Thursday, December 30, 2021

16th KIBF gets underway with a bang

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The long-awaited 16th edition of the Karachi International Book Fair (KIBF) finally got underway on December 30 and it was off to a sensational start. Hours before the five-day annual was formally inaugurated in afternoon, there were long queues of school students, mostly dressed in tidy uniforms, who swarmed to access the three halls of the Karachi Expo Centre since 10 am when the gates were opened. 

The KIBF 2021 was already in motion, and in full swing, when the Sindh Education Minister, Syed Sardar Ali Shah, declared it open after presiding over a largely attended inauguration ceremony in which Anwar Maqsood, the famous playwright, was the keynote speaker. 

The National Library Association (NLA) was represented in the KIBF opening ceremony by its President, Syed Muzaffar Ali Shah, Advisor, Syed Khalid Mahmood, and Secretary General, Anwar Hussain, besides a few other senior members. 

Aziz Khalid, President, Pakistan Publishers and Booksellers Association (PPBA), Southern Zone, in his welcome address, recalled the history of the KIBF as to how it was conceived after watching a book fair take place at New Delhi, India, in 2004. He touched upon the modest beginning of the KIBF and its evolution in the following years, incorporating the templates of success stories from book fairs at Frankfurt and London. 

Pir Mazhar-ul-Haq, a former provincial senior minister, in his speech on the occasion, described the KIBF as one of the most significant events of the national calendar and he complimented the local publishers and booksellers for ensuring the availability of books at reasonable prices despite the inflation and other uncontrollable factors. 

Anwar Maqsood lived upto his huge reputation of entertaining and simultaneously enlightening the audience with his witty remarks which were generously applauded. As always, he enlivened the proceedings and charmed everyone on the occasion, including the dignitaries occupying the stage. 

Fatema Hassan, a prominent poet, didn’t mince words in stating that the book culture was here to stay despite the arrival of digital gadgets and other sources of recreation. She was of the opinion that the success of the KIBF was a testimonial of the people’s belief in books which were still doing good business. 

Lastly the chief guest, Syed Sardar Ali Shah, committed to take up the matter of slashing taxes on import of paper for the purpose of educational books to the federal government while he also agreed to take action for activating libraries in the schools and colleges, as requested by the PPBA Southern Zone Chairman. 

The vote of thanks was proposed by the KIBF Convener, Waqar Mateen Khan, in which he acknowledged the support of his team members in making the event successful. In the end awards were presented to some of the publishers and booksellers in recognition of their services to the trade.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

NLA’s participation adds value to KIBF

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The active participation of the National Library Association (NLA) will add value to the 15th edition of the Karachi International Book Fair (KIBF) which is set to be inaugurated at the Karachi Expo Centre on December 30. 

The five-day annual event will conclude on January 3. The office-bearers of the NLA, the leading representative body of working librarians of the country, have been proactively promoting the KIBF, reaching out the masses through their members at various institutions and persuading them to visit the event in order to get hold of the latest books at heavily discounted prices. 

The NLA President, Syed Muzaffar Ali Shah, remained upbeat about the success of the KIBF, which is being organized after a gap of two years because of the pandemic of COVID-19 which rocked the entire world from the early months of last year. 

“The people of Karachi, particularly bookworms, eagerly await the KIBF every year. More visitors than ever before in the 15-year-old history of the KIBF could be expected this time round because this event could not take place last year to COVID-19,” the NLA President remarked in a brief chat with PNFS on December 28. 

He thanked the functionaries of the Pakistan Publishers & Booksellers Association (PPBA) for having renewed their understanding with the NLA for the promotion of the KIBF. The NLA delegation had also included its Advisor, Syed Khalid Mahmood, and Secretary General, Anwar Hussain, which recently met the PPBA Chairman, Southern Zone, Aziz Khalid and the KIBF Convenor, Waqar Mateen Khan.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Prof Dr Ghani-ul-Akram Sabzwari is back!

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, is back to his home city of Karachi after having spent the last one year in North America. And he’s back to business once more, without wasting a single moment which has been his hallmark for decades. 

Although his travel plans have had to be altered more than once due to COVID-19 related issues during the past year and a half, the octogenarian scholar has lost none of his mighty enthusiasm and his spirits have not been dampened even a bit. 

