Sindh Assembly calls for lifting ban on student unions

Resolution calling for lifting the ban is passed unanimously by the house

​ Our Correspondent November 05, 2019

KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly adopted a resolution on Monday to lift the ban on student unions from Sindh. The resolution, moved by Pakistan Peoples Party MPA Nida Khuhro and supported by all opposition parties in the assembly, demanded the revival of student unions as well as the maintenance of a healthy environment within the educational institutions of the province.

"It is of utmost importance for the youth of Sindh to actively and meaningfully participate in the democratic, social, cultural and political processes of their country and of the province," said Khuhro, while reading out the resolution, which also states that student unions provide an opportunity to students to enhance their leadership skills through participation in healthy political, cultural and social activities.

The resolution, which was not part of the agenda and moved out of order, further states, "This house resolves and recommends the Government of Sindh to lift the ban on student unions in the educational institutions of Sindh in the light of Article 16 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic Pakistan that guarantees 'Freedom of Assembly' and Article 17 that talks about 'Freedom of association'."

For democracy’s sake: let’s revive student unions

It further states that student unions are a major forum for organising social activities and for addressing a range of academic and welfare issues through the collective representation of students. "It will also allow students to practice their skills of diplomacy, debate, politics and leadership."

In her speech, Khuhro informed the house about the historic background of student unions and the ban slapped on the same. "It was army dictator General Zia who imposed the ban on student unions in 1984," she said, adding that all senior politicians of Pakistan who have contributed immensely for the betterment of the country are a product of student unions. "Shaheed Benazir Bhutto took up this matter in 1988 and decided to lift the ban, but her decision was challenged in the Supreme Court," she said, requesting the Sindh government to draft a law and restore the student unions if the federal government was not interested in the matter.

The contents of the resolution also called for the unions to be strictly regulated through a code of conduct in order to avoid any conflict among the various student organisations.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) MPA Khurrum Sher Zaman, while supporting the resolution, said, "I endorse this idea. Such a resolution should have come 10 years ago." He added that it was the negligence of all political parties who have been remained silent on this important issue.

Sindh Assembly wants student unions revived

Mohammad Hussain of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan suggested restoring the student unions through a notification. PPP's Shehla Raza, who has also been a student leader in the 1980s, said that student unions were nurseries for budding leaders in the country. "Since the ban was imposed, we cannot find quality leadership in politics," she remarked.

Ghulam Qadir Chandio of the PPP, while supporting the resolution, also demanded to lift the ban on trade unions as well.  Sindh Information Minister Saeed Ghani said that there was no need to seek information from the federal government to lift the ban, adding that the provincial government would first have to review the Supreme Court's judgment on it. "With the ban on student unions, ethnic and religio-politics is promoted. There should be unions at the college and university level," he said. After the discussion, the speaker put the resolution in the house, which was passed unanimously.

Healthcare facilities for Zardari

The Sindh Assembly also passed a resolution, expressing its concerns over the lack of provision of proper healthcare facilities to the former president of Pakistan and PPP co-chairman, Asif Ali Zardari, who is currently in the National Accountability Bureau's custody.  The resolution was jointly moved by PPP MPAs Sadia Javed and Nida Khuhro.

"As the former president has been undergoing serious health problems, therefore, the house demands that a board of private doctors and specialists be constituted for the medical check-up of the former president," reads the resolution, while recