politics had no hidden agendas'
are very few committed individuals'
right and centre
Veteran journalist, former
student leader and firebrand activist, Hussain Naqi was born in 1937 in
Lucknow, India. After partition, he emigrated to Karachi and joined DJ
Science College. He closely observed student politics in Karachi, especially
that going on under the banner of Democratic Students Federation (DSF). He
also had the privilege of holding senior offices of the National Students
Federation (NSF). Naqi was expelled from the University of Karachi on charges
of interfering with the affairs of the administration and exiled from Sindh.
Along with other NSF members, he staged a massive agitation and was
readmitted to Karachi University. Excerpts of interview follow:
The News on Sunday: What do
you think were the main issues on student unions' agendas during the early
years of Pakistan?
Hussain Naqi: The student
politics after the partition revolved around issues related directly to the
students' affairs. Unlike the student politics of today, there were no hidden
agendas pursued by political parties backing student unions in educational
institutions. The foremost issue at that time was the lack of education
facilities/institutions in the country. The lack of transport facilities for
students and the government's reluctance to make education free for the
masses were other major problems.
Though the situation was
not as bad in Punjab, in Karachi it was dismal. As the city had been declared
the capital, people migrated to Karachi in hordes. The population of the city
swelled from 0.4 million in 1947 to above a million in 1949. The situation
was so worse that a student who got late by a couple of minutes couldn't find
a place to sit in the classroom. Similar was the situation in East Pakistan,
where a huge number of people had migrated from West Bengal. DSF raised its
voice for this cause and had to face the state's wrath.
TNS: Why do you think the
government resorted to the use of brute force if the students' protest of
1953 was peaceful? Did DSF meet any of its objectives?
HN: The main problem at
that time was that the bureaucrats had become hyperactive. At times they
would go to any extent to achieve the desired results. The students'
procession was calm but A T Naqvi, the then chief commissioner panicked and
asked the police to open fire on the protesters. The demands of the
protesters were simple. All they were asking for was establishment of
university, colleges and schools, provision of transport and concessions for
students and free provision of books. Though these demands were not met
immediately, the government took note of them and accepted most of them by
TNS: You were one of the
founder members of NSF? Are the allegations true that this students body was
formed to counter DSF?
HN: Yes, there was a common
perception that NSF was formed to counter the influence of DSF that had been
dissolved by then. After the incident of 1953, different student
organisations dissolved themselves and merged to form All Pakistan Students
Organisation (APSO). Once again A T Naqvi became active and sent some
vagabonds to attack its session. APSO was banned soon after its formation in
1954. The NSF had government support. But soon the government found that 'NSF
was also a sore', however it was allowed to operate. This was something that
strengthened the perception.
I was on the executive body
of NSF when there was an attack on Suez Canal in 1956. NSF gave a protest
call against this strike, which was welcomed by many. Thousands of people
gathered at Jehangir Park near Mazar-e-Quaid and joined the NSF march. Once
the procession reached Bolton Market, it was attacked by police and all of us
were beaten brutally. I was also publishing a magazine 'Talib-e-Ilm'. The NSF
as well as the publication was banned as soon as martial law was imposed in
TNS: Tales of your
externment from Sindh and direct confrontation with Nawab of Kalabagh are
well-known. What were the factors that led to these?
NH: I was at Karachi
University in early 1960s when we decided to table a resolution against the
Education Commission Report released at that time. NSF workers reached the
congregation of PML Conventional arranged by Chaudhry Khaleeq-uz-Zaman and
created ruckus there. Because of this, we were pinpointed by the government.
I, along with other students, was externed from Karachi University.
We went to different cities
of Sindh but were externed from there as well. So, we decided to come to
Lahore. There we were picked from the Railway Station and kept in official
custody. Later on, we went to Bahawalpur and stayed there in a hostel. My
confrontation with Nawab of Kalabagh was for the reason that he had publicly
called NSF leaders incompetent. We issued press releases carrying excellent
mark sheets of our leaders showing that NSF leadership comprised academically
Mohammad Ali Jan, a student
of LUMS, is a member of the Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party (CMKP) and has
been involved in grass-root level political activism for three years now.
The News on Sunday: How
would you assess the state of student politics at this present moment?
Ali Jan: Generally
speaking, the state of student politics is marked by stagnancy. There are
very few committed individuals and since everyone is pursuing their own ends,
there is little or no mass-level action.
TNS: Why do you think there
is this stagnancy?
