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Private schools security | Politics of writing in English

Private schools draw up security plan amid fear of terror acts
Karachi, Feb 23: With the situation in Karachi always war-like, school associations are planning to train teachers in multitasking. In the near future, teachers would guard a school, give first aid and keep strangers out.

The All Private School Management Association has published 12 points to help secure schools amid the worsening law and order.

At a press conference held at the Karachi Press Club on Friday, Khalid Shah, the association's president, asked school managements to keep strangers out of the school premises. The association will begin training teachers in first aid from March 20 in all five districts of Karachi.

The security pointers announced by the association were:

1) Schools should hire trained security guards.

2) Parents should submit fees at separate counters outside the school's boundary wall.

3) People should be kept out of school buildings at the time of start and end of classes.

4) An information counter should be set up at reception to inform people admissions or other details.

5) Keeping in view bomb threats, the area outside the school building should be kept clean and any garbage bins removed.

6) A list of emergency numbers should be available with the school management.

7) Any suspicious vehicle parked outside the school should be immediately informed to the police.

8) Schoolchildren should not be let out of school premises at lunch time.

9) All schools should have first aid kits available.

10) School owners should be allowed to keep licensed weapons.

11) Police patrolling outside schools should increase.

12) All schools should stay open on Saturdays until the current academic session ends. The news

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FUUAST BEd exams
Karachi2: The Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology has announced new dates for postponed BEd papers.

According to the new schedule, the BEd part-II paper postponed on Feb 18 will now be held on Feb 26 (Tuesday) and the BEd part-I paper postponed on Feb 19 will now be held on Feb 27 (Wednesday). Dawn

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79 college teachers promoted
Karachi: Seventy-nine grade 19 associate professors – 48 men and 31 women – have been promoted to the grade-20 professor level.

The announcement came at a meeting held in Prime Minister House on Thursday. Sindh Education Minister Pir Mazharul Haq congratulated the college teachers and termed the promotion "their right which the PPP had considered a democratic duty".

Soon the teachers appointed in grade 17 and grade 18 cadres will be promoted to fill the vacancies created in grade 18 and grade 19, he said. The session was headed by Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah. The news

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The politics of writing in English
In the local context, choosing to write in English has so far proven to be a safe political choice because not a single Pakistani English writer has been banned or tried for anything critical since Ahmed Ali's Angarein 1932 and that was also not in English. Ahmed Ali had the distinction of being a progressive writer as well as a translator of the Holy Quran. In those days, it was possible to combine Islam with the idea of social justice because American neocolonialism/neoliberalism had not erased the possibility of this progressive syncretism.

This does not mean Pakistani English writers have not written anything critical of this society. The problem is that they appear to have done it usually for those who can read English.
This is the local reality. For a contrast, one can only mention the trials and persecution of Saadat Hasan Manto, Shaukat Siddiqui, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Habib Jalib, Ustad Daman and Fehmida Riaz among others. And we have almost forgotten the Punjabi writer, Nawaz.

At a global level, however, Pakistani writers in English are a different story altogether. These writers challenge many racist stereotypes and media representations of Pakistanis at the global level. Urbane, even chic, globe-trotting Pakistani writers represent that possibility that always existed in Pakistan but was thwarted when the state decided to become a proxy war machine for its new colonial masters and acquired a different worldview.

The green belt doctrine of Zbigniew Brzezinski required Pakistan's transformation into a jihadist state for the aim of bleeding the USSR, at that time also a superpower, in Afghanistan.
This policy changed Pakistan's image at the global level. It started appearing as a country populated by AK47-brandishing people and tourism declined.

In this scenario, Pakistani English writers created a new image of Pakistan. Bapsi Sidhwa made the world realise that Pakistan was a multicultural society where Parsis
also lived.

