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October 10, 2017

No space for city’s schools directorate in its own building

Karachi

October 10, 2017

Occupied by departments that have no business with education, the building in Karimabad meant for the Directorate Schools, Karachi, has no space left for the agency to set up its own office.

The lack of space has come to a point where education department officials are compelled to keep the department’s archives under the open skies. To add to the department’s woes, the Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) this year resumed operations at its district office housed inside the building, at a time when the regional office of the National Alien Registration Authority (Nara) and the district office of the provincial ombudsman were already functioning on the premises. These offices were inaugurated by Sindh's former governor, Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan, in 2006.

The departments continue to occupy the building despite Schools Education Department additional secretary, Aziz Fatima Mangi, having issued them a notification asking them to vacate the building.

Earlier housed within the Karachi Development Authority’s building, at Civic Centre, on directives of former city mayor Naimatullah Khan, the schools directorate had to vacate the premises owing to the apex court’s order, issued in July this year.

“The KDA had filed a lawsuit in Supreme Court against several departments functioning from its premises, including the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC), Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB), and the directorate of schools,” said Hamid Karim, higher schools Karachi director.

The directorate came about to be set up in KDA’s building following formation of the City District Government Karachi (CDGK) in 2001, under General (retd) Pervez Musharraf’s tenure.

It was decided to keep all offices of the education department under one roof, including directorates of colleges, private schools and public schools. All the directorates were to work under a single directorate, under the executive education officer’s supervision.      

However, after bifurcation of the directorate schools Karachi into two departments, the higher schools’ office continued operating from the KDA building, while the primary schools directorate shifted to the Karimabad building.

Worried about old records wasting away under the sun, Karim said, “We have informed these departments to shift their offices from the building but the directives have clearly not been followed.”  

What the ‘others’ say

“We did not set up the office on our own orders, it was the deputy commissioner Central who allowed us to establish the office inside the building,” said ACE’s Circle Officer Nazir Ahmed Malik.

The building was under occupation of a political party before the ACE had it evacuated, said Malik. “Where were education department’s official when the law enforcement agencies dug up the building’s ground to recover hidden cache of weapons?” he questioned.

Speaking of the letter calling for them to vacate the premises, Malik said it has been sent to the ACE’s higher authorities, adding, whatever instructions they give will be followed.

The regional ombudsman, Nazir Ahmed Qidwai, also had a similar statement to relay to this scribe. “We are serving people of this locality, and registering hundreds of their cases on a daily basis. If our higher-ups direct us to shift our office from the building, we will,” said Qidwai.    

History

The land for the building was allocated by Hafiz Muhammad Taqi, the federal minister for religious affairs and member of General Zia-ul-Haq’s cabinet, the Majlis-e-Shura.

“The land was the property of All Pakistan Women's Association (APWA)'s Government College for Women,” said Anees-ur-Rehman, chairman of Taleem Bachao Action Committee (TBAC).

However, construction on the allocated land was completed during Musharraf's regime and was inaugurated by Justice Retired Qazi Khalid Ali, then education minister and a leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement. Ali is currently serving as the vice chancellor of the Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto University of Law.

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