KU fees increase | Islamia college future

KU fees
Karachi, June 19: The University of Karachi has increased the fee of degrees, marks sheets and attestation of documents, said an announcement on Tuesday.

The fee of duplicate marks sheet would be Rs400 and attestation fee of documents would be Rs300. The degree fee has been fixed at minimum Rs1,000. app

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Teachers, doctors warn of countrywide protest over withdrawal of tax rebate
Karachi: Various professional bodies across the country have warned the federal government of countrywide protests if it withdrew the 75 per cent tax rebate on the salaries of teachers and researchers, terming the recent budgetary proposal a national disaster if implemented.

The measure, they said, would trigger a brain drain, and destroy the gains made in education, research, health services and other professional services over a decade.

The organisations included the Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (Fuassa), Sindh University Teachers Society (Suta), Karachi University Teachers Society (Kuts), Sindh Professors Lecturer Association (SPLA) and the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA).

Reservations on the budgetary proposal were also expressed by medical professionals working at various private organisations, including the Aga Khan University Hospital.

The proposal if accepted, they said, would have a grave impact on the status of education and research in the country and would eventually force professionals to leave the country, the same factor, they said, which had forced the government to provide relief to researchers and teachers in the shape of tax rebate more than a decade ago.

The tax rebate, they contended, had helped in retaining trained professionals whose pay scales were much lower in Pakistan than in the developed world and the Gulf.

"We are very much concerned over this issue and have called a meeting of our provincial representatives on Saturday at Punjab University in order to devise a strategy with mutual consensus. We would hold peaceful protests across the country," said Prof Ahsan Sharif, head of Fpussa.

Regretting the proposal, which, he said, was likely to be approved as the party running the federal government had a majority in the National Assembly, he said that many teachers involved in active research were highly educated but their salaries were far lower than that of bureaucrats.

SPLA-Karachi president Prof Iftikhar Azmi said the proposal came as a shock as the same party which had supported teachers by approving 75pc tax rebate in salaries had now decided to withdraw it.

"The rebate was introduced more than a decade ago following our protest in Islamabad, where we demanded that the government gave tax-free salaries to teachers and researchers as was given in other Saarc (South Asian Association for Regional Corporation) countries," he explained. The association, he said, was in contact with all its members in the four provinces and a meeting had been called to discuss the issue. "The government must desist from taking such a step, otherwise we would hold demonstrations in Islamabad," he said.

Teachers, he said, were ready to give sacrifices but one should first decide a "fair method to sacrifice". "We reject the paltry increase in our salaries. In fact, teachers don't want a raise in their salaries provided the government controls inflation and take measures leading to drop in prices of petrol, gas and electricity," he said.

Suta general secretary Azhar Ali Shah said the tax rebate was given as an incentive to encourage experts to work in the country, but the budgetary proposal would reverse what little had been gained over the years.

"Teachers are not like bureaucrats getting a number of fringe benefits, including cars and free fuel. Their sole income is their salary which now would be taxed heavily," he said while calling the 10pc increase meaningless when the government intended to take away a much bigger amount from salaries on account of multiple taxes.

Teachers in Sindh, he said, were not even getting the 20pc increase announced by the prime minister of the PPP government for the government employees, which, he said, was being given to university teachers in Islamabad.

PMA-Sindh president Dr Samrina Hashmi said that the total revenue that the government had estimated to generate was only 0.12pc (Rs3bn) of the total revenue of Rs2,598bn from the subsidy's removal. Its negative impact, however, would be colossal.

"A visionary government with a commitment to support and promote education and research in Pakistan must not put the future of Pakistan at stake for mere 0.12pc extra revenue," she said. Dawn

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At Islamia college, 20,000 futures at stake
Karachi: Inside the Islamia Complex, 20,000 students of four colleges and four schools wait. At stake is their future. They don't know if they will be studying at the same place in the coming days or not.

For years, the Sindh government has failed to pay millions in rent to the property trust. And after a lengthy trial spanning well over 10 years, the court finally gave the verdict on June 1 to vacate the complex, commonly known only as Islamia college, within six weeks.

The seemingly unfair decision came after the government lawyer failed to appear in court in several hearings. But the authorities are adamant they are on the right track.

Dr Nasir Ansar, the Director Colleges, claims that rent has not been paid as there is confusion about who the actual owner is. The name of the school trust is Islamic Education Trust but the people demanding the rent money claim to be owners of the school. "There are no owners in a trust," he says. "As soon as the people who make up the trust are identified, we will pay rent."

About the court order, the official dismisses the verdict as nothing special. "This is just a high court order. We will fight the case in the Supreme Court now."

In the beginning
Spread over four acres, the Islamia Complex along the New MA Jinnah Road houses the Government Islamia Science College, Government Islamia Art and Commerce College (morning shift), Government Islamia Art and Commerce College (evening shift) and Government Islamia Law College. Three government schools and another run privately also operate within the premises.

The land was donated by Field Marshal Ayub Khan to Maulana Shabbir Ahmed Usmani, who started a seminary there. During Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's tenure, the education complex was nationalised. Efforts to privatise the institution later were resisted.

"An agreement was reached. The Sindh government was to pay an annual rent to the school trust," explains Iftikhar Azmi of the Sindh Professors and Lecturers Association. In the years to come, however, the government defaulted in the payment of rent, resulting in losses of millions of rupees.

The college has had a fair share of famous students. Cricketers Shahid Afridi, Zaheer Abbas and Danish Kaneria studied at the institution. Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain was once a student here.

What next?
The Sindh High Court order to vacate the premises, meanwhile, has not gone down too well with the teachers and students, who learned the news through the media only.

"If the government does not do anything now, we will launch a massive protest," said Prof Tayyab Nagori, who teaches botany at the Islamia science college. "Don't they care about the fate of 20,000 children?"

He termed the government's attitude toward the issue "criminal negligence".

With the evacuation orders, students are also sceptical about their future. "I have finished my first year in pre-engineering. What will I do if the college closes down now?" questions Bilal Ahmed.

Not a new problem
What has happened with the Islamia Complex is nothing new at education institutions. Failure of the government to pay rent in the past has resulted in similar episodes, where the future of several thousand students has been compromised.

An ongoing example is of the Government Delhi School in Karimabad, where a policy of denationalisation is under discussion following the authorities' failure to pay rent.

Efforts to denationalise educational institutions always results in a hue and cry. More often than not, the government is able to retain them but financial matters and quality of education suffers in the long run.

The Islamia Complex is a prime example. The college buildings cry out loud for attention with paint chipped off at places and walls plastered with posters and advertisements.

The colleges have been taken over by the Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba, the student wing of rightwing political party Jamaat-e-Islami. Armed student activists frequently clash with the students at Dawood College of Engineering and Technology, which is under the control of a rival political group. The news

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