AJ: Part of the reason is
that education is highly commercialised now, and because education takes
place in small campuses with small student populations, it makes collective
action very difficult. Traditionally, the bastions and fountainheads of
student politics have been universities with large student bodies, and with
large multi-class populations. However, in these private colleges, there are
students from middle and upper classes, who have no interaction with students
from lower classes. Because of this, it is difficult to form student unions
with effective political force.
Then, there was the
systematic depoliticisation of the state universities under the Zia era, with
increased patronage to the student wings of the right-wing political parties.
This has had a devastating effect on student politics and the healthy
atmosphere which existed previously.
TNS: People think students
shun politics now because of the rampant violence and a simultaneous decline
in ideological politics?
AJ: Well, I do not see how
one could differentiate between the use of violence and ideology. Forces
which resort to violence do that on their own ideological grounds and those
who avoid violence, do so on theirs. So, for instance, Imran Khan went around
universities trying to make a student union of Tehreek-e Insaaf, and he found
a following as well. However, the students immediately asked Imran Khan for
guns, because otherwise they would not be able to stand up to the likes of
IJT and MQM, whose power derives from the guns they have. But because Imran
Khan's ideology is non-violent, he refused and, hence, had to abandon the
Traditionally, Left has
used violence as a legitimate means to their ends; but that violence was to
serve ends which were justified. Violence was never used by the Left to
spread hate or bigotry like it is the case with the forces of the Right.
TNS: So, is this a no-win
situation for students as well as for the political culture?
AJ: This is not something
which is preordained, or cannot be changed. It is clear from the current
judicial crisis that society can become politicised very easily and in a very
short time period. Another example is the teachers' protests at the Punjab
University. Although they were led by teachers, students soon joined in and
took part in the protest. So, I do not think that it is impossible to
politicise a student body. Similarly, in the lawyers' movement, law students
even in the elite universities have joined in. Students of Punjab Law
College, which is owned by the Nazim Lahore Mian Amir Mahmood, have organised
protests and teach-ins. So, I think that there is a lot of scope.
TNS: So, what kind of a
future do you foresee for progressive student politics in this country?
AJ: I cannot predict the
future, but I can say a few things about the current situation, from which a
few things could be extrapolated for the future. For one thing, I strongly
believe that students have to be at the heart of any sustainable progressive
and democratic change in this country. If they do not become a part of it, it
will lose its steam. And that is really contingent upon the student
participation in progressive politics. If they become a part of progressive
politics, we have a bright future; if not, then we will have a few lost
generations, to say the least. India is a great example. In India, no student
is left untouched in their student years. Every student takes an ideological
stance, which leads to a more conscious citizenry as well as better political
It is a
testament to the potential power of student unions that the slightest
initiative on major public sector university campuses invites the immediate
interest of the omnipotent intelligence agencies. Indeed, all Pakistani
regimes uptil and including Zia ul Haq's were obsessed with regulating
student activism, relying either on brute force or cooption. By the end of
the Zia regime, university and college campuses had been infiltrated by
state-supported rightist forces as a result of which student politics has yet
have been a force in popular upheavals around the world, particularly through
the turbulent 20th century. Pakistan was no different, with students arguably
the most powerful dissident force in the country's cities uptil the Zia
period. Indeed it were students that led the mass movement that brought the
mighty Ayub regime to its knees. They spearheaded the new mass urban
political culture that emerged in Pakistan largely as a product of the
contradictions of Ayub's decade of development. Pakistani students of the
1960s were heavily influenced by the global wave of student activism that saw
mass mobilisation against the Vietnam War and demanded the restructuring of
direct contrast to the prevalent trend these days, one was a misfit if one
did not participate in activism in that era, regardless of which end of the
ideological spectrum one was committed to. State repression was considered a
natural hazard that came with the territory, and in the place of fear and
trepidation that is now so common amongst students (and young people in
general) was a bold commitment to the cause with which one was associated.
Importantly, student politics uptil the 1980s was never simply limited to
participation in overtly political movements against dictatorship or
imperialism. In fact, robust student activism has always centred upon themes
concerning students themselves; such as, school fees, living conditions in
hostels, and administrative high-handedness. Only when students had
successfully taken on such local issues would they move on to participate in
the most organised student fora were linked either directly or indirectly to
political organisations or specific ideological tendencies. For example, the
biggest student organisation in Pakistan through much of the 1970s, the
National Student Federation (NSF), had explicit links with Maoist politics,
while the only slightly less organised and popular Democratic Student
Federation (DSF) was affiliated with the Communist Party of Pakistan. Part of
the justification provided by military rulers such as Zia and Ayub to clamp
down upon student politics was that they acted as fronts for political
organisations. To a certain extent, the NSF, DSF and other such groups
forwarded the agenda of leftist political parties, but at the same time, they
were fiercely autonomous, and on more than one occasion student groups
overtly broke up ties with political parties if they felt their independence
was being compromised.