He was his usual self at the Record Office of the Library Promotion Bureau (LPB) in Karachi on December 23 where he informally spent time with members and visitors. He was full of energy as he geared up to attend the many ceremonies in his honour which have been lined up for the next couple of months. 

The bureau has had the reputation of coming alive particularly during the period he stayed in Karachi as the library professionals from all over the country converged to seek audience with him and to invite him to their institutions. 

In the past, he had made it a point to spend three months every year in Pakistan while staying abroad for the remaining nine months. This time, however, he has arrived after a gap of more than a year as he had overstayed in Karachi due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020. Quite remarkably, the LPB, despite the innumerable challenges of the pandemic, continued bringing out its books as well as their quarterly journal.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

NLA, PPBA join hands in KIBF promotion

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The functionaries of the National Library Association (NLA) and the Pakistan Publishers & Booksellers Association (PPBA) met on December 21 to renew their understanding to promote the upcoming Karachi International Book Fair (KIBF), now confirmed to be held at the Karachi Expo Centre from December 30 to January 3. 

The NLA delegation comprised of their President, Syed Muzaffar Ali Shah, Advisor, Syed Khalid Mahmood, and Secretary General, Anwar Hussain, while the PPBA was represented by their Chairman, Southern Zone, Aziz Khalid and the KIBF Convenor, Waqar Mateen Khan. 

The NLA, which has been supporting the KIBF all along since its coming to being in 2017, volunteered its unconditional support to the PPBA in achieving the cherished goal of promoting book and library culture in the country. 

The NLA President, Muzaffar Ali Shah, wholeheartedly appreciated the efforts of the PPBA to have successfully organized the KIBF annually with great success for the past 16 years despite numerous obstacles and challenges. 

The PPBA Chairman, Southern Zone, Aziz Khalid, acknowledged the critical role of working librarians in the promotion of books which was so vital for the publishing trade. He commended the NLA leaders for pursuing the cause of education by trying to introduce book culture in the society. 

He didn’t mince words in stating that the country desperately needed to have more and more libraries in every nook and corner of the country to let the masses acquire knowledge and education for changing their own destiny. 

The NLA Secretary, Anwar Hussain, added that the Association, as in the past, will be distributing the posters and other promotional material of the KIBF among its members for their onward placements at the notice boards of various educational institutions. He was promptly handed over the publicity material by the KIBF Secretariat. 

Meanwhile the NLA Advisor, Syed Khalid Mahmood, presented a copy of the historic book ‘Quaid-e-Azam and Education’ to Aziz Khalid on the occasion.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Rotary Darakhshan honours hat-trick hero Jalaluddin, statistician Shahzad Ali Khan in cricket celebration

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

With cricket fever gripping the entire world on the eve of Boxing Day and New Year, it was in the fitness of things that Rotary Club of Karachi Darakhshan joined the celebration by honouring two renowned cricket personalities, hat-trick hero Jalaluddin and statistician Shahzad Ali Khan, in a graceful ceremony at the Karachi Club Annexe on December 17. 

 Jalaluddin, a former Test fast bowler and the highest qualified coach of Pakistan, recalled the moments when he had rewritten the history in September 1982 by registering the first-ever hat-trick in One-day Internationals. 

He informed the select gathering how he was drafted in the playing eleven at the eleventh hour in place of skipper Imran Khan, who had pulled out due to the extreme heat of Hyderabad after arriving from England. 

He also shared, with mixed emotions, the immediate ‘cold-shouldering’ by the officials soon after his world record feat which prompted him to disembark from the team coach abruptly and he hired a rickshaw to quietly rush to his home in North Nazimabad. 

Jalaluddin’s untold stories were as interesting as his talk on importance of statistics and records in cricket which he highlighted the fact that television and digital coverage of the game has made fact and figures even more important than before. 
He lavishly praised Shahzad Ali Khan for having compiled the book ‘Cricket Milestones’ in which his own feat of first-ever hat-trick in One-day Internationals has also been prominently documented. 

He didn’t mince words in stating that compiling or authoring a cricket book demanded special qualities and skills as it was a very challenging pursuit which himself has also gone through lately. 

