Student and Politics
edited: Monday, June 25, 2001
By Shezray Faisal
Posted: Monday, June 25, 2001
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Politics is a dirty game, what's more is that it pollutes the youth too. Read and see how it in done.
THE GLARE OF THE NIGHT LAMP PINCHED HIS EYES. THE ROOM WAS SERENE BUT HIS CONSCIENCE WAS IN A CHAOTIC TURMOIL. THE SAGE OF ALIGHAR HAD UTTERED A BAN ON POLITICS; AND THE BAN MUST STAND FIRM. THE ORACLE HAD SPOKEN...AND HIS WORD WAS FINAL!!!
He squeezed his eyes shut, but the little voice at the back of his head continued to nag him. Little did he know that that night, away from his small room in the big city, lots of similar rooms existed and the very same voice mercilessly badgered the occupants of those rooms too...till they relented!
The march of events gave the final push; the next day revealed another march... the march of the Muslim youth! Their plunge into the political movement heralded the dawn of a new political era.
The Muslims were poorly equipped for a political venture and educationally, economically and socially they were touching their nadir. Sir Syed Ahmad Khan insisted that the Muslim youth should keep themselves aloof from political agitation and concentrate upon their educational uplift. However, in light of the turbulence of that era, it was difficult to shut one's eyes against the political requirements and consequently, the youth generously presented themselves and their services were eagerly utilized.
But do you know where things went wrong? After independence, the youth forgot to retract and return to their inexplicable duty - education; and the busy leaders forgot to remind them. Now those laudable statesmen have long gone to be replaced by politicians who instead of banning politics from educational institutions further hearten them and exploit the students for their egotistic purposes and personal ends. Such are today's national leaders in Pakistan!
Bringing national politics into colleges and universities is criminal. Instead of properly harnessing their energies to serve the national cause, the joie de vivre and zest of the students is callously misused.
The youth are not interested in politics, not to the extent of stirring trouble! The politicians cunningly carp at touchy issues, concerning universities and colleges, to make the susceptible students agitate. The youth is easy to lead but difficult to drive...easy to govern but impossible to enslave. At this stage, the youthful spirit strays from its path of wisdom reluctantly, but returns willingly. When the whirlwind of youth blows dust and sand, the eyes are blinded for some time.
Parties like the Jamat-e-Islami, Pakistan Peoples Party, Muslim League, etc. have student federations such as the Peoples Student Federation, the Muslim Student Federation, and so on. What do they do? I'll tell you! They trace out the big man on campus...and who is he? No, definitely not the guy on the dean's list or the honor roll...he's the influential cool dude (actually an antagonistic thug) who has helpless students squatting at his feet.
Such credulous hooligans are on the party's payroll; they organize demonstrations and strikes, and when their leaders tell them its time, then we have a circus at hand! Cars are battered; glass windows and windshields shattered, stones and abuses are hurled leading to physical aggression. The cops arrive, after taking their time, but by then the message is through and a part of the mission is accomplished.
Provision of ammunition is nothing new and is particularly used for hawai (aerial) firing, to create chaos. Facts state that in the late sixties a raid at the University of Engineering and Technology (UET) Lahore, Pakistan; exposed a stock of arms and ammunition from the dorms, under the beds and above the cupboards. And the politicians tell us that they are building a nation!
Student strikes go a long way in our national history. The student agitation, for example, in wake of the MRD's call for restoration of democracy. Then in the mid-sixties, the students of UET went on a rampage on campus and the streets, in protest against the youth unemployment and exemption of rules for students from underdeveloped areas. Joined by the Punjab University students, the massive remonstration shook the city. The then UET chancellor, Amir Mohammed Khan, Nawab of Kalabagh, sat with his hands tied!
The late sixties saw another uproar; the rise in the sugar rate by fifty paisas per kilo was met with fiery protest, a fire that was fanned by ZA.Bhutto. Once again, students were pathetically dragged into strikes and at that time student radicals played a major role in bringing Pakistan Peoples Party into power.
Now the dawn of a new millennium has been greeted by another strike, this time the culprits being the students of Gordon College, protesting against the examination invigilating staff. Some things never change!
Juniors dread starting colleges and universities, fearful of finding themselves threatened and pressurized to join political federations. Hostility and violence against reluctant students is nothing new! And they have a good reason to be petrified. Are they dealing with students in universities or intimidating jailbirds in a jailhouse?
The underlying question is that what does political interference in educational institutes lead to? One doesn't even need to guess! The worst is that it diverts attention from education, the key that is to open doors for them in the future. Tension, anarchy, and disarray only result in dismantling of the balanced and methodical approach to life. Delayed examinations result in career setbacks; decency and decorum is tossed to the winds! Pliable and immature minds start to take pride in defying authorities, jeopardizing law and order and violating the conventional rules of social behavior. This is how these students grow up and behave in actual life, which hinders the country's progress. This is the doing of our politicians!
