Resumption of students' union activities may quell campus violence
Karachi, April 02, 2008: Calls for lifting the ban on students' unions have been
echoing for close to two-and-a-half decades, ever since General Ziaul Haq
enforced the prohibition in 1984. However, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani's
announcement on the floor of the National Assembly on March 29, withdrawing the
proscription on students' union activities (among other 'people friendly'
policies) has been hailed across the board.
We spoke to several
academics, politicians and activists belonging to political parties' student
wings to gauge what effect the announcement and the eventual resumption of
students' unions will have on the city's campuses.
consensus is that the decision will help create a more tolerant atmosphere
conducive to learning on campuses and that hopefully, the vicious fits of
violence that the city's colleges and universities have witnessed for over two
decades, involving feuding student political groups, will become a thing of the
"We've always wanted the ban to be lifted so that students can be
given their rights. There are unions in every profession, so why should students
be deprived? This will allow students to realize their potential. It will create
a democratic culture on campus and will create leadership for the future. A
large portion of the current crop of leaders belonging to political and
religious parties participated in student union activities.
recalls, Benazir Bhutto had also announced the lifting of the ban in 1988.
However, for some reason elections were only held in Punjab. The prime
minister's pronouncement should be implemented in letter and spirit. There
should be elections countrywide," said Arshad Shah, a spokesman for the All
Pakistan Muttahida Students Organization, the student wing of the Muttahida
Arshad Naqvi, Karachi head of the Pakistan People's
Party-allied People's Student Federation, was equally upbeat.
great decision. The ban was placed by a military dictator. It totally deprived
students of their rights. The credit goes to Benazir Bhutto, for it was her
government that initiated efforts to re-establish the unions in 1988. But some
vested interests botched that effort as there was bloodshed during elections in
the Punjab. This time it was included in the PPP's manifesto and thanks to Mr
Zardari and Mr Gilani's efforts, it is being implemented."
Hasan, Secretary-General of the Jamaat-i-Islami, who actively participated in
union activities during his student days, was highly critical of the time it
took to re-establish the unions.
"It has taken 25 years to take this
step. A quarter century has been wasted. People have been deprived of leadership
as the unions used to be training grounds for future leaders. The
vice-chancellors should help implement this decision and a code of conduct
should definitely be formed. There should be a genuine effort to help establish
the system of student unions," he said.
Asked how he thought the students
of today would adapt to a system they largely have no clue about, Mr Hasan said
the current generation would catch on in due time.
'The students will
"The students will adapt very quickly. This generation has a
great knack for picking things up quickly. The only thing is that in the past,
students had an ideological orientation, whether it was towards the left, right
or Islam. This is missing today and the result may be that activities will be a
bit bland. But I think in due time the unions will meet the students' academic
and extra-curricular needs."
Kazi Saleem, spokesman of the University of
Karachi, said that as long as there was no political interference and discipline
was maintained, the situation looked extremely conducive.
"There has been
a leadership void. However, it is a great decision. It is a great responsibility
on the students. There are great young minds out there and if there is no
political interference, a lot is possible. Activities like debates will bring
forth the leaders of tomorrow. The vice-chancellor has told the student adviser
to sort out the logistics (of establishing union activities). It will take time
in character building and instilling discipline, but change is definitely in the
air," he said, citing the example of Aligarh Muslim University as a training
ground for outstanding, well-rounded leaders that excelled in their
Student leaders were also sure
that the resumption of union activities would help control the monstrous
violence Karachi's campuses have seen.
"There has been violence in the
past. However, in the last few years I feel there's been a drop. Student unions
will further reduce violence. Student parties should get together and form a
code of ethics to ensure peace on campuses, as well as create an atmosphere
conducive to learning and extra-curricular activities," said Mr
"Violence spiked after the ban was enforced in 1984. Violence has
become part of the system. Even now some people are trying to sabotage efforts
to re-establish the unions. But we are hopeful. If relatively peaceful elections
can be organised on the national level, then I don't see why peaceful elections
cannot be held on campus," observed Mr Naqvi. Dawn
Societies in schools unhappy over lifting of ban on student unions
Lahore: Students associated with various societies in educational institutions
in the city have said that the restoration of student unions would disturb the
positive activities launched by the societies.
Students said that with
the restoration of unions, the peaceful environment of schools would be
disturbed and the students who are involved in positive activities would be
On March 30, Prime Minster Yousaf Raza Gillani, lifted a
ban on students unions. The ban was imposed by former president Gen Ziaul Haq in
1984. With the lifting of the ban, almost all student unions, especially those
with political support, have started working in several important institutions
of the city. They have also started campaigning for union
Adeel Ahmed, a student of Government
College University (GCU), said that there were about 40 societies at the
university. He said the societies were working for constructive purposes in the
university, such as organising lectures, seminars, workshops and blood camps for
Ahmed said that he was also a member of the GCU's Debating
Society. He said that the student unions would disturb the societies'
activities. He said that student unions were famous for 'hooliganism'. He said
the students were worried that the unions would mar the peaceful environment of
Beenish, a student of the Lahore University of
Management Sciences (LUMS), said she liked the peaceful manner in which
societies in the institutions across the city were working. She said that the
societies of LUMS were working to promote the students' skills on the national
and international levels. She said that she was not against student unions as
they were also working in many Western countries, but "the unions of our country
were being used by politicians for their vested interests".
a student of Lahore College for Women University, said that academic activities
suffered due to political activities. She said that though extracurricular
activities were part of the students' academic careers, the students would avoid
them because of the involvement of unions, which have a notorious reputation in
the country. She said, "I think we don't need to make a union in institutions
since we already have several societies that are working to make the environment
of the schools better."
Students need to be educated: Arifa Sarfaraz,
communication adviser of Beaconhouse National University (BNU), said that the
culture of societies was developing in the BNU and its students were learning to
use the societies in a positive manner. She said that she was not against
student unions, but their roles should be defined. She said the students should
be educated on how they could use the unions in a constructive
Noreen, a student of Kinnaird College, said, "It is ironic that
students distributed sweets after the prime minister lifted the ban on student
unions because they don't even know what unions are." She was of the view that
the prime minister's decision would help political parties use students for
their vested interests by supporting student unions. She added that the unions
were know to fan 'hooliganism' in schools, which would disturb the prevailing
peaceful environment of the schools. Daily Times
Non-students to be kicked out: MSF-N
Lahore: The central president of the Muslim Students' Federation-Nawaz
(MSF-N) Tuesday said that non-students would be kicked out of educational
institutions and not allowed to use the student body's name.
a press conference held at Muslim League House, Muslim Town, Rana Muhammad
Arshad said the federation would also discourage extortionists and those
politicising educational institutions at gun point.
He said students of
the MSF would play an important role in restoration of student unions and meet
the expectations of their leaders.
He said restoration of student unions
was a longstanding demand of students. He vowed to restore the sanctity of
He said restoration of student unions was the
result of efforts made by PML-N leaders Mian Nawaz Sharif and Mian Shahbaz
Arshad said the MSF-N also demanded provision of free education,
hostel facility for students from far-flung areas, transport and restoration of
remarking system. He said all district organisations of MSF had been directed to
send their details to provincial offices within 15 days. He said formation of
units in educational institutions across the country would be completed by April
25. MSF-N office bearers were also present at the press conference. The News
"i think restoration of student union is very helpful for the growth of mental abilities of students. "
Name: m shoaib
City, Country: faisalabad, Pakistan
|Post your Comments/ Views about the news.|