Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Aziz Memon re-elected ESUP President, Hussain Basrai new Treasurer

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The popular figure of Aziz Memon, a renowned entrepreneur and social worker, was re-elected as the President of the English Speaking Union of Pakistan (ESUP) during its recent Annual General Meeting (AGM).

A new face in the ESUP leaders, elected unopposed for the term of 2020-2021, was that of Hussain Basrai, one of the leading chartered accountants of the country, who has also been the Senior Partner at the prestigious firm KPMG Taseer Hadi & Co. He was, quite fittingly, elected for the post of Treasurer. 

According to the election results declared by the ESUP, Kalim Farooqui and Tariq Ikram have been re-elected as Vice Presidents and Majyd Aziz will continue to be the Secretary General. 

Akram Wali Muhammad, Athar Iqbal, Bakhtiar Khan, Irfan Qureshi, Moin Fudda, Pervez Madraswala, Shahzad Sabir, Sirajuddin Aziz, and Syed Jawed Iqbal have been elected to the executive committee. 

In his Presidential address during the AGM, Aziz Memon noted with satisfaction the attendance by over 50 members on the occasion which itself was a record of sorts and reflected the keen interest of members. Aziz Memon highlighted the achievements and activities of the past year, stating that the ESUP took a prominent role in national and foreign activities.

He recalled that many ambassadors and high commissioners of different countries were invited as guest Speakers and that even many diplomats attended the ESUP events.  
Aziz Memon reckoned that the presence of Dr Arif Alvi, President of Pakistan, at the annual dinner was a manifestation of the respect and esteem that the ESUP has earned over the years. 

Majyd Aziz, Secretary General, then announced the names of the office bearers and National Council of Executive Committee members. 

Tariq Ikram, Vice President, presented amendments in the Memorandum and Articles of Association. He elaborated on the main points of these amendments and urged the members to approve these. The meeting unanimously approved the various amendments. 

Kalim Farooqui, Vice President, in his closing remarks, thanked the members for their participation in the ESUP activities. He also appreciated the cooperation of media, Beach Luxury Hotel, and staff of ESUP. 

The AGM of the ESUP was attended, among others, by its Past Presidents, Byram Avari and Abdul Kader Jaffer.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Poet Arif Shafiq passes away

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Popular poet Arif Shafiq has passed away in his home, Karachi, at the age of 62, after protracted illness. 

He was being treated for respiratory problems for quite some time after having suffered brain haemorrhage. 

His funeral prayers were offered at Al Falah Masjid in F C Area and he was laid to rest on December 14. Besides his widow, he has left behind two sons and two daughters. 

Born in Karachi on October 31, 1956, as many as eight poetic collections of his saw light of the day in his lifetime and he was famous in the literary and social circles for his verses.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Karachi celebrates first-ever restaurant awards

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

History of sorts was made on December 9 when the All Pakistan Restaurant Association (APRA), the only authorized body of restaurants and caterers in the country, hosted the first-ever restaurant awards ceremony at Hotel Marriott, Karachi. 

After innumerable showbiz and business awards, there finally took place a restaurant awards highlighting Karachi’s finest eateries in a befitting manner. 

The objective behind holding the award was to recognize and acknowledge special features of restaurants, including food and service excellence, outstanding dining and delivery experiences. 

There were a total of 17 customer choice awards and the voting continued for a month from August 10 to September 10 and the APRA duly fulfilled its commitment by organizing a grand ceremony on December 9 which had all the colorful ingredients of a memorable event. 

The jury for the APRA awards consisted of Chef Saadat, Chef Abdul Hadi, Sumera Hussain and Dr Sadia Safdar. 

“After receiving numerous applications for nominees, our experienced jury members had a thorough selection process in which five to seven restaurants for each award were carefully selected," the APRA Chairperson, Waqas Azeem, was quoted as saying. 

“Since we are a nation of food lovers, it is indeed the perfect time to bring in an all-inclusive body that supports and represents the many restaurants and caterers we have in Pakistan. The food industry is flourishing at an all-time high hence we believe this initiative will greatly encourage the restaurants, existing and new entrants to offer the best of the best food quality and service to their consumers,” he added. 

The APRA, registered with the Directorate General Trade Organisation (DGTO), Ministry of Commerce, Government of Pakistan, is incorporated as company with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) besides being a member of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI). 

Following were the winners of the various awards: 

Best Burger House of the Year: Burger O Clock 
Best Pakistani Restaurant of the Year: Lal Qila 
Best Pan Asian Restaurant of the Year: Chop Chop Wok 
Best Chinese Restaurant of the Year: Ginsoy 
Best Coffee Place of the Year: Coffe Wagera 
Best Chai Place of the Year: Chotu Chaiwala 
Best Pizza House of the Year: Broadway 
Best Biryani Restaurant of the Year: Student Biryani 

Best Buffet Restaurant of the Year: Lal Qila 
Best Casual Dining Restaurant of the Year: Del Frio 

Food Legend of the Year: Ginsoy 
Best Pocket Friendly Restaurant of the Year: Kaybees 
New Entrant of the Year: Yoshi’s 
Best Innovation Dish award of the Year: Meat the Cheese 
Best Restaurant for Ambiance of the Year: Thyme 
Delivery on Time award of the Year: McDonalds 
Restaurant of the Year-Karachi: McDonalds 
Best Fine Dining of the Year: Okra 
Food Veteran Award: Bar B Q Tonight 
Best Customer Experience of the Year: Kolachi 
Best Brand Turnaround of the Year: KFC 
Best Industry Facilitator of the Year: Pepsi
Lifetime Achievement Award: Zubaida Apa

Saturday, December 7, 2019

NED University holds Convocation 2019

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services) 

Over two thousand recently passed out graduates of the 2015-16 batch of the NED University of Engineering and Technology, Karachi, were conferred degrees in the Convocation 2019 ceremony held at the campus on December 7. Postgraduate degrees and PhD degrees were also awarded on the occasion.