case, after the Bhutto period, student organisations became virtual proxies
for mainstream political parties. The examples of the People's Students
Federation (Pakistan People's Party), Muslim Students Federation (Pakistan
Muslim League) and Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba (Jama'at-e-Islami) stand out. In
fact, the state was petrified of the revolutionary tendencies of
organisations such as the NSF and DSF; it is not abnormal for student unions
to have explicit associations with political parties and, in a society where
debate and dissent are not considered seditious, the links of student
organisations to political parties would not be depicted as scandalous.
Needless to say, the prototypical People's Students Federation (PSF), Muslim
Students Federation (MSF) and particularly Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba (IJT)
chapter at the present time are hardly models of the student union, but this
says much more about what the state has done to student politics than about
student politics itself.
to be said that the rot in student politics set in during the Bhutto period
when the 'people's government' initiated a process of cooption which
undermined the autonomy of the unions by doling out patronage. However, it
was under Zia that student politics became subject to flagrant attacks. On
the one hand, the regime effectively used repression to discourage student
activism and, on the other, employed the IJT as its proxy to physically expel
Left-oriented groups such as the NSF and DSF from campuses. Under the guise
of Islamisation, the student population was terrorised and the overall
culture of campuses transformed. There has been no reprieve ever since.
worth keeping in mind that a significant number of contemporary national
level politicians are student leaders of the past. Javed Hashmi, Jehangir
Badr and Liaquat Baloch are but a few of the many who have made their way
into politics via student unions. However, there are thousands others who
were not allowed to ply their trade on campuses and might not have thrown in
their lot with the mainstream parties. Indeed, if a progressive political
culture was allowed to survive on college and university campuses, the
tendency of our mainstream political parties to acquiesce to a
military-dominated political system might not be so pronounced. It is worth
considering that political parties will only be as vibrant and responsive as
popular demands make them. And with the disappearance of student and trade
unions, culture and art, and independent intellectual activity, our political
parties too are a shadow of what they should be.
told, it is not a surprise that the state has prevented the re-emergence of
student activism on our campuses. Because of their freedom from the
responsibilities that come with adulthood and the idealism of youth, students
in the modern era have always been considered a danger to the forces of
status quo. In Pakistan, student idealism has been conspicuous by its absence
over the past two and a half decades, and the state wants to keep it that
way. While students are not organised well enough to participate explicitly
in the current wave of anti-dictatorship protests, there is no doubt that the
highly charged environment will make an impact on them. Sooner or later, the
freeze on student politics will come to an end, and the popular mobilisation
taking place in front of our very eyes may just be the catalyst for this
Are the numerous student leaders of the past to blame for the absentees of today? Here's how political leaders respond
By Ammar Mir
It is one thing to be
interested in politics, another entirely to take an active, responsible part
in the process. Ideology, that most browbeaten of words, is a necessary first
step. Many political leaders of today ascribe the formation of their own
political ideology to familiar and often similar circumstances. Most
attribute the formation of their political ideology to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto's
movement against Ayub Khan's regime in 1968. The movement involved, it will
be recalled, huge numbers from the student community. Others such as Ghulam
Abbas put it down to their working class background and growing up watching
the sufferings of the common man.
Such conditions exist today
as well, however. There is a popular movement against a military regime. And
the lot of the common man hasn't improved so much that it doesn't arouse
sympathy, even amongst the youth. Why the apparent inactivity then?
Ghulam Abbas, Secretary
General Peoples' Party, blames military intervention in politics for
destroying the political institutions in the country. The absence of an
institutionalised political setup is responsible, he says, for marginalising
the leaders of tomorrow.
But there are also those
who maintain that students today are as politically aware as ever. Abdul Hai
Baloch President National Party (NP) holds that the youth of today is
interested in politics; a view endorsed by Naib Amir Jamaat-e-Islami (JI)
Liaquat Baloch. According to him, students have never been depoliticised,
especially those of today.
"These days, students
know more than their teachers do," he claims. "How can they be
Is the political future of
today's students to be held hostage to the past? Are the numerous student
leaders of the past to blame for the absentees of today? When you ask
political leaders this question, their answers vary.
Minister for Railways
Sheikh Rashid Ahmed states that the student politics of his days was anything
but violent. "At that time, a student might have had a dagger or a pair
of brass knuckles. It was peaceful politics. Today students carry
AK-47s." True. Kalashnikov culture has reached students.
