Student politics in Pakistan
By Tahir Khan
Youth is an asset for any country. They are the source of capable human resource and movers of the wheel of development of the country. They have the power to perform any of the activity and bring honor and respect for the country. Youth of Pakistan also has left no stone unturned to perform something big and bring honor to the country.
According to Comprehensive National Human Development Report, launched by UNDP, Pakistan is one of the youngest countries in the world having 64% of youth population, next to Afghanistan in South Asia in respect vis-a-vis young population. A large portion of this population in Pakistan is students. These students are in the phase of learning. They try to understand nearly everything that comes to their way with the help of various sources. They learn from their political leaders and political happenings too. Hence, it is their right to get involved into the politics and policies of their country; to praise what is good in the country and to criticize what is bad. Keeping in view this point, students must be provided with a platform where they may raise their voice regarding the problems faced by them; a platform for socio-political and economic discussions. This platform is really necessary because student politics is nursery to future leadership.
Historically, student politics was banned by General Zia’s regime step by step beginning from ban on student politics in Islamabad in January, 1984 to the whole country within few months. He feared that students could be a threat to his regime and could begin a wave of protest against him. After him, student unions and student politics were allowed in the country for a short period of time till they were again banned by the Supreme Court of the country, after some violent activities by the students. However, it is pertinent to mention that Supreme Court in 1993 judgement had banned politics within campus but had stressed for a platform where students may indulge in intellectual discussions and debates. In this regard, there are certainly many pros and some cons of student politics in Pakistan.
The major advantage of student politics is the political training. Indeed, when students would be involved in politics from their college and university level; they are trained to distinguish between positive and negative aspects of politics in their country. They would practically know how people are elected democratically, how democracy and its institutions are being run and how political alliances are formed and dissolved. This creates awareness regarding democracy and encourages participation. Hence, when a student grows old, he knows all good and bad trends and becomes a good and far-sighted politician and contributes positively to the national politics of the country.
Further, these student political organizations are the hub of healthy discussions. An example to site here is, the study circle conducted by students of Mehran Students’ Council of Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad. In this Circle students discuss various issues related to politics, philosophy, mysticism and social evils prevailing in our society. They not only discuss those issues but also try to find out their viable solutions too.
Additionally, student politics is the vital source of demanding rights and basic facilities in colleges and universities. Recent of wave of student protests in Sindh University, in Punjab University, Balochistan University and in Faiz festival is the clear example of those hard-pressed demands for the facilities and for lifting the ban on student politics throughout the country.
Besides, student unions organize various educational and entertainment events for the recreation of their fellow friends. These events are a good source of information, knowledge and entertainment for the students. In this connection, book fair, organized by students of Karachi University; Latif day, organized by Sindhi students of Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad and other cultural and entertainment activities organized by students of various universities are worth mentioning.
Conversely, nearly everything in the world has two sides, student politics has its darker side too. The most dangerous aspect of student politics, in this regard, is infightings and violent activities among rival parties. Many of the students suffer injuries in those quarrels. These quarrels create an atmosphere of fear in those institutions
Another serious negative aspect of student politics is victimization of new inductees in the form of rigging. This not only creates fear in new students but also becomes cause of above-mentioned quarrels.
Moreover, some student political leaders pressurize institutions’ administration and teaching staff to get some vested interests, while others are exploited by the local politicians. Those politicians use those students for getting personal gains from college, university or local authorities. Due to this, students not only forget their real object of getting education but also become involved in criminal activities and ultimately lose their valuable time, money and their future.
However, positives of student politics overweigh the negatives, as their disputes and differences are amicably resolved by third party of the students. Here, example of Quaid-e-Azam University is again worth noting where if any dispute occurs between any two Councils, an action committee called Quaidian Students’ Federation comes to their quick rescue and performs role of a mediator and resolves their dispute.
By the way, to control rigging is the task of that college and university; meanwhile, student leaders should create awareness regarding the trauma of rigging and should take practical steps to resolve that issue.
Lastly, student leaders should be elected fairly through democratic process of voting without any outside involvement as this will infuse them democratic ideals. In this way, merit based and capable leaders would join student politics and provide Pakistan with future leaders who would try their best to resolve issues faced by Pakistan and make their country proud in the eyes of world leaders. This will also strengthen our institutions, as unfortunately, in our country personalities are given precedence over the institutions which is inimical to the democratic dispensation.
The writer has completed MPhil in IR from School of Politics and IR, QAU, Islamabad and is currently a researcher in social and political affairs. email: email@example.com