Sunday, March 26, 2017
Pakistan - Save Punjab University
Unless Jamaat-e-Islami reins in IJT, its claims as a democratic party would remain suspect
Enjoying the patronage of Zia-ul-Haq Islami-Jamiat-e-Tulaba (IJT) turned Punjab University campus into a battlefield and its hostels into torture centres. IJT’s main targets at the time were students with left or liberal leanings who demanded end of military rule and holding of elections. In later years IJT’s targets were Shia students organised in ISO who were harassed and beaten. During the last four years students from Balochistan and KP who have their own organisations have been attacked because the IJT does not allow any other student organisation to strike roots in the University, which it considers its fief.
The IJT has all along tried to impose its narrow code of conduct on the student community by sheer force. Boys seen talking to girls have been given thrashing. Cultural shows have been attacked. Finding itself an unpopular minority, the IJT has illegally settled in the hostels scores of musclemen brought from outside. University teachers with different views have been tortured. In 2014 the Punjab University Academic Staff Association passed a strongly worded resolution against IJT’s lawlessness
The present incident where Pushtun and Baloch students have been targeted must not be ignored as before by the University administration or Punjab government. Thanks its misguided policies and ill-conceived tactics the Punjab administration is already being accused of ethnic profiling. It has to act decisively to prosecute those who attacked the function instead of injudiciously balancing its action by involving the victims also. Political exigencies must not be allowed to stand in the way of national unity.
The Punjab University has to set an example by awarding maximum punishment to those who disturbed the event. Stifling dissent and putting an end to free debate on ideas has led to the degeneration of the Punjab University which in a more tolerant and open era produced two Nobel Prize winners, Dr Abdus Salam and Hargobind Khorana. Using force against students with different views, sects or ethnicity is not only atrocious but out of sync with an era which values democratic norms like freedom of opinion, openness and transparency.