Student unions & campus bloodshed
Unregulated student unions can lead to campus bloodshed
Lahore, April 28, 2008: The new government's decision to lift the ban on student unions was
hailed as a victory for democracy. However, there were many quarters –
especially those involved with education – that were not too keen on the
These quarters were of the opinion that the ban's lifting would result
in violence on campuses and on the streets if it were not followed up with
proper legislation. They also opined that it would be difficult to stop
political parties from getting involved with the student unions. They said that
it was in the interest of these parties to merge with students even though such
a move was not in the best interest of students and education.
It was not too
long before their fears were realised. Since the lifting of the ban, two fights
between student groups have been reported from Punjab University.
return of unions means the return of student leaders. Student union leaders in
Pakistan are synonymous with violence and criminal activities.
regard, the police have been ordered to update their records of former and
current student union leaders to keep an eye on them.
On Sunday, the Crime
Investigation Agency arrested Mehboob Ahmed Khan, who was the right hand man of
notorious student leader Atif Chaudhry. Mehboob had been declared a proclaimed
offender after he murdered Nadir Khan alias Nado Khan – another criminal – over
a gambling dispute. He was also wanted for attempted murder.
Mehboob was not a union member, he was a close associate of Atif
Professors: Prof Mujahid Mansoori, Students Task Force (STF)
secretary, said, "Lifting the ban on student unions without proper legislation
and a code of conduct and their implementation will harm universities and
students. Looking at the track record of such unions, one cannot be
He said the task force had prepared a list of 70 students who were
sure to make trouble for the unions. "This list will be provided to the police,"
He said that another issue the task force feared was the
involvement of political parties in student unions. "Parties in Pakistan are
weak and they use campuses to project their strength. With their involvement,
unions are surely to get politicised and go on the wrong track."
He said that
the STF had prepared several proposals and had sent them to vice chancellors in
Punjab, to the heads of political parties and to the heads of various student
Muttahida Talaba Mahaz (MTM) and People's Students Federation (PSF):
Raheel Shah, MTM and PSF president, confirmed the fear, saying, "Without a
government-sponsored code of conduct, these student unions will lose all
He said that he foresaw bloodshed and chaos on campuses if a code
of conduct were not implemented. "Students will be killed during elections,
during admissions, during campaigning and during examinations. Several fights
have broken out on campuses between the Islami Jamiat Talaba (IJT), PSF, Muslim
Students Federation (MSF) and Anjuman-e-Talaba-e-Islam (ATI) in Lahore, Sialkot,
Rawalpindi and Bahawalpur.
MSF: Sheikh Shahid, MAO College MSF president,
said that rogue groups had tarnished the image of student unions. "People who
were thrown out of unions formed their own groups and indulged in illegal
activities. Student leaders have been involved in criminal activities, but not
all of them. Even I agree that without a code of conduct these unions will
create problems for universities."
He also agreed with the fact that
political parties led student unions astray. "Union members fight with others
over political agendas, which leads to them becoming criminals."
Imamia Students Organisation (ISO) spokesman, said, "The ISO never involved
itself in criminal or political activities. The ISO also welcomes the code of
conduct because this is the only way violence can be ended on campuses."
We tried to contact Nazim Rana Zahid, but he was not available for
comment. Daily Times
Students unions demand notification on lifting of ban
Rawalpindi: Representatives of the students' organizations have demanded
of the government to issue official notification regarding lifting of ban on the
students' unions at the earliest to ensure timely elections in the educational
Muhammad Zubair Safdar, general secretary of Islami Jamiat
Talaba, Punjab said that Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani had
announced lifting of ban on students' organizations after securing vote of
confidence in the National Assembly but no official notification has so far been
issued by the relevant authorities.
"There are a number of other issues
to be resolved including preparation of code of conduct and issuance of official
notification of lifting of ban on the students' unions will help kick start the
process to develop consensus among all the students' unions on all these
issues," he said.
Zubair said elections of the students' unions were
expected to be held after September this year but "we want all the related
issues resolved as soon as possible." He said the ban was imposed on the
activities of the students' unions and the organizations were not affected by
it. "We have been carrying out our activities on regular basis and fully
prepared for the elections that will help initiate a pure democratic culture in
the educational institutions."
Asad Abbasi of the People's Students
Federation (PSF) said issuance of official notification of lifting of ban would
give a positive message and "we are hopeful that the government will make all
necessary arrangements to conduct union elections by October this year."
He said PSF has submitted a draft of proposals for preparation of code
of conduct and a high-level committee has been constituted that would seek the
suggestions for developing a consensus among all the stakeholders.
said teachers, students and even clerical staff also be consulted for paving a
way for the union elections in the educational institutions. "A democratic
government has come into power and we hope that it will take all out measures to
provide a platform to students especially belonging to middle-class to utilise
their potential and play their due role in strengthening the pure democratic
culture in the country."
The student unions were banned by the then
president General Muhammad Ziaul Haq in 1985 and were partially restored by the
Benazir government in 1988. The News
More than 150 student union members killed since the 1980s
Lahore: More than 150 student union leaders and members have been
killed by other students, criminals and the police since the 1980s.
the prominent student union members are as follow:
MSF: Union member Zahid
was the first to be murdered. The incident took place in Misri Shah. After
Zahid, there was a spate of killings that claimed the lives of Arshad Amin
Chaudhry, Atif Chaudhry, Arif Chaudhry, Abid Chaudhry, Agha Naveed and Raees
alias Tanki. These people were either killed by rival unionists or the police.
Atif Chaudhry had been injured in a shootout with the police in in Jamrod and
was later killed by the police in Sandha. However, a case was registered against
Arshad Amin Chaudhry in this regard. Agha Naveed was wanted by the police and
was killed in Islamabad by them. Rival unionists killed Arshad Amin, Arif, Raees
alias Tanki and Abid.
PSF: Shahid Butt was killed by the police in Sabzazar.
Jansher and Lucky Shah were also student leaders and became assassins. They were
also killed by the police in separate incidents. Zaheer alias Bao, another
student leader, was one of the accused in the assassination of Punjab AAG Arif
Bhinder and 12 others. Bao's body was found from the Canal and the police were
till investigating the cause behind his murder. Raees alias Kaliya, a student
union member, was murdered by rival unionists in Islampura.
Students Federation: Tanveer Khakwani and Sunny, both members of QSF, are wanted
by the police.
National Students Federation: Javed Butt, the NSF Lahore
president, was killed along with Tara alias Jin in Allama Iqbal Town. Daily Times
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