine regulations, reminding Germany was already importing Pakistan’s rice and wheat.

The German Consul General praised the investment policies of the Punjab government due to which a number of foreign investors are being attracted to invest in the province of Punjab.

He was of the opinion that Pak-India bilateral trade is not only in the interest of both the neighbouring countries but beneficial to the region as well.     

Dr Kllinner reckoned that the conditions for the working journalists in Pakistan were getting harder day by day and it was the need of the hour to create awareness among the journalists about their safety and protection.

He agreed to the proposals given by the KUJ to hold training courses and workshops in collaboration with the German Consulate for journalists and initiate journalists exchange programme between the two countries.

He said that he would write to the Berlin Press Club to coordinate with the Karachi Press Club. He further agreed to facilitate the journalists in teaching German language.
Dr Klinner also informed that a large delegation of businessmen from Germany will be visiting Pakistan soon to explore the opportunities for trade and investment.

He offered full support to the KPC and the KUJ, committing to encourage and facilitate them in their professional activities. 

SSUET final semester exams start on May 26

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The final years semester examinations at the Sir Syed University of Engineering &Technology (SSUET), Karachi, are scheduled to start from May 26 and will last for about two weeks.

Teaching in all classes has already been completed on May 16 and the ongoing week has been allowed to students for examination preparations. The arrangements for the semester examination are in full swing and they will be completed by May 23.

Meanwhile the summer session will start from the middle of June according to the university officials who added that it will be spread over six to seven weeks  where after the new session for all batches will start from August 4, soon after Eid-ul-Fitr holidays.

It may be mentioned here that the university is offering 4 year BS programs in the engineering disciplines of Computer, Bio-Medical, Civil, Electronics, Telecommunication, Bio-Informatics, Architecture and Software Engineering besides Computer Science.

The SSUET is also offering Ph.D and Master studies in various engineering disciplines under its continuing education program.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

More than 25 countries to participate in POGEE 2014

By Syed Sajid Aziz
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The 12th International Exhibition for the Energy Industry-POGEE-2014 is scheduled to be held from May 28 to 30 at Expo Centre, Lahore. The exhibition is geared up for an extensive display of technological advancement and innovative services and is attracting a good number of visitors from cities like Faisalabad, Sialkot, Gujranwala, Rawalpindi, Muzzafargarh, Shaikhupura, Multan,  Lahore and Karachi.        
More than 200 companies from around 25 countries will be participating in the show including with a majority from China, Germany, Iran, India, Italy, Japan, Pakistan, UAE, UK, USA, Ukraine, Malaysia, Egypt, Australia, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Thailand and Turkey. 

The exhibition provides an opportunity to bring together the international business professionals and the leading local industry players to exchange their technical and business expertise to acquaint the local industry with the latest developments in the energy sector.

POGEE-2014 will also be featuring a highly focused Conference program that is aimed at bringing South Asia’s Energy Industry into the limelight. The POGEE Conference offers an excellent platform for exchange of views & information to the highly targeted audience from Oil, Gas and Energy Industry.

The 10th international conference will commence on May 29 and will be based on the theme “Empowering Pakistan’s Energy Future: Innovation and Investment”. Ms Saniya Awais, Managing Director, Punjab Power Development Board (PPDB) will grace the POGEE Conference as the special guest.

The first session of the Conference will have participation of eminent speakers from Board of Investment (BOI), Private Power & Infrastructure Board (PPIB), Oil & Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA), GE and NSR Group China.

Adding further value to the conference, an Exclusive Panel Discussion on “Exploring Prospects for Coal Based Power Generation” will be conducted by Dr. Muhammad Bilal Khan, National University of Science and Technology (NUST). The panelists include Mr. Shamasudin Shaikh, CEO, Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company, Mr. Zubair Shafi Ghauri, Chief Marketing Manager, Pakistan Railways, Dr. M. Ashraf Moten, Chief Chemist, Coal and Energy Development Department, Underground Coal Gasification Project, and Prof. Dr. Shahid Munir, Director, Centre for Coal Technology, University of Punjab.

POGEE will be an ideal platform to display the latest in technology, equipment and machinery as well as allied services, while providing investors with a definite outlook of the regional energy industry and an opportunity to meet their prospective counterparts and business partners.

This globally recognized platform anticipates that participation of each individual brings benefit and success in their businesses and enables the country to move a step forward towards its economic growth. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

SSUET’s salutation to Maulana Hasrat Mohani

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Glowing tributes were paid to the eminent freedom fighter, Maulana Hasrat Mohani, at a seminar organized by the Sir Syed University of Engineering & Technology (SSUET), Karachi, on May 14. 