Liaquat Baloch blames this,
and the violence of his student days, on the Cold War and particularly the
first Afghan war. He also claims that students were often used as scapegoats
by the ruling class. But there are those who hold that the violence in
student politics was in self defense. Ghulam Abbas says the violence resulted
from a government ban on progressive politics and a rise in religious
fundamentalism during the 1980s.
Dr Abdul Hai Baloch is more
critical: "The state is guilty of bringing violence into politics. What
needs to be understood is that students did not pick up weapons from the
start. Rulers have always used force to stay in power. What can you do when
the state uses violence while you are protesting peacefully? You will stay
quiet for the first few times but then, you will pick up weapons yourself to
counter such violent oppression. When and if there is real democracy, there
will be no violence."
This final sentiment is
widely shared by political leaders. Constant military intervention in
politics, they say, has given rise to a ruling elite which does not want
students to take any part in politics. The part played by students in the
popular movement against the Ayub Khan regime is still fresh in the minds of
this class, they claim. That's why, student unions have been banned and,
according to Liaquat Baloch, students have been deliberately de-tracked.
Perhaps. But what of the
future then? What of civil society and the responsibilities of every student
as a citizen of the state? Is it enough to blame history and resign to a
future dictated by the past? Being educated is a blessing and a source of
strength. In any society, those who know the difference between good and bad,
or even better and worse, have a responsibility to make the right choice.
How can students be brought
back into the political process and, most importantly, sans the AK-47s?
Ghulam Abbas believes that only with the rule of law can this 'psychology of
terrorism' be eradicated. But, perhaps, the best answer comes from Sheikh
Rashid Ahmed. "It is for the people to decide what to do and how. 15
million people have not registered their votes for the upcoming elections.
How do they expect their voice to count?"
15 million unregistered
voters. How many students in there, one wonders.
'student politics', and your mind instantly jumps to strong images of
'violence'. Well, there are some strong reasons for that. The horror stories
one has heard over time do not cease to happen. The latest in the series is
the target killing of student leader Wasif Aziz, an Islami Jamiat Tulaba (IJT)
representative, in Karachi. It triggered a blame game of sorts, because the
IJT blamed the deadly act on its rival student organisation, and vice versa.
to veteran student union leaders, the phenomenon of violence at campus can be
traced back to the late 1970s. The situation, they claim, got worse after
General Zia's Martial Law. The Afghan Jihad brought the Kalashnikov culture
into the varsities and, for the very first time, arms were seen openly in
educational institutions in the country. The 1980s and 90s saw the emergence
of the student wings of different political parties that were often pitched
against each other.
have reached a point where most public universities in Pakistan are home to
one police sub-station (police chauki) each, established to bar students from
taking part in 'violent', on-campus activities. These sub-stations were set
up on the request of the concerned administration to eliminate violence from
the old student leaders blame IJT for bringing the arms and violence in
Sarwar, General Secretary Democratic Student Federation, the student wing of
Communist Party Pakistan in 1953-54, declares that IJT's representation, in
his time, was minimal in the educational institutions in Sindh, with the
result that there were no clashes among different student groups.
most dangerous weapon used in my student days was knuckle-dusters," he
tells TNS. According to him, it was the government that would use power
against student unions, "In 1953, the government agencies used arms
against a rally of students and shot more than seven students. They were only
demanding reduction in fees."
that after 1956, the year when he started his professional life, IJT had
formed 'thunder squads' with the mandate to use violence against the students
belonging to other groups.
to data collected by none other than IJT, during the period 1947 to 1984, the
year the student politics was banned, a total of 151 student clashes occurred
in different educational institutions of Pakistan in which a total of 13
students were killed (including those murdered by police), 248 were injured,
800 arrested, and 110 rusticated from their campuses. In the next twenty
years, between 1984 and 2004, at least 525 student clashes occurred in which
165 students were killed and 1210 injured. The number of students arrested
during this period was 7235 while 985 were thrown out from their educational
institutions. Though IJT offers no proper data post-2004, it records the
killing of at least seven students in Karachi alone.
Afghan war, according to students belonging to the Left, offered most IJT
workers an opportunity to acquire guerilla war training, and start target
killing in educational institutions to eliminate their opponents. "The
highest level of violence in universities and colleges was seen after the
Afghan Jihad," says Amjad Minhas who was Secretary DSF Punjab chapter,
back in 1981. He was in IJT from 1974 to 1980 and remained its 'Rukan' -- the
highest rank offered to a student.
