Punjab Police had registered multiple cases against the participants of the Students Solidarity March on December 2 for chanting slogans against state institutions. Since then, a number of students have been whisked away by the police, assuring the students face ‘grave consequences’ for their actions.
Meanwhile, the spectacle of the leather jacket clad Arooj Aurangzeb singing Sarfaroshi ki tamanna ab hamaare dil mein hai has had a divided effect. While, many were inspired to join the ‘revolution’, others criticized how she did not understand the struggles of the poor. The students of Pakistan, for the first time in such vast numbers, are presenting a united front against the injustice against students.
The first ever student political group in Pakistan was the Muslim Students Federation, which operated as a student wing to Muslim League. The ground work for the student unions had, by all means always been influenced politically. With the passage of time, many other student federations popped up and the real goal, was lost amid the violence.
The student federations of Pakistan became widely known for engaging in fights over political, religious, ethnic, nationalist, and sectarian differences. Many students died during physical altercations, and the spell of violence fueled these organizations.
Meanwhile, the struggle between the Marxist and religious student associations grew, with both sides creating their own respective alliances, though both groups suffered from political infighting and splintering. Through the late 1970s and into the 1980s the student groups began to clash violently with each other and the government eventually banned these organizations in 1984.
Upon some students being picked up by the Punjab Police, who is rarely ever known for showing compassion or kindness, many representatives rushed to tell their side of the story. The students accompanied by their high spirited teacher, had come all the way from Lahore, to recount the events of how exactly their participation in the student merited an FIR to be filed against them. Inside the magnificent walls of the Parliament House, this impromptu hearing began and the police were the first ones allowed to speak regarding the FIR.
According to the police, the FIR was inconclusive and only an allegation. It was mentioned how blocked roads had made life a proverbial living inferno of inconvenience for the residents, and emergency services.
The speech was also called an unsavory, incendiary and an act of insurgence. The police further explained how this ‘sedition’(or speech) was utterly unacceptable to the state and could further instigate chaos. Thus, the few suspected individuals were identified using the video footage and state registered an FIR. With complete disregard, police stated that investigations were still underway as if an FIR was ‘no big deal’ for the father who had already endured the harsh calamities of life.
When finally allowed to speak, it was evident that this elucidation by the police was merely an effort to sweep away the faulty approach of the authorities. It still did not make any sense as to why a father who had been invited to the march in memory of his brutally murdered young son and the young professor who had no part in the speech were named in the FIR.
The professor further stated that, the student may have crossed a line, but the context played a significant role and could not be ignored. The student, a pashtun had suffered the loss of loved ones to violence in FATA, and an FIR was not the solution. Instead, help and guidance was necessary and urged the police to withdraw the unnecessary report, assuring he would not be allowed to speak publicly again as a reprimand.
Furthermore, he was also inquired why the grieving father was named in the FIR, when he had nothing to do with the speech? Why was the Alamgir Wazir, the Pakhtun student, the only one arrested? These burning questions largely remained unanswered.
The government officials and senators had a few solutions to offer. Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar asked that the name of Iqbal Lala, the father of the deceased, be immediately removed from the FIR. The importance of student organizations was also stressed meekly, but the focus ‘in all innocence’ was quickly shifted to the talk of not crossing some significant lines.
While, the Human Rights Senate committee is witnessed making an effort, such as providing a platform for the students to voice their concern, it is still far from what is required
Even though, the Parliament claims to speak for every Pakistani, including the youth, which roughly accounts to 50 per cent of the country’s population. It is evident, the focus on everything else except economy has been blurred.
Lifting the ban is necessary for student’s rights and resolution of issues, which are still largely downplayed by the political parties backing them. Most of these students in the Pakistan protests have no scientific understanding of historical processes, but the intentions seem somewhat pure. However, many also pose to be modern revolutionaries, are in fact very communal with harsh feudal mentalities. The main objective of these individuals are landing jobs in the civil services, or in a advancing their other political or personal agendas.
The ban was apparently an attempt to curb increasing violence and clashes between students, but it has failed to end violence on campuses and resulted in stifling the intellectual growth and social development of students.
The Ban was never the solution, the issue demands proper legalization of students unions. Most of the leaders in these unions are affiliated, or in future will get affiliated to political parties. Legislation needs to actively exterminate this insatiable desire of power and pelf in these unions, for them to actually work. A blueprint for the legislation can be drafted by taking in account, the code of conduct implemented by other countries.
The prime minister of Pakistan, also happens to belong to the very same party which enjoys massive support from the youth. However, the parliament rarely speaks for the youth. The Tamana for Sarfaroshi is another one of the hopes of young Pakistanis; it largely pertains to what the government will do about it. With a burning question in the back everyone’s mind:
Is the ‘student revolution’ next in line, to be buried under the rubble of hopes and dreams?
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s, and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Ace News.
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17 November, 2019