Where’s my refund, Mr Zardari?

Published: October 30, 2014
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Despite the efforts that the students put into getting their respective degrees, they also pay a huge chunk of money – right from the admission test till the very end. PHOTO: AFP

Saturday, October 18, was an interesting and eventful day for us Karachiites. While most of us were off from work and school, the rest of us (including me) had to be at work and cover the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) rally.

In contrast to popular belief, the rally actually brought with it a certain liveliness and energetic vibe to our city. However, the downside to holding the rally in our beloved city was the immense traffic and road blockage. But thankfully, by late evening, the roads had somewhat cleared up and I was able to go watch a movie (for which I had absentmindedly bought tickets three days before, not keeping in mind that the rally would be on the same day).

Though my personal experience for that day may seem interesting, it is not the point of this piece. October 18th was a big day for PPP, especially for Bilawal Bhutto, and good on them, really. However, something that struck a chord with me personally from the PPP leaders’ speeches was when former president Asif Ali Zardari made a certain statement. He claimed that Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (SZABIST) is a “charitable institution”.

As a SZABIST student myself, I was baffled.

When I went to class the following Monday, everybody was talking about it. One of my friends claimed,

“How can he say that?”

While the other, feeling mildly offended said,

“Seriously, what the hell?”

What did the former president mean when he said that? Are we really a charitable institution? Is paying about Rs150, 000 per semester “charity”? Seriously, what?

SZABIST was founded in 1995, with the efforts of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.  SZABIST is ‘trust’ and not a ‘charitable institution’. Perhaps what Zardari meant was that the institution offers a number of scholarships based on merit and that’s what he confused as “charity”. SZABIST was introduced as an exclusive institute for science and technology as envisioned by Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.

Regardless of its shortcomings, it has done fairly well for itself by expanding its infrastructure and number of programs including the Media Science program as well as the Mechatronics program. Students from all over Pakistan come to this university to do their Bachelors and Masters, and it is not a piece of cake. Despite the efforts that the students put into getting their respective degrees, they also pay a huge chunk of money – right from the admission test till the very end. Oh and this does not include the cost of printing in the SZABIST computer labs, the money we put into our projects, the trips we take, the list is endless basically.

My point here is not to criticise the university I’m studying in. I just think it was unfair and, frankly, a little weird to say something like that, especially when you’re saying it and everyone is listening. Perhaps the former president was trying to prove a point about how good their party is.

But again, this is not about politics. What he said was a little degrading for all the students studying at SZABIST. We spend a lot of our parents’ hard earned money studying here, and in case it really is a “charity” then I, Sir, in fact, all of us request for a refund.

Ali Najib Sidiki

Ali Najib Sidiki

A student of SZABIST and a part-time sub-editor on the Web Desk at the Express Tribune.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Razia

    Oh c’mon, poor rich kid might be in belief that 150,000 per month is what you pay after the institute being a charitable one. Maybe if it wasn’t charitable, you had been paying 5 times more.Recommend

  • Parvez

    You pay Szabist ….Szabist pays Zardari……’ charity begins at home ‘ and obviously you are not family, so why be a grouch ? As far as Zardari is concerned Szabist is a charitable institution.Recommend

  • Asad

    hahahaha feeling sorry for szabist students. The elite goes to the Szabist offcourse a middle class family hardly can afford their children studying at szabist and Asif ali zardari just nailed it :D calling the elites charitable :P .. Would you guys like to chant Go Zardaro Go now :p LolRecommend

  • http://www.ephluxinsights.com Babar Khan

    I too once voiced an opinion on the university. Hope the current admin doesn’t take vengeful counter measures too.Recommend

  • Muhammad Bilal

    They can lie everywhere. who cares. They know more than half of country population is illiterate only because of them.Recommend

  • Awab Alvi

    Good of you to raise this issue – ironicaly the only charity they did claim was SZABIST – so one has to wonder where the rest has disappeared off too – Deep pockets of “Zardari families own charitable case – they do need it – many may (not) agree ;)Recommend

  • Muhammad Ahmad Khattak

    SZABIST is the biggest education scam in Pakistan. Spent 4 UTTERLY miserable years in the Islamabad campus. At SZABIST, YOU pay for going to YOUR OWN farewell. Charity at its finest.Recommend

  • Gemini

    It’s like paying handsome amount to become intelligent while geniuses has to prove their abilities.Recommend

  • Xara

    Zardari was trying to compare SZABIST with Namal College, that Imran Khan consider as his achievement and mentions it in his speech. Mr. Zardari is unaware that Namal College is running on donations and 90% of the students are given financial assistance.Recommend

  • Talha Khan

    Although I don’t support Zardari in any manner what so ever, Of all the things you could say against Zardari, You pick this one, well actually

    . BBA fees is Rs 76,400/- after 10% discount for everyone
    . Szabist gives out over 180 full time need based scholarships every year for students who can not afford to study at a university like Szabist.
    . There are other scholarships which are merit based, 75%, 50%, 25% to various others
    . This is core SZABIST SCHOLARSHIPS not even taking into consideration scholarships given by US AID, Sindh Endowment and more
    . Szabist also carries out various charitable projects with societies all over Pakistan which I personally have been a part of.
    . Prime example being MUNKARACHI backed heavily by SZABIST for over 350 underprivileged students of Korangi free of cost

    You would not be saying this if you were actually involved in the activities in Szabist. So before stating something against the university you study in please try understanding it because this just hurts the image of your own university.

    This is a typical problem with every Pakistani is that they will sit and just criticize and then publicize it but not do anything about it.

    No one is perfect but it is one’s imperfections that you learn from.Recommend

  • http://memonammar.blogspot.com Ammar

    Just to confirm from author Is SZABIST university? Last time I checked it was an institute. Please pardon me if I am wrong and correct me.Recommend

  • Daniyal

    I’m not sure if you even read the blog Talha. The writer is not criticising the university in any way, he is particularly focusing on one statement made by Asif Ali Zardari at the October 18 rally.

    Also, the writer did not claim that the institution doesn’t give charity or anything. He is trying to clarify that it is NOT a charitable institution, all students over there are not studying for free.

    I’d suggest you re-read the blog and actually understand the point of it.

    And I don’t think it’s “hurting the image of the university”, not of Zardari either for that matter. It is addressing one specific issue.Recommend

  • Syed Asher Jamal

    Szabist, Suffa, CBM, IBA and IQRA are a joke! The whole country is a joke.Recommend

  • naeem khan

    the trolls just love playing with words we all know beacon and CitY school campuses are built on land taken from government in every major city of Pakistan that is also donationRecommend

  • Saad Durrani

    By that definition, IBA is an institute too, so is IoBM (or CBM).Recommend

  • http://ahmerjamilkhan.org/ Ahmer Jamil Khan

    You might want to clear up your definitions:
    http://www.collegetimes.tv/institutions/Recommend

  • Siddiqui

    From the general quality of comments, it seems as if Szabist isn’t even doing a near mediocre job of educating its students. Funny how you guys consider being a recipient of charity “offensive” and “degrading”, especially considering that this country is in general so economically deprived and backward that it keeps running only on some kind of aid and assistance from abroad. And what is this attitude, really? Some kind of elitist disgust at being grouped together with the poor and destitute? No wonder why this country has gone to the dogs.Recommend

  • Jiyalaa

    Marso Marso SZABIST main Na Parso .Recommend

  • ali

    The charity Must go to ZARDARI’ s account in Swiss bank or Canadian bank .So he means you must pay the charity also along with your fees .Recommend