Peacefully coexisting with the natural surroundings of Margalla Hills, undisturbed and isolated from the city hustle and bustle, the buildings of Quaide-Azam university are a living embodiment of how human progress and the conservation of natural beauty can both go hand in hand.
When I first arrived at QAU, the sight of the tall departments of the best public-sector university in the country, standing right in the middle of an otherwise forest area with wild grass and thick trees was not less than a miracle to my eyes; the campus had bewitched me in the most literal sense of the word.
Unfortunately, we live in a country run on the whims of petty tyrants and despots, who also happen to be robbers, robbing ordinary people of their lands and every other right that the constitution grants them. A similar fate has hit QAU where the enforcer of Islamabad’s zoning laws, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) is all set to commit one of the most horrendous crimes to the beautiful campus: it is illegally and wrongly grabbing a large tract of land inside the university to build a bypass, dividing the campus forever and committing the sin of deliberately despoiling the most beautiful and aesthetically marvelous campus in the country.
Students have every right to protect their campus and be politically charged. The maximum force comprises students and if there is anyone who can save QAU, it’s their collective and organized effort.
Imagine the idea of building a bypass for heavy traffic flow from inside the campus premises and promising to compensate for it at another place in Islamabad . Only the land-hungry empty-headed CDA officers could have that level of stupidity to actually think that it was a fair deal that certainly nobody would object to. But to everyone’s surprise, the vice chancellor of QAU deemed it an excellent idea in the best interest of the university and its 13000 students. One can imagine the extent of privileges he might have been offered to put at stake the future of one of the best research universities in the country and undertake a decision without consulting the direct stakeholders – the students, scholars, and faculty members.
This is not the first time that bureaucrats and our parasitical elite have laid their eyes on QAU’s land. Zia-ul-Haq in the 1980s tried to do the same by offering a piece of land to the university in Rawalpindi and hence destroying the whole research facilities only to allocate the land to his beneficiaries. Fortunately, he couldn’t succeed and QAU stood firm on its land. Again, in the 1990s the mafia came back and made plans to build a private housing society on university land, which will then be rewarded to Benazir Bhutto’s cronies in parliament. Resistance from QAU teachers and employees was planned to be short-circuited by bribing them with small plots at low prices. Thanks to some people who actually know the importance of research institutes and were not subjected to greed, QAU remained intact in its place.
The good thing is that the students and most of the faculty are too resilient to let CDA destroy the biodiverse territory and divide the campus. The history department took to the forefront this issue, being led by rebellious and brave female students. Despite multiple threats from the authorities, the students along with the senior faculty member Dr. Fouzia Farooq kept protesting and recording videos as soon as the bulldozers came tearing down the carefully nurtured forest.
This timely and strong resistance emerging from the department of history can be associated with the level of consciousness they develop by examining the pattern of events in past and how they might unfold in the future. If we let CDA grab the land today, there might not be any QAU as we know it, in the next 5 to 10 years.
The only university that hosts students from all parts of the country on a quota basis, thus providing equal opportunities to students from underdeveloped areas, has been on the radar of savage capitalists for a long time, who want to demolish every inch of biodiverse and multi-cultured territories and convert them into their tall, sophisticated bungalows.
Dr. Fouzia Farooq holds the opinion that the university belongs to all the students studying in it and hence this issue must concern all of them. Students have every right to be aware of their rights and be politically charged. The maximum force comprises students and if there is anyone who can save QAU, it’s their collective and organized effort.
Where there is oppression, there will be resistance. Not speaking up against brutality is a symbol of morally and consciously dead people. On the brighter side, the student power of QAU can be trusted with showing maximum resistance and fighting for their land till the end.
Long Live Resistance.
The writer is a student of History in Quaid e Azam University.