Sunday, October 30, 2016

SSUET staffers earn ISO certification

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Around 20 employees of the Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology (SSUET), Karachi, which included both faculty and non-faculty staff, were awarded ISO-9001:2015 Internal Auditor Certificates at a ceremony held in the newly renovated conference room of the university. 

The ceremony was organized by the University's procurement department for the recipients of the certificate who participated in the 3-day ISO 9001:2015 Internal Auditor programme held under the supervision of Total Quality Certification Services International (Pakistan), led by Riaz Wasaya, CEO TQCSI as well as programme trainer. 

Presenting the certificates to recipients the SSUET Chancellor, Jawaid Anwar, under scored the importance of such programmes which, he observed, play an important role in the field of education. 

He announced that the university will continue to hold such type of programs in future as well. The Chancellor said that since the programme related to quality management system, the university would like to have far better quality management system so as to bring it at par with organizations having top class quality management systems. 

He said that the university has already implemented ISO 9001 Quality Management System which is working so efficiently. 

Earlier Riaz Wasaya, the CEO TQSCI and Programme trainer stressed on organizing more similar type of programs like Lead Auditor, Health and Safety programs. 

The ceremony ended with vote of thanks proposed by the SSUET Registrar, Syed Sarfraz Ali, who too endorsed the proposal for organizing such programs on frequent basis.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Walk for breast cancer awareness at AKUH

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

With approximately 40,000 deaths and 90,000 new cases every year, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in Pakistan. The number of deaths can be reduced significantly with early detection and treatment, the participating experts at a walk to mark the Breast Cancer Awareness Month at the Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) reckoned.

The walk was part of a series of events organized by the AKUH to raise awareness for an early detection of the disease. Clad in pink, the walk was attended by men and women, patients, survivors, breast surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, radiologists, pathologists, nurses and the general public. 

“Breast cancer is an uncontrollable growth of abnormal cells in breast tissue. These cells can form a tumor that may be seen on a screening mammogram and ultrasound scan even before they can be felt as a lump. Currently, medical science doesn’t know exactly what causes the disease, therefore, early detection remains the cornerstone of breast cancer control,” Dr Adnan Jabbar, an assistant professor and section head of medical oncology at the Aga Khan University (AKU), observed. 

 “Although breast self-examination has limitations, it can be the first step to examine any developments in the breast, e.g., a new lump, swelling, an unusual pain or any change in the size, shape or skin of the breast. Such changes should be reported to a health professional immediately,” he said. 

“Since the disease is increasing among young women in the country, women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam at least every three years. After 40 years, they should have a breast exam and mammograms by a health professional every year. Doctors may also recommend breast ultrasound, MRI or biopsy, if needed,” he added. 

Dr Shaista Khan, a professor of surgery at AKU, warned that women were at greater risk than men. Key risk factors could be overweight, old age and the disease in the family. 

“Women diagnosed with breast cancer can live healthy lives given the disease is diagnosed and treated timely. Treatment for early breast cancer usually involves surgery only or some combination of surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. The AKUH’s Patient Welfare Programme and Patients’ Behbud Society for AKUH provide financial assistance to women who are fighting breast cancer and need support,” she highlighted. 

While sharing her experiences, a survivor commented: “I am a proud mother, a wife and a breast cancer survivor. I am here to support those who are fighting the disease. Activities like this are always inspirational”. 

The AKUH’s CEO, Hans Kedzierski, was also dressed in pink to show solidarity with breast cancer patients and survivors. 

“We at the AKUH have successfully established a breast cancer team, a multidisciplinary group of specialists, that offers comprehensive care under one roof – an advantage for our patients,” he said. 

Other activities of the Breast Cancer Awareness Month included marking pink Fridays by wearing pink clothes or accessories, and organizing awareness sessions at AKUH as well as at educational and corporate institutions in the city.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

KPT-Bahria University agreement signed

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Karachi Port Trust (KPT) has signed an agreement with the National Centre of Maritime Policy Research (NCMPR), Bahria University Campus, Karachi at a ceremony held at KPT Head Office. 

The agreement is aimed at establishing the KPT Chair for cooperation enhancement and interaction between academia and the Maritime Industry of Pakistan. The agreement was signed by the Chairman, KPT, Vice-Admiral (Rtd) Shafqat Jawed and the Rector, Bahria University, Vice-Admiral (Rtd) Tanveer Faiz. 

Speaking on the occasion, the KPT Chairman, while unveiling the objectives, highlighted the existing gap resulting in creation of increased demand for skilled human resources in Pakistani Ports and Shipping sector. 

The establishment of chair, he observed, will fill the gap in due course as professionals and skilled human resources will be available for undertaking maritime projects within the country and pave the way for maritime education as well thus opening avenues for research and innovation to meet the emerging demands of port operations while using maritime expertise and international standards. 

He stressed on linking KPT Staff College with the Chair to establish further linkages with the international/national institutes of maritime industry. 

He said that the materialization of the project will result in benefiting the KPT through focused research for future expansions and efficient port operations as the maritime sector is gradually growing in Pakistan. 

