Top students in other cities, Afghan refugees not allowed secondary education in Karachi

An Afghan refugee boy looks from a mud house at a refugee camp on the outskirts of Karachi on June 20, 2018, on the World Refugees Day. (AFP)
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Updated 02 August 2020
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Top students in other cities, Afghan refugees not allowed secondary education in Karachi

  • Karachi and Sindh province have come in the spotlight after Afghan refugee topped matriculation exams in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province
  • Authorities say no Sindh-wide restrictions on access to education but most of Sindh’s 60,000 refugees live in Karachi where de facto rules discriminate

KARACHI: Last month, when an Afghan refugee boy became one of the top matriculation exam scorers in Mardan city in Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Asma Rahimi was happy for him. But the feeling was also bittersweet.
Like the boy from Mardan, she too is the child of Afghan refugees. But unlike him, she might not be able to complete secondary education in the city where she lives: Pakistan’s teeming port metropolis of Karachi in the southern Sindh province.




Asma Rahimi, a 14-year-old Afghan refugee, is doing her homework while she talks to Arab News in Karachi on July 29, 2020 (AN Photo) 

Education is a provincial subject and admission rules differ across Pakistan. While children face no legal obstacles to education in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, which host most of Pakistan’s Afghan refugees, in Sindh many said they had little chance of completing secondary school because of de facto rules.
“I won’t be able to study ahead,” Rahimi, currently in the eighth grade, told Arab News. “This will be my last year, I cannot study onward.”
Rahimi’s family moved to Pakistan three decades ago, fleeing armed conflict in Afghanistan’s Kunduz province, which is now dominated by the Taliban militant group.
About 2.5 million Afghans, many of whom fled their homeland after it was invaded by the Soviet Union in 1979, live in Pakistan, home to the world’s second-largest refugee population.
In 2018, soon after coming to power, Prime Minister Imran Khan vowed to grant citizenship to Afghan refugees who have lived in the country for several decades. Almost two years later, that promise remains unfulfilled.
Afghans have long complained about constant harassment and lack of opportunities in Pakistan due to the lack of citizenship rights for those who have spent decades living and working here. The problems — particularly of discrimination, racial profiling and the inability to open bank accounts or buy and rent property without proper identification documents — are spread across Pakistani cities and are not limited to Sindh province alone.
But the recent case of the Mardan matriculation exam topper has put Karachi’s problems in the spotlight.
Rahimi said her sister studied at the city’s Syed Jamaluddin Afghani School for refugees, which is registered with the Afghan ministry of education and offers classes up to grade 12. However, the school’s certification is not recognized by Pakistan.
“If anyone wants to study ahead, he or she will have to go to Afghanistan,” Syed Mustafa, principal of the school, told Arab News, adding that many parents thus had no option but to send their kids to religious seminaries to continue their education.
Rahimi says he wants to go to university and become a psychologist. So instead of joining the refugee school, she enrolled in Alama Iqbal Public School in Karachi, only to realize that even though there was no official restriction, a de facto ban precluded her from studying beyond grade eight.




Asma Rahimi is speaking to Arab News in Karachi, July 29, 2020. She wants to study and become a psychologist, but in Karachi she may be unable to even complete secondary education. (AN Photo) 

In 2012, the Board of Secondary Education in Karachi (BSEK), which is the authority responsible for the registration of private and government schools in the city, made it mandatory for ninth grade students to possess a Child Registration Certificate, commonly referred to as Form-B, which serves as an identity document for those below the age of 18. Refugee children cannot obtain it.
According to Professor Saeeduddin, chairman of the BSEK, the decision was made at the request of the provincial government so students could not get Pakistani nationality simply on the basis of educational credentials.
“If an immigrant does his matriculation, he then may say that since he has done his matric from Karachi, he should be granted nationality,” Saeeduddin said.