Imran Ismail, the Governor of Sindh and the Chancellor of the University, presided over the ceremony which was also attended by the guests of honour, Shafqat Mahmood, Federal Minister for Education & Professional Training, and Engr Jawed Salim Qureshi, Chairman, Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC). 

The Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, who also happens to be an alumni of the NED University, however, didn’t attend the function despite being one of three designated guests of honour in its 28th Convocation. 

In his presidential address, the Governor of Sindh urged the fresh graduates not to be oblivious of the role of the state in them acquiring the highest class of education literally at no cost.

“While you are free to choose your future career path but please don’t lose sight of the fact that the state of Pakistan has invested a lot in bringing you to your present position. Therefore try to play your due role in paying back by whatever means you deem proper. You have a moral obligation to strengthen the country and serve its cause in every possible manner,” he advised. 

Governor Imran Ismail was of the opinion that the initiatives of the government will bring in desired results in not too distant future and the economy of Pakistan will flourish in the next few years.

Prof Dr Sarosh Hashmat Lodi, Vice Chancellor, NED University, in his welcome address, deliberated about the achievements of the institution in the recent past.

Recalling that while the history of NED was 99 years old, it has continued to have kept pace with the times by adding new features and it remained one of the top ranked engineering institutions of the world.  
“From a modest opening in August 1921, it has transformed into a university where more than 12,000 students are enrolled currently in various undergraduate degree programmes. Quality has been the hallmark of NED University and it remains so today,” he added. 

One of the features of the 28th Convocation at the NED University was the adherence to the originally chalked out programme and the discipline displayed by the participating students.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Murad Ali Shah opens Urdu Conference 2019

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, opened the 12th International Urdu Conference at the Arts Council of Pakistan, Karachi, on December 5. 

Declaring the multilingual city of Karachi as the hub of the cultural activities, he reckoned that the culture harmony in Pakistan was stronger than any other country in the world. 

“Pakistan is a country of different cultures and there is a need to promote cultural activities in every province,” he emphasized. 

The Sindh Cultural Minister, Sardar Shah, observed that just as the Indus River was joining the whole of Pakistan from Kashmir to Karachi, Urdu language was uniting the whole Pakistan as a nation. 

“Despite the heaviest of odds, Urdu has survived as the language of communication and cultural harmony in Pakistan,” he added. 

The President of the Arts council of Pakistan, Muhammad Ahmed Shah, stated that there were hardly a dozen people present in the auditorium when he and his team had launched the Urdu Conference 12 years ago with a budget of only Rupees one million. 

“As you all know, now the International Urdu conference has become a global brand of Pakistan. This year’s Urdu conference won’t be having sessions of Urdu only but we will have sessions in all the other regional languages. The Urdu Conference had now changed to a national cultural conference and for the first time sessions of other languages were also to be held in the conference. On the other hand we have delegates from India, Germany, Japan, USA, Canada, and China,” he said.

In the opening session, Shamim Hanfi and Haris Khalique presented they papers on the current political, social and literary situation in Pakistan and the world. The session was chaired by Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali shah and hosted by Muhammad Ayub Shaikh. 

The conference, to continue until December 8, will feature over 150 delegates from 20 countries, along with 32 sessions on diverse forms of art such as film and TV. 

Music and dance performances, book fairs, dasatangoi and mushairas as well as a photography exhibition, capturing the 11-year old history of the conference have also been planned on the sidelines.

Murad Ali Shah inaugurates KIBF 2019

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services) 

The 15th Karachi International Book Fair 2019 got underway at the Karachi Expo Centre on a hazy morning of December 5 but there was plenty of action inside the three gigantic halls, attracting a large number of people. The event will continue until December 9.

It’s the 15th edition of the international book fair in Karachi, being organized by the local chapter of the Publishers & Booksellers Association (PPBSA) with the collaboration of the National Book Foundation (NBF). 

Having been launched in 2005, it has gone on to become an important cultural event of the city. The 15th KIBF 2019 was inaugurated by the Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, whose speech on the occasion was telecast live by the various television channels. 

His assurance that the provincial government would take every possible step to enhance reading habits across the province was viewed with skepticism because of the dubious record of the various governmental organizations working under his command. 

The Chief Minister, however, was spot on while having observed the gradual decline in reading the habit among younger generations which indeed was reflected, as pointed out by him, that there was hardly any youngster attending the ceremony itself which he was addressing. 

He reckoned that efforts be made to revive our old culture of finding best books in the shelves of libraries, in the corners of bookstores, on the push-carts and footpaths. 

Murad Ali Shah recalled his student days at the iconic NED University of Engineering & Technology, Karachi, where he and his classmates used to visit the library on a regular basis. 

He even correctly recalled the name of the then librarian (Habib Saheb) of the 1980s at the NED University who worked very efficiently with his team to facilitate the students. 

