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Student bodies roll up their sleeves

Lahore, April 01, 2008: The student unions in the city's educational institutions are all set to reorganise two days after Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani announced the lifting of the ban on student unions.

Union activists have started opening their offices in institutions to start election campaigns. They have also started developing strategies to attract students to join them.

The ban on student unions was implemented in 1984 by then president Ziaul Haq. However, many student groups with political support were active in the recent past despite the ban. These include: the National Students Federation (NSF), Islami Jamiat Talaba (IJT), People's Students Federation (PSF), Imamia Students Organisation (ISO), Muslim Students Federation (MSF), Anjuman Talaba Islam (ATI), Muttahida Talaba Mahaz (MTM), Mustafvi Students Movement (MSM), and the recently formed Insaf Students Federation (ISF). They were working in several institutions, prominent among them: the University of Engineering and Technology (UET), Punjab University (PU), Forman Christian College University (FCCU), Diyal Singh College, MAO College and Civil Lines College.

A large number of political workers visited their student wing leaders to discuss their future agendas.

PSF: Ali Ammar, information secretary of the PSF, said that PSF workers held a conference on Monday in which they discussed various future issues. He added that the PSF, the students wing of the ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP), asked the government to introduce a subject in schools on the life of late PPP Chairwoman Benazir Bhutto. He said that the PSF would write to the Higher Education Commission (HEC) and the vice chancellors of public and private schools and universities in this regard.

IJT: Activists of the IJT, the student body of Jamaat-e-Islami, gathered at PU Old Campus, where they announced a schedule of events for the next week. They also asked the government to announce the schedule for the union elections.

Addressing the meeting, IJT Lahore Nazim Abdul Basit said that the Jamiat would hold various programmes on Tuesday (today) in schools countrywide. He said that the IJT would also take out rallies on Wednesday. He added that a seminar would be held in the PU on Wednesday titled, The Restoration of Judiciary and Development of the Country. He said that the students would offer thanksgiving prayers on April 4 on the lifting of the ban against student unions. He also said that the IJT would organise a programme in honour of former IJT workers on April 5.

ATI: Activists of the ATI, the student wing of Sunni Tehreek, distributed sweets at many institutions all over Punjab. ATI Punjab Vice Chairman Rana Saifullah Khan said that the party was getting ready to contest the union elections.

MSF: Workers of the MSF, the student wing of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) distributed sweets among students and set up offices at Diyal Singh College and MAO College on Monday.

MSF MAO College President Sheikh Shahid Iqbal said his party was ready to contest the union elections. He said, "We have thousands of workers in various institutions and the majority of students support us." He urged all student bodies to unite to frame a combined strategy for the union elections.

ISO: Mumtaz Malik, Punjab information secretary of the ISO, the student wing of Tanzeem-e-Islami, said that senior ISO workers would meet in Dera Ghazi Khan in the coming week where they would discuss a strategy regarding union elections. He said that the ISO was a large student body with workers countrywide, especially in Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, Islamabad and Gilgit.

MTM: Raheel Shah, president of the MTM, said on Monday that he had called representatives of all student bodies for a meeting on Friday. He said that a combined strategy for the union elections would be discussed at the meeting and a code of conduct would be given to all the parties. He said that the union elections would be held in September after new admissions in schools. He said that the elections would be held in all schools, including institutions for females. Daily Times
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