Afghan refugee Zahra Arif, 13, is speaking to Arab News in Karachi on July 29, 2020. She wants to finish school and become a civil engineer. (AN Photo) 

Muhammad Riazuddin, secretary at the Universities and Boards Department Sindh, denied there was any regulation barring refugees from studying beyond the secondary level in the province. He said Sindh was an inclusive province and “strongly believes in children’s right to education, which is not only enshrined in the UN charters but also the constitution of Pakistan.”
“The National Alien Registration Authority (NARA) cards give legal immigrants the right to have electricity, gas and water connections as well as to obtain education,” he said, adding that the same applies for Afghan refugees who have Proof of Registration (PoR) cards.
But students say while there may be no provincial restrictions, the rules in Karachi effectively prevent Afghan kids in Sindh from studying beyond a point because most of the province’s 60,000 Afghan refugees live in the port city.
“We are not allowed to get education. I cannot study here,” Zahra Arif, a seventh grader at Syed Jamaluddin Afghani School, told Arab News.
“I want to become an engineer. I will make houses for the poor,” she said, adding that she was born in Pakistan and had never even visited Afghanistan.
Unlike her, Rahimi has been to Afghanistan and spent three months there. “Our uncle asked us to stay, but there was no school or college and everyone was illiterate, so my father took us back as he wants us to study, to change our society,” she said.
With a wry smile she added: “I want to study, I want to become something in life.”


PSL 2024: Rutherford blitz ensures Quetta snatch last-ball win over Karachi

Updated 8 sec ago
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PSL 2024: Rutherford blitz ensures Quetta snatch last-ball win over Karachi

  • Sherfane Rutherford scores 58 runs from 31 balls to hand Quetta the victory
  • Quetta spinner Abrar Ahmed returns figures of 3/31 to put Karachi Kings at bay

ISLAMABAD: West Indian batter Sherfane Rutherford handed Quetta Gladiators their fourth victory of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2024 tournament on Thursday, smashing a fiery half-century as the Gladiators edged out Karachi Kings, the home side, in a last-ball thriller. 
Batting first, the Kings were considerably troubled by the Gladiators’ bowling line-up. Spinner Abrar Ahmed returned figures of 3/31 while Usman Tariq and Akeal Hosein finished with figures of 2/16 and 2/34 respectively.
James Vince top-scored for the Kings, scoring 37 runs from 25 balls while all-rounder Anwar Ali contributed with an impressive 25 runs from 14 balls. The Kings finished with a score of 165-8 from their 20 overs. 
“#PurpleForce breathe.. we have won the thrilling encounter,” the Gladiators wrote on social media platform X after securing the win. 
The Gladiators had a strong start to their batting, with opener Jason Roy scoring 53 runs from 31 balls while left-handed Saud Shakeel scored 24 runs from 20 balls. Middle order batters Khawaja Nafay, former skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed and Gladiators skipper Rilee Rossouw fell in quick succession, all failing to score in the double digits. 
However, an 80-run stand between Rutherford and Hosein proved to be fatal for the Kings, who lost to Quetta by five wickets in the end. 
Rutherford scored 58 runs from 31 balls, smashing six sixes and a four at a strike rate of 187.10. Hosein, on the other hand, scored 22 runs from 17 balls. 
For the Kings, Hasan Ali and Zahid Mahmood were the best bowlers, returning figures of 2/39 and 2/17 respectively. 
The Gladiators remain at number two on the PSL points table, with four wins from their five matches so far. The Kings remain at the number five spot with only two wins from their five matches in this year’s PSL.


OIC’s COMSTECH joins hands with Pakistan hospital for eye surgeries in Somalia

Updated 29 February 2024
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OIC’s COMSTECH joins hands with Pakistan hospital for eye surgeries in Somalia

  • COMSTECH, Al-Shifa Eye Trust Hospital to set up free cataract eye surgery camp in Mogadishu from March 1-10
  • Initiative aims to eliminate “avoidable blindness” with free cataract eye surgeries to those in need, says state media