The speakers on the occasion, who included renowned poet and scholar Sehar Ansari, noted scholar Dr Waqar Ahmed Rizvi and research scholar Khawaja Razi Haider, shed light on the life and achievements of the great poet and freedom fighter. 

The Chancellor of the SSUET, Engr Mohammed Adil Usman, who chaired the seminar, observed that Maulana Hasrat Mohani always led a simple life, free of wants, which re-strengthened his character and infused in him a spirit to live up to his convictions and support the cause of truthfulness. 

He brought awakening among the Muslims of South Asia through sheer dint of his dynamism and steered them to achieve their cherished goal, the Chancellor pointed out that Hasrat Mohani played a significant role along with Quaid-e-Azam and actively participated in the movement started by the Quaid for political emancipation of Indian Muslims and to achieve a dignified and peaceful place for them in the socio-economic structure of India. 

Engr Adil Usman remarked that Hasrat Mohani is acknowledged as the founder of modern poetry who concentrated mainly on the sincerity of thought and simplicity of sentiments and diction. 

His poetic contribution paints true and dignified sentiments of love and portrays multifarious phases of human passions, he said adding that Hasrat Mohani was a true product of his time and his verses are full of revolutionary thoughts and reflective of aspirations of a person whose life was not soothing.

Renowned poet and writer, Professor Sehar Ansari, highlighted the qualities of Hasrat Mohani, crediting him for having introduced the modern form of ghazal which portrayed true picture of the society and experiences of real human life. 

Noted scholar Prof Dr Waqar Ahmed Rizvi added that Hasrat Mohani transformed ghazal on modern lines. His poetic works touches upon variety of subjects with vision and can be described meaningful and unique for reflecting the political atmosphere of that time. 

On the occasion, research scholar Khwaja Razi Haider shed light on the life and achievements of Hasrat Mohani with special reference to his poetic contribution.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

FTO orders FBR to refund decided cases of exporters’ claim

By Syed Sajid Aziz
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO), Abdur Rauf Chaudhry, has ordered the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to refund and clear all such refund claims to the exporters that have been decided. 

While addressing the members of Lasbela Chamber of Commerce and Industry on May 13, the FTO announced that, in order to facilitate the exporters, he by himself would approach the FBR to make payments of already settled refund claims within the specified time limit. 

He declared that he will also instruct the FBR to arrange the publishing of Customs’ daily list of Import and Export through Pakistan Revenue Automation Limited (PRAL) in order to facilitate the business community and to promote the transparency in the international business transactions. 

Responding to a question he noticed that the demand of Tool Tax twice at Karachi Northern Bypass which tantamount to double taxation would be addressed in accordance with law in the larger public interest. The FTO also assured to monitor the expenses being made by the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) from export development surcharge meant for the promotion of export trade in accordance with relevant legal provisions but grossly misused. 

In his welcome address, President LCCI, Ismail Suttar said that the institution of FTO has risen to the expectations of those about one million Pakistanis who had fallen prey to official apathy, incompetence and maladministration. 

It is the satisfaction for all concerned that this institution has disposed of about 70,000 cases by the end of 2013 which is really quite appreciative and an exemplary performance for other public institutions. The FTO Office is also watching the pending cases of sales tax refund claims amounting to more than Rs 97 billion and the issues relating to this matter. 

In our opinion the reduction of the rate of sales tax and income tax, as has been suggested by the business community, will not only reduce the complaints against the tax collecting agencies but also will broaden the tax-base in the country. 

Regarding the matter that when your FTO decides any case against the FBR, who file an appeal with the Office of the President of Pakistan and this takes quite a long time to be decided and thus the significance of your justified judgment goes in vain. 

This has been a general conception amongst the business community. Earlier Advisor to FTO Office, Quetta, Mr. Justice (R) Muhammad Nadir Khan, Advisor to FTO Regional Office, Karachi, Manzoor Ahmed Kureshi and President, Lasbela Chamber, Ismail Suttar highly appreciated the office of FTO, which is a last resort for the aggrieved members of the business community to get relief. 

He said that it’s quite encouraging that majority of members of Lasbela Chamber have no issues pertaining to taxation because of the efficiency of commissionrate of Inland Revenue, Hub and the Collectorate of Customs at Gaddani. 

However he invited the attention of the FTO towards the problems of general nature like delay in issuing the Refund Cheques by FBR, the matters of expenses made from the fund of export development surcharge.

Dr. Muhammad Aslam, former President LCCI, appreciated the visit of FTO along with his colleagues to the Lasbela Chamber.

He also appreciated the business community that always plays the role of economic engine to ensure the continuation of economic activities and growth. 

The Collector of Customs, Gaddani, Syed Tanvir Ahmed, Additional Commissioner Inland Revenue, Hub, Abdur Rehman Khilji, former President LCCI, Dr Muhammad Aslam and Chairman LCCI Taxation Committee, Iqbal Ismail also spoke on the occasion.

