KARACHI: Defunct since 1989, the Democratic Students Federation (DSF) came back to life on Sunday as it elected its committee members at a ceremony on Sunday.
The DSF leaders took oath in an open session, in front of around 100 people, pledging to improve the country’s educational institutions and getting rid of religious fundamentalism. The event itself was dedicated to theatre artiste, Comrade Mansoor Saeed, who was also a communist leader and an inspiration for then DSF activists. Sania Saeed, his daughter, was present on the occasion.
Asar Imam was nominated as the central chairman and Qamar Abbas was elected as the general secretary.
Imam, a student of Sindh Law College, said that 35 members of the DSF committee were elected. “The DSF is purely a student organisation,” he said. “But that does not mean we will not participate in politics. We are a part of the system which has been ruined over the years.”
Criticising Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Imam said, “Those who talk about a tsunami don’t know anything about a revolution. We know the ground realities. We will go to the people and tell them what is wrong with the system.” It was evident by the conspicuously thin attendance at the event that the DSF still had a long way to go. Although its leaders made fiery speeches but only two or three from the 100 people present there back them up with revolutionary slogans.
Imdad Qazi, the general secretary of Communist Party of Pakistan, led the revival of its student wing. He believed that there was a need to nurture strong leftist leaders. “All of the party’s big names have slowly faded away,” he said. “And this is worrying.” He said that the DSF has produced many prominent people in journalism and medicine. “But things have changed now,” he lamented. “The same journalists have been infected with corruption and there are too many religious elements in the media too. The doctors are all about making money.”
A former member of the federation, Mazhar Haider, said that the union struggled for democratic right in the worst of times. Yet it was able to produce great professionals. “Dr Adeebul Hasan Rizvi is an example.”
The editor of Awami Awaz, Dr Jabbar Khattak, traced the federation’s history with that of another leftist student group, National Studetns Federation. “Now looking back at things, it seems to me that we should have paid more attention to local issues at unit level in colleges and universities.” He advised the newly-elected leaders of the federation to seek guidance from former activists and learn from their experiences. “I must say that something can be learnt from the organisational discipline of Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba (IJT),” he advised. “Also make your presence felt. Use the social media to your advantage.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the DSF Chairman’s name as “Azhar Imam” instead of “Asar Imam”. The correction has been made.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 4th, 2012.
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