ISLAMABAD: Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani on Thursday expressed grave concern over the fate of five social media activists who have been missing for the past week and sought a response from the interior ministry about their whereabouts.
Chairing the Senate session, Sen Rabbani pointed out that a section of the press had reported the disappearance of a fifth activist on Thursday apart from four others who were already missing.
He said if it is not a policy of the government then it is a dangerous trend. Rabbani asked the minister of state to respond to the concerns of the House on Friday.
Calling the ban on student unions unconstitutional, Senator Rabbani has directed the Senate secretariat to prepare a draft in two weeks for the restoration of student unions. He said that parliament could propose legislation, pass a resolution and prepare guidelines on this subject.
A meeting of the committee of the whole house held on Thursday discussed the ban and gave suggestions on the student unions especially in colleges and universities. Raza Rabbani said that the federal and the provincial governments were hiding behind a 1993 decision of the Supreme Court about student unions. He said the house had two options; one is the legislation while the other is knocking at the door of the Supreme Court requesting to review its decision.
Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the Senate should not contact the Supreme Court while the legislation was the right of parliament. Senator Babar Awan said the ban on student unions paved the way for capitalists. He also opposed the idea of requesting the Supreme Court to review its decision.
Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed said that the students played an important role in the Pakistan Movement. The chairman should write a letter to apex court about the issue. Karim Khawja said if the student union activities are hindered, Pakistan will become a breeding ground for al Qaeda and Daesh.
Senator Abdul Qayyum said that Senate and the government should jointly appeal for a review.
Despite the ban, Senator Taj Haider said, all political parties have student wings. Communal wings are also working in addition to that. It is the responsibility of the political parties to run the student unions peacefully. The Senate will have to resolve the issue through a resolution.
Hasil Bizenjo said the first clashes between students were triggered through a well-conceived plan and then the ban was placed. He claimed that students had no role in the violence. Jahanzeb Jamaldini said if the Senate recommends legislation and the National Assembly joins hands, legislation can be done jointly. Nihal Hashmi said when student unions were banned, the students invited Ayyan Ali or they joined Daesh. The Senate should pass a resolution in favour of the restoration of student unions and send its copies to the provincial chief ministers.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 13th, 2017.