Old farmer sings to express solidarity with Communist Party

By Masood Sattar Khan in Beijing
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Surrounded with sky-touching mountains, an aged farmer living in newly constructed homes for old people sang marshal songs with his melody voice saying Aiyalei. Here comes the sun shining as red ball and the sunlight turning the soil warmer.

The third plenary session of the 18th CPC Central Committee brought hope for the revitalization and development of Gannan Soviet area with blowing spring breeze. People admired of President Xi work to carry forward Chinese dream. 

These were the sentiments of a 72-year old Lin Shangliu while singing folk songs to express his sentiments and joy for the ruling party led by Chairman Xi, while I met him. He lives at the newly constructed Glorious Nursing Home for Elders in Chayuan Township. 

Lin lived in Datang Group, Kongmu Village, Chayuan Township, where his family was enjoying welfare facilities offered by the government in five ways; food, clothing, medical care, housing and burial expenses. The previous 200 year-old former house lacked all amenities. He and his wife didn’t have any child but lived with 101 year-old mother. 

In 2008, the three persons moved to the nursing home depending on government funds. Now monthly, each of them can get 30 Yuan of living allowance and 55 Yuan of new rural social insurance. In addition, the old mother gets 300 Yuan of old age benefits and 130 Yuan of martyr’s children allowance every month. Lin also does odd jobs like picking up fresh tea leaves from fields to earn some money.

“Life here is much better than before. We don’t need to worry about livelihood, the living rooms are spacious and bright, the furniture and TV are also available, the food and dishes here are sumptuous. Even though when I am in bed, I remember the kindness of the CPC party and President Xi,” Lin roared. 

The Glorious Nursing Home for Elders was set up in August 1976, covers an area of 3,333 square meters with gross area of 1,542 square meters. Before 2012, there were only 37 old people living here because the space was not enough to meet the facilities such as dining room, washing room, activity and health care centre. 

In April 2012, an expansion project was launched with the objective of expanding living conditions of glorious home. It was first phase of the expansion project launched as part of implementation of poverty alleviation and development of Chayuan Township. 

The government spent 3.8 million yuan in total and earmarked another area of 2000 square meters to build 3 large size complexes, in which dormitories, kitchens, dining rooms, entertainment halls, fitness centers and other facilities are included. After expansion, the nursing home will have 70 housing rooms to accommodate further 95 elderly peoples. 

The project, which people all around the township highly praised, has greatly improved the living conditions for the elderly and now they do not have fear how to spend their life after retirement. Furthermore, it plays an exceptional role in the social life of these. 

Left behind children in Ming’en New Village 
“My dear, where are you contacting me on line?” 
“Mum, I’m at the remote video-chat-room now. How are you and father? ” 
“We are all fine! How are you all in home? How is your grandmother?” 
“Well, she is OK. She does all of the housework and I also learn to do a little.” 
“Great! You should help her and take care of younger brother. And how’s your study? Have you progressed?” 

These were the conversation between 14 year-old Deng Luping a Grade 6 student while chatting with her parents at the remote video-chat room set up for the those children who were working out of their villages for earning livelihood. 

Deng’s parents working in one of the Chinese industrial hub, the Guangdong Province. There were quite a few other small children, busy chatting on video camera at the remote video-chat-room in Ming’en New Village.

The local government officials collect all the information of parents and children having established information data. Through the communication platform, the parents can chat with their children once a week on Saturday or Sunday for unlimited time. Most of the parents ask children about their studies and life at hometown as they cultivate children a habit for positive view and also check their homework and examinations preparations, just like face to face.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

SSUET seminar highlights role of NAB

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Corruption was described as fundamental cause of our deteriorating economic condition and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was assigned with the task of eliminating corruption through a comprehensive approach of Awareness, Prevention and Enforcement. 

This was stated by Rabia Abdul Rahman, a NAB Investigation Officer, while speaking at a seminar organized by Sir Syed University of Engineering & Technology (SSUET), Karachi, about awareness and prevention against corruption. 

She clarified that there was misconception and ignorance about fact that NAB was not delivering effectively. The impression is not true as the very aim of the Bureau was to demonstrate itself as an effective and transparent anti-corruption agency and meet the challenges thereof. 

“It is striving for achievement of assigned goal as part of national duty. To achieve this purpose capacity building training exercises were regularly conducted to improve and enhance the expertise of the NAB officers,” she stated. 

Rabia Rahman informed that the NAB had recovered around Rs 258 billion so far and nearly 1770 persons convicted for their involvement in corruption. She described the NAB as a modern, dynamic anti-corruption agency that follows a policy of fair, impartial and across the board accountability. 

