KARACHI: The University of Karachi (KU) would reopen on Thursday (today) with tightened security measures in place, including deployment of Rangers personnel at four gates of the KU, where students, visitors and vehicles would be subjected to search, sources told Dawn.

The administration was seeking enhanced role of Rangers on the campus and support from the government to upgrade and install key surveillance equipment on the campus following Tuesday’s terrorist suicide attack that claimed four lives, including three of Chinese faculty members, the sources added.

“Today, we have discussed a number of steps that could help improve security on the campus, including construction of university’s boundary wall, which currently is broken at several points, installation of closed-circuit television cameras, hiring of private guards and installation of walk-through metal detectors,” KU security adviser Prof Mohammad Zubair said.

Female security staff would also be available at the university gates, he added while seeking public cooperation.

One of the proposals discussed in the meeting chaired by the KU acting vice chancellor, he said, was to limit the number of rickshaws and make it mandatory on drivers to get their rickshaws registered with the administration.

Financial constraints

University officials agreed that the university faced serious financial constraints and installation of surveillance cameras and other security measures wouldn’t be possible without the provincial government’s financial help.

“Right now, only one CCTV camera that captured the horrific images of the yesterday’s blast outside the Confucius Institute is working and the rest, excluding the ones installed at the Institute of Business Administration are non-functional,” said a senior KU teacher, who also attended the meeting on security issues held on Wednesday.

The university, he said, didn’t carry out regular maintenance of cameras, nor do it has a proper CCTV monitoring cell.

“The campus is daily visited by over 80,000 people, including teaching and non-teaching staff and needs to have improved security at all levels,” said Prof Shah Aliul Qader heading Karachi University Teachers’ Society, which held its executive body meeting in response to the terrorist attack.

Teachers and students, he shared, were deeply affected by the incident and wanted that the government authorities take immediate steps to bring normality on the campus.

Institute’s future

Speaking to Dawn, Dr Nasiruddin Khan, Pakistani director of the Confucius Institute, who met the Chinese ambassador and the consul general on Wednesday, said it’s hard to tell when the institute would reopen again.

“It’s a big challenge now. It’s not easy to restore their confidence in us. The surviving faculty members are in a state of shock,” he said, adding that the concerned Chinese authorities will take a decision in this regard.

Sources told Dawn that the Chinese institute had a 15-member faculty and other staff, which after the incident had been moved to a safe location.

One of the injured teachers, Dr Nasiruddin Khan said, was currently being treated at a private hospital and stated to be in a stable condition but would require multiple surgeries for her injured legs.

“The guard has lost one eye, besides getting other injuries,” he said, adding that DNA tests of bodies would also be carried out.

Asked about the security alert received over two weeks ago, Dr Khan said the university had beefed up security for the Chinese faculty. “Unfortunately, what happened was unimaginable.”

Meanwhile, provincial minister for universities and boards Muhammad Ismail Rahoo visited the KU and met university officials.

Later, talking to the media, he said the standard operating procedures designed for educational institutions across Sindh, particularly where foreign faculty was present, would be reviewed.“Right now, the KU with a large area needs more than 250 cameras to ensure integrated surveillance,” he said in reply to a question, adding that departments concerned were investigating the incident and whoever was found involved would be brought to justice.

Published in Dawn, April 28th, 2022

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