Sindh govt approves bill to restore student unions

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KARACHI: The Sindh cabinet today (Dec 9) approved a bill to restore the student unions in provincial educational institutes, which will be passed after consultation with all stakeholders.

Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah chaired the cabinet meeting which was attended by chief secretary, provincial ministers, advisors and concerned officials.

According to the spokesman of Sindh government, the bill will be sent to the Standing Committee on Law after presenting it in the Assembly. The bill will be passed by the Sindh Assembly after consultation with stakeholders.

The bill stated that the task of the student union will be to improve social and academic welfare, and to maintain the discipline on campus. The union will comprise of seven to 11 student-members.

On Nov 29, Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry on Friday expressed his support for student unions in educational institutes.

The federal minister took to Twitter to show his support for the demand being raised, as long as the student union’s behavior is kept under a close watch.

The Tweet read: “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.”

It has been 35 years since students in Pakistan were deprived of a platform that allowed them to practice upon their skills of diplomacy, debate, politics and leadership.

In 1984, then ruler of the country, late General Zia ul Haq, proclaimed the ban on student politics at university and college campuses across the country. The move was apparently an attempt to curb increasing violence and clashes between students on the Left and Right sides of the ideological divide. Ironically, the continued ban has not only failed to end violence on campuses, but also resulted in stifling the intellectual growth and social development of students.

The ban on student unions was briefly lifted in 1988 by the regime of prime minister Benazir Bhutto, but was challenged in the Supreme Court of Pakistan in 1990. The apex court then re-imposed the ban in 1993. Nonetheless, there have been discussions about reviving the unions, but without much progress. In his address to parliament after getting elected as prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani vowed to restore student unions. However, his government failed to keep the promise.

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