No buses for Karachi Univesity students

Students stranded as drivers g'rind point service to a halt
Karachi, Feb 27: The non-availability of buses to students of University of Karachi (KU) for three-and-a-half days last week enraged regular commuters of the university bus service. Though the service resumed earlier this week, the majority of students feel that the university has betrayed them by not providing conveyance to them.

"I am pained by the lack of empathy shown by teachers and officials. Those who have their own transport, or those who can afford rickshaws and taxis, are not affected. It is the poor and lower middle class students who bear the brunt of bus service cancellation," said Samina Khan of Physiology Department.

The bus service was suspended after a bus driver was allegedly beaten up by a lab assistant from the Department of Zoology, Hameed Hussain, and students supposedly from the Punjabi Student Association. The driver had to be hospitalised since he sustained serious injuries.

Hussain had a personal feud with the driver Nazeer, and sought help from these students, who had their own grievances against the drivers for not stopping the bus at the Wireless Gate near Malir Halt. The drivers claim that the bus is already so crowded that there is usually no room for additional students.

We have nothing to do with the mishandling of the driver, but we became victims of a weak administration that is unable to rise to the occasion, take swift action against the offenders without jeopardising the interests of the students", said Haris Khan of the Chemical Engineering Department.

Ayesha Khan, of the same department, who takes two public buses to get to the varsity and then walks from the Maskan Gate to her department, reiterated the same point. Students are the most important aspect of any university; however, the KU seems to be an exception to that rule. While I do not support violence, I disapprove being hijacked by a few students and a driver. It would have been better if the university had separated the issues of the students/driver and that of 24000 students", she complained.

Dr Zulqarnain Ahmed Shadaab, KU Transport in-charge, said that it was normal for 'large organisations' to face such problems. According to him, only 22 per cent students use the point buses, and thus only a majority of students was affected by the suspension of bus services. "My conscience is clear. Yes, some students faced hardships, however, we had no control over the events. We spoke to the employees union and persuaded them to end their strike but nothing happened. I think we tried our best and handled the situation in the best possible manner", he persisted.

Karachi University Employees Union (KUEU) General Secretary, Fareed Ahmed, was adamant that the situation went from bad to worse because of the lukewarm reaction from the KU administration. "I was under pressure from the drivers and conductors to punish the culprits who had manhandled the driver. The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Pirzada Qasim, was in Islamabad, so the problem was not resolved until his return", he explained. Ahmed said that he was sorry that thousands of students had suffered because of a few students and drivers.

The drivers, according to a university official, had demanded two Rangers on guard duty for every bus, and had also said that students should be accommodated on the basis of seats. However, both these demands were considered unfeasible and were duly rejected.

Meanwhile, the KU Pro Vice Chancellor, Dr Akhlaq Ahmed, appeared to be clueless about the absence of buses for the students for three and a half days. We had tried to handle the situation and did it fairly well, he stated.

VC wants Chinese Language and Cultural Centre at KU
Karachi: University of Karachi (KU) Vice-Chancellor Prof. Pirzada Qasim stressed the need to establish a Chinese Language and Cultural Centre at KU to augment cultural and political ties between the two friendly countries. He was speaking at a reception accorded to the visiting Chinese writers and poets in the Arts auditorium of the university on Thursday.

The need had more significance after the arrival of Chinese Consul-General Chen Shanmin in Karachi, he said, adding that CG Shanmin is an alumnus of the KU Department of English.

Prof. Qasim further said that Tang Meng Shen, who is an interpreter with the Chinese Consulate, has also studied at the KU English Department and hence the university has the right to have a Chinese Cultural Centre to continue the deep-rooted relations with China.

Prof. Qasim praised the ancient and diverse Chinese literature that has attracted readers from all over the world. The Chinese Writers' Guild has more than 60,000 members and helps members, allowing them to tend to their work, uninterrupted by monetary woes.

Shanmin travelled down memory lane to recollect the 'the most happy days' of his life at KU, where his teachers were 'affectionate and the students cooperative'.

Dean Faculty of Arts Dr Shamsuddin pointed out the beauty of the Chinese language, which, he said had no rival in the literary world.

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KSA exhibits work of 29 alumni
Karachi: The Karachi School of Art (KSA) hosted an alumni show on Thursday at its gallery. The show featured nearly 46 pieces by 29 artists.

The school was founded in 1964 by sculptor Rabia Zuberi with the objective of promoting art and cultural traditions while training the youth for careers in art-related fields. Over the period of four decades, the KSA has produced a large number of artists, teachers and designers, who are now established in countless organisations throughout Pakistan and abroad.

With works from one of the first graduates of the school, Lubna Agha, to one of the famous artists of Pakistan, Mashkoor Raza, Athar Jamal and Hanif Shahzad, it was good to see that many of the old artists had sent in their latest works for the exhibition - a proof of their continued affection for the KSA.

Abdul Hafeez, who graduated in 1967, put up works that he finished at the turn of the year. Even Maskoor Raza sent in a couple of small pieces that he finished this year.

The exhibition runs till March 1 at the KSA gallery.

Goethe-Institut screens documentary about 'symbol of world peace'
Karachi: Kugelkaryatide, an art work which symbolises world peace, survived 9/11 (September 11, 2001) on Ground Zero and inspired a German filmmaker to juxtapose its making and reinstalling in his 58-minute documentary tribute titled Koenigs Krugel. The sculpture was eventually relocated to Manhattan's Battery Park.

Screened at Goethe-Institut on Thursday, Percy Adlon's film Koenig's Sphere in English drew a handful of admirers of documentary films. The screening was part of the institute's film nights featuring German documentaries on contemporary German art.

Koenig's Sphere is the story of German artist Fritz Koenig's large steel-and-bronze sculpture that was once seated in the shadows of the World Trade Centre (WTC), but became a monument after 9/11.

"I can't even imagine that I made it," remarks Koenig, the creator of the huge sculpture, dubbed the only art work that survived the terrorist attack on the WTC on September 11, 2001.

Koenig created the sphere with bronze and steel in 1971 when it weighed approximately 45,000 pounds. The film follows the artist's pursuit to salvage the remains of his commissioned art work. It juxtaposes the artist's earlier work on the same sculpture which finally sat atop a granite fountain in the centre of the five-acre WTC Plaza. Installed in its salvaged form at Battery Park, The Sphere has been seen as an icon of hope and interim memorial to the thousands of souls perished at the WTC. Before the 9/11 tragedy it was referred to as 'a monument to fostering world peace'.

Filmmaker Percy Adlon recounts the making of the sculpture in an interesting manner, splicing shots of two parallel stories of the sculpture's making and salvaging, intermittently narrated by the artist himself in German.

After 9/11, the Sphere was found among the rubble of the WTC. Although it sustained a large gash through its centre, and was battered, dented and scarred, it remained structurally intact.

At first, Koenig opposed reinstalling the Sphere deeming it 'a beautiful corpse'. Later he supervised the reassembly of his magnum opus. He is seen in the film guiding engineers and ironworkers to dress its 'wounds without erasing its scars'.

Koenig's recalls that the sculpture was dubbed the 'belly button' of the WTC by its architect Yamasaki. The ageing sculptor with his German narrative ended the film by quoting John Updike: "Truth in art is found in the pain it shelters." The News

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