The Chief Minister didn't mince words in declaring that he still derived more pleasure and satisfaction by reading a hard copy rather than its soft copy despite the availability of all kinds of modern gadgets like Ipads, laptops and tablets.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Pakistan advised to revise approach to gender equality

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Pakistan’s economic and social development indicators will continue to lag behind other counties until it rethinks its approach to gender equity and commits to gender mainstreaming, according to the experts speaking at a conference at Aga Khan University (AKU) in Karachi.

The speakers at ‘The Time is Now: Gender Equity and Women in Leadership’ noted that there was widespread misinformation about the scale of gender inequality in the workplace and society as a whole. 

They explained that while most people are willing to assert that men and women should be treated as equals, they rarely question why there continues to be a lack of women in upper management and leadership positions across the public and private sector. 

Pakistan has the second lowest rank in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2018, behind all other countries in South Asia. Estimates suggest that it will take over 70 years for the country’s men and women to have equal levels of economic participation and opportunity, parity in educational and health indicators, and similar levels of political empowerment. 

“There are strong cultural norms and structural inequities that continue to hold women back,” Dr Ayesha Mian, conference chair, who holds the positions of dean of students and chair of the department of psychiatry at AKU, remarked.

She stated that these norms mean that men are rarely expected to make compensations in their career for their family, or to play an equal role in parenting and caregiving. 

Similarly, women, to a much greater degree than men, face double standards in the workplace and are held to a higher benchmark than men. 

For example, women are often labelled as ‘bossy’ or ‘aggressive’ for actions deemed acceptable for men, and women’s requests for flexible work timings to deal with family commitments are more likely to be seen as showing a lack of commitment to the workplace. One of the most noticeable inequalities is in pay parity which worsens as women ascend the corporate ladder. 

Dr Ayesha shared how data from the United States shows that on average women earn 21 per cent less than men, while women who reach the top positions are paid a salary that is 61 per cent lower than their male counterparts.

“Gender equality involves society equally valuing the different needs, behaviours and aspirations of women and men, boys and girls. By being knowledgeable and responsive to gender considerations societies can ensure that everyone has the same rights, responsibilities and access to opportunity, regardless of whether they were born male or female,” Lindsay Mossman, senior gender equality adviser at the Aga Khan Foundation, Canada, observed. 

The worthy speakers at the conference called on organizations to make their planning and decision making processes more sensitive and responsive to the importance of gender. This approach, often referred to as gender mainstreaming, would enable the country to achieve gender equality. 

This would require workplaces to place a greater emphasis on collecting and reporting on the performance of programmes by gender. This includes details on how many men and women are promoted, those dropping out of the workforce or, how a company’s operations affect each gender. 

In the absence of gender-disaggregated information, management cannot monitor whether initiatives to narrow gaps are working nor can they be held accountable. 

Roshaneh Zafar, Managing Director, Kashf Foundation, shared examples of how her organisation maintained gender-specific data on employee participation and attainment levels that enabled action to be taken if inequalities were noticed. 

She disclosed that when data showed that women were dropping out of the workforce after marriage, she was able to launch awareness programmes for their families to address the issue. 

She added that her organization would not open a branch in an area until they achieve parity between female and male staff. 

Gender-disaggregated information drives change in organisations and the current reliance on anecdotal data to assess progress tends to disguise inequalities and to promote tokenism. 

For example, many workplaces cite the presence of a few token women in senior positions, or the absence of complaints, as proof that their internal systems and practices are fair. This perpetuates a mistaken belief that low levels of female representation are a result of women’s capabilities and their own personal choices, which further impedes efforts to ensure equality. 

Gender mainstreaming also requires a commitment to parity in interview panels and committees. Organizations should always be asking themselves if there is a diverse group of decision-makers on the table that represent different strengths and perspectives, the speakers noted. 

Moreover, parity needs to be present at all levels in the organization: boardroom, executive level, senior management and general workforce. 

In the long-term, the presence of a critical mass of women in leadership positions has been found to have an aspirational effect on other females, the speakers added. 

The Unilever Pakistan Chairperson and CEO, Shazia Syed, spoke about the importance of being sensitive to the needs of different employees. 

She explained how her company had opened a women’s hostel in Karachi so that the parents of female employees feel comfortable with their daughter living on her own in a large city. 

“Daycare facilities are available for both men and women with children as this helps ensure that the wives of male employees are able to continue working,” she revealed. 

During a panel session, the Standard Chartered Pakistan CEO, Shazad Dada, noted that organizations that were diverse and sensitive to gender considerations were more productive and would benefit from staff more committed to the company. 

He added that gender equality initiatives made solid business sense and stated that the country as a whole would suffer if 50 per cent of its population continued to be left behind. 

The speakers concluded that the gender gap is concerning for Pakistan as the sustainable development goals contain a set of targets related to gender equality which Pakistan has committed to achieving by 2030. 

A study by the McKinsey Global Institute has found that the global economy would grow by US $28 trillion, or 25 per cent, if women participated in the economy to the same extent as men. Pakistan’s low ranking in gender equality means that it has the potential to benefit to a much greater extent from initiatives to promote gender equality, they added. 

Dr Ayesha Mian, who is spearheading the Gender Equity and Women in Leadership initiative at AKU, informed that universities have an integral role in hosting discourses with multiple community stakeholders on issues that are pressing and critical to society. 

Over 400 academics, activists and representatives from the banking, healthcare, media, law, and fast-moving consumer goods industries took part in the one-day event which is the first of a series of conferences aimed at spurring efforts to address the problem of gender inequality.