ISLAMABAD: The Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) Ministerial Standing Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation (COMSTECH) has joined hands with a leading Pakistani hospital to provide free cataract eye surgeries in Mogadishu, Somalia, from next month, state-run media reported on Thursday. 
COMSTECH and Pakistan’s Al-Shifa Trust Eye Hospital are collaborating with Al-Nur Foundation Somali and the Benadir University Somalia to organize a free cataract eye surgery camp in Mogadishu from March 1-10, the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) said in a report. 
“The goal of this initiative is to eliminate avoidable blindness by providing free cataract surgeries to those in need,” the report said, adding the camp would be organized at the Dalmar Specialized and Teaching Hospital in Mogadishu. 
APP said that the eye surgery camp is poised to make a “significant impact” on the lives of individuals in need. 
“By offering free medical consultations, medications, eyeglasses, and surgeries to address cataract-related issues, the camp aims to alleviate the burden of visual impairment and improve the overall quality of life for participants,” APP said. 
Headquartered in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad, COMSTECH aims to strengthen cooperation among OIC member states in science and technology, and enhance their capabilities through training in emerging areas.


Pakistan’s stock market records gain as National Assembly holds maiden sitting

Updated 29 February 2024
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Pakistan’s stock market records gain as National Assembly holds maiden sitting

  • Analysts say maiden National Assembly session boosted investors’ confidence in Pakistan’s stock market
  • After much political uncertainty and rigging accusations, Pakistani legislators will elect a new premier on Sunday

KARACHI: Pakistan’s stock market continued its bullish run on Thursday, extending its previous day’s gains to close with an increase of 1.3 percent, as political uncertainty somewhat decreased after the country’s National Assembly convened its maiden session following controversial polls this month.
The stock market’s benchmark KSE100 index gained 875 points to close at the 64,579 level on Thursday, official data showed. On Wednesday, the KSE100 index had gained by 484 points to close at 63,703 points. 
Pakistan has been wracked with political uncertainty due to countrywide protests by political parties, who say the national polls of Feb. 8 were heavily rigged. However, financial analysts noted that investors’ confidence in the market increased as Pakistan’s National Assembly held its maiden session on Thursday, indicating that the country would soon be led by a new democratic government. 
“Stocks closed bullish after the president summoned the National Assembly session himself for the formation of a government,” Ahsan Mehanti, the chief executive officer of Arif Habib Corporation, told Arab News. 
“The move is easing political noise.” 
The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) parties have announced joining hands to form their government at the center. The two parties have the required number of seats to form a coalition government. They also have the support of smaller parties in the assembly and have announced former premier Shehbaz Sharif as their candidate for prime minister. 
Sheheryar Butt, portfolio manager at Pakistani securities brokerage company Darson Securities, said the market had continued its bullish trend from Wednesday amid growing anticipation of the PML-N forming the next government. 
“The next government will have to negotiate with IMF (International Monetary Fund) and the manifesto of the PML-N is compatible with the IMF,” Butt noted. 
He said that Pakistani investors expect the new government will continue to implement the measures undertaken by the caretaker administration to secure a new long-term program from the IMF.
One of the principal tasks of the new government would be to secure a long-term bailout program from the international lender, as its short-term program expires next month. Pakistan’s fragile $350-billion economy is in desperate need of external financing to shore its up its foreign exchange reserves and escape its economic crisis. 
“Pakistan needs a long-term program for at least three years to ensure economic stability, so the market expects that the PML-N will follow the footprint of the caretaker government,” he explained.
Butt was confident Pakistan would secure the last tranche from the IMF under the $3 billion short-term financing agreement it reached with the lender last summer. 
Pakistan’s National Assembly will elect the country’s prime minister on March 3 while elections for the speaker and deputy speaker’s posts are scheduled to be held on Friday, March 1.


