Campus Clashes: How it all began
Karachi, Sep 7, 2007: The students of Sindh University, Jamshoro, still remember that
gory evening of '72 when the first bullet was fired in the hitherto peaceful
environment of the campus. The incident claimed two lives. A Sufi poet, Ali
Mardan Shah Raxam, and Jan Mohammed Khero were killed on the spot while Ali
Mohammed Jamali received injuries.
All three were students of the Mehran
University of Engineering and Technology and were staying at the International
Hostel when attacked.
The hostel was originally for foreign students.
However, since then it has been occupied by leaders of student organisations.
The incident occurred over a minor dispute between two rival groups.
Unfortunately, the matter did not end there for the incident became the
first in a chain of violence that continues to this day. At the time, only one
student belonging to Jacobabad had a Sten gun in the entire university - his
name was later included in the FIR. After this incident, six students were
rusticated for five years but were exonerated afterwards and most of them
graduated from their respective departments.
It is since that year that
student leaders as well as members of student organisations are found keeping
ammunition on campus all over Pakistan. In fact, this trend is obvious from the
rising insubordination among university students.
An incident which
followed soon afterwards is testament to that. The federal minister of law was
invited by Sindh University for an honorary doctorate degree. However, half way
through the convocation, the minister was slapped on the face by a student.
Though the students involved in the incident were expelled, the incident led to
an increase in unruliness among party activists in universities and
Unlike political party activists, most university and college
students do not start out by following political agendas in their respective
institutions. However, such students are either forced into joining a particular
group or compelled to pay money for their safety.
The fault lies in the
hands of the government and political parties who condone the attitude of
Idrees Jatoi, a folklore writer, said that "Ali Mardan Shah Raxam was a folk song writer. He was a student of higher
education but was murdered brutally during his brief stint at his alma mater. To
this day his friends, relatives and followers celebrate his life by performing
the songs written by him near his grave in a traditional mela."
is in the name of nationalism and regionalism, these political leaders create
problems for students who actually go to universities and colleges to
A former activist of the National Students Federation (NSF),
Karachi, who wishes to remain anonymous, says that "The Urdu weekly Lel-o-nehar
published an article in which they criticised religious parties. Some NSF
leaders circulated the copies of the weekly at a convention in the University of
Karachi. This resulted in a brutal clash as the Jamat-e-Islami leader of the
time led a vehicle packed with sticks and beat the NSF workers in
According to the activist, back then sticks and knives were
used in major clashes. However, the situation is worse now, as kalashnikovs are
being used in university and college clashes.
The Ziaul Haq regime is to
blame for bringing ammunition to higher education institutions. It was during
his era that access to arms became easy owing to the Afghan war.
among students groups is a common phenomenon in higher education institutes such
as the University of Karachi, NED University, Dawood College, as well as the
Jamshoro and Hyderabad institutes. Students, egged on by their respective
political parties, freely use these weapons.
According one activist, the
children of political leaders are never involved or harmed in these clashes. It
is mostly young men from poor families who are used as fuel for the vested
interest of these political parties.
Prof. Taj Joyo, a leader of the
Sindh Professors and Lecturers Association (SPLA), says that the ban on student
unions in the Zia regime is the main reason for these clashes.
biggest disadvantage of these fights and clashes is that they affect the
academic session. Most political parties have their own student wings which
serve the vested interests of politicians and not the students. The news