KARACHI

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24.8508333333
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Sindh

Undeclared freshman Ernesto Taylor moves in to Jester West Hall Friday afternoon. Taylor was among more than 7,300 incoming students who were welcomed during “Mooov-In” at the University.

Photo Credit: Ethan Oblak | Daily Texan Staff

As a senior in high school, even in Karachi, Pakistan, I, like many others, spent hours researching, selecting and applying to various colleges. Throughout the process, I realized this would be an exciting and life-changing decision. I wanted to join an institution that not only offered a world-class education but also provided an environment that would mold me as a person ready to accept challenges and thrive in the professional world. I could not continue higher education in Pakistan. Being a third-world country, Pakistan did not have the quality of education that I required to achieve my goals.

Hence, I finally decided to take the arduous journey of 8,000 miles, zipping through various airports, to the doors of the University of Texas at Austin. The 40 Acres was going to be home for the next four years. As I sat through the long flight, I had some time to reflect. I knew I had just crossed the threshold of adolescence into independent adulthood. And I knew that with this independence comes responsibility. In Austin, I would no longer have the luxury of having domestic caretakers. I would have to make my own decisions and learn to become self-reliant for everything. While this responsibility looks different for different people, it is perhaps the most important aspect of a student’s college life. 

As incoming freshmen, we are told that college is all about new beginnings and meeting new people. College is truly the cultural melting pot of America. This is where lifelong friendships are forged and one becomes aware of the diversity and beautiful color that is added to life by people of all sorts of backgrounds and experiences. This is where the learning begins, where we learn to celebrate differences and resolve conflicts civilly, where we learn to become true citizens of this rich and diverse world population. 

I feel I can speak for most of the incoming freshmen when I say that every one of us is worried about adjusting to college life. One of the most important things this adjustment period teaches us is the importance of being polite and humble. No one wants an arrogant friend, and in order to fit in with all the different social groups, freshmen need to put aside their haughtiness.

These four years away from family and friends will play a key role in establishing lifelong friendships with my peers at UT. I hope to forge friendships with students from all kinds of races and ethnicities. 

Another important part of college is to learn the value of time, to make decisions at the right time and act accordingly. I hope to accomplish this as quickly as I can, because it would only make my college experience more fruitful.

I am a true believer that education that is imparted in the classroom is enriched and enhanced by our experiences outside the confines of the lecture hall. What better place than UT to take that first step in becoming an accomplished global citizen and the next generation of professional?

On my first day on campus, I was intimidated by the 40 Acres and I thought it would be impossible to find my way around. I missed home, where everything was familiar, but as I walked around campus from one building to another meeting new people, I stopped thinking about Karachi. There is so much to explore at UT that I am hoping it keeps me occupied, and hopefully in the coming four years, it will come to feel like home.

Mahar is an economics freshman from Karachi, Pakistan.

A Pakistani protester holds a stone as others hang a flag at the entry of the U.S. consulate during a demonstration in Karachi Pakistan on Sunday. Hundreds of Pakistanis protesting clashed with police while thousands of others held peaceful demonstrations.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

KARACHI, Pakistan — Hundreds of Pakistanis protesting an anti-Islam film broke through a barricade near the U.S. Consulate in the southern city of Karachi on Sunday, sparking clashes with police in which one demonstrator was killed and more than a dozen injured.

In a move that could escalate tensions around the Arab world, the leader of the Hezbollah militant group called for protests against the movie, saying protesters should not only ‘express our anger’ at U.S. embassies but urge leaders to act.

The film, which denigrates Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, has sparked violent protests in many Muslim countries in recent days, including one in Libya in which the U.S. ambassador was killed. The U.S. has responded by deploying additional military forces to increase security in certain hotspots.

In a televised speech, Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said the U.S. must be held accountable for the film, which was produced in the United States. The U.S. government has condemned the film.

“The ones who should be held accountable and boycotted are those who support and protect the producers, namely the U.S. administration,” Nasrallah said. He called for protests on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

He urged protesters to call on their leaders to express their anger too.