Bhutto regime saw Hanif Barkat as its first victim of student clashes in
Punjab. Hanif was killed in 1972 and Hafiz Salman Butt of IJT was nominated
in the above mentioned murder case," Minhas says.
Zia's Martial Law, IJT had only one torture cell in Lahore -- in the Punjab
University. But, later, it set up its torture cells in almost every public
educational institution in Lahore. In the year 1983, they abducted Khawaja
Saad Rafique of Muslim Students Federation (MSF) and tortured him badly. He
then organised MSF with the help of his student friends like Riaz Fatyana,
Arshed Amin Chaudhry, Atif Chaudhry, using the same tactics against IJT. Many
students were killed because of this tussle in Punjab. While in Sindh,
violent clashes among All Pakistan Mohajir Students Organisation (APMSO),
People's Student Federation (PSF) and IJT started during the same era,"
that after helping IJT to organise, Ziaul Haq later (in 1984) banned student
unions because the military government saw it as a threat to its authority.
denies all these 'allegations'. Rashid Naseem, General Secretary, Jamaat-e-Islam,
Sindh Province, and Nazim-e-Aala IJT in 1984-85 tells TNS that violence among
students started during Bhutto's regime when the government helped to induct
PSF in educational institutions. Later, it was triggered by APMSO in Karachi.
"Every action has a reaction. If somebody uses power against you, what
should you do?" questions Rashid. "Most of the casualties in
educational institutions occurred after the governments banned student
Aftab, member of MQM Rabta Committee, who remained a member of the central
committee of APMSO from 1993 to1997, says their student wing was only
established in 1978 while IJT's violence has a long history. "It was IJT
that brought arms into the educational institutes," he says, adding that
in February 1983, IJT banned the entry of APMSO in Jamia Karachi by force.
"Their workers killed many of our workers. So far at least 25 students
from APMSO have been killed, most of them targeted by IJT. Even now when we
are in power the students belonging to APMSO can not enter many educational
institutions in Karachi."
May 12, the IJT workers in Government College of Technology did not allow
students belonging to MQM to take exam, says Waseem. He thinks that IJT was
given a mandate from establishment to prove student politics as a dangerous
activity. "Because it is the only platform in Pakistan that provides
opportunity to middle and lower classes in society to emerge on national
Naseem, on the other hand, thinks that those who can ban the entry of CJ in
the city can also ban their entry in a university. He says everybody knows
who is spreading violence.
politically conscious students of Islamia College, Peshawar -- that later
laid the foundation for the University of Peshawar (UoP) led by Khan Abdul
Qayyum Khan -- took to the streets during the Khilafat Movement and Hijrat
Movement. Later, they played a key role during the freedom movement. They
continued to participate in political affairs during the Zia regime when
curbs were imposed on their activities. Muslim Students Federation (MSF), a
student wing of the Pakistan Muslim League, had been dominant for quite a
long time after the establishment of the UoP, followed by Islami Jamiat
Talaba (IJT). People's Students Federation (PSF), however, stole the show
when Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto assumed power.
sprawling campus of the Peshawar University, spread over 1050 acres, has
always been a nursery of budding politicians. Like the rest of the
institutions, curbs were imposed on student politics after the military
government took over in late 70s. The PSF, Pakhtun Students Federation, IJT
and DSF began violent protests against the curbs but failed.
IJT leader, Sirajul Haq has not only been the provincial chief of JI but also
served as senior minister in the first-ever MMA government. A firebrand
student leader Siraj rose from Peshawar and later headed the IJT twice as its
central chief. Apart from him, Senator Murad Ali Shah, MNA and provincial
general secretary of the MMA, Shabbir Ahmad, former General Secretary Mushtaq
Ahmad, provincial ministers Shahraz Khan, Fazal Rabbani, Inayatullah and
Hafiz Hashmat are among the sitting top government functionaries who were
involved in politics during their student years at the University of
chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and incumbent provincial
chief of the Awami National Party, Afrasiab Khattak was also an active
student leader, associated with PkSF. Former ANP minister and now a key PPPP
leader, Farid Toofan along with Syed Qamar Abbas and several other
national-level leaders had also entered politics when they were students of
the Peshawar University.
international politics also mobilised the UoP students on different
occasions. They were among the first ones who took to the streets when US
invaded Iraq and when the Allied Forces attacked the neighbouring
Afghanistan. A number of localised bodies, like Marwat Students Union, Bajaur
Students Organisation, Dir Students Union and others, that have provided a
platform to the students of a particular tribe or area, also joined hands
with the popular student groups over these issues.
past few years, the IJT has been active to voice demand of the restoration of
Students Union. Although support comes from other student bodies IJT stands
alone in taking practical measures for this purpose. In a referendum held by
the students a few years back, IJT
claimed 88 per cent of the voters, including 5195 students and 75 teachers,
supporting the restoration of students' union activities in the educational
Student movements in Karachi that played a pivotal role in the democratic upsurges in Pakistan
By Shahid Husain
Hardly a few years after
Pakistan achieved independence, the students of Karachi under the banner of
Democratic Students Federation (DSF), led by Mohammad Sarwar, a student of
Karachi's prestigious Dow Medical College (DMC) spearheaded a movement that
sent shock waves in the echelons of power.