Monday, December 2, 2019

LPB, Bazm-e-Akram to be consolidated

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

It has been decided in principle to consolidate the Library Promotion Bureau (LPB) as well as the Bazm-e-Akram rather than expanding the activities in the prevailing circumstances.

The activity report of both the organizations was presented by Prof Dr Nasim Fatima in a joint meeting held at the record office of the LPB, housed in the Liaquat Library Complex, Karachi, on December 2. 

The meeting, lasting a couple of hours, was presided over by Prof Dr Ghani-ul-Akram Sabzwari, who had returned from abroad only the other week. It was attended by majority of the office-bearers of the twin bodies.  

Ways and means were discussed to overcome the challenges and it was unanimously agreed to adopt a cautious approach, with emphasis on cutting operational costs, due to the existing financial constraints. 

Consequently it was decided to revert to the practice of bringing out just a single issue of Adab-o-Kutub Khana during the course of a year instead of attempting to publish two editions as was done the previous year. 

Similarly all the office-bearers of the LPB volunteered to donate their share of royalty income of the published books to the bureau in order let it become a self-sustaining entity. 

It was resolved to concentrate on digitalization of its publications and promote them more through social media for which separate blogs for the LPB and the Bazm-e-Akram will soon be uploaded.

Prof Dr Ghani-ul-Akram Sabzwari turns 84

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Prof Dr Ghani-ul-Akram Sabzwari, acclaimed as the father of Library & Information Science in Pakistan, has turned 84 on December 2. 

The occasion didn’t go unnoticed as his birthday was celebrated in the traditionally simple and graceful manner. 

Himself a firm believer and practitioner of simplicity and modesty, the unassuming Prof Dr Ghani-ul-Akram Sabzwari appeared a little embarrassed when he first the tastefully decorated birthday cake, bearing his name, but he obliged by formally cutting it much to the delight of his admirers present on the occasion. 

It was in the fitness of things that his birthday was celebrated inside the offices of the Library Promotion Bureau (LPB), an organization he had founded more than half a century ago in Karachi. 

A man of few words, the LPB and an ex-chairperson, Department of Library Information Science, University of Karachi, didn’t say much except that age was just a number for him and he felt as strong as ever to carry on his mission with the same intensity as before. 

His worthy student and a luminary in her own right, Prof Dr Nasim Fatima, who had made the arrangements for marking the occasion, wished him the best of luck for future and looked forward to continue working under his guidance.

The management of Jumbo Publishing, Jumbo Infomedia and Pakistan News & Features Services has congratulated Prof Dr Ghani-ul-Akram Sabzwari on his birthday, wishing him long life with immaculate health. 

Sunday, December 1, 2019

AKU graduates urged to face challenges with courage, perseverance

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

As many as 350 fresh graduates celebrated the completion of their programmes at the Aga Khan University’s convocation ceremony on November 30 where they were urged to remember the importance of courage, perseverance and agility in the years to come.

The chief guest at the event, Dr Sania Nishtar, special assistant to Pakistan’s prime minister on social protection and poverty alleviation, spoke to the graduating class about integrity, or staying true to one’s moral principles. 

“The crux of my experience leads me to believe that in order to make lasting and sustainable change you have to root your actions in integrity. It has become a bit cliché but the time-old adage of doing the right thing for the right reasons is something that you must hold very dear to your heart as you walk into the real world,” she remarked 

The real world is beset by many challenges: widening inequities, demographic challenges, rapid urbanization and a context in which collusive behaviours are deeply entrenched. But such challenges also offer huge opportunity. For example, advancements in artificial intelligence and pharmacogenetics, the study of how genetics impact an individual’s response to medicine, are transforming medicine and today’s graduates have the opportunity to change the world dramatically.

In his welcome address, the AKU President, Firoz Rasul called on graduates to make the most of their education by embracing challenges and to never let setbacks hold them back from achieving their goals. 

“There is no such thing as a life without setbacks. Remember that those who survive disappointment with their determination intact, and learn the hard lessons it has to teach, are forces to be reckoned with,” he declared. 

He urged the graduates to remember the value of courage in difficult times and to develop an agile mindset that would enable them to overcome all obstacles in their way. “Agility is nothing other than responsiveness to changing condition. Stay agile, remain courageous, and continue to persevere and you will achieve all that you’re capable of,” he added. 

This year, students received degrees and diplomas in different disciplines including nursing, midwifery, medicine, education, dental hygiene and Muslim Culture. This included 181 graduates from the School of Nursing and Midwifery, 143 from the Medical College, 16 from the Institute of Educational Development and 10 from the Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilizations.

A number of students won awards at the convocation. The 2019 Medical College Best Graduating Student Award went to Dr Maya Zahid Khan, who also received the AKU Medical College’s Gold Medal for achieving the highest score in three out of four certifying examinations. She is only the tenth student in the University’s history to receive this medal. 

The 2019 School of Nursing and Midwifery Best Graduating Student Award went to Ms Sahar Makhani. Three Awards of Distinction were presented to Dr Amirali Pyarally Gulamhusein, Mr Asif Fancy and Mr Louis Ariano for their significant contributions to the University’s development. An Award of Excellence in Teaching and Teaching Leadership was conferred on Dr Rashida Ahmed and an Award of Excellence in Research was given to Dr Rumina Hasan. 

