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PA unanimously resolves to lift ban on student unions in Sindh

November 05, 2019

The Sindh Assembly on Monday unanimously passed a resolution calling upon the provincial government to lift the ban on the student unions in the educational institutions of the province in accordance with the constitution.

A lawmaker of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Nida Khuhro, tabled the resolution with the legislators on the opposition benches also supporting it. The resolution passed by the provincial assembly was against a decades-old decision taken during a past dictatorial regime to ban the student unions in the public sector universities and colleges.

The resolution read: “This House resolves and recommends the Government of Sindh to lift the ban on the students unions in the educational institutions of Sindh in the light of the Article 16 “Freedom of Assembly” and Article 17 “Freedom of Association” of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan 1973. The student unions are a major forum for organizing social activities and for addressing a range of academic and welfare issues through collective representation of students.

It will also allow students to practice upon their skills of diplomacy, debate, politics, and leadership. “The House further recommends the government of Sindh instead of imposing ban on the students unions, they should strictly be regulated through the code of conduct in order to avoid any conflict amongst the different student organizations. Hence, this important step will help in reviving the student unions as well as maintain healthy environment within the educational institutions of Sindh.”

Speaking on her resolution, Khuhro said student organisations had played an important role in the national politics. She added that all the big names of the national politics had remained associated with some of the student organisations in their past.

MPA of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Khurrum Sher Zaman said the provincial governments were empowered in accordance with the 18th constitutional amendment to take a decision to restore the student unions. He said his party would support the resolution as such a task should have been undertaken 10 years back.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) legislator Muhammad Hussain Khan said such curbs should have been lifted as soon as the dictatorial regimes of the past came to an end. He said some 31 years had gone in vain in this regard, which showed negligence of everyone.

The student and labour unions had always provided political leadership for the country, he remarked, adding that the MQM-P would support the resolution. Sindh Women Development Minister Syeda Shehla Raza said such a ban had been placed during the past dictatorial regime to keep people silent. She added that the PPP wanted students to take part in politics in order to bring change in the future.

She was of the view that parliamentarians were under an obligation to train students for taking part in politics. Sindh Agriculture Minister Muhammad Ismail Rahoo said students were at the forefront of the struggle carried out during the past in the movement against the formation of one-unit in the country.

Other lawmakers in the house also recalled services of students in the restoration of democracy in the country.

Street crime

Responding to a call-attention notice of Zaman, Sindh Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mukesh Kumar Chawla said the rate of occurrence of street crime incidents in Karachi had decreased compared to the past regimes.

Poverty, unemployment, and inflation had been the reasons behind the rising incidents of street crime in the city, Chawla said. He added that owing to ill-advised policies of the federal government, people were being rendered jobless during the time of phenomenal inflation, which was causing people to choose the path of crime.

The parliamentary affairs minister said the federal government should devise such policies which would be helpful in reversing the trend of price-hike in the country to decrease the occurrence of crimes.

Speaking on his call-attention notice, the PTI MPA said some 13,000 motor vehicles were snatched or stolen in the city during the last 10 months, while 31,000 mobile phones were snatched and 31 people killed during the same time as they tried to resist such robbery attempts.

Katchi Abadis

Meanwhile, speaking during the question hour of the session, Sindh Human Settlement Minister Ghulam Murtaza Baloch said Karachi had some 575 Katchi Abadis (shanty settlements), of which 469 had been notified by the government. Some 32,000 housing units of different Katchi Abadis had been regularised, he added.

He said there were total 1,414 Katchi Abadis in the province, of which 1,006 had been notified and surveys for the rest were being carried out. He said a Katchi Abadi should at least comprise 70 houses and it should have come to existence before 1997, as per the law.

The provincial minister said anti-social elements were involved in encroaching upon land of the Pakistan Railways, port authorities and the other federal entities in the city to establish illegal settlements. He asked such institutions to duly protect their land.

Criticising the Sindh government, MQM-P lawmaker Jawed Hanif said the entire Karachi had been turned into a Katchi Abadi.

Ghani promises law

Meanwhile, speaking at a protest demonstration outside the Karachi Press Club on Monday, Sindh Information Minister Saeed Ghani said the provincial government would soon get a bill passed from the Sindh Assembly to lift the ban on student unions in the educational institutions of the province.

The protest had been organised by the Sindh Peoples Students Federation against the ban on student unions.

Ghani said nobody was required to possess an academic degree to practise politics. He added that politics, however, required training for which colleges and universities served as perfect training centres.

He said if the PPP felt the need, it would also raise its voice in the National Assembly and Senate on the issue.

He said the Pakistan Peoples Party chairman was also against the ban on student unions and on several occasions he had spoken about it.

Ghani claimed that former PPP prime minister Benazir Bhutto had also tried to restore the students’ unions but certain elements obstructed her. He said the Sindh Assembly would not just raise its unanimous voice against the ban but it would also pass a law to restore the student unions in Sindh.

He said it was high time that the youth in the country were united against the incompetent and ineligible rulers of the country who had ruined the economy and also acted against the independence of judiciary and media.