Armed police guard exams

November 18, 1994

Armed police supervised examinations at the University of Karachi this week as escalating communal strife came close to paralysing Pakistan's largest city.

After last weekend's violence when at least three were killed by snipers and another three died in a battle with police, classes were cancelled as students stayed away.

An estimated 100 people died in acts of terrorism in the first 12 days of November. But acting vice chancellor Abdul Wahab refused to cancel examinations due to begin last Saturday and requested help from the police to protect examination centres, candidates and administrators.

As the examinations began he said they were being held peacefully, but that attendance was down in some areas. "The police are keeping a close eye on the main centres," he said. "No one wants to create disturbances near the examination centres. Any group doing so will damage its credibility in Karachi."

In the past student groups have been alleged to be involved in the intercommunal strife. But since Mr Wahab has been running the university there has only been one violent incident. "I am asking those who suggest postponing the examinations to give me a date when there will be peace in Karachi," he said. "I am sure most of the requests are from candidates who are not well prepared."

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