Professor Emeritus and Professor Emerita were conferred on five retired members of faculty Professor Abul Faizi, Professor Mohammad Perwaiz Iqbal, Professor Murad Moosa Khan, Professor Nelofer Halai and Professor Yasmin Noorali Amarsi for their sustained contributions to teaching, scholarship and service throughout their careers. 

Dr Zulfiqar A. Bhutta, founding chair of the University’s Center for Excellence in Women and Child Health, was elevated to the rank of Distinguished University Professor and is just the second faculty member to hold this title.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Advance HE reaccredits AKU, first in South Asia, East Africa

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Aga Khan University (AKU) has become the first higher education institution in South Asia and East Africa to be recognized by Advance HE, a global body that strives to promote excellence in teaching and learning in higher education. 

The AKU President, Firoz Rasul, announced the University’s three-year reaccreditation with Advance HE while addressing the inaugural session of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Conference in Karachi. 

Advance HE, based in the United Kingdom, works with higher education institutions across the globe to benchmark teaching quality against the rigorous UK Professional Standards Framework, UKPSF. 

While talking about the importance of effective teaching and learning methodologies, President Rasul noted their role in engaging students and bringing excitement and stimulation into the classroom. 

This encourages students to be responsible for their own learning, he added. The keynote address was delivered by Debra Dawson, director of the Centre for Research on Teaching and Learning in Higher Education at Western University in Canada. 

She stressed that creating a teaching culture within universities that values quality teaching is important both to motivate faculty members and to create an environment that leads to student success. 

“Specifically, institutional teaching culture has been found to be related to student outcomes such as persistence, learning, and engagement,” she said. Setting up a network to enhance teaching quality in countries with no tradition of support for faculty is a long journey. 

Tashmin Khamis, associate vice provost of AKU’s Network of Quality, Teaching and Learning and principal fellow of the Higher Education Academy spoke about how it takes time to build and to find the people or institutions that can offer support. 

“Our partnership with Advance HE has enabled AKU faculty to access higher education teaching qualifications that are benchmarked against international best practice. I see HEA fellowships as an incentive to transform teaching, as well as a great opportunity to reward and recognise faculty for their commitment to teaching and learning,” she said. 

All universities in the UK are members of Advance HE as well as partners from 15 countries around the world and this gives us an unprecedented chance to be part of a larger community of practice, Khamis concluded. 

The two-day SOTL conference on Evidencing teaching practices for effective learning in higher education focused on efforts to improve student learning experiences in order to drive positive change in the higher education sector as a whole.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Prof Dr Ghani-ul-Akram Sabzwari returns

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Prof Dr Ghani-ul-Akram Sabzwari, the founder of the Library Promotion Bureau (LPB) and an ex-chairperson, Department of Library Information Science, University of Karachi, has returned to his home city of Karachi where he is scheduled to stay for the winter months.

Although he will turn 84 early next month, he has not lost any passion or interest in his work and he has got engaged in scholastic projects right away, after travelling from Dallas in the United States. 

He had reached Karachi on the evening of November 22 and he was very much there at the Record Office of the LPB, housed in the premises of the famous Liaquat Library Complex, on the very next working day at as early as 9 am. 

When inquired about jet leg, following a long flight spread over a couple of days, he just smiled back and stated that he was fit enough and happy enough to continue working without any break. 

Indeed he wasted no time and got to the work-related matters from the very first day of his arrival. 

Soon he himself issued an invitation for attending a meeting of the LPB and Bazm-e-Akram on December 2 at 11 am sharp. 

This is expected to just the beginning of yet another busy spell of activities for the library community in the country as many of his students, fellow professionals and admirers have chalked out programmes in his honour.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

AMR poses challenge to Pakistan health system, economy

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
Pakistan News & Features Services)

Up to 95 per cent of the population of Pakistan could be carrying bacteria that makes them resistant to life-saving antibiotics, according to the speakers at the inaugural session of the annual National Health Sciences Research Symposium (NHSRS) of the Aga Khan University (AKU) in Karachi. The theme of the 22nd three-day symposium is ‘Antimicrobial resistance: an opportunity to transform global health’.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) happens when microorganisms, such as bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites change when they are exposed to antimicrobial drugs. Microorganisms that develop AMR are sometimes referred to as superbugs. 

As a result, the medicines become ineffective and infections persist in the body, increasing the risk of spread to others. 

A recent UN report warned that the threat of AMR can be a global health crisis that could lead to 10 million deaths every year by 2050. Pakistan is the sixth most populous country in the world, which is expected to rise to fourth place by 2050.

If not managed timely, AMR may lead to a ‘health emergency-like situation’ that might have implications for the country’s health system as well as economy, they said. 

“Antibiotics have been a founding stone of modern medicine. Use of antimicrobials has enabled the implementation of novel treatment modalities such as cardiac bypass surgeries, joint replacements and bone marrow transplants. Management of infectious complications would not have been possible without antibiotics. Spread of resistant bugs is now taking us back in the pre-antibiotic era where advance medical interventions may become compromised,” Rumina Hasan, a professor of microbiology at AKU and chair of the 22nd NHSRS organising committee, remarked. 

“Antimicrobials have also been instrumental in the control of infections in farm animals and in crops, allowing an increase in agricultural output and providing food security. Emergence of antimicrobial resistance threatens this progress,” she added.

Realising that AMR puts the gains of the Millennium Development Goals at risk and jeopardizes achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, WHO instituted a global action plan to tackle AMR in the 68th World Health Assembly in 2015, which was endorsed by all countries including Pakistan. 