Cases are inquired/investigated by NAB on pure merit and do not bear any special preferences or prejudices of political victimization against any individual, she added. 

Appreciating the role of media to create awareness among the people about corruption, Rabia Rahman said it’s necessary to eliminate corruption of any sort from the society to save yourself and others from the destructive menace. 

The seminar, organized by SSUET’s Quality Enhancement Cell, was followed by a question-answer session and the NAB Officers Qamar Abbasi and Rabia Rahman responded to issues raised by the students and others.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Vice-Chancellor speaks about SSUET’s phenomenal growth

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Vice-Chancellor, Sir Syed University of Engineering & Technology (SSUET), Karachi, Dr Jawaid H Rizvi, has described the institution as the greatest project yet sponsored by the Aligarh Muslim University Old Boys’ Association (AMUOBA) who established it in 1994 in the domain of engineering education. 

“It was really a manifestation of their patriotism and concern for nation building, and the Aligarhian spirit,” he said in an interview. The start, he recalled, was modest with the annual budget of only Rs. 17.22 million, which over the time reached the level of Rs 861.50 million in the year 2013-2014, emphasizing that the admission policy of the University was based on the philosophy of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan. 

“We do not believe in restrictions in admission based on cast, creed or domicile. The admissions are given purely on merit and do not have any reservations or quotas,” he asserted. 

“The students, right from the mountains of the North West of Pakistan to the shores of Sindh and Balochistan, are getting benefits from the SSUET,” the Vice-Chancellor pointed out. This year, he informed, the university received 4679 applicants for 1600 seats with the result that it could not accommodate even some very good students, who had met the criteria of admission. 

He said that the enrollment in the university has already crossed 6,500 after it started with 222 students in 1994 and have produced more than 11,000 graduates since 1998. “In our first convocation in 1998, 197 students were awarded BS degrees while at the 2014 convocation over 1300 received their bachelors and masters degrees in six disciplines,” he stated. 

Dr Jawaid Rizvi opined that knowledge is expanding at tremendous pace and new areas of study in Engineering and related fields are emerging. This has given rise to the need for new disciplines in the Universities. The introduction of these disciplines is essential to keep pace with main stream of knowledge and compete in this knowledge based world. 

The SSUET, he observed, was fully alive to this scenario and has added three new disciplines Software Engineering, Bioinformatics and Architecture this year. 

“The university presently has nine disciplines in its BS Programme, while the MS Programme is in six disciplines while Ph.D. Programme was being offered in Computer and Electronic Engineering disciplines exclusively for faculty members. We take pride in the quality of our labs, which meet international standards,” he reckoned. 

About the SSUET’s library, the Vice-Chancellor said, it has over 90,000 books. The distinctive role of the library is in the maintenance of a Book Bank. The book bank provides textbooks to the students for a full semester. This is a special facility introduced by Sir Syed University to save students from the expenditure on text books. The library contributes to Research journals and magazines that help the researchers and innovators in the university. 

Dr Jawaid Rizvi reiterated that the university has a policy, which ensures that capable students are not deprived of education due to weak financial position. The scheme of scholarships and financial assistance provides help to the deserving students, who have financial problems. In the current budget, an amount of Rs 56.05 million has been allocated for scholarships and financial assistance to the students. 

He said that the university has a career planning department, which helps the graduates seeking jobs and also addresses their problems as well as arranging internships for students. The SSUET also has an active sports department which organizes teams for participation in various competitions. 

“We have a separate Forum; known as Brigadier (R) Qamar-us-Salam Khan, Literary Art and Culture Forum. It manages the cultural activities in the University and the Forum prepares students to take part in different competitions of debates, Qirat and Declamation. The students from the University have won First Prizes in many Competitions held at national and local levels,” the Vice-Chancellor said. 

The university has also facilities exclusively for female students and staff that provide opportunities to them to maintain our national traditions during studies and work in a co-educational institution. The girls have separate common rooms and a canteen to which entry is allowed only to the girls. Some events are organized for the girls to bring to light their special talents in cultural activities. 

Dr Jawaid Rizvi said that the university has continued to make steady progress to achieve its goals during this year. “We have not only overcome a financial crisis by strictly controlling our expenditure and overheads but also started the construction of E-Block with Basement and ground plus four floors in its first phase, scheduled for completion by September 2014,” he disclosed. 

He paid glowing tributes to the SSUET’s first Chancellor and founder, Engr Z A Nizami, who had passed away a few days after last year’s convocation, having devoted all his life for the university and despite his failing health, continued to work till the end. 

“He had remained the Chancellor of the university since the establishment of the university. We are all missing him today. The new Block-E has been named after the founder of the University as Z A Nizami Block. We pray Almighty Allah to rest his soul in eternal peace,” Dr Jawaid Rizvi concluded.