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KU vulnerable to terror attacks

A section of the Karachi University boundary wall has fallen at this point located on Gulzar-i-Hijri Road in the Metroville area.—Fahim Siddiqi/White Star

A section of the Karachi University boundary wall has fallen at this point located on Gulzar-i-Hijri Road in the Metroville area.—Fahim Siddiqi/White Star

KARACHI: As the Bacha Khan University carnage has once again exposed the vulnerabilities educational institutions face amid terror threat, the situation seems more serious at the city’s largest public sector varsity whose boundary wall is not only too short but also broken at several points, it emerged on Thursday when classes resumed after a semester break at Karachi University.

Currently more than 27,000 students are enrolled with the KU while the number of teaching and non-teaching staff is over 4,000. While the campus frequently hosts programmes, its annual convocation with 5,000 to 6,000 expected guests is scheduled to be held by the end of this month.

An inspection of the boundary wall of the university, spread over 1,350 acres, has showed that the wall has completely fallen at least at two places, located on Gulzar-i-Hijri Road, in the area of Metroville Colony. The space created by the fallen wall is sufficient enough for a large truck to pass through. The point is found to be used as a waste dumping ground by people living in the neighbourhood.

At other points on the Suparco road near Ayub Goth and Sachal Goth and from the Gulshan-i-Kaneez Fatima Housing Society up to the end of Metroville on Gulzar-i-Hijri Road, the height of the wall is as low as five feet. Besides, the wall has also developed big holes. Huge bushes, a large number of commercial nurseries and car repair workshops along the boundary wall are some other security risks the campus faces.

According to sources, the administration failed to take any concrete measure to improve campus security even after the Army Public School tragedy and the targeted killing of two KU teachers despite the fact that it received Rs300 million from the Higher Education Commission (HEC) during the past year to improve campus security but failed to utilise it.

The KU administration inefficiency, sources said, could also be gauged from the fact that the university had yet to release the Rs70,000 that had been requested six months ago by its own department for building the boundary wall of the foreign students’ hostel.

Surveillance cameras

The installation of surveillance cameras has also been pending for the past seven months.

The sources said an inspector of the KU watch and guard department had complained about the broken boundary in
writing in August 2015 but no action was taken.

Karachi University Teachers’ Society (Kuts) President Dr Shakeel Farooqui said: “No significant security measures have been taken since the Army Public School tragedy which forced educational institutions across the country to put some protective measures in place.

He said Kuts had been pleading the case of campus security for many years with the administration but received no positive reply. “Teachers on their own part have been submitting proposals but they have never been implemented in letter and spirit,” he said, adding that the university had also been requested to remove the nurseries along the boundary wall.

Dr Farooqui believed that there was no security threat on the convocation day as security personnel were employed in significant numbers on that day due to VIP presence. “I wish we start treating our teachers and students as VIPs too some day,” he remarked.

He also called upon the administration to hire a professional to handle campus security instead of appointing teachers as security adviser.

Sharing similar sentiments, former Kuts president Prof Jameel Kazmi said the university was yet to implement the syndicate resolution that required hiring of private security guards on the campus.

He also regretted that the government was yet to compensate Prof Shakeel Auj and Dr Waheed-ur-Rehman who had been killed in targeted attacks.

“The chancellor had promised to install surveillance cameras on University Road and Rashid Minhas Road but that has not been done yet,” he added.

While KU campus security adviser Dr Mohammad Zubair was not available for comments, KU registrar Moazzam Ali Khan told Dawn that a KU inspection team visited the specific points where the boundary wall had fallen or had been broken on Thursday. He claimed that work on its repair and construction would start soon. A barbed wire, he said, would be put in place after raising the height of the boundary wall and necessary repairs.

“The boundary wall is off and on broken by the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation staff to use the place as a waste dumping ground. We have written to them twice on this matter as well as asked them to help us remove plant nurseries,” he said, adding that the university had also set up a committee to speed up the process of surveillance cameras installation on the campus.

Besides, he said, the Rangers had been also requested to increase patrolling.

Published in Dawn, January 22nd, 2016