Zafar Mirza, Minister of State for Health, Government of Pakistan, and the chief guest on the occasion, expressed his government’s commitment to work with provinces and public and private key stakeholders on the implementation of the National Action Plan for AMR. 

“The misuse and overuse of antimicrobial medicines is fueling resistance worldwide and the Eastern Mediterranean Region is no exception. Drug-resistant infections are estimated to cause at least 700,000 deaths globally each year. Implementation of AMR surveillance, hospital infection prevention and control, and antimicrobial stewardship are extremely important measures to curtail the spread of resistant bugs,” Maha Talaat, WHO EMRO regional coordinator for infection prevention and control, and the keynote speaker, observed.

“Although AMR is a global problem, estimates suggest that 89 per cent of deaths related to AMR in 2050 will occur in Africa and Asia. The UK Government has set up the Fleming Fund to provide the much needed resources to better understand and address AMR. Such Coordinated global actions are required to minimise the emergence and spread of AMR,” Anthony Huszar, South East Asia Regional Coordinator, Fleming Fund, and the keynote speaker, pointed out. 

The AKU President, Firoz Rasul, Deans Adil Haider and David Arthur, and interim CEO of the Aga Khan University Hospital Shagufta Hassan also addressed the symposium and applauded the organisers and participants for highlighting the issue of AMR. 

The NHRS happens to be AKU’s annual ‘flagship’ event that focuses on a health sciences topic relevant to Pakistan and the region. The second and third days of the symposium will cover discussions on animal AMR, antimicrobial use surveillance, food safety, control of antibiotics quality in Pakistan, ‘Ignite’ and several other sessions.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Amir Rajput selected to look after boarding, lodging of Sikh pilgrims

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Amir Rajput Group, one of the leading events and catering companies in Pakistan with more than two and a half decades of experience in event management, wedding functions and highest quality catering services, has been assigned the task of taking care of boarding and lodging of the visiting Sikh pilgrims at Kartarpur Gurdwara.

Exhaustive arrangements have been made for lodging and boarding of the Sikh pilgrims (yatrees), who have started pouring in from various parts of the world to participate in the 550th anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak to be held at Kartarpur Gurdwara, due to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Imran Khan on November 12. 

Elaborate arrangements have been made to provide free food to the visitors. The arrangements include providing food to 2,000 pilgrims at a time. Gurdwara Nankana Sahib is decked up with lights to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev. 

During their stay, they will also visit other Gurdwaras in the Punjab province and attend the opening ceremony of the Kartarpur Corridor on November 9.

Special arrangements have been made for the comfortable stay of the pilgrims who are expected to be in the excess of 10,000. 

For this purpose nine beautiful canopies have been installed which will remain a permanent structure. 

The Gurdwara is of great significance for Sikh community and has been refurbished in a record nine month time as a first phase of the project. In the second phase, the Gurdwara will be further expanded. 

The government has assigned the country’s reputed caterer and event manager, Amir Rajput, for lodging and boarding of visiting pilgrims. 

The Amir Rajput Group has been acclaimed as one of the most respected and trusted names in the hospitality sector and they have a carved a niche for themselves for quality, service and reliability.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Iqbal Saleh Muhammad emphasizes on according highest respect to teachers

Pakistan News & Features Services

“Teachers are the most respectable and honourable persons in a society who are worthy of the highest esteem. They must be accorded the admiration they so richly deserve.” 

These observations were made by Iqbal Saleh Muhammad, Managing Director, Paramount Books, during his address in the 35th Society of Pakistan English Language Teachers (SPELT) International Conference 2019, hosted recently by Iqra University in Karachi. 

He reminded the august gathering of teachers, trainers, experts, educationists, intellectuals and scholars about the incident in a courtroom of Italy where, upon learning that Pakistan’s great writer Ashfaq Ahmad happened to be a teacher, was given a standing ovation by the honourable judge as well as everyone present there on the occasion. 

The soft-spoken Iqbal Saleh Muhammad, who himself has been rendering momentous services to the country by promoting the literary craftsmen, emphasized on treating the teachers with utmost care and they be granted total reverence at all times.

“It’s the responsibility of our society to respect the teachers if we desire to progress. Otherwise it won’t be possible to move forward. We must keep in mind that we have to give them the highest respect in order to make advancement,” he added. 

The Society of Pakistan English Language Teachers (SPELT), founded in 1984, is a registered, non-political, non-government (NGO), voluntary body of English Language teachers from schools, colleges and universities. 

Dedicated to improving the standard of English teaching and learning in Pakistan, the SPELT functions on the principle of team work and self-help to enable maximum exploitation of the limited resources available in the country.

As a body it attempts to be well informed about recent developments in teaching techniques, which invariably need to be modified in order to suit the needs and limitations of the Pakistani situation. It is affiliated with a number of international organizations like TESOL (USA), IATEFL (UK), RELC (Singapore), TESOL (Greece).

Its objectives include providing a professional forum for English language teachers in Pakistan besides serving as a centre for the dissemination of current ideas and developments in ELT.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Aziz Memon becomes first-ever Rotary Foundation trustee from Pakistan

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Aziz Memon, an acclaimed entrepreneur and philanthropist, has become the first-ever trustee of the Rotary Foundation from Pakistan in more than 100-year old history of the global organization.

The Rotary Board of Directors selected him to this coveted position, in their meeting held on October 23, 2019, for a period of four years. His term will commence on July 1, 2020. 

