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UPPER DIR: The district administration has been taking steps to bridge the gap among the students of government and private schools and religious seminaries by organising events where the students could interact and compete with each other in different activities.

Deputy commissioner Imran Hamid Sheikh said that some events in this regard were held recently while more had been planned in the near future in order to promote harmony among the students of schools and madaris. He said that such events would provide the students an opportunity to understand each other and mitigate alien sentiments among themselves. In such events, students compete in different extracurricular activities like Qirat, Naat and declamation contests. He said that over 100 students from each institution participated as audience and their colleagues competed on the stage.

Parents of the students have welcomed the initiative. “My son got a chance to interact with madaris students for the first time and found that they are as competent as his classmates,” said Abdullah Khan, father of a student of a private school.

District Khateeb Maulana Hassan said that bringing students of the three sets of educational institutions closer together would help break stereotypes. “The students of madaris understand that the students clad in western dress are as good in religious knowledge as they are and that Islam calls for tolerance and love towards humanity,” he said.

Senior minister for local government Inayatullah Khan at a recent function also appreciated the initiative launched by the deputy commissioner. Mr Sheikh said that ulema and religious leaders from across the country would be invited to All Pakistan Seerat Conference, to be held in Upper Dir in April this year. He said that it would also provide an opportunity to the visitors to see the beauty of the district.

DRY SPELL: The prolonged dry spell has been causing diseases among the people in the district. The district normally receives heavy rains and snowfall in winter, but this time no rain and snowfall has occurred so far.

According to the Met Office, mercury has dipped to minus four and the freezing cold has been affecting life as people mostly stay indoors. The shortage of firewood has multiplied problems for the residents.

Published in Dawn, January 2nd, 2015