On the occasion momentos were also exchanged. The ceremony was well attended by top management officials of KPT and the NCMPR besides Director General NCMPR Vice Admiral (Rtd) K G Hussain.

K-Electric stopped from sending bills on approximation

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Advisor to Regional Office of Federal Ombudsman, Mohammad Yameen, has asked the K-Electric (KE) to stop the practice of sending bills on approximation to its consumers.

Hearing applications in Deputy Commissioner Office's Malir Camp, the Advisor declared that sending bills without meter reading was a cruel act against poor citizens and he noticed aggrieved consumers sometimes virtually crying during hearing of their applications before the Ombudsman Court. 

“How a poor man can afford to pay such inflated bills while they have not enough income for two time's meal,” he observed adding that the KE should address such complaints and send bills as per meter reading. 

An applicant, Anjum Muzammil, told the Ombudsman Court that her husband has expired while she has six children and she has been sent an inflated bill on approximation which she was unable to pay. 

The Advisor corrected her bill with consultation of the KE representative, Waqas Ahmed, and suspended the excess billing, providing swift justice. Another applicant, Shakeel Ahmed, complained that whenever they go to KE complaint office, nobody listened and, therefore he came there for justice. The court suspended the excessive bill. 

A crying applicant, Syeda Razia Hasan Zaidi, told the court that she lived on pension of her husband which was Rs 12,000 per month and was not in a position to pay excessive bill. The court ordered revision of the bill as per meter reading and suspended the excessive bill. 

Applicant Tariq Jawaid complained that nobody came for meter reading while the KE continued sending excessive bill. The court ordered the KE change the meter at company's expense and ordered to revise the bill on three months' average basis. 

Applicant Arsalan Ahmed, a crockery dealer, informed that his father had expired recently and the KE sent him an excessive bill of Rs. 52,208 and sought justice from the court. However, the KE representative produced proof of power theft to which Arsalan explained that it was not a picture of his house. The court suspended IRB from his bill to meet the ends of justice. 

Two applications of Shamim Ahmed were also heard whereby both owner of the house and tenant were sent separate excessive bills, The Ombudsman Court suspended the excessive amount from both bills. Applicant Nasir Ahmed alleged that the KE was sending him excessive bill. The KE representative clarified that there was no excessive billing and the applicant even did not pay the correct bill. Therefore the court rejected his application and advised him that he can pay the bill in installments. 

Applicant Naseem Ahmed Advocate produced his bill appearing personally in the court and submitted that his bill was not only sent on approximation but excessive amount was also included in it. The court suspended the excessive bill and ordered to correct the bill. The same kind of order was issued on applications of Rafaqat Abbasi and others.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Railways medical camp at Kotri

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Pakistan Railways, as a part of its social responsibility and on the directive of Divisional Superintendent Engr Nisar Memon, setup a day-long medical camp at Kotri Railway Hospital near Kotri Railway Station. 

It was the seventh medical camp the Karachi Division of the Pakistan Railways has organized so far during the ongoing year.

Earlier it had setup camps at Karachi, Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas, Tando Adam, Dadu and other railway stations in the Division. 

Conducted under the supervision of the Divisional Commercial Officer, Nasir Nazeer, along with Divisional Medical Superintendent, the camp was visited by over 400 patients who included railway employees and their families besides people in the surroundings 

The camp was manned by railway doctors who included eye specialist, gynaecologist, dentist and general physician who treated the visiting patients and provided them free medicines

Sunday, October 23, 2016

SSUET, AIT thrive under new leadership

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Ever since the present SSUET Chancellor Jawaid Anwar, who is also the President of Aligarh Mulim University Old Boys Association (AMUOBA), has taken over, the Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology (SSUET), Karachi, and the Aligarh Institute of Technology (AIT) have made significant strides during the year 2016-17 resulting in infrastructure development as well as financial relief to faculty members and other employees 

"On a positive note the issues were taken as challenges while a strategic plan with corrective measures to address the challenges was delivered on stringent timelines", the progress report 2016-17 published by AMUOBA noted. 

According to the report, the establishment of Quality Enhancement Cell(QEC), comprising of experienced and senior professors, who successfully completed the progress report to be submitted to HEC will help university retain its position in W category. 

The office of the Research, Innovation and Commercialization (ORIC), since its inception earlier this year, achieved a monetary grant from EU with the help of University of Malagawere 3 PhD students, preferably SSUET faculty members can work and complete their research paper in maximum time of five months. The ORIC also conducted a conference at Malagawere University where six research papers were submitted and published in the Impact Factor Journal. 

The Centre of Guidance/Counseling and Career Planning/Placement was revamped for crystal clear guidelines and orientation of students as proper guidance was essential for students to be successful in practical life. 

The Directorate of Sports was launched for the students to actively take part in inter universities tournaments and competitions. Postgraduate Studies Directorate was established to promote higher education in different fields of engineering leading to Masters' and PhD degrees. 

In particular short courses under continuing education program were given too upgrade knowledge of existing teachers and taught. For researchers and faculty development MoUs were signed with national and international universities and now the faculty members were going abroad for research and taking part in international seminars, the beginning of a new era for the faculty members and researchers. 

