Punjab police have registered a First Information Report (FIR) against the participants of the recent Student March on sedition charges. Complainant Sub-Inspector Mohammad Nawaz said he was on patrol when he received information that a rally of 250-300 people was being taken out. He said he reached Faisal Chowk on The Mall where the protesters were forcibly blocking the road to set up a stage to deliver speeches.
We have been nominated in an FIR. We met Governor who assured us of support. Ministers tweeted in our support. Protestors gathered & dispersed peacefully.
Do we even have a govt in our country? Can we trust anybody's words?
We are peaceful citizens & will remain undeterred. pic.twitter.com/KiixJt1uRj
— Ammar Ali Jan (@ammaralijan) December 1, 2019
In the above tweet, Dr. Ammar Ali Jan is referring to the recent tweet of Federal Minister Fawad Chaudhary.
I fully support Restoration of students unions, ban on students unions is anti democratic,we can always ensure that students politics must remain violence free and regulations may be introduced for smooth functioning but ban on students politics amounts to limit future politics
— Ch Fawad Hussain (@fawadchaudhry) November 29, 2019
“The speakers incited the students against the state and its institutions and speeches and slogans were recorded on mobile phones so they couldn’t be checked through PPIC3 cameras,” he claimed.
Senator Sherry Rehman questioned why has an FIR been registered against the peaceful protesters who have legitimate demands?
Why has an FIR been slapped on peacefully protesting students? They have a right to air their views, whether we agree or disagree with any or all. As far as I know they were only demanding restoration of unions and demilitarisation of campuses etc. Those r all legitimate asks. https://t.co/I7z24On8HG
— SenatorSherryRehman (@sherryrehman) December 1, 2019
The Civil Lines police on behalf of the state registered a case on sedition charges against the march’s organizers, including Ammar Ali Jan, Farooq Tariq, Iqbal Lala (father of Mashal Khan who was lynched over allegation of blasphemy in Abdul Wali Khan University, Mardan), Alamgir Wazir, Mohammad Shabbir and Kamil Khan, besides 250-300 unidentified participants.
Analysts criticized the premier particularly for including the name of Iqbal Lala.
And two years later, when @ImranKhanPTI’s party is in power, Mashal Khan’s father has been nominated in an FIR that includes sedition for supporting #StudentsSolidarityMarch and calling for restoration of student unions
Truly “naya” way of acknowledging his courage and dignity https://t.co/OJVGufgZDC
— Reema Omer (@reema_omer) December 1, 2019
Journalist Amber Shamsi asked the Information Minister Punjab Mr. Aslam Iqbal about the case registered against the peaceful protesters. The minister did not answer the question rather claimed that he could not say several things in front of the camera.
Punjab Info Minister Mian Aslam Iqbal on why an FIR has been registered against @ammaralijan @FarooqTariq3 and Mashal Khan’s father Iqbal Lala and others after the march. I asked him why them and not others in other cities, this is what he said to say #StudentSolidarityMarch https://t.co/i3SorUmFvL
— Amber Rahim Shamsi (@AmberRShamsi) December 1, 2019
Students across Pakistan protested with a demand for lifting the ban from student unions in all colleges and universities of the country on November 29. Apart from some other demands, the core demand was to give students the lawful right to constitute unions of their own at the campuses.
Thousands of students across Pakistan on Friday took out rallies in support of #StudentsSolidarityMarch demanding restorations of student unions, demilitarization of campuses, halt to budget cuts in higher eduction and an end to sexual harassment on campuses. pic.twitter.com/nn6r0hBpOr
— VOA DEEWA (@voadeewa) November 29, 2019
Young university students initiated the campaign from Lahore which, with the help of public intellectuals and civil society, spread across the country. Student’ leaders demanded the present government take immediate steps in order to show its seriousness in upgrading the polarized and class-based education system of Pakistan.
Prime Minister Imran Khan Announces to Restore Student Unions
Last night Prime Minister Imran Khan said in a tweet that universities play the main role in grooming future leaders, therefore, unions are important to be restored.
Universities groom future leaders of the country & student unions form an integral part of this grooming. Unfortunately, in Pakistan universities' student unions became violent battlegrounds & completely destroyed the intellectual atmosphere on campuses.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) December 1, 2019
He also said that there shall be a comprehensive mechanism to restore student unions in Pakistan.
We will establish a comprehensive & enforceable code of conduct, learning from the best practices in internationally renowned universities, so that we can restore & enable student unions to play their part in positively grooming our youth as future leaders of the country.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) December 1, 2019
However, journalist Anwar Lodhi warned the premier not to allow these unions to work on the campuses since they may disrupt order and could be hijacked by political parties.
PM @ImranKhanPTI sb.
Don't allow student Unions. Unions will be high jacked by the political parties. If you still think that unions shoild be allowed then postpone this plan for at least ten years when, hopefully, Pak will be more stable economically and politically.
— Anwar Lodhi (@AnwarLodhi) December 1, 2019
G-M Pitafi, who teaches Politics and International Relations at the University of Management and Technology, Lahore, says that “let’s be clear about one thing. I do not buy any arguments like we are a society where there is no rule of law and a society without objective morals; therefore, we cannot have students with tough questions, student unions, rationality or demand for genuine civil supremacy.
These are various (informal) manifestations of the doctrine of necessity, which is often used by the courts in Pakistan to legitimize what is otherwise illegitimate,” he said.
Moreover, he said that “there are arguments suggesting that these unions shall become a target of the mainstream political parties for their political interests. This is true. But what does it imply? Ban student unions? Does it sound like a great idea? In my opinion, the government (state) is responsible to keep the student unions independent of external support so that nobody can exploit them. In this regard, rules can be made after careful analysis of the current circumstances”.
He emphasized the idea that if something is procedurally incorrect or dysfunctional we need to ensure new procedures to fix it, not to eradicate the idea itself and become ‘unnecessarily protectionists’.