“We should not only express our anger at an American embassy here or there. We should tell our rulers in the Arab and Muslim world that it is ‘your responsibility in the first place’ and since you officially represent the governments and states of the Muslim world you should impose on the United States, Europe and the whole world that our prophet, our Quran and our holy places and honor of our Prophet be respected,” he told his followers in a televised speech.

Nasrallah said he waited to speak out about the film until Sunday, when Pope Benedict XVI ended his three-day trip to Lebanon.

In Pakistan, police fired tear gas and water cannons at the protesters in Karachi after they broke through the barricade and reached the outer wall of the U.S. Consulate, police officer Mohammad Ranjha said. The protesters threw stones and bricks, prompting the police to beat back the crowd with their batons. The police and private security guards outside the consulate also fired in the air to disperse the crowd.

One protester was killed during the clash, said Ali Ahmar, spokesman for the Shiite Muslim group that organized the rally.

An official with the main ambulance service in the city, Khurram Ahmad, confirmed they carried away one dead protester and 18 others who were injured.

All Americans who work at the consulate, which is located in the heart of Karachi, were safe, Rian Harris, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, said.

Thousands more held peaceful demonstrations against the film in other parts of the country, including the eastern city of Lahore and the northwest city of Dera Ismail Khan.

The demonstration in Lahore was organized by Jamaat-ud-Dawa, believed to be a front organization for a powerful militant group blamed for attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai in 2008 that killed over 160 people. The protesters shouted anti-U.S. slogans and burned an American flag.

“Our war will continue until America is destroyed!” shouted some of the protesters. “Dog, dog, America is a dog!” chanted others.

The head of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, who has a $10 million U.S. bounty on his head, addressed the crowd and demanded the Pakistani government shut down the U.S. Embassy and all consulates in the country until the filmmakers are punished.

The protests were set off by a low-budget, crudely produced film called “Innocence of Muslims,” which portrays Muhammad as a fraud, a womanizer and a child molester.

A 14-minute excerpt of the film, which is both in English and dubbed into Arabic, has been available on YouTube, although . Some countries have cut access to the site.

The violence began Tuesday when mainly Islamist protesters climbed the U.S. Embassy walls in the Egyptian capital of Cairo and tore down the American flag from a pole in the courtyard.

Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, also was killed Tuesday along with three other Americans, as violent protesters stormed the consulate in Benghazi. President Barack Obama has vowed that the attackers would be brought to justice but also stressed that the U.S. respects religious freedom.

In a security shake-up following the attack on the consulate, the Libyan interior minister has fired three security officials in the eastern city, including the head of the Benghazi security sector, and the deputy interior minister in Benghazi, said senior security official Adel Rajouba. The decisions came following a government meeting and the three were fired because of “the lawlessness,” Rajouba said.

The intensity of the anti-American fervor initially caught U.S. leaders by surprise, but in the last several days the Obama administration has called for calm and urged foreign governments to protect American interests in their countries.

“I think that we have to continue to be very vigilant because I suspect that ... these demonstrations are likely to continue over the next few days, if not longer,” U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters Sunday.

It has been unclear how much of the violence was spontaneously triggered by the film and how much of it was spurred on by anti-American militants using it as a tool to grow and enrage the crowds.

Libya’s Interim President Mohammed el-Megarif said Sunday that the attackers who killed the U.S. ambassador in the country appeared to have spent months preparing and carefully choosing their date — the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He pointed to a second raid on a safe house. “All this indicates clearly that the attackers are well trained and well prepared and have planned this in advance,” he said in an interview.

But the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, brushed aside his assessment, saying evidence gathered so far indicated it was a spontaneous reaction to the anti-Islam video and not a premeditated or coordinated strike.

“It seems to have been hijacked, let us say, by some individual clusters of extremists who came with heavier weapons,” said Rice, referring to the mortars and rocket-propelled grenades used in the attack.

Whether the attackers had ties to al-Qaida or other terrorist groups has yet to be determined, U.S. ambassador Susan Rice said, noting that the FBI has yet to complete its investigation.

It wouldn’t be the first time that Western works critical of Islam have triggered spontaneous unrest throughout the Middle East, she said, pointing to the novel “Satanic Verses” by British author Salman Rushdie and the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad published by a Danish newspaper in 2006.

