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ISLAMABAD/KARACHI: Even though Punjab is the only province that has officially closed schools until Jan 31, there was widespread confusion across the country as several institutions — private and public — announced closure citing various reasons.

All Army Public and Bahria schools and colleges across the country were asked by the relevant authority not to reopen until Monday.

“We don’t really know the reason for this. Maybe it is because of the sudden drop in temperatures, but we were issued these orders and we must comply,” retired Commander Shafqat Rasool Janjua of the Army Public Intermediate College for Boys and Girls in Malir Cantt, Karachi, told Dawn on Wednesday.

All Bahria schools and colleges that happen to be combined educational institutions will also remain closed on Thurs­day and Friday, though Bahria University, Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore would be open. A source in Pakistan Navy said that this was a one-time only precautionary measure which wouldn’t be repeated every week.

Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) did not confirm the order, but a military official told Dawn that certain institutions had been asked to close. A spokesperson for the interior ministry said no such orders had been issued at the federal level.

However, Khalid Shah, chairman of the All Private Schools Management Association, said that they had no desire to keep their schools closed. “Quite understandably, the forces’ schools feel more threatened. But even if we were told by the government to close our schools, we would have opposed it. With so much uncertainty, it would be silly to just stop our children from going to school,” he said.

In Islamabad, private schools such as Roots, Beaconhouse, Westminster and Frobel’s also announced they would reopen on Monday, Feb 1. However, the Federal Directorate of Education confirmed that all government schools in the capital would remain open.

“We have no idea what is going on; there are contradictory reports of school closures. We have just decided to close all our branches until Monday,” an official from the Beaconhouse School System told Dawn late on Wednesday night. Roots Millennium Schools’ spokesperson Abid Younas said all their schools would reopen on Monday.

But the Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Authority kept quiet on the issue the whole day, only adding to the confusion among school operators, parents and students.

“We never issued any notification about the closure of schools. If schools are observing holidays, they took the decision on their own,” said PEIRA Member Imtiaz Qureshi.

In Punjab, meanwhile the campuses of three public sector universities and several colleges were closed by the local administrations due to poor security.

The main campus of Bahauddin Zakariya University (BZU) in Multan; the Railway Road campus of Islamia University in Bahawalpur and the Pattoki campus of the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, were closed.

A number of colleges and a private university were also closed in Bahawalpur, Sahiwal, Kasur and Pakpattan.

Published in Dawn, January 28th, 2016