On January 8, 1953, a
procession led by DSF was fired upon near Paradise Cinema in the heart of the
city, and seven students and a minor were brutally killed by the police. On
January 9, Karachiites observed a strike against police excesses and Khawaja
Nazimuddin had to impose a curfew in the city for a few days, indicating how
serious the situation became after the police firing.
The incident was so
shocking for the masses in general and the intelligentsia in particular that
eminent poets such as Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Mustafa Zaidi, Saroor Barabankvi and
Nazish Amrohvi wrote poems on the killings of innocent students and the then
prime minister Khawaja Nazimuddin had to accept all the demands of the
students, including the establishment of Karachi University.
"The DSF was so
powerful and 'deeply rooted in the students' that the then minister of
education would try to contact student leaders and the latter would simply
refuse to talk," recalls Dr Sarwar.
The popularity of DSF is
understandable since some of the most brilliant students were in its fold.
They later emerged as outstanding personalities in their respective fields.
Amongst them were Khawaja Moin Ahmed, later a professor of medicine at DMC,
Syed Haroon Ahmed, a leading psychiatrist, Adeeb-ul-Hasan Rizvi, a leading
urologist, and director Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT),
Mohammad Yousuf, Safdar Ali, and Ayub Mirza. The other reason for the
popularity of DSF was that it mainly focused on student problems and not on
The January 8 movement not
only impacted the then capital city of Karachi but the entire country,
especially the eastern wing (now Bangladesh) that was more conscious
The DSF leaders grabbed the
opportunity to organise themselves on the national plane and toured Punjab,
North West Frontier Province (NWFP), and East Pakistan to meet fellow
students that culminated in the formation of the All Pakistan Students
Organisation (APSO) on December 25, 1953. The popularity of the new body
could be gauged from the fact that one of the APSO leaders defeated seasoned
politician Nurul Amin in the elections.
But the ruling elite was
not happy with the popularity of the emerging student movement. More so
because it had decided to tilt towards the United States and enter into
military pacts such as SEATO and CENTO. It was not surprising that in the
changing political scenario, the DSF, APSO, and the Communist Party of
Pakistan were banned by the government in 1954. Even DSF's fortnightly
publication the Students Herald was banned.
Despite state repression,
the students did not cower and organised themselves under the umbrella of
National Students Federation (NSF). In February, 1961, the students brought
out a procession condemning the brutal murder of Patrice Lumamba. NSF leader
Hussain Naqi was seriously injured when he was attacked at DMC by the
so-called liberal organisation, Young Medicos Organisation (YMO).
In 1962, the NSF leadership
challenged the military dictator Ayub Khan and as a result, its top 12
leaders, often dubbed as 'bara imam' were externed from Karachi. These
included Hussain Naqi, Meraj Mohammad Khan, Syed Saeed Hasan, Johar Hussain,
Khurram Mirza, Amir Hyder Kazmi, Ali Mukhtar Rizvi, Nafees Siddiqui, Agha
Jaffer, Wahid Bashir and Nawaz Butt. The NSF leaders were punished because
they were against the Shareef Commission's recommendation of extending the
two-year degree course to a three-year degree course, in addition to their
movement that called for repealing the notorious University Ordinance.
Senior journalist Wahid
Basheer recalls that progressive students were often beaten up by the goons
of city administration and their meetings were disrupted.
"In 1963, Hussain Naqi
emerged victorious as president of Karachi University Students' Union but the
elections were declared void by the then vice chancellor Dr Ishtiaq Hussain
Qureshi. Interestingly, Naqi got elected in re-election but the
administration did not budge. Instead, it debarred Hussain Naqi from the
university," recalls Wahid Bashir.
During the presidential
elections in 1965 too under the 'Basic Democracy' system, NSF sided with
Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah and contributed immensely to her campaign. Though
Fatima Jinnah lost the elections, her daring attempt to oust Ayub made a
tremendous impact on the body politic of Pakistan.