A semiofficial religious foundation in Iran increased a reward it had offered for killing Rushdie to $3.3 million from $2.8 million, a hard-line Iranian newspaper reported Sunday, a move that appeared to be linked to the protests against the video.

Printed on Monday, September 17, 2012 as: Protests over prophet film continue

A woman looks for her missing family member at a morgue in Karachi, Pakistan, Wednesday. Pakistani officials say the devastating factory fires that broke out in two major cities killed hundreds.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

KARACHI, Pakistan — Fires at two clothing factories in Pakistan left 283 people dead — many trapped behind locked doors and barred windows — tragedies that highlight workplace perils in a country where many buildings lack basic safety equipment and owners often bribe officials to ignore the violations.

The blazes broke out Tuesday night at a garment factory in the southern port city of Karachi and a shoe manufacturer in the eastern city of Lahore. At least 258 people died in the fire in Karachi, where rescue workers were still searching Wednesday for bodies in the charred building. Another 25 perished in Lahore.

Panicked workers in Karachi had only one way out since the factory’s owner had locked all the other exit doors in response to a recent theft, officials said. Many victims suffocated in the smoke-filled basement.

“The owner of the factory should also be burned to death the way our dear ones have died in a miserable condition,” said Nizam-ud-Din, whose nephew was killed in the fire, one of the deadliest industrial accidents in Pakistani history.

Police were searching for the factory’s managers and placed the owner on a list of people who are not allowed to leave the country, said Roshan Ali Sheikh, a top government official in Karachi.

“It is a criminal act to lock the emergency exit doors, and we are trying to know who did it, and why,” Sheikh said.

The fire started when a boiler exploded and the flames ignited chemicals that were stored in the factory, which manufactured jeans and other clothes for export. Between 300 and 400 workers were inside when the blaze erupted.

Many of the deaths were caused by suffocation as people trapped in the basement were unable to escape when it filled with smoke, said Karachi fire chief Ehtisham-ud-Din.

Those on the upper floors of the five-story building had to break through metal bars covering the windows so they could leap to safety. Dozens were injured doing so, including a 27-year-old pregnant woman.

“When smoke spread all around, I jumped out the window in panic,” said Mohammad Shahzad, who broke an arm and a leg when he hit the ground. “I found myself in the hospital when I regained my senses.”

Others burned to death as they tried to wriggle through the barred windows.

“There were no safety measures taken in the building design,” said senior police official Amir Farooqi. “There was no emergency exit. These people were trapped.”

Firefighters were still battling the blaze Wednesday. The death toll spiked as they entered previously inaccessible parts of the factory and found scores more bodies. The death toll stood at 258 by Wednesday evening, including a 10-year-old boy, said Sheikh. Another 31 people were injured.

Rani Bibi said her two sons-in-law called Tuesday night to say they were trapped in the factory and asked her to tell their wives to take good care of their children. She hasn’t heard from them since, and couldn’t find their bodies in any of the hospitals in the city.

“We don’t know where they are,” said Bibi, tears flowing down her face. “I hope to hear their voices. My two daughters’ lives are ruined.”

The fire that swept through the four-story shoe factory in Lahore left 25 people dead, some from burns and others from suffocation, said senior police officer Multan Khan.

The fire broke out as workers were trying to start a generator after electricity went out in the building. Sparks from the generator made contact with chemicals used to make shoes, igniting the blaze, which blocked the only exit. Firefighters had to break through the building’s brick walls to save people, officials said.

Raza Rumi, an analyst at the Islamabad-based Jinnah Institute, said the fire in Karachi was one of the deadliest industrial accidents in the country’s history.

“It is reflective of the utter collapse of regulation and the enforcement of labor laws in the country,” he said.

The problem has gotten worse in recent years as the federal government handed over factory oversight to provincial authorities, but local governments failed to develop legislation enforcing labor laws or basic safety regulations, Rumi said. Many Pakistani factories lack even basic safety equipment, such as alarms and sprinklers.

In Punjab province, where Lahore is the capital, authorities abolished labor inspections altogether in 2003 to develop a more “business-friendly environment,” Rumi said.

It was unclear whether anger over the fires in Karachi and Lahore will prompt provincial governments to focus on passing new labor regulations.