Cricket statistician Shahzad Ali Khan, in his speech, talked about his passion for the game having started in his childhood and has continued unabated for nearly half a century. He revealed how much pleasure he derives by compiling statistics and records about cricket. 

Past District Governor and Charter President of Rotary Club of Karachi Darakhshan, Jahangir Moghul, in his welcome address, praised both Jalaluddin and Shahzad, for their contributions to the game of cricket and hoped that they will continuing doing so for many more years to come. 

The Club President, Syed Khalid Mahmood, thanked both the cricket experts for squeezing time for Rotary and sharing their experiences with Rotarians, the majority of whom remain cricket followers. He wished them the best of luck in their future endeavours. 

Besides Rotarians, quite a few cricket collectors, writers, statisticians and anchors attended the ceremony thoroughly enjoying every minute of the proceedings. In the end, Jalaluddin and Shahzad Ali Khan were presented shields by the officials of Rotary Club of Karachi Darakhshan while the Club Secretary, Awais Moghul, proposed vote of thanks.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Mismanagement galore at KW&SB as Karachi bleeds

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The mismanagement at the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KW&SB) seems to have reached its peak as its managing director as well as his favoured officers were looking like engaged in maneuverings for meeting their vested interests rather than performing duties in usual manner. 

Recently the MD and the Officers Association duped the Board’s officers in the name of a so-called DPC with regard to their promotions and as a result all the officers were left with no other option but to be running after their own promotions instead of serving the people of Karachi who are clamoring about non-availability of water while the sewerage system has plunged into a total disarray with sewerage water flowing on many roads and streets. 

It is learnt from knowledgeable sources that many officials were visiting the residences of their retired superiors to have their ACRs written from them in their favour to help get a promotion. 

A false impression was communicated by the MD through a couple directives that DPC is going to be held and hence all the officials should get their ACRs and files completed. 

In order to get their favored officials promoted, by the look of things, the members of HR committee were given a wrong impression about court orders and government directives. The HR committee members, however, have strictly directed them to carry out the formal procedures and rules before holding the DPC as the only criteria for promotion was going to be ACR and seniority. 

The letter containing the directives showed that the procedure to examine the merit for seniority was still to be done and the question of issuing seniority list did not arise unless the reservations of affectees of previous promotions were removed, orders of Supreme Court with regard to PS, OTP and OCP are fully complied with and reversal of those getting illegal promotions to their original grades. 

In order to avoid the procedures, the MD has bargained with the so-called Officers Association and deceived the officers in the name of holding DPC and subsequently granting them promotions. 

Quite a few officers, who are junior in grades but functioning on the posts of Grade-20 as DMDs including two OPS DMDs Aijaz Kazmi and Saqib who are fully with MD alongwith Association’s President Nadeem Kirmani and Secretary Shoaib Tughlaq besides having support of two other DMDs Imran Zaidi and Nasim Khan. All of them enjoying were enjoying the perks and powers of Grade-20 while being in junior grades.

NLA official chairs Koha session

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

An Executive Committee member of the National Library Association (NLA), Liaquat Ali Rahoo, presented a paper besides chairing the session as koha experts of Pakistan brainstormed on the subject of ‘Challenges, prospects and way forward of Open Source Software Implementation in Pakistani Libraries’ recently. 

Koha is an active Open Source library management software project facilitating voluntary effort of programmers and library professionals. Library professionals are the end users of Koha and their involvement is vital at various stages of development of the software development. The Koha user community has been growing  and the project offered variety of non-developer roles for library professionals. 

The NLA President, Syed Muzaffar Ali Shah, praised the efforts of Liaquat and congratulated him on conducting the session superbly besides presenting his own paper on one of the relevant of all subjects to the librarians’ community. 

Having joined the NLA in 2018, the Hyderabad-based Liaquat is working at the Mehran University of Engineering & Technology, Jamshoro. Having done MLIS in 2006 he is currently a PhD scholar. More than 40 papers of his have already been published in various journals.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

KW&SB Act likely to amended to fulfill World Bank conditions

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Sindh cabinet is likely to amend Section 4 (1) of the KWSB Act, 1996 for reconstitution of the board to pave way for making the Mayor of Karachi as its Co-Chairman. 

