Schools of terror
STUDENT politics in Karachi has seen many dark moments, beginning with the
first killing of students in the early 1950s. After two quiet decades following
General Ziaul Haq's ban on student activism imposed in the '80s, carnage may be
returning to our campuses. The last month has seen three major
On August 15, a violent clash between the Islami
Jamiat-i-Talaba (IJT) and Punjabi Students' Association (PSA) left two dead and
five injured. Another flare-up on Sept 12 between the All Pakistan Muttahida
Students' Organisation (APMSO) and IJT killed five and on Sept 17, the Federal
Urdu University of Arts, Sciences and Technology (Fuuast) witnessed an exchange
of fire between the IJT and the APMSO, where no students were killed but a few
As major campuses across the city open amid fear and
uncertainty, the warring parties remain caught in conflicting views on what
happened. Despite the fact that his organisation is implicated in all three
incidents, Mohammed Riaz of the IJT does not hesitate to imply that the
administration of Karachi's largest university is hand in glove with both the
APMSO and the Rangers.
"They know about such incidents before they occur.
We are victimised because the administration favours the APMSO and the Rangers
support the PSA," says Riaz. "There is only one FIR against the APMSO and four
against us," he says.
Riaz claims that members of the Muttahida Qaumi
Movement (MQM) are present in the campus security force and in departments such
as the social work faculty. "The head of the social work faculty speaks directly
to the governor and not the vice-chancellor. In Sir Syed University and the
Aligarh Institute, armed students patrolled the premises when MQM's Faisal
Sabzwari was with Z.A. Nizami."
Riaz also says that on the inauguration
of the botanical gardens, "the governor had a meeting with the VC along with
three members of the APMSO."
Meanwhile, Wasim Aftab of the APMSO is
adamant that his party's name was deliberately dragged into the battle between
the IJT and the PSA.
"The IJT has this history. We had moved up our Peace
Day to Sept 12 because of Ramazan and in the middle of our preparations, the IJT
attacked us," says Aftab. "They think they are khudai faujdar. It is inexcusable
that they beat up Mehwish from the international relations department and now
claim that there is no such student in the institution."
accuses the IJT of kidnapping and torturing APMSO workers. "This is why we
retaliated. In places such as the Government College of Technology, we cannot
even enter because of their hold," he says.
Surprisingly, the ban on
student politics remains in place as does the heavy deployment of the Rangers,
who have spent 18 long years in Karachi University.
"With the presence of
the Rangers, we are able to follow the academic calendar and it is because of
them that the Sept 12 incident occurred outside the premises," says Khalid
Mehmood Iraqi, head of campus security. Iraqi maintains that it is the
responsibility of political leaders to prevent the political climate of the city
from affecting educational institutions.
"Coordination is required to
make education a priority and if the approach was academic, then there would be
no need for the Rangers," he explained.
Iraqi also vehemently refuted the
IJT's allegations against the administration.
"There is absolutely no
such evidence. Also, the governor's visit was a scheduled one and no student was
The prevalent relationship between violence and student
politics has often rested on blame games and remained largely unaddressed by
successive governments. Today, the fight for social change or the struggle for
political causes is little more than brutal power tussles. However, their worst
victims remain the students. Their hostels are randomly vacated to clear
political strongholds, leaving countless undergraduates with nowhere to go and
for others, postponed exams push their goals further into
These fierce episodes are indeed harbingers of disaster; a
bloody tale set to repeat itself with blood, violence, and remorse as its only
By Reema Abbasi - email@example.com
"I am a student of the University of Karachi (KU), department of Mass Communication. The recent violence between two
political parties at KU caused a problematic situation for the students. A
massive loss of lives has occurred and now boycotting classes and exams is
adding to that. Why should students, who come from far-flung places, to these
institutions suffer because of this? Often, it is upon arrival that they find
out that classes are cancelled in protest of clashes of political parties. Why
aren't the authorities taking any action in such cases? (The News)."
Name: Noreen Shams
Email: not available
City, Country: North Nazimabad, Karachi, Pakistan
"I think that students politics is taking an ugly face because of the ban on legitimate students union, which if removed can pave way for gradual integeration of various factions and a healthy arena to compete in. The politics of corpses and blood will soon, inshallah, suffocate."
City, Country: Karachi, Pakistan
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