The resurgence of Student Politics in Pakistan

Fahim Roman

In a historical context, students have a long courageous struggle in Pakistan’s politics. When in every protest or strike, they were on the front line to lead the movements in the country.
Dr Lal Khan wrote a book named Pakistan’s other story from 1968-1969. He discussed that the student movements are often barometers of the rising temperature and change in mood of the masses and society as a whole.
In Pakistan, the student movements either, it is against General Ayyub Khan, General Yaya Khan’s dictatorship made history in Pakistan politics. They get together with the masses for the fundamental rights of the people.
There was not any uncertainty that these student organizations weakened their internal organizational structure. Particularly on an ideological basis, while encountering students’ politics with a secular background. The Pakistani state used various strategies in universities and college campuses, and at last, they installed religious extremism in universities in the shape of Islami Jamaat-e-Taluba. And other religious groups to halt student politics and engaged it in non-socio political issues.
During the Cold War era, when General Zia ul Haq banned student politics through Marshal law orders in 1984 to secure state interest, as usual, to support American imperialism interest in Afghanistan to deteriorate “Sur revolution” in Afghanistan.
Under the General Zia regime, university campuses were open to the Islamic extremist organizations. He upgraded the university administrations that tried to students become Apolitical inside university campuses.
Later, after the death of General Zia in 1988 and Benazir Bhutto came to power, the ban on student politics lifted in 1989. But during the election, the religious student wings and left-wing students were engaged in clashes that turmoil the circumstances in Karachi University and Punjab University. Due to these situations, the Supreme Court of Pakistan again banned student politics.
“Nadeem F. Paracha 2019, depicted the situation in traditional parties. According to him, the political parties began to use their student groups as props to be exhibited, at rallies, instead of being their electoral extensions on campuses”. Because the space created by student unions filled by student organizations such as in Karachi and Punjab, that space had filled by Islami Jamaat-e-Taluba, and Dawat-e- Islami. While in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the gap filled by Pashtun Student Federation, and in Balochistan, the rift own filled by the Pashtun Student Organization and Baloch Student Organization along with Pashtun Student Federation. These national student organizations have their impediments, but the progressive role played by them was that they stopped Islami Jamaat-e-Taluba student wings on university campuses.
Similarly, the students become divided based on ethnicity. Moreover, university-level ethnic councils had established by the university administrations. It became a source of ethnic clashes on university campuses where these ethnic councils stopped the traditional student organizations from political activities to make hegemony on university campuses.
In that spectrum, students had divided between a religious basis and an ethnic basis, and they become blind political cadres of traditional leadership. And it creates a leadership space in Pakistan. When once a student union produced the finest leaders, but now they become a source of traditional-politics and utilizes their energy to secure the interest of traditional leadership.
As the circumstances worsen, in Pakistan, when the fees of universities increased by the administration and low budget expenses on the education sector, and harassment cases in university campuses ignite the situation.
In 2019, when student solidarity March has held over 53 cities of Pakistan, that showed the need for student union restoration because according to university rules, there must be a member of a student member in syndicate meeting when the university administration, finalizing any verdict and policies.
And on 27 November 2020, once again progressive, political wings and left-wings held a Student Restoration March in different major cities of Pakistan even in corona pandemic. Indeed, in the post-colonial era, the political scenario of student politics is changing, but the issues of the students remain the same.
But in that time and space, the umbrella of the student union is the need of time to gathered the students no matter from which ethnicity or religion they belong but in its basis students, are the sensitive layer of the society and, in that rotten system. It is their responsibility on their shoulders to fight for their rights, and once again, the new triumph of student politics will rise in Pakistan with revolutionary zeal.

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