The portrait of student politics has been in constant debate throughout the years. Yet it has been failed to earn a clear picture. If we have a look at the roots of student politics then, one can see that it emerged in the late 1900s before the partition of India. The Muslim Students Federation (MSF) was the initial of students’ unionization. It aimed to facilitate the Muslim League with its vision of an independent country for the Muslim community. Thus, the initiation of the Muslim Students Federation cultivated strong roots for student politics which has grown widely over a period. However, the ban on students’ political movements is unjustified since Article 17 of the Constitution specifies that forming organizations is a fundamental right of every student.
When one hears the term”Student politics” his mind starts shaping images of riots and violence within the organization or with the state. However, the role of student politics is more than what has been narrated about it.
The role of students has been incredibly great in the history of Pakistan. Be it their struggles for an independent nation in the late colonial era or their dynamic efforts against the military dictatorship of Ayub Khan in the late 1960s. They were supposed to be valuable political players in the history of Pakistan. Their contribution to national matters is what encouraged them to emerge as valuable citizens. Through student unions, students were able to raise voice against inequalities in the society. ”students were meant to grow into confident and useful citizens, while at the same time being forced to keep aloof from what goes on outside of their institutions.”
The lines from ”twenty years of the student movement of Pakistan”, a pamphlet which was published in 1967, can perfectly illustrate the current situation of the students’ political movements which have been restricted since General Zia’s tenure. Even in most universities, students are liable to sign an affidavit assuring that they will not be indulged in any political movement on the campus.
Undoubtedly, youth plays a pivotal role in a country. They are gems who can bring a nation to immense prosperity. They own the ability to execute any difficult tasks and are capable of fulfilling the needs of a country. According to the comprehensive National Human Development reports, of the UNDP, Pakistan has the majority of youth population after Afghanistan in South Asia. It means that Pakistan is a country where the youth population has dominance and if the youth is prohibited to be involve in political affairs then who will be at the frontline and lead the nation. Students are always in the process of analyzing and trying to understand everything which is going on around them. They analyze political leaders and political matters of the state. It is their right to be aware of political matters and raise their voice against injustice and inequalities. A platform must be provided to them where they can negotiate on socio-political and economical circumstances. Student politics works like a farm where dynamic leaders grow for future politics.
One of the major benefits of student politics is that they get trained to deal with political matters. They develop the skill to distinguish between wrong and right. They will bring new ideas to run the democracy more efficiently. Consequently, a state will acquire more royal and productive leaders who serve the nation more effectively. Moreover, student organizations are the nucleus of informative discussions. It is a vital source for stressing their issues and fundamental rights in colleges and universities. However, the student community works like a mirror that reflects the mentality of the entire nation. Their ideology and participation in politics is not only a matter of need but also their basic right according to Article 17 of the Constitution. Further, the significant role of student unions can be witnessed in every aspect of life. It can be measured by the example of France president Charles de Gaulle, how he knelt down to students’ demand for a new election. He was compelled to call for new elections when a large number of students and teachers protested against him.
However, students are constantly working hard for the revival of their political rights since they have been restricted by General Zia ul Haq in 1984 on the pretext that it leads to violence in educational institutions. Nonetheless, despite the ban on student unions and their political activities on campuses, more and more riots are emerging in education entities. It merely proves that student politics is not the root cause of rising violence, but the mismanagement of the officials and state holders who are failed to tackle down students’ concerns.
Students from 53 cities from all over Pakistan gathered together on November 19, 2019, and conducted a march to draw the attention of the incumbent government and opposition leaders for the restoration of student unionization. But except false promises from the political leaders, no practical action has been taken in this regard.
Pakistan has a great potential for the younger population. The demand for political rights and freedoms of expression in educational sectors is what will assist Pakistan in achieving a developed democratic future. Student unionization features more skillful leaders for a nation as a society, a nation, and even the world can not run probably without the contribution of the youth. The youth of Pakistan has been neglected for more than three decades and will remain vulnerable if the state will not have a glimpse at their legitimate demands. It a great opportunity for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) regime to remove the unfair ban on students’ political movements and prove the promises that once have been made by him.
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