The 1968-69 democratic
upsurge in Pakistan also owes its success to NSF that launched a movement in
October 1968 from Karachi and within a few months it became so popular that
Ayub had to announce he would not contest the next presidential elections.
Sadly enough, the gains of the democratic upsurge were nullified when yet
another military dictator General Yahya Khan staged a coup and usurped power.
The students of Karachi
should also be credited for opposing the genocide in the former East Pakistan
in 1971 when several student activists hailing from NSF and the Sindh
National Students Federation (SNSF) were arrested and tortured by the police.
Amongst the student activists who were rounded up in 1971 were Hidayat
Hussain, Tanveer Sheikh and Shahid Husain.
In the journalists'
movement of 1978, too, student activists from NSF, SNSF, Progressive Front,
and Sindhi Shakird Tehreek volunteered arrests. Amongst them were included
Jabbar Khattak, Zia Awan, Jan-e-Alam, Noor Baloch, Sadiq Jarchvi, Salim
Baloch, Khaliq Zardari, Mohammad Khan Solangi, Taj Mari and Imdad Chandio.
In 1978, All Pakistan
Muhajir Students Organisation (APMSO) came into being, led by Altaf Hussain
and Azeem Tariq that paved the way for Muhajir Qaumi Movement (MQM) that
later changed its name to Muttahida Qaumi Movement and student politics was
marred with ethnicity and violence.
Tauseef Ahmed Khan, an
associate professor of Mass Communication at the Urdu University, Karachi,
and a former NSF activist recalls that violence erupted at the university
campus in 1980 when Hussain Haqqani, an Islami Jamiat Tulaba (IJT) leader was
the president of the union.
"Hussain Haqqani hired
a notorious criminal Raja Javed to beat progressive students," recalls
"A ban on student
unions in 1984 and an easy availability of deadly weapons in the wake of the
Afghan War brought about a metamorphosis in student politics and an end to
healthy activities such as debates and literary societies, depriving the
community of a democratic culture and tolerance," says Khan.
When Zia declared that he would purge Pakistan of 'the scourge of politics' he meant what he said
By Tariq Bhatti
"In the first few
decades of Pakistan's existence, student politics was a symbol of the
students' socio-political awareness. But the 1980s and 90s saw the socially
sensitive and ideology-based political activism of students transform into
the gross manipulation of young minds by self-serving political powers,"
says former student leader Azizuddin Ahmed.
The youth has stopped being
idealistic, notes Azizuddin. Students involved in political debate could
connect with issues and had possible political solutions for them.
Depoliticisation is best
understood a negation of politicisation. According to Azizuddin,
politicisation is not only the awareness of an issue but also involves the
motivation to resolve it politically. "So depoliticisation essentially
would mean absence of consciousness and inability to respond."
The political dissociation
of majority students in public sector universities is partly because of their
refusal to associate themselves with the narrow ideological positions,
adhered staunchly by violent and non-democratic student nurseries of
rightwing political parties that dominate the campus landscape in most
places. The situation is further deteriorated due to the non-existence of
alternative student collectives.
A survey on political
leanings of students from public and private universities recorded 70 per
cent of interviewees of LUMS were against politics in educational
institutions as compared to 68 per cent who were in favour of it in public
universities. It may not be something new and shocking for many of the
readers. It is primarily because of apolitical environment of private
universities and overwhelming enrollment of students from upper classes of
society that believe in governance rather than politics.
When General Zia-ul-Haq
declared that he would purge Pakistan of 'the scourge of politics', he meant
what he said. Popular politics at the national level has disappeared from
Pakistan -- together with trade unions, peasant collectives, and student
groups. Idealism and dreaming for a new and better society is nearly
General Zia's martial law
made the longest interruption in the political process. With the abrogation
of the constitution, disbanding of political parties, fanning of fanaticism,
introducing biradari and sectarianism, and neutralisation of a significant
section of the political leadership through enticements, the political growth
of society was curtailed.
The students' involvement
in politics is discouraged; in fact they are asked to submit affidavits at
the time of admission in colleges and universities, declaring that they would
not take part in politics.
Students from Aligarh
University formed a mosaic of leadership that fought for the independence.
They, eventually, succeeded in winning a separate homeland for the Muslims of
subcontinent. But look at the irony of history that the country of their
dreams and visions banned students from entering into the arena of national
The history of student politics of East Pakistan till 1971 is recorded as 'all glorious' in today's Bangladesh. However, in the wake of military intervention into the affairs of Bengali politics, similar 'reforms' were introduced; that made student politics a forbidden tree that inevitably bears poisonous fruit.