The Rotary Foundation, headquartered in Illinois, USA, is organized as a public charity operated exclusively for charitable purposes and governed by a Board of Trustees. 

The operations of Rotary International, a member organization, are overseen by its Board of Directors. 

Rotary International had come to this part of the world in 1927 when the first club was chartered in Lahore. It has taken 92 years for a Pakistani to acquire a position on the Rotary Board of Trustees and this achievement of Aziz Memon has been widely applauded.

Having served the Rotary cause with exemplary selflessness and intense compassion, he has been in the forefront in the mission to eradicate polio from Pakistan as Rotary’s International PolioPlus Committee member and Chair of National PolioPlus Committee. 

Aziz Memon is hailed for being largely instrumental in restricting the transmission of polio virus through myriad interventions; which also include the provision safe drinking water to the residents of low-lying areas in the form of solar water filtration and reverse osmosis plants.  
He has been admired for his efforts to galvanize meaningful public opinion through eliciting views of well-respected national and international personalities. 

He undertakes such a service under the auspices of a revered social forum and serves as the President of English Speaking Union of Pakistan (ESUP). 

This social entity runs a global network and is headed by the Princess Anne of the UK. The ESUP provides educational and research facilities to students from Pakistan and offers them regular scholarships to study in prestigious academic institutions of the world. 

As an entrepreneur, Aziz Memon has been a success story in the textile industry and he has worked tirelessly for the cause of trade and commerce. His efforts have greatly helped in earning precious foreign exchange for the country. 

He also heads the United Memon Jamat, a conglomerate of various bodies catering to the needs of the large Memon community residing in Pakistan.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Foreword to Dr Nasim Fatima: Bio-Bibliographical Study

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Following is the text of the foreword, penned by Syed Khalid Mahmood, to the recently published book ‘Dr Nasim Fatima: Bio-Bibliographical Study’ highlighting the accomplishments of the prolific library scientist:

“No hard-and-fast rules about forewords, allowing room to be creative and even have some fun, makes the task of penning my maiden foreword simpler than it could have been otherwise for a firm believer and practitioner of out-of-box thinking! 

Indeed it’s a great honour to be asked to write the foreword to such a significant book, bringing to light the accomplishments of Prof Dr Nasim Fatima, the famed library scientist, teacher, scholar, researcher, writer, author, editor and mentor, yet one of the unsung heroes. 

Her multi-faceted personality has been talked about with great awe over the years but she hasn’t been granted the kind of recognition she so richly deserved. On the contrary, she has had to endure some terrifying moments in her long professional career. In fact, she still has to combat some unforeseen challenges from within which don’t make her tasks simpler.

No praise could be too high for her for having overcome the obstacles with the iron will and the never-say-die approach. 

She has fought her way to the top and she’s going to be remembered for her overwhelming contributions for the cause of librarianship in particular and education in general. 

Obviously this book is not going to inform the readers about the trials and tabulations which she had faced, and continues to tackle in achieving the various elusive landmarks. 

Since she seems to have pursued the policy of just letting her work do the talking, without engaging into controversies or making even a noise at the injustices meted out to her from time to time, I am not sure if she will ever take the time out to narrate her tales of horrors and the dream of her autobiography may remain unfulfilled.

Isn’t it surprising, and hints of ungratefulness too, that those so many individuals having been, taught, trained, guided and mentored by her over the decades, didn’t reciprocate by furthering her mission? 

The community of the librarians in particular should wake up before it becomes too late. You people are extremely fortunate to be blessed with such an adorable personality like Prof Dr Nasim Fatima who is ever willing, and smiling, to lend a helping hand to everyone and anyone seeking assistance or guidance. 

 As the founder of the Library Promotion Bureau (LPB), Prof Dr Ghani-ul-Akram Sabzwari, has publicly acknowledged repeatedly, the bureau and its flagship publication, the Pakistan Library & Information Science Journal (PLISJ), have survived for more than a half a century primarily due to her dedication and sacrifices.

I commend the joint efforts of the trio of Huma Mannan Butt, Abdul Qudoos and Saima Qadeer for having done this wonderful book which will surely be helpful in motivating the fraternity of the library professionals besides others. 

Now it’s your responsibility to play the due role in spreading the word and sharing it with the masses. You can pay your tribute to the living legend by promoting the book in your own circles. You will agree with me that this book merits a place in every library of the country.”

New book on Dr Nasim Fatima published

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Another book on Prof Dr Nasim Fatima, a former chairperson of the Library & Information Science department at the University of Karachi, has recently been published under the auspices of the Library Promotion Bureau (LPB). 

The 132-page book titled ‘Dr Nasim Fatima: Bio-Bibliographical Study’ has been edited by one of her students, Huma Mannan Butt, with Abdul Qudoos and Saima Qadeer being the compilers while the foreword has been penned by Syed Khalid Mahmood. 

“She was my teacher and chairperson at Department of Library and Information Science, University of Karachi. She is an asset to the Pakistan librarianship. Widely respected, she has had the quality of respecting each individual to have come across her,” Huma Mannan, now working as Chief Librarian at PN Central Library in Karachi, wrote in her introductory remarks in the book.

“Dr Nasim Fatima has had a tremendous academic record throughout her life. She loves to read and write. She teaches others how to become writer and researcher. She readily has plenty of topics in her mind for research whenever she is approached. She helps each researcher by all means. She has written in English and Urdu languages but feels happier in transferring technical and scientific information in Urdu for the benefit of the masses,” she added. 

