Academicians hail lifting of student unions ban

March 2008: Academicians of Sindh public universities have hailed the Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gillani's decision of lifting the decades old ban on the students unions.

They were of the view that it would help politicising of the students in appositive way for resolving their genuine demands faced by them at the campuses..

It may be recalled here that former military dictator Ziaul Haq in 1984 banned the students unions before which the students' political activities were conducted through regular annual elections in universities and colleges.

And now at least after 24 years, Pakistan Democratic Alliance-elected PM Yousuf Raza Gillani, just after having taken the vote of confidence, lifted the ban.

Prof Dr Mutahir Ahmed Sheikh from department of International Relation Karachi University said that it was a healthy sign that government announced the lifting of ban from the student unions adding that it would help create awareness among the students.

He said the student unions could provide middle-class leadership, which has become a rarity in modern-day Pakistan.

He added that student unions had always played key-role in the democratic struggle against the military dictatorships adding that with the ban lifted, the student unions would strengthen the democratic process and the institution-building in the country.

He added that it was wrong perception that student unions promoted violence at the campuses saying that it was just reflection of violence prevailing in the society due to de-politicisation of our society and ethnic and sectarian hatred dominated in our society.

Prof Dr Mutahir Sheikh said that politicisation of student would help eradicate the sectarian and ethnic hatred and would give chance to the students for holding open debates on every conceivable issue.

Prof Dr Fehran Ahmed of Karachi University of International Department said that it was a good adding, 'yet it would take some time when the student politics would take a firm root and the students would consolidate as a political force.

Prof Dr Ammer Sindhu at Philosophy Department at Sindh University Jamshoro also welcomed the decision adding that PPP's announcement proved that it was a party of the Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and his Shaheed daughter Benazir Bhutto, who had always vowed that PPP would lift the ban on student unions.

She however expressed her concerns that in the beginning it might be difficult in the beginning, given the present political immaturity among the student organisations. She urged media and civil society to play their role in what she termed the evolution of the student politics.

She added that it would also help the university administration to curb the violence that took place at the campus of-and-on and that there would be a check on the teachers and university administration for creating a conducive atmosphere.

Citing the example of Indian varsities, where the student unions have always played positive role for academics by taking part in the decision-making of the affairs of the universities.

She added that Student politics in Pakistan has had a tumultuous but rich democratic history and played important role against the military dictators and produced better politicians than the ones engineered by the anti-democratic forces.

Prof Dr Majeed Chandio from Shah Abul Latif Khairpur University was of the view that it was a healthy sign and that it would give opportunity to students highlighting problems faced by students; be they of transport, fees and other genuine issues. The Nation

Students welcome unions' restoration
Islamabad/ Rawalpindi: Students welcomed restoration of student unions by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani on Saturday and they urged the government to issue notification in this regard at the earliest.

They said that the student unions platform would help them increase their abilities.

The student unions were banned in 1984 during the General Ziaul Haq regime and later no government took any initiative to restore them.

Greeting Week: At some institutions students have decided to celebrate the next week as the 'Greeting Week' and take out rallies.

Joint Students Movement (JSM) President Jahanzeb Waqas said that students of the universities had expressed their jubilation and expected that a notification would be issued at the earliest to restore the unions. He said that the students were displaying banners inscribed with salutations and thanks to Gillani for the decision.

He said the decision was commendable and hoped that the government would take more such initiatives in the interest of students.

Decision unexpected: Students Action Committee (SAC) Secretary General Aliya Ameer Ali said that the students were not expecting the announcement at this time. However, she said that the students had lauded the bold decision of and they were happy that the government had given priority to the students' interest.

Jamiat Tulba-e-Islam Secretary General Muhammad Zubair Safdar said that the unions' platform could provide the nation good leadership. He said that all the prominent leaders like Javed Hashmi and Gillani who were leading the nation at present were student leaders. He termed the unions' restoration a historic decision.

Khawaja Shehzad, a Muslim Student Federation (MSF) central leader, said that the students had been striving for unions for long. He said it was a good step for democracy and all eminent politicians remained student union leaders during their studies. He said the country was lacking a good leadership after 1988.

He congratulated the Pakistan People's Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) upon lifting of the ban on unions. He said student unions were working in girls' colleges under the name of student councils, which had been made non-functional in boys' colleges.

People's Student Federation (PSF) District President Sheraz Kiyani said the PPP had always encouraged the youth to participate in politics. He said student unions had been the backbone of political parties, enabling the poor to have their share in the decisions being taken on their behalf.

Azmat Khattar, the PSF president at the University of Arid Agriculture Rawalpindi (UAAR), said student unions were a gift given to the nation by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, offering the poor an important role to play in politics.

He said heroin and Kalasnikov culture was introduced in educational institutions during a time when unions were banned, indicating towards the era of Gen Ziaul Haq.

He said Benazir Bhutto had promised to lift the ban on student unions during her lifetime. He said the PSF would try to hold student unions' elections in Rawalpindi colleges and universities. Bilal Azfar, a social worker, said the government should prepare a comprehensive code of conduct for student unions before their elections. Daily Times



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