Well who's to be blamed...hear hear...
*Hina Jabbar: The politicians, students, and the bureaucracy. The big guys achieve their motives and do nothing for the students in return.
*Abid Kitchlew (graduate Preston University): Political parties are behind this; politics is politics and education is education.
*Engineering college principal (name withheld): Surely the political parties and participating students should be taken to task.
*Hussain (office clerk): We can either feed the children or send them to schools.
*Army General. (Retd.) Mujeeb-ur-Rehman (educationist and ex information minister): When the minds are young, students should remain idealistic.
*Fatima K (graduate IBA): Why shouldn't we protest? What have the politicians and bureaucrats done for us anyway...you tell me!
Hmm... lets see, the answer to this probing question needs to be explored, reconnoitered and scrutinized, just like a dark, gaping, and musty cave. Why just stand yawning at the entrance, reader? Lets go into our cryptic tunnel of time, way back when Pakistan as a nation was newly born and see what the political parties have done for the youth.
After independence most of the elite had already joined the Muslim League and encircled the bureaucratic, industrial, and political setup. After the demise of Mr. Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the remaining leadership was sidelined by doggedly opportunists' and to this day they remain.
Our tunnel, revealing the past here, is well lit with hope that was budding during General. Ayub Khan's period. Finally, proper reforms were made to raise the literacy level and to develop an understanding of new technology. Educational, technical, and vocational institutes were opened where research and training were conducted. Foremost, the welfare of the youth was taken into account.
And... hey! Ouch! What do we have here? Oh...the tunnel's bottom is craggy and jagged! I wonder if this has to do with the second martial law? However, General. Yahya Khan's period saw things running free for the better and the worst.
Now the passage twists and turns...ah, the Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto regime! Nationalization of the educational system and an ambitious mass literacy program were the highlights of social upgrading. Primary education was made free but resulted in overcrowding. Time and resources were required for training teachers, providing buildings, technical and scientific apparatus. The policy of leveling of differences lowered the standard of reputable institutions. Such ambitious aspirations were embedded more in ill conceivable idealism if not for image building.
Turn right reader and behold the mid of 1979, the Zia-ul-Haq years. The course is long and narrow! Besides government institutions, private schools were encouraged to establish. Islamiyat and Pakistan studies were made compulsory, emphasis was laid upon Urdu and scholarships were set up. Pakistan became an industry producing doctors and engineers; rate of employment and job security for the youth grew.
Near the end, the tunnel of time changes its formation to a zigzag pattern...of course! The prime ministers!!! Benazir then Nawaz Sharif and then again Benazir followed by Nawaz Sharif...zigzag zigzag! Strangely half the tunnel is brightly lit and the other half is dim. Probably because at this time the established foreign educational system helped save face of our political leaders by opening a doorway of opportunities for the youth who could afford it; and this resulted in further disintegrating of our local educational set-up. Hardly anything worthwhile was done during these years, which revealed ghost schools, haunting courtroom trails, and money that had feet!
Now readers, back to the present and... whoa! A dead-end! No wait, they are excavating into the future but the youth appear grim and solemn. The fact, which ultimately prevails against another ruler, is far more lethal then militia rule - distrust! They are asked to forget the past and renew their trust; the youth seem unmoved... they are assured that injustice will not prevail and mistakes will not be repeated but they still don't bite! Ghouls and ghosts of past betrayal and in-securities haunt them and are not easy to drive away!
Another blow below the belt; the inefficiencies and lack of credentials to hold various positions among the bureaucracy who implement the government policies. They, perhaps under foreign political pressure and influence, make such policies that have caused deterioration of various systems concerning the youth and leaving them no option but to use the foreign systems or travel abroad.
Last year approximately five thousand students appeared for their A' Levels in Pakistan, roughly causing a Rupees 75 million financial drain. Nearly four times the number of students appear in O' Levels and one half for foreign Bachelor degrees. Here we are imploring for funds and look at the money that is being transferred abroad! And on top of it 70% of these overwhelmed students choose to remain abroad resulting in massive brain drain! And as a result, we are producing American and British flag wavers; not Pakistani patriots that are direly needed!
This is what the youth of Pakistan have received and have been receiving since 1947! Is this what they deserve???
The destiny of Pakistan is folded within its budding youth, as is the flower within the close embrace of its petals. The time shall come too when the cards of the nation will be in their hands and their footsteps will be followed by inspired young hearts. When their words will seal the fate of countless young lives and when they will march again and lead another generation of youth to their destiny. How? That remains to be seen...