The university is encouraging the faculty to come up with particular projects that can be funded by the HEC and other international bodies. On the financial side there was general discontent among the faculty about stagnantion of salaries and benefits. 

This serious issue was addressed and a befitting raise in salaries of faculty members and low paid management staff was allowed. The University arranged for medical insurance to all employees which was yet another milestone.

Apart from the recent raise in the pay scale and other benefits, 422 eligible staff members out of 680 regular and non-teaching employees got financial benefits and some of them will also get promotion in keeping with their qualification and experience. 

The contracts of contractual employee were not further extended since 2013 and are now being given extension to enjoy same benefits as are admissible to regular employees. Similarly around 400 daily wages workers were promoted to adhoc while lower grade adhoc employees were regularized as permanent. 

A selection board has been constituted to look after the issue of Faculty upgradation for the long serving employees.

In the year 2016 a new department of Information Technology was introduced raising the number of disciplines to 11 while introduction of disciplines such as Chemical Engineering, Petroleum Engineering, Urban and Infrastructure Engineering, MBA in Social Sciences, CS training were under consideration. 

In order to steer the system effectively a qualified and well experienced team has been raised with hiring of a highly experienced and committed Registrar, Director Finance, Director QEC, Director ORIC and Director P&D, Director Sports and Internal Auditor.

Novel robotics, 3D imaging make complex surgeries possible in Pakistan

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Surgeons at Pakistan’s leading hospitals are benefiting from the introduction of advanced surgical equipment which is enabling highly precise surgery on the body’s most complicated organs, according to experts at Aga Khan University’s Surgical Innovations for the Developing World conference.

The presence of advanced technology means that most complex surgeries can be done within the country. 

This is a great benefit to patients since treatment in Pakistani hospitals is significantly less expensive than centres in the United States and England, according to the speakers. 

Prominent surgeons explained that the use of the latest imaging technology at the country’s top healthcare institutions was allowing them to look deep within the body and to plan surgeries to a level of precision which was not possible earlier. 

In addition, the availability of robotic arms and exoscopes in operating theatres was enabling more targeted, less-invasive treatment for patients. 

“Today’s surgeons have never had better tools and technology to operate with. Like all developing countries, Pakistan suffers from resource constraints that requires us to find frugal innovations to problems and new ways to spread the knowledge and experience that makes the best surgeons,” Dr Masood Umer, Associate Professor, Surgery, AKU, remarked. 

“It takes many hours of training, observation and practice before one obtains mastery in a particular surgical area. However, innovations such as the use of life-like surgical simulators were enabling surgeons to learn their craft at a much quicker pace. Simulators allow surgeons to rehearse skills and hone their technique in a variety of cases. This practice enables them to be more prepared in the operating theatre and thereby reduce the chance of complications,” he added. 

Other experts at the conference also praised the application of video conferencing technology which was enabling live surgeries to be seen at large gatherings of medical experts. Besides the benefits of watching more experienced surgeons cope with challenging cases, conferencing technology was also enabling doctors to discuss cases with peers in different countries. 

“Surgeons have to be ready to face unpredictable situations in the operating theatre. Conferences like these enable experts to share knowledge and research about rare cases as well as the skills needed to tackle the unexpected challenges that sometimes arise during surgeries,” Dr Shahzad Shamim, Assistant Professor, Surgery, AKU, stated. 

The two-day conference saw experts from Germany, USA, UK, UAE and Switzerland conduct workshops in 11 major surgical areas. Over 500 national and international surgeons, specialists and young doctors were present at the event at the AKU campus in Karachi. 

Other speakers at the conference included public intellectual Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy, Syed Ather Enam, Chair, Department of Surgery at AKU, and Ather Osama, Founder, Pakistan Innovation Foundation.

New SSUET logo unveiled

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News &Features Services)
The Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology (SSUET), Karachi, one of the top educational institutions of the country, has unveiled its new logo. 

The logo has been designed in two different patterns with the identical colours with the first one containing Quranic verse and the other one having a slogan ‘Knowledge for Future’ inscribed on it. 

The SSUET Registrar, Syed Sarfraz Ali, has informed that the first logo will be printed only on the permanent documents and not on the disposable documents in order to maintain sanctity of the Quranic verse. The other logo will be used on all disposable documents and items.

The directives in this regard have been issued and the two patterns of the logo will be used strictly accordingly. 

According to the details, the logo with the Quranic verse will be used in degrees, diplomas, certificates, transcripts, PhD thesis, admission forms, university flag, souvenirs, insignias, buildings, glows and sign boards while the other logo will be printed on notices of meetings, invitations, greeting cards, examination papers, test answer scripts, calendars, file covers, examination forms, project reports, laboratory reports, letterheads, uniforms, panaflex banners, panaflex flyers, badges and fee vouchers.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

AKU-EB hosts Principals Conference

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Aga Khan University Examination Board (AKU-EB), in collaboration with the Oxford University Press (OUP), hosted the second Principals’ Conference in Karachi.