The Punjab University (PU)
has been a hub of student politics for long. Established in 1882, the
university is one of the largest and oldest seats of learning in Pakistan.
After the country achieved Independence, the student politics at PU revolved
around socio-economic issues and those related directly to the welfare of the
However, in the 1960s and
70s, the university became a stronghold of leftists. Those were the days when
the National Students Federation (NSF) was popular among students all over
the country. The situation at the PU was not much different as NSF was
equally popular here.
Though the Islami Jamiat
Tulaba (IJT) was there, its activities were quite limited. Founded on
December 23, 1947, in Lahore, the IJT claimed to have a greater understanding
of issues, compared to the young NSF that comprised 'Surkhas' (Communists).
The rise of the IJT began
with the imposition of military dictatorship in 1977. Since left wing
political parties, trade unions and student organisations were the main
targets of the military ruler, all of them were dealt with, strictly. IJT,
the student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) flourished during this period as its
opponents were facing the wrath of the military regime. Though some students
representing student bodies like Pakistan Students Federation (PSF) and
Muslim Students Federation (MSF) could make their presence felt and win
individual seats in student bodies' elections, on the whole PU has been an
IJT sanctuary ever since.
Various old students of the
PU have claimed that lethal weapons were first introduced in universities
during General Zia's regime. The allegations of the use of violence by
'religious student groups claiming to be the sole moral guardians of society'
were also first raised during this period. Since then, there have been
countless incidents of bashing up of students conversing with members of the
opposite sex, at the hands of the IJT.
The IJT remained the
primary force in the PU and its influence increased to such an extent that
each and every administrative decision was taken after consultation with its
officeholders. The opponents of IJT claim that most of the teachers recruited
during the late 70s and afterwards were once IJT or JI supporters.
Even after the imposition
of ban, the IJT did not stop its activities and kept exerting its influence.
The IJT today nominates nazims to look after hostel matters, departmental
matters, co-curricular and sports activities and so on. Nominations are made
as there can be no elections due to the ban. The students body holds annual
book fair and other functions under its banner despite being unauthorised to
Other student bodies at PU
cannot follow suit as according to them IJT is still benefiting from the
influence it had gained in the 1970s and 1980s. They claim that even the
faculty has a soft corner for IJT whose members can easily avoid disciplinary
-- Shahzada Irfan Ahmed
Balochistan University's share...
By Muhammad Ejaz Khan
Despite the ban on
student politics in the educational institutions of Balochistan, a large
number of student organisations (SOs) have been working not only in the
University of Balochistan, Quetta, but also all other colleges since decades.
Most of them are student wings of politico-religious and nationalist parties.
The main student organisation in the province is the Baloch Students'
Organisation that has two factions: The student wing of Balochistan National
Party (BNP-Mengal) and National Party (NP). There also exists the Pashtoon
Students' Organisation (PSO), which is the student wing of Pakhtoon Khwa
Milli Awami Party (PKMAP).
All these student
organisations protect the interests of the party with which they are
affiliated. In their bid to raise their membership, they facilitate the
students in securing admissions, especially for those who do not meet the
admission requirements mainly because of low scores. In addition to the
admission-related problems of the new comers, the organisations also help
them in getting accomodation in the hostels.
In addition, the
students organisations hold lectures about Baloch and Pakhtun nationalism to
make them 'ideological nationalists'. The SOs even have their 'penetration'
in the provision of jobs in the public and private sector organisations with
the full backing of their respective political parties.
Since its inception in
1967, the BSO worked closely with the National Awami Party (NAP). But the
students were by no means mere camp followers. They were a vocal faction in
the party. In spite of its close association with the NAP, the BSO retained
an independent posture and acted with more fervour than expected from a
students' body. The NAP rapprochement with the People's Party in 1972 was
severely opposed by BSO because of inadequate guarantees of provincial
autonomy in the PPP-sponsored constitution.
The BSO is famous for
the role it played in Baloch politics, as early as 1968. It was in the
vanguard of the nationalist movement launched by the NAP (National Awami
Party) and its Baloch leaders. The defunct NAP greatly valued the
organisation and its spirited youth in the struggle. Sardar Ataullah Mengal
and late Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti in their speeches demanded national right of
self-determination for the people of Balochistan.
The most significant
event in the history of BSO was the execution of one of its active members,
Shaheed Hameed Baloch, on the charge of the attempted murder of one Colonel
Khalfan, a foreign delegate from the Sultanate of Oman, in Turbat in 1979.
Hameed, in his last will before his execution, appealed to the students to
shun their differences and work for the 'great Baloch cause'."