The reconstitution of the board along with the proposed amendment, according to the sources, is being done on the pressure of the World Bank to make it free from political effects. 

It may be mentioned here that presently Najmi Alam, an activist of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), is acting as Co-Chairman of the board. 

The Sindh Government plans to further amend the KWSB Act as per satisfaction of the World Bank in the name of institutional reforms solely to get second tranche of US$ 700 million fund for the KWSB”s Services Improvement Project (KWSSIP). 

As per commitment of cooperation between the World Bank and Government of Sindh, the final draft for amendment in the KWSB Act was ready to be presented, it was disclosed. 

It may be recalled that present Administrator of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC), Barrister Murtaza Wahab, has on numerous occasions, advocated for the inclusion of the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KW&SB) under the command of Mayor Karachi. 

Meanwhile the Departmental Promotion Committee (DPC-1) could not meet owing to non-availability of MD, KW&SB, Asadullah Khan. However, it was learnt, that some other members of the committee did meet to consider the few performas related to promotion of officers and meeting of DPC-1 was postponed for indefinite period. 

The political activist Najmi Alam is said to have maneuvered to remain as co-chairman of KW&SB but failed and instead went forward to create a post of Vice Chairman on which the World Bank expressed its displeasure and called for abolition of this position. 

Since this move was rejected by the World Bank, his efforts through the cabinet could not bear fruit which has now moved for appointing Mayor as Co-Chairman. All backdoor efforts to grab power in the KW&SB affairs proved futile as Sindh Cabinet was not convinced with the proposal. 

It is also learnt that the KW&SB members snubbed the Managing Director for giving the impression that the DPC meeting was called on the directive of HRC whereas in its meeting on December 2, 2021, it has clearly delineated itself from such matters involving litigation and court orders. 

It has been gathered that the HRC meeting notice was cunningly manipulated by the Managing Director KW&SB thorough one Shoaib Tughlaq, attached with HRC, and displeasure was also expressed on this by Kabir Kazi, a senior bureaucrat. The HRC in its meeting, on December 2, is also believed to have emphasized upon the Managing Director to comply with the Supreme Court order for removal of OPC, OOC, OOT postings and promotions as well as ORC action before holding DPC or issuing any seniority list.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Junagadh Library & Resource Centre inaugurated

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

An impressive ceremony was organized at the Junagadh Lawn in Karachi, attended by large number of social workers, educationists, library professionals and students prior to the formal inauguration of the Junagadh Library & Resource Centre (JLRC) on December 4. 

All the speakers unanimously agreed that the creation of such facilities was need of the hour and every resourceful individuals and organizations should play their role proactively to bring about positive change in the country. 

Syed Khalid Mahmood, a renowned media personality and the Advisor of the National Library Association (NLA), was invited as one of the speakers and he warmly welcomed the addition of a public library in the densely populated metropolis of Karachi. 

“It’s a giant step in the right direction. With the kind of challenges being faced by the people in general in Pakistan, it’s a huge blessing to have a library and resource centre because this will serve lots of people particularly students and researchers,” he highlighted. 

“In an era when there’s a growing trend of shutting or curtailing libraries, it’s fantastic to open a new facility for the people of Karachi. We need libraries and more libraries in all cities, towns and villages. It’s the right of people to have access to high-quality books which are becoming out of reach of the masses because of the non-stop inflation,” the NLA Advisor pointed out. 

He praised the spirit of service of the NLA office-bearers who were working beyond the call of duty to achieved their cherished goals of spreading library culture in the society. 

The office-bearers of the NLA present on the occasion included Syed Muzaffar Ali Shah (President), Anwar Hussain (Secretary General), Hira Yaseen (Joint Secretary) and Younis Hashmi (Information Secretary). 

The Junagadh Library & Resource Centre (JLRC) is located on Sir Suleman Shah Road, in the vicinity of National Stadium, Karachi, with Indus University, Karachi School of Arts and Faran Club also in close proximity.

It's accessible location from nearly every part of Karachi will enable the centre to receive good number of visitors on daily basis and the available facilities would attract the students in particular.