With an aim to provide structured learning opportunities to educational leadership and to gain insights into school improvement from an indigenous as well as a global perspective; educationists across Pakistan participated in this conference to discuss challenges and to find ways to improve school leadership and thereby raise the standard of teaching and learning. 

The educationists deliberated on prevalent educational issues in Pakistan and discussed how to build linkages with their peers in order to learn from best practices and thereby boost results. The participants also discussed ways to collaborate and to help students to successfully transition from one level to another. 

With an aim to further strengthen and build capacity of school leadership, AKU-EB also launched Pakistan’s first Principals’ Network at this conference. The objective of the network is to engage school principals, heads and institutional leaders across Pakistan and to facilitate the sharing of ideas, innovations and best practices that contribute in the development and implementation of whole school improvement programmes. 

“Engaged teaching and learning affects the knowledge, skills, attitudes and capacities of student to contribute in the communities in which they live. It broadens their horizons and approach towards education which prepares them to practice higher-level critical thinking,” Dr Shehzad Jeeva, Director,AKU-EB, observed in his welcome address.

.“Why is it that when the human intellect is exploring outer space deep space, probing the depth of the ocean and releasing the vast potential of its genius through invention, discovery and innovation that our children’s minds are still throttled by an education system that is rigid, inflexible and rooted in traditionalist systems and structures. The paradigm shift to center our approach to educating children on proven effective practices of pedagogy, teaching and learning is imperative,” the chief guest, Shahnaz Wazir Ali, Trustee, Education Trust Nasra Schools and President, Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (SZABIST), stated. 

“To attain learning outcomes, in knowledge and skills, and make ‘the great leap forward’ so every child can achieve his/her potential, we must break the shackles of over-regulation, and centralized controls, pitch resources into promoting quality teaching and learning, and place the ‘teacher’ and the ‘student’ at the center of the change process. The Principal’s Conference brings together the change agents, “educator leaders”, to transform school learning,” she added. 

Renowned national and international speakers and panelists engaged the participants in thought provoking sessions. 

The highlight of the conference included a session by Nicholas Horsburgh, a veteran author and textbook writer of the OUP on Ownership and Engagement. Shahid Badami, Principal, Ghulaman-e-Abbas School, and Ali Gohar Chang, Principal, IBA Public School, Sukkur, shared inspirational stories of their schools, striving to provide and promote quality education in challenging areas of Pakistan followed by a panel discussion by Dr Ayesha Mian, Chair, Department of Psychiatry, Aga Khan University, and Prof Dr Muhammad Shafi Afridi, Chairman, Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education, Peshawar. 

An intriguing discussion on Re-Imaging the Textbook was led by an experienced panel including Dr Nicki Saroca, Faculty, Habib University, Rahila Ashraf, General Manager, Education, Oxford University Press, Kermin Parakh, Principal, Bai Virbaijee Soparivala (BVS) Parsi High School, and Dr Uzma Javed, Director, Studies, The City School, Lahore. 

The conference concluded with an interactive session titled ‘World Café’, conducted by Abbas Husain, Director, Teachers’ Development Centre. 

“The importance of education throughout human history is undeniable. Education is the key to an individual’s as well as a nation’s future. In today’s world, populated by seven billion plus people, all striving for a better future for themselves and their coming generations, education is as essential as air and water, not only to survive but to progress. Education is the understanding, imparting and application of knowledge for personal as well as professional progress. Education is the foundation on which knowledge and life are built,” Ameena Saiyid, Managing Director, Oxford University Press (OUP), remarked while presenting the vote of thanks.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Social bias also contributing to mental illness: Dr Ayesha Mian

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

There is a perception that people with mental illness are violent, look different from others, can never get better or cannot be productive members of society. These inaccurate and misleading stereotypes impact adversely on people's struggle to cope with their condition.

These were the views of Dr Ayesha Mian, an associate professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the Aga Khan University (AKU) while addressing journalists at a dialogue on mental health at the Karachi Press Club (KPC). 

The session was organized by AKU in coordination with the club’s Health Committee. 

“The studies show that people with mental illness are much more likely to be a victim than a perpetrator. Media should come forward and be strong partners against this social bias,” she stressed. 

“Family members, friends and the society in general have a vital role in helping people recover from mental illness. They need positive attitude and acceptance of their conditions,” she added. 

It is estimated that approximately 50 million people suffer from common mental disorders in Pakistan. The illness afflicts 15 to 35 million adults, which is approximately 10 to 20 per cent of the population. Additionally, approximately 20 million children, or over 10 per cent of the population, need attention from mental health practitioners. Unfortunately, there are only 400 trained psychiatrists in the country, meaning that there is roughly one psychiatrist available per half-million people. 

Dr Ayesha Mian explained that mental illness refers to a wide range of mental health conditions that affect mood, thinking and behaviour. People go through periods when they feel emotions such as stress and grief, but symptoms of mental illnesses last longer than normal and are often not a reaction to daily events. When symptoms become severe enough to interfere with a person’s ability to perform day-to-day chores, they may be considered to have a significant mental illness. 