Sara Suleri, in her memoir Meatless Days, linked the national history of Pakistan with the personal. Her portrait of her Dadi (paternal grandmother) who conversed with God showed the everyday, non-militant reality of Pakistan. Sara Suleri's politics was hybrid and everyday (in the sense used by Michel de Certeau) but also elitist because she reported on her postgraduate research assistants who were protesting and trying to have a better collective bargain with their employing university.

Mohsin Hamid's Moth Smoke showed the hardcore partying segment of Pakistan's urban elite. In his second novel, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Mohsin Hamid tried to erase the possibility of hybridity and multiculturalism by showing only two options available to the protagonist. Either you are a globe-trotting technocratic businessman or you retreat into an ultra-orthodox version of a jihadi. And the reason for choosing jihadism is shown to be Western racism as if there were no racism and hierarchies within the various jihadi outfits. This is similar to the stark choices Bush offered the world: "either you are with us or against us." There are millions of Pakistanis, Europeans, Chinese and Americans who are neither with the Republicans of America nor with the mullahs of Af-Pak variety. This is how Mohsin Hamid's protagonist becomes a reverse version of Bush, forgetting what Gandhi said: "an eye for an eye will make the whole world blind."

There is another aspect of the community of Pakistani writers who choose to write in English. The rural and urban divide also exists among them. Aamer Hussain, Kamila Shamsie and Mohsin Hamid are considered part of the Pakistani urban elite who could easily choose where to live in the world. These choices were not available to Mohammad Hanif in the early part of his life. He had to acquire them through hard work and diligent vocational training. This also shows in the son-of-the-soil Bakhtinian and Rabelaisian dark humour in his writing and also in his continuous bilingualism and translation. Hanif is a rare breed for various reasons. He continues to write in Urdu and English and, armed with a British passport, goes and teaches creative writing to Palestinian students. He also made Ali Akbar Natiq an international name by translating his (Natiq's) short-story 'Ma'amaar ke Haath' as 'A Mason's Hand' for Granta's special issue on Pakistan. This emancipatory praxis does not appear to be part of other contemporary Pakistani writers of English.Pakistani English writing, so far, has not produced any Dostoyevsky or Michel Houellebecq. But Urdu, Pashto, Sindhi, Balochi and Punjabi writers have produced works that can compete with any writer of the world. For example one can compare the politics of Bulleh Shah's facelessness "I don't know who I am" with Michel Foucault's "Don't ask me who I am and do not ask me to remain the same. For there is more than one person in me who writes in order to have no face."

On the other hand, writers in English have engaged with those themes that deal with Pakistan as it is seen by the civilisational others (by writing about the problems of the joint family and culinary specificities), the problems of the immigrants (the West versus Islam or the East), the conflict of tradition and modernity or secularism (democracy and dictatorships).

There is no big game hunting yet. No English writer from Pakistan has dealt with the politics of human-machine interfaces awaiting humankind, ontological insecurity of living the human condition in Pakistan, the feminine future (of Houellebecq) that will not let masculine extremism take cover, and the impact of the human genome project and its possible link with the surgical/chemical removal of the extremist gene.

There are many science fiction scenarios possible in this. There may be a neurochemical solution already available to curb extremism (Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange dealt with the question of evil and human freedom with this hypothesis). We, the readers, are waiting for this kind of big game hunting to emerge in Pakistani writing. Pakistani fiction needs to create and deal with its own Raskolnikov (from Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment), Winston Smith (Orwell's 1984), and Alex Burgess's (A Clockwork Orange). Until that happens, we are going to have to deal with the limitations imposed by identity politics.

The human condition should not be allowed to be submerged by the needs of the global readers to read a particular vision of Pakistan. Pakistani writers have the potential to transform these needs and tastes. Dawn

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PU results
Lahore: Punjab University's Examinations Department announced results of various examinations on Friday.