Huma Mannan had earlier done a book on her illustrious teacher titled ‘Dr Nasim Fatima: Shakhsiat wa Kam’ which was a compilation of views and opinions about her works. 

Her contributions in literature have been highlighted by Zain Siddiqi in his book ‘Aik Rag-e-Deeger’ which is a tribute to her illustrious writings. 

It may be recalled that Dr Nasim Fatima has been writing on a regular basis in 1975 after her appointment as lecturer in the Library Science department although her first article ‘What you read about Quiad-e-Azam’ was published in Akhbar-e-Khawateen in 1968. She wrote her first book on Allama Iqbal’s chronology in 1976. 

Dr Nasim Fatima has been bringing out a literary magazine ‘Adab-o-Kutub Khana’ since 1979, from the platform of Bazm-e-Akram, and it has become an acclaimed annual publication, of which she is chief editor. 

An author of more than 50 books already, her compilation ‘Faiz Huay Hain Mar Kay Amar’ which was brought out by Jumbo Publishing, has been hailed as splendid and authentic bio-bibliography of the great poet.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

NICVD expands its services in Karachi

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) has made operational its 10th Chest Unit in Karachi which is housed at 11-G, Godhra Colony, New Karachi. 

The containerized unit was formally inaugurated by Sindh Information Minister, Saeed Ghani, at a ceremony held at the container site. 

It was the 14th setup in Sindh as part of the NICVD’s plan to provide immediate and initial relief to a patient suffering from heart problem before being shifted to the main hospital for treatment.

Besides the Minister, the Executive Director of the NICVD, Nadeem Qamar, Farooq Khatuda. President Godhra Muhammadi Anjuman, Siraj Chunkla, President Godhra Sheikh Muslim Anjuman 11-G, Sultan Kharadi, President 11-F, Sheheryar Bhagat, General Secretary, Dr Amin Kharadi, and other officials were also present on the occasion. 

Saeed Ghani, in his speech, remarked that the Sindh Government planned to set up more such centres not only in Karachi but also elsewhere in the province.

He informed that over 2.84 lac patients had benefitted from these units in Karachi alone so far and of them there were 6,800 such patients these units proved life savers. 

He pointed out that ever since 2011, when the Sindh Government took management of NICVD, and the manner in which the cardiac patients were being provided free of cost treatment, no other province could match this service. 

The Minister added that besides Karachi, the Sindh Government has set up heart hospitals in seven cities of Sindh and it was in the process of introducing more improvement in the health sector.

Referring to shortage of dog bite vaccine, he said that not only Sindh, but this vaccine is short in the entire country because of their non-availability from China and India. 

In Sindh, he stated, the government was meeting vaccine shortage by buying it from the market at premium rates. 

He said that the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital and other KMC or DMC hospitals were responsible for arranging the vaccine, but the Sindh government was helping them and will continue doing so.

The Minister pledged that the provincial government remained committed to serving the cause of the people in urban as well as rural areas.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Plea to empower volunteer nurses, physicians

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services) 

The community-based palliative care can serve to be a cost-effective method to provide care to individuals undergoing serious illness. 

Training and empowering volunteer nurses and physicians can change how palliative care, a method of care and support of a patient’s well-being by ensuring their physical, social and psychological needs are met, is perceived in Pakistan, according to speakers at the 1st Palliative Care Symposium at Aga Khan University (AKU) which was held on the occasion of World Hospice and Palliative Care Day. 

An estimated 40 million people are in need of palliative care in the world and 78 percent of whom live in low and middle-income countries. In Pakistan, there are less 10 health facilities that deliver palliative care under the supervision of trained palliative specialists. 

The speakers at the symposium stressed the importance of palliative medicine and noted that it remains a low-priority issue in Pakistan 

They added that AKU’s School of Nursing and Midwifery has taken the lead in this field by introducing an elective course on palliative care to meet gaps in the national nursing curriculum. There is a need for increasing public awareness and formalising training to establish palliative care opportunities for homes and at the community level, they added 

The patients who receive early palliative care in the course of treatment of disease have to be given less-aggressive care towards the end of their life and have a longer survival rate since it significantly improves their quality of life and mood, according to Dr Ali Haider, an assistant professor of palliative medicine at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center USA. 

Differentiating between hospice and community-based care, speakers noted that while a hospice is a paid practice world-wide, training and volunteering nurses and individuals can be an affordable practice for families to enable better living of patients. 

The speakers at the event also highlighted the role of family physicians in providing holistic palliative care to patients with life-limiting illnesses owing to their accessibility to communities. Due to a physician’s familiarity with patient’s health history, they are able to advice on a multidimensional care model for the family. 

They also spoke about how palliative care is associated with patients suffering from cancer when in reality both patients and families can benefit from it for any illness that may shorten life. Some people also believe that it should be practiced when a doctor has given up on a patient and there is no hope. 

Another myth the speakers tackled was about children’s palliative care that it can only be offered in high-resourced settings when in reality, it can be provided in community health centres and in homes too. 

“Palliative care, on the flipside, ensures living life as fully as possible through compassionate, patient-centred care,” Dr Nasreen Saleem, a senior instructor on palliative care at AKU, remarked. 

The symposium was held in collaboration between the University’s departments of oncology, family medicine, paediatrics and child health and AKU’s School of Nursing and Midwifery. 

The one-day event marking the theme ‘My Care, My Right’ was attended by healthcare professionals, nursing leaders, social workers, health policy makers and medical education.