KARACHI: As the federal authorities ordered a sudden closure of Army Public and Bahria schools and colleges across the country for four days amid a terror threat, the Karachi University (KU) administration with the help of a law enforcement agency and a bomb disposal squad combed some areas of the campus for security reasons on Wednesday.

Sources told Dawn that eateries and tuck shops within the university and plant nurseries along the boundary wall were thoroughly checked.

The exercise, they said, was among the security measures that the university administration had recently decided to launch to prevent the possibility of a terror attack.

“All hotels, canteens on the campus as well as plant nurseries along the university wall were checked with the help of Rangers personnel and bomb disposal squad. Such security checks will now be carried out on a periodic basis,” said campus security adviser Dr Mohammad Zubair.

The university was increasing the number of walkthrough gates on the campus premises and the height of the boundary wall, he said.

The process to hire private security guards was also under way, he claimed.

According to Dr Zubair, the Rangers have enhanced patrolling on the campus. “It’s indeed a challenge to secure a big public sector university like the KU, which is visited by thousands of students and visitors daily. But we are trying our best to prevent entry of irrelevant people in the university,” he said in reply to a question. The sources said the university had also decided to hire a security expert for which an advertisement would soon be published in major newspapers. Besides, they said, the university was said to be developing a security plan.

Evening classes

However, one of the key security challenges for the university administration is to secure the 1,250-acre campus especially in the evening hours during which thousands of students attended their classes.

“Our security strategies are dependent on the presence of electricity. There is no alternative to address security issues if a power outage occurs, a routine affair on the campus. Besides, there are many spots along the university wall located in the deserted areas where there are no streetlights,” said a senior KU security department official on condition of anonymity.

He admitted that the university had failed to utilise the Rs300 million provided for security purposes one year ago but argued that the amount was too little considering the large area of the campus.

“Presently, there is no central communication system connecting all the security pickets and guards, a mandatory feature for any effective security system. Such a system also requires control room and 24-hour surveillance through cameras for which the university lacks funds,” he said.

In reply to the question whether teachers are satisfied with the recent administrative decisions and steps for enhanced security on the campus, Karachi University Teachers Society (KUTS) president Dr Shakeel-ur-Rehman Farooqui said: “The KU or, for that matter, any university of the country, can never have a foolproof security system unless it has a well-defined public safety policy in place. Such a policy is developed after an in-depth analysis of the campus infrastructure and prevailing conditions. It should be a comprehensive strategy that covers every security aspect, but it can’t be developed overnight or in patches.”

Published in Dawn, January 28th, 2016

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