Pakistan concludes 60-hour joint military exercise with Saudi Arabia, US, other nations 

Updated 29 February 2024
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Pakistan concludes 60-hour joint military exercise with Saudi Arabia, US, other nations 

  • The exercise was held at semi-mountainous terrain of Pakistan’s Punjab province from Feb. 25-27
  • Pakistan’s army chief attends closing ceremony, lauds participating teams for their professionalism

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan concluded a three-day, 60-hour joint military training exercise with participating teams from Saudi Arabia, the United States, Jordan and other countries this week, Pakistan Army’s media wing said on Thursday.
Pakistan opened the 7th International Pakistan Army Team Spirit (PATS) Exercise in the northwestern town of Pabbi on Sunday. The exercise, which ran from Feb. 25-27, was aimed at enhancing combat skills through the sharing of innovative ideas and experiences by participants. 
The exercise would also help hone basic soldierly attributes besides interoperability through the sharing of innovative ideas and mutual best practices, the ISPR said last week. 
Seven teams from the Pakistan Army and 15 teams from Bahrain, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Maldives, Morocco, Qatar, the US, Uzbekistan, Srilanka, Thailand and Turkiye participated in the exercise. Azerbaijan, China, Germany, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Myanmar witnessed the exercise as observers, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.
“The exercise was conducted from 25-27 Feb 2024 in the semi-mountainous terrain of Punjab,” the ISPR said. “Over the years, the exercise has gained much prominence as a very competitive professional military activity for friendly countries.”
Pakistan’s army chief General Syed Asim Munir attended the event’s closing ceremony at the eastern city of Kharian, the ISPR said. Munir appreciated the participating teams for their professionalism, and for demonstrating physical and mental endurance during the various stages of the exercise.
“At the end, COAS [chief of army staff] gave away individual and team awards to the participants of the exercise,” the ISPR said.
Pakistan routinely holds joint air, ground and sea exercises with friendly nations to foster interoperability and joint deployment concepts to counter threats to global peace.
Several cadets from these nations annually visit the South Asian country, which has fought back militancy for decades, to undergo specialized military training.


Pakistan’s Rawalpindi administration to deploy over 5,000 cops for next month’s PSL matches

Updated 29 February 2024
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Pakistan’s Rawalpindi administration to deploy over 5,000 cops for next month’s PSL matches

  • Pakistan’s eastern Rawalpindi city will host Pakistan Super League matches from March 2-10
  • Snipers, police to be stationed along ‘critical routes’ and at rooftops near stadium says state media

ISLAMABAD: The administration in Pakistan’s Rawalpindi has taken “extensive measures” to provide security to players and citizens as the city gears up to host the remaining matches of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2024 tournament next month, state-run media reported on Thursday.
Pakistan’s eastern city of Rawalpindi will host PSL matches from March 2-10. PSL matches every year draw thousands of people to stadiums in Lahore, Multan, Karachi and Rawalpindi, where matches are usually held. The PSL also features apart from local cricket stars, international cricketers of renown. 
The Rawalpindi administration has finalized a security plan ahead of the tournament’s matches, the Associate Press of Pakistan (APP) said in a report, amid a surge in militant attacks across the country. 
“Under the security plan finalized for PSL matches, over 5,000 police personnel, including elite forces, would be deployed to provide foolproof security cover to the matches,” the APP said. 
It said the security plan includes closing stations, managing traffic, and “strict surveillance” to ensure the safety of the cricketers, officials and spectators. 
It said around 750 police officers would be tasked with managing the teams’ movement from the Islamabad airport across the districts of Attock and Rawalpindi.
“Snipers, along with police equipped with advanced security tools, would be stationed along critical routes and rooftops near the stadium,” the report said. “These measures are designed to ensure a secure environment for the event.”
It said Rwalpindi’s traffic police has also developed a traffic management plan to cope with the expected increase in vehicles during the matches. 
Pakistani authorities have been wary of attacks targeting cricketers and cricket events, especially since 2009 when militants attacked the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore. The incident scared international teams from touring Pakistan, forcing the South Asian country to choose the UAE as its home ground for several years before international teams started touring the country again.
Pakistan has seen a surge in militant violence, especially in its western regions bordering Afghanistan, since November 2022 after a fragile truce between the state and the Pakistani Taliban broke down.