The restoration of the students unions in Pakistan has been hailed as a historic moment. While lifting the ban, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani very rightly called the students unions the nurseries of national politics. This is the forum that provides the budding young men opportunities to handle their affairs in a smaller circle. This experience comes very handy when they join a bigger circle.
Those who participate in students politics learn to represent their community. They handle their problems and are accountable before their fellows. They get the training of testing their ability of leadership is practice enables them in the after years to bring solutions to the problems of bigger magnitude.
We can mention here so many leaders who have risen to eminence through this process of grooming. Yousuf Raza Gilani, Javed Hashmi, Sheikh Rasheed, Liaqat Baloch, Rana Sohail, Rana Mehboob are a few names from the present-day scenario. In the past, students had also been playing an important role in promoting various movements of national significance.
The creation of Pakistan is indebted to the role played by the students of that time. After the emergence of Pakistan, students unions in colleges and universities used to be a platform for conducting socio-cultural activities. The office-bearers were the youngsters of exceptional qualities both in academic and co-curricular fields. They were very humble in their behavior and had a keen desire to serve others.
The deterioration started when the military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq replaced the political government in 1977. To prolong his undemocratic rule, he highjacked the students’ unions. He penetrated armed elements in Colleges and universities to create unrest. Firearms were used frequently to curb pro-democratic elements. Sectarian, ethnic and regional prejudices were promoted and Special agents were planted to upset the decorum of the institutions.
These undemocratic forces spoiled the real spirit of trade-unionism and encouraged violence and lawlessness of the worst degree. Once it used to be a gentlemanly activity, but during the military regime, it turned into a warlike activity. Wholesale bloodshed shocked the people. So, in 1984, a ban was imposed on all such activities. This last window from where fresh air could come was also closed once for all.
This ban for twenty-four long years had no justification at all. If a vital part of the body stops functioning properly its amputation is not a remedy. This ban on the students unions did not close the chapter of violence from our society. We had more violence, more bloodshed, more loss of life and property during these years. Students’ unions actually used to provide an outlet to the sentiments that agitated the dissatisfied youth.
Depriving our young generation of their genuine rights will be against the spirit of democracy. Participation in the activities of unions and societies will enable them to learn and practice leadership skills. It will teach them how to organize co-curricular activities, Social work, sports, debates, literary circles. It will boost up their confidence. They will learn how to present their problems before the administration and how to get them solved.
If the authorities remain impartial and caring, this restoration of students’ unions. will bring good results. All our young men are not inclined to violence. They become violent only when they are deprived of their rights. Those who violate the code of conduct and spoil the discipline of the campus without justification should be dealt with an iron hand. Such cases are only a few in number. For their sake, we should not sacrifice the majority of the youth.