She described factors that may lead to depression, anxiety and addictive behaviors, and eating disorders, stressful life situations, use of alcohol or recreational drugs, imbalance of a chemical substance in the brain, and genetic disorder or having a blood relative with a mental illness. Exposure to environmental stressors, inflammatory conditions, toxins, alcohol or drugs while in the womb can sometimes be linked to mental illness. 

“While not all mental illnesses are preventable, some changes in lifestyle can significantly help. Be an organized person in your routine life, take wise and timely decisions, and take good care of yourself with healthy eating, regular physical activity and sufficient sleep, usually seven to eight hours for adults. Avoid conflicts in personal as well as professional life, try to participate in social activities, and get together with family or friends regularly. Avoid alcohol and drug use,” she advised. 

“Pay attention to warning signs, for example, inability to cope with daily problems or stress, and have an evaluation by a mental health or other healthcare professional. In most cases, symptoms can be managed with a combination of medications and therapy or counseling,” she emphasized.

On the occasion, Dr Ayesha Mian also informed that AKU’s 19th National Health Sciences Research Symposium will focus on mind and brain. Starting from November 4, the annual conference will bring together hundreds of national and international healthcare professionals working in the field of neuroscience. 

Apart from the covering journalists, the session was also attended by Professor of Neurology at AKU, Dr Saad Shafqat, Secretary General of KPC, Alauddin Khanzada, Secretary of Karachi Union of Journalists, Shoaib Ahmed, and the club’s Health Committee members, including Waqar Bhatti and Hamid Rehman Awan.

Pakistan Railways aims high

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Parveen Agha, Chairperson and Secretary of the Pakistan Railways (PR), has unveiled plans for the further development of the organization to transform into a most viable entity while it has attained financial autonomy with revenue generation having gone up from Rs 18 billion 3 years back to 36 billion at the financial close.

Ruling out the privatization of the PR, she made it absolutely clear to all concerned that the resources were being mobilized to turn it around in the larger national interest. 

She said that none of the trains have been privatized but only their operation handed over to private sector operators. 

She stated that the private operator of business train was in default of around Rs one billion and the train was now being run by the PR itself. 

Talking to media at the Divisional Headquarter, during her ongoing visit to Karachi, she dispelled the impression that any proposal on privatizing the PR was being considered at the highest level. The Divisional Superintendent Railway Engr Nisar Memon, and the SSP Railway, Robin Yamin, besides the Deputy DS (Operations) were also present on the occasion. 

Parveen Agha informed that under the umbrella of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the railway infrastructure is being upgraded in collaboration with Chinese and major ingredients of the project were finalized during a recent meeting of a high level Pakistani delegation which included Federal Planning Minister, Ahsan Iqbal and Federal Railway Minister, Khawaja Saad Rafiq, besides herself which undertook a tour of China.

Under the project railway system will be upgraded from Peshawar to Lahore and then from Lahore to Karachi sector wise with Lahore-Multan Sector to start first. 

She said that upon completion the train will run at a speed of 160 km as against 100 km/hour at present reducing the travelling time substantially. 

She informed that the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved the funding of Rs 2.5 billion for the Lahore-Multan project while the Lahore-Karachi segment has been aligned with the CPEC. 

Parveen Agha was optimistic about getting the momentous projects completed by 2018 by which time the capacity of PR will be enhanced manifolds. 

The Secretary Railways informed that Railway is set to earn another all time high Rs 13 billion revenue through transporting imported coal from Bin Qasim to the site of 660 MW Sahiwal Coal-fired power plant. She said that coal transportation will start from April 2017 while trial transportation will begin in November with the import of Consignment. 

Parveen Aga revealed that the freight revenue generation has tremendously increased from Rs 1 billion to Rs 11 billion had high praise for Karachi Railway Division for its contribution. 

She said that, with the efforts of present Divisional Superintendent Nisar Memon, this Division alone shared Rs 9.7 billion towards freight revenue. 

While referring to running high speed trains, she informed that Railway has finalized an agreement with the General Electric under which 75 locomotive of 4 to 4.5 thousand HP would be imported. 

She said that delivery of 55 locomotives will start from November while talks were underway with regard to financial implication for the remaining 20 engines. 

To a question, she stated that the much talked about Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) was now a provincial subject and the Government of Sindh was taking care of it. 

“The Sindh Government had approached us on this matter a couple of years ago and we had assured them of our wholehearted technical support and facilitation in upgrading and operating the project,” she said. 

To another question, she remarked that the PR was tackling the menace of encroachment in the most efficient manner all over the country. 

“We have had partial success in this regard. We have succeeded in getting some of the encroached lands vacated, like the Chanesar Halt and the Kalapul in Karachi, besides ensuring that no fresh encroachments took place during the last three years. But a lot has still to be done in this regard to get back our invaluable lands in the larger interest of the PR,” she conceded, adding that the regained lands would be channelized for revenue generation. 

To a question she said that the Jaffer Express incident in Balochistan was an unfortunate on, having occurred primarily due to law and order situation while the Patoki train-bus accident had taken place due to negligence of railway staff and the matter was being investigated. 

