Peshawar University fiasco: A shame for democracy
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2018-10-06 13:26:45

Peshawar University fiasco: A shame for democracy

On Thursday, police baton-charged Peshawar University students protesting against a 10pc increase in semester fees, as if they were on a battlefield against an unarmed ‘enemy’. Several students were arrested while others sustained injuries. As soon as the news hit the air waves, the finger-pointing and blame game began.

 

The students maintained that their agitation was peaceful. It also didn’t come out of the blue. The students had presented a list of demands, which included their issues with hostels, transport and registration.

 

In 2017, with the announcement of a new BSc department, they were forced to pay Rs36,000 for just one semester. In comparison, in 2008, they were paying much less — Rs10,000. At that time, a visit by a government official had eased some of their tensions. But the latest announcement just added salt to their wounds.

 

During the ANP’s tenure, several public-sector universities were inaugurated in KP, partly to lift some of the pressure off PU. However, political appointments were made and the fees was raised. Mashal Khan’s lynching at Mardan University is one extreme example of the misuse of power by a corrupt administration.

Student unions were first banned in 1984 during the Ziaul Haq dictatorship. Violence and lawlessness had increased on campus, but observers believe it was also because Gen Zia was afraid that students would challenge his regime (as they had Gen Ayub’s). Unions were reinstated shortly during Benazir Bhutto’s tenure in 1988, but then the Supreme Court banned politics on campus. The absence of student unions — legitimate bodies for student representation — is disempowering. Instead of preparing democratic citizens, cultivating an environment of respectful debate, and teaching them to articulate their grievances peacefully, students are reduced to consumers or criminals. There are genuine fears that student politics will resemble the worst of the 1980s and 1990s, with gangs operating on campuses. But suppressing what is legitimate often gives rise to the unlawful. And then we have a bigger monster on our hands.

Dawn.com

Categories:   Pakistan ،
Tags:   ANP ، Peshawar University ، Fee hike ،
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