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Where the students don't matter

Karachi, Sept 24: Ramadan-the month of 'fasting and feasting' for most, has lately become the month of cancelled gate-passes, agonising walks in the heat (while fasting, mind you), being interrogated by officials ranging from the men in blue who stand grim-faced at the gate to the always (almost) present Rangers, adept only at staring and leering at all female students who walk past them.

Following tragic 'politically motivated' incidents that claimed the lives of several university students, several unfavourable and even unreasonable measures have been undertaken against university students, primarily members of the fairer sex, (whose fairness is in grave danger due to the daily-walk-in-the-sun routine imposed on them.) in a strictly cosmetic effort to stem violence on campus.

Someone forgot to question what the average KU student (female) and in many cases even male, has to do with what observers have termed 'terrorist attacks', and how harassing students will help control the situation.

The unfortunate students of the university fail to understand why after any such unfortunate incident it is they who find themselves at the receiving end of all forms of inconveniences and unreasonable restrictions. These include being stopped and checked as they enter university gates, as they near the ironically named 'Independence Chowk' and even as they leave. Obviously, the fact that these very individuals allowed them to step inside doesn't count for much.

Whoever said 'innocent until proved guilty' clearly hasn't witnessed 'the guilty until proved innocent' (and proving yourself so is almost impossible) attitude that prevails on campus, with regard to the harrowed students of course.

Ironically, the officially appointed defenders of the campus-the Rangers choose to excuse themselves every time trouble erupts on campus. Where are they when clashes begin and why is it that even when they manage to turn up, they are largely ineffective in restoring order? Eventually, it is the students who pay the price for their inefficiency and undergo academic loss as well as considerable discomfort.

The incidents in KU and the corresponding response to them manifest a larger problem that plagues our social set-up. After any thing goes wrong, it is always the poor, defenceless, assuredly innocent guy that gets caught. He is punished for all those things he hasn't done, let alone thought of doing, while those who mastermind and cleverly execute catastrophic plans, on all levels, walk away scot-free.

The reason behind this gross distortion of 'as you sow, so shall you reap' is our essentially find-the-easy-way-out attitude in the face of all dilemmas.

Students are the easiest targets. They will continue to plod on in the heat for fear of being penalised for their 'short attendance' and other such offences. Shuttles are few and far between and even female students who are pregnant or unwell are shown little consideration. Moreover, students have no choice but to remain quiet when they are repeatedly asked to prove their identities and fish out all sorts of cards from the deep recesses of the bags that weigh them down.

One evening student at the university was not allowed to enter the premises to pay his fee and all his entreaties were met with stone-faced refusal. To rub salt in his wounds, he could see a car with shady looking people whiz right past him without showing a pass or undergoing cross-examination, and the guard had the audacity to smile and wave at them as they went by.

Clearly, these laws and restrictions do not apply to those who are 'well-connected' giving students the unhealthy message that might is right in KU. The fact that innocent students are treated as criminals without their having committed a crime doesn't even matter any more. No one thinks it is wrong. No one stops to address and act against the injustice of it all.

This is where social alienation begins-in some place as mundane as a university campus where the administration just doesn't care. The News
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