Meanwhile DS Railway Nisar Memon shared with PNFS that the Federal Secretary during her trip has visited Bin Qasim Port, Marshaling Yard besides Karachi City and Karachi Cantonment railway stations, having reviewed the working at length. The PR chief was due to visit the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) on October 10.

Friday, October 7, 2016

AKU, GIZ set off to boost Pakistan’s industry

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Improving the health and safety of workers in the textile sector, Pakistan’s largest industry, can boost productivity, competitiveness and compliance, according to studies released by the Aga Khan University and GIZ, the German development agency, at a collaborative event.

The textile industry, with its significant contribution to the country’s exports (58 per cent), is supported by an estimated 10 million strong workforce who often face safety and health issues.  
Most commonly, textile mill employees are exposed to significant amounts of cotton dust leading to respiratory diseases such as byssinosis as well as complaints such as chest tightness, shortness of breath and persistent coughing. 

The MultiTex research project, carried out by AKU’s Community Health Sciences Department, found that employees most at risk of chest ailments were the least aware of health hazards. The Return on Prevention study by GIZ found that textile industry stakeholders could be willing to invest in health and safety as they were aware of a return on investment. 

The AKU’s MultiTex project looked at the severity of health risks in textile mills and workers’ understanding of occupational health and safety (OHS) hazards around them. 

Interviewing 300 employees at seven mills in Karachi, with a workforce of approximately 9,000 people, almost all (90 per cent) were not educated and most had little awareness of the risks of cotton dust. 

Worse, employees who were more exposed to cotton dust, since they worked longer shifts and more days per week, than their counterparts were less aware of health hazards. 

Almost 80 percent of the workers were not using safety precautions (such as facemasks) that would help protect them against hazards at the workplace. 

“These preliminary findings reinforce our earlier study. Our previous research on 372 workers in 15 textile mills in Karachi found that cotton-dust related diseases and ailments were common,” Dr Asaad Nafees, Assistant Professor, AKU, remarked. 

“About 1 in 10 textile workers developed byssinosis, 2 in 10 employees suffered from shortness of breath and 3 in every 10 labourers complained of tightness in the chest. These health risks reduce the quality of life for so many employees and result in absenteeism and lost productivity for the textile industry. With 10 million or more employees in this sector, this represents a significant cost in human capital and potential manufacturing output,” he added. 

The MultiTex study saw researchers use special indoor devices to measure air pollution in different parts of the mills. Workers also wore personal air monitors (which tracked whether dangerous levels of cotton dust were being inhaled) and were given lung function tests before and after shifts to assess the seriousness of the daily impact of pollution. 

The AKU researchers are currently conducting follow-up studies to understand the long-term health threats facing employees. For now they have suggested three possible approaches to improve the health and safety of workplaces. Personal protective equipment, face masks to reduce inhalation of harmful particles followed by OHS training for managers and workers to improve knowledge, attitude and practices. 

Organizational changes to minimize the number of workers in danger areas and to reduce the time spent by workers in high exposure settings and structural changes involving the purchase of new machinery or improved workplace design and ventilation. 

These recommendations complemented the research Return on Prevention study that involved structured interviews with employees in 58 companies to understand whether investments in occupational health and safety pay off for companies in the textile and garment industry. 

The companies interviewed stated that occupational health and safety practices were ‘very important’ especially in the areas of warehousing, production, personnel allocation and transport. They also stated that investments in health and safety typically paid-off, offering a return of 2.5. 

Speaking at the event, Mr Olaf Petermann, from German Social Accident Insurance BG ETEM said that investments in occupational health and safety boost the competitiveness and compliance of Pakistani businesses.

“The research findings shared today help build a case for textile industry stakeholders to improve health and safety since it will benefit both workers and the financial performance of companies,” he noted. 

“The Sindh Labour department is fully committed to improve the occupational health and safety standards in the industry,” Sindh Labour Department’s Joint Director (Health and Safety) Ali Ashraf Naqvi, added. 

“This event has enabled an informed discussion among all stakeholders of the industry and we look forward to working with all representatives to ensure a healthy workforce and a strong industry,” Zulfiqar Shah, Joint Director, Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER), recognized. 

The event ended with a panel discussion featuring representatives from the Sindh Labour Department, a technical consultant from SGS Pakistan and officials from non-governmental organizations, HomeNet, PILER and business associations. They discussed the relevance of the findings for the industry’s future and the most feasible steps to take to achieve OHSE goals.

AMUOBA remembers Dr A T Khan

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services) 

Rich tributes were paid to the late Dr A T Khan, the first Vice-Chancellor of the Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology (SSUET), Karachi, at a memorial meeting organized by the Aligarh Muslim University Old Boys Association (AMUOBA), at the SSUET campus. 

He was particularly remembered for his contribution in the preparation of draft of Charter for the establishment of the SSUET and his role towards promotion of engineering education. 

The speakers on the occasion talked with awe about the educational acumen of late A T Khan who dedicated 39 years of career in promoting the cause of education and recalled his services for SSUET as its first Vice-Chancellor following his retirement from the NED University of Engineering and Technology, at the same position. 

