Student politics: a view from the other side of the bridge
Karachi, Oct 2: My friends and I always discuss the sheltered lives we have led.
Born in a privileged and over-protected environment, I have mostly taken things
for granted. Be it the air-conditioned classrooms or the well stocked
cafeterias, everything was always handed to us in a silver platter. After all,
it was my parent's hard-earned money.
While I never let these things get
the better of me, there were others who did. Driving off in their big SUVs and
the latest jeeps, flaunting their parent's large bank accounts was how they
spent their time. Yours truly, on the other hand, led a more passive,
'chilled-out' existence, happily enjoying my life while drowning my not so sad
sorrows in a regular Café Mocha (fancy, expensive but delicious coffee).
As is obvious, I have lived a life filled with warmth of cocoon-like
proportions. Recently however, I was forced out of my shell to actually view my
city and the youth in it for what they are.
What compelled me to rethink
my lifestyle is the on-going violent happenings at some educational
institutions, which some of us colloquially refer to as being on the 'other side
of the bridge'. One gets to hear about the many protests and rallies that occur
in University of Karachi (KU). The number of student protesters that take it
upon themselves to ban classes from continuing and the sheer gall with which
they stop teachers is appalling. However, coming from a place where the only
fights or brawls that take place are ego-driven, it's almost (oddly) admirable
to note the kind of fervour demonstrated by the students of KU.
said that, one cannot help but wonder what the rioters think the innocent
students and teachers could possibly gain from bans on lessons. It is one thing
to passionately display intolerance in the face of injustices, and quite another
to force others to comply with something that they do not necessarily believe
in. More shocking are the planned attacks that take place in and around these
campuses. The violence that emanates from such unions engulfs students and
protesters alike. It is horrifying that human life does not seem to mean a thing
to these people.
It seems that these protests are a desperate attempt at
getting some respect or recognition, which the rioters think will not be given
to them by any other method. However, speaking from experience, respect is a
hard thing to come by, especially for students. No one takes us seriously - no
matter which side we are on. While one group combats this by living in denial,
the other tries to make a mark by screaming its lungs out. These extreme
behaviours are not helpful in any way.
So whether we sit here in our
scenic bubbles of oblivion, or tear each other apart, our city and country are
going down the drain, sucking our lives along with them. When did the divide
between one side of the bridge and the other create such a vast difference in
our outlooks? Why can't students - as a group, as one voice, as a majority -
tackle those who undermine us? The answer that comes to mind is strangely
cynical, but one day, hopefully, someone will have the courage to fight against
prejudices and help take a desperately needed stand along with their peers. Till
then, I'll pay the Rs200 and seek contentment by drinking coffee, thank you.
By Maryam Javaid (The News)