These exams include MBBS First Professional Part-II Annual Examination 2012, LLB Part-II Supplementary Examination 2012 and LLB Part-III Special Supplementary Examination 2012 at Barcelona, Spain. The news

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Distribution of free textbooks: Millions being spent on 'missing' students
Peshawar: The wide discrepancy of hundreds of thousands of students between two different sets of official data collected from the same sources of information has put a big question mark on the project for distribution of free textbooks among students of government schools in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The provincial government has been annually allocating a huge amount of money to distribution of free of cost textbooks among the students since the project was launched by the previous Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal government.

After launch of the project its cost has been increasing every year and the provincial government allocated Rs1.619 billion for this purpose in the budget 2012-13.

Education Management Information System (EMIS), a cell established in the provincial Elementary and Secondary Education (E&SE) Department, annually collects all information about schools in the province and the number of enrolled students up to intermediate level, while another branch of the education department responsible for distribution of free textbooks collects its own data about the number of students in government schools.

Comparing both sets of data available with Dawn, it was revealed that the number of beneficiary students of free textbooks in the previous five years was much higher than shown in the EMIS data.

The provincial government has spent Rs846.075 million for providing free textbooks to 4.34 million students in 2008-09, while the EMIS puts the number of students of the same session at 3.588 million. There was a difference of 0.752 million students. Around Rs145 million was spent on the students not mentioned in the EMIS data.

A total of Rs860 million was earmarked in 2009-10 for providing free textbooks to 4.37 million students, while according to the EMIS data 3.597 million students were enrolled in the government schools. Around 0.77 million students had benefited from free textbooks which were missing in the EMIS data, the comparison of both data revealed.

In 2010-11 the difference in the number of students stood at 0.67 million as the beneficiary students of free textbooks were recorded at 4.43 million, while according to EMIS data the enrolled students were 3.763 million. Around one billion rupees were spent on free textbooks while Rs151 million on students not available in the EMIS data.

Similarly, the students who benefited from free textbooks were 4.72 million in 2011-12 while the number of enrolled students as per EMIS data was 3.8 million – a difference of around one million students. With the allocation of Rs1.458 billion in 2011-12, the government had spent Rs308 per student and around Rs300 million on the students not mentioned by the EMIS.

Provincial coordinator for provision of free textbooks project Rashid Khan Paindakhel, when contacted, said that students' data for provision of free textbooks was collected by him from the district education officers and books were provided accordingly. "We do not use the EMIS data for providing books," he said.

When his attention was drawn to difference in the number of students which runs into hundreds of thousands between his and the EMIS data, he said: "I cannot say anything about this big difference".

The data for EMIS and free textbooks is collected from the same sources of information – the district education offices and headmasters of the schools –and the big difference in both sets of data was a question mark for the education department, said a senior official. It was the department's prime duty to ascertain the reasons for the difference because it has been spending millions of rupees on the students missing in its data, he said. Dawn

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Tree plantation drive kicks off at NUST
Islamabad: With the winter breathing its last and spring already knocking at the door, NUST, keeping up with its annual tradition, embarked on a massive tree plantation drive at its main campus on Thursday. NUST Rector Muhammad Asghar inaugurated the environment-friendly campaign by planting an amaltas tree sapling. He was flanked by an overwhelming number of university officials, faculty members and students. The NUST rector said that horticultural activities important in making the world a better place to breathe in. He acknowledged the efforts of the university's horticulture staff in promoting green culture on the campus. The NUST director administration said that one of the significant functions each tree offered, besides its aesthetic addition, was the sequestering of carbon dioxide. NUST horticulturist gave a briefing on the initiatives being taken for expeditiously improving the serenity of the university. He said that over 1,000 tree saplings,including amaltas, kachnar, fiddlewood, chenar and sukhchan would be planted during the campaign. Capital Development Authority (CDA) Environment Deputy Director General Malik Aulya Khan was also present at the occasion. Reportedly, the CDA would provide tree saplings to NUST to contribute its share in the ongoing tree plantation campaign at the university. Daily times

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