The former Vice Chancellor of the University of Karachi, Dr Pirzada Qasim Raza Siddiqui, a renowned educationist and scholar, was the chief guest in the ceremony which was presided over by the SSUET Chancellor, Jawaid Anwar. 

The speakers included the SSUET Vice-Chancellor, Prof Dr Jawed H. Rizvi, Brig Dr Nasim A. Khan, Dr Prof Abdul Samad Khan, Engr Najib Haroon, Engr Asif Qasim Maisoorwala besides Mohammed Mohsin Khan, son of late A T Khan and Treasurer AMUOBA. The family members of late A T Khan were also present on the occasion. 

In his presidential address, the SSUET Chancellor Jawaid Anwar paid glowing tributes to late A T Khan and said that he was a true educationist who understood the importance of knowledge. 

He said that it’s for the first time that this function in memory of late Dr A T Khan has been organized because he’s fully convinced that only those nations progress which remember their legends and Dr A.T. Khan was also a legendary figure. 

He recalled that it was with this vision that AMUOBA organized a similar memorial meeting earlier for the late Engr Z A Nizami, the first Chancellor of SSUE, and named one recently constructed new academic block after his name. 

Similalry, the AMUOBA organized had memorial meeting for another legendary personality Zakir Ali Khan whose association with AMUOBA spanned over 50 years besides organizing a seminar on Shaheed-e-Millat Liaquat Ali Khan, adding that one building will also be named after Shaheed-e-Millat. 

Chancellor Jawaid Anwar while highlighting the importance of knowledge quoted a Quranic Verse which first word is ‘Iqra’ and said this gives a reflection of the importance Islam gives to acquisition of knowledge. 

He underlined the importance of teachers, stating that teaching is one such major responsibility which contributes to the building of nations and Dr A T Khan was one of those teachers who immensely contributed towards this cause. 

Describing him as the most impressive personality for his students, he disclosed that the SSUET planned to establish a soil testing laboratory to be named after Dr A T Khan 

Speaking as the chief guest, Prof Dr Pirzada Qasim Riza Siddiqui, also paid tributes to late Dr AT Khan and regarded him a role a great model for teachers and students. 

He said to be feeling honored having had very close relations with late Dr A T Khan and advised the students to follow his footsteps for the achievement of their career objective. 

Dr Pirzada advised the professionals to join teaching by choice and not by chance for its being a noble profession. Dr A T Khan had a quality that with the minimum resources he made great result out of it, he added. 

In his speech the SSUET Vice-Chancellor, Prof Dr Jawed H Rizvi, said that from now on Dr A T Khan will be remembered on regular basis for his contribution in teaching and in civil engineering in particular. 

Engr Mohammad Mohsin Khan, son of late Dr A T Khan thanked the SSUET Chancellor and the AMUOBA President, Jawaid Anwar, the SSUET Vice Chancellor, Prof Dr Jawed H Rizvi , and the AMUOBA for organizing the purposeful memorial meeting to pay homage and recall the immense educational contribution of his illustrious father.

He observed that it was for the first time in 20 years when Dr A T Khan is being paid tributes in such a befitting manner after having served for 39 years at the NED University, rising from Lecturer to Vice Chancellor. 

He said it’s a source of great inspiration that as many as members of Dr A T Khan's family were civil engineers. 

Engr Najeeb Haroon rated Dr A T Khan a great teacher and recalled his important role in civil engineering in Pakistan. 

Engr Asif Qasim Maisoorwala recalled that Dr A T Khan also taught ethics and how education led us to spend life. 

Prof Dr Abdul Samad reckoned that Dr A T Khan was the pioneer of soil mechanics in Pakistan, having introduced it in 1960s. 

Brig Dr Naseem A. Khan, representing Usmani Associates suggested that such events should be held on regular basis for our past and present legends. 

The meeting ended with a vote of thanks by the AMUOBA General Secretary, Mohammed Arshad Khan, and the presentation of souvenirs to Pirzada Qasim and other dignitaries.

Akhuwat chief inspires SSUET students

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Dr Mohammad Amjad Saqib, Executive Director, Akhuwat Foundation, visited the Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology (SSUET), Karachi, where he had a detailed session with its students.

The Akhuwat Foundation’s founder inspired the students and inculcated in them a sense of gratitude for their blessings and a sense of responsibility to share these with people who are less fortunate. 

The Lahore-based Akhuwat Foundation was established in 2001 with the objective of providing interest free microfinance to the poor in order to enhance their standard of living. 

Drawing on the principles of social justice and brotherhood, Akhuwat has been striving to alleviate poverty by creating a system based on mutual support in society, having adopted microfinance as its operational strategy with the loans being offered in accordance with the doctrines of Qarz-e-Hassan. 

Akhuwat, registered under the Societies Registration Act of 1860, levies no interest on its loans, operates through religious places and seeks to inspire and harness the spirit of volunteerism in society. The mandate of Akhuwat extends beyond financial transactions as it makes every effort to guide, support and empower the poor.

Dr Amjad Saqib has been bringing to light the fact that in Pakistan, almost 50 percent population was forced to live below poverty line which made it the responsibility of affluent people to prevent the poor from becoming beggars. 

"We feel that it is our responsibility to provide them interest free loan to hard working poor people to establish their own small business to support their families," he was quoted as saying. 

During the last 15 years, the Akhuwat Foundation has provided three billion rupees interest free loan to over 1.6 million families to make them independent economically and the recovery of loan was around 99.9 per cent which helped them to perpetuate its welfare activities.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Around 4,000 appear in SSUET entry test

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Nearly four thousand candidates aspiring for admission in the Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology (SSUET), Karachi, appeared in the pre-admission entry test for bachelor’s degree programmes held at the Karachi Expo Centre on October 2.

Besides the areas of four provinces, a good number of candidates from far flung areas like Gilgit, Baltistan and Azad Kashmir also appeared in the entry test for the academic year 2017. 

The SSUET, a centre of excellence since 1994, offers admissions in 11 disciplines which include electronic, computer, civil, bio-medical, telecommunication, electrical engineering and architecture besides computer science, software engineering, bio-infomatics and information technology. 

As per required criteria the eligibility for admission in first seven disciplines is minimum 60 percent marks in HSC and 55 percent for rest four disciplines.  

The Chancellor SSUET, Jawaid Anwar, besides Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Jawaid H Rizvi and Registrar Syed Sarfraz Ali who were present on the occasion, visited the test centre and reviewed the arrangements.

In his brief remarks on the occasion Chancellor Jawaid Anwar said it would be ensured that admissions to all disciplines are made strictly on merit basis and he has issued firm directions in this respect. 

The university, he pointed out, prepared future leaders able to compete the ever growing challenges in the fields of engineering and technology. 

"With career focussed education, the SSUET prides itself for having a highly qualified and experienced faculty committed in meeting the international standards,” the Chancellor stated. 

The Vice Chancellor, Prof Dr Jawaid H Rizvi, remarked that in keeping with the emerging trends, the university has introduced new technologies to meeting the ever-increasing market demands. 

The university is equipped with air-conditioned laboratories with 1,500 plus Nodes Computer Network and high speed internet connectivity and enjoys highest HEC's W4 category and is graded as 5-star University by Charter Inspection and Evaluation Committee (CIEC). 

Chartered in 1993, the SSUET is ISO 9001: 2008 certified and is a member of Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) and International Association of Universities (IAU), UNESCO, Paris.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

ICIML proceedings published

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The department of Information Management at the iconic University of the Punjab, Lahore, has added another feather to its cap by publishing the proceedings of the International Conference on Information Management and Libraries (ICIML) which was organized successfully last winter.

The book has been appropriately titled ‘Looking Back, Moving Forward’ which was the theme of the conference. The 650-page hardbound publication is worthy to be recognized as a more than useful resource material for the library and information science professionals besides its crop of students. 

Prof Dr Kanwal Ameen, the Conference Chair, also the Chairperson of the Information Management department, has continued to lead by example by having edited the proceedings and she was assisted in this arduous task by Dr Nosheen Fatima Warraich, a fellow faculty member and a versatile young scholar. 

Acclaimed as the oldest seat of learning in Asia, the department set a healthy tradition by having organized the International Conference on Information Management and Libraries to mark the centenary in a memorable manner and they seem to have immortalized the occasion by documenting its proceedings in book form. 

The 100 years of the department was marked befittingly in 2015 and, by publishing the proceedings of the ICIML in such impressive form, they have started their journey towards double century with a bang. 

The University of the Punjab University was the third institution in the world to offer formal learning in the field of Library and Information Science and by the look of things they appear determined to make their legacy count. 

The department of Information Management merited greater recognition and credit for having celebrated the centenary in an organized manner which earned tremendous goodwill to the institution.

It was the result of sound planning and the implementation of the visionary ideas which has allowed the ICIML to become one of the most talked about events in the scholastic circles. It proved to be an icing on the cake of their centenary celebrations. 

Although the ICIML was held at Lahore in November 2015, the idea was first discussed in a faculty meeting way back in January 2014. It was after extensive brainstorming sessions that the conference took the shape and a series of other events took place to celebrate the completion of first century of the department. 

Prof Sanda Erdelez, Prof Yaşar Tonta and Prof Widad Mustafa El Hadi were the three keynote speakers in the ICIML, who enlightened the delegates with their thought-provoking research and narrations. 

Prof Sanda Erdelez, Program Chair in Library and Information Science at the School of Information Science and Learning Technologies, University of Missouri, USA, spoke about Information and ‘Library Services in a Connected World.’ 

‘Developments in Education for Information’ was the topic of the keynote address by Prof Yasar Tonta, holding graduate degree in library and information studies from the University of California at Berkeley. 

Prof Widad Mustafa El Hadi, supervised many doctoral theses in terminology and its role in information mediation at the University of Lille 3, France, shared her thoughts about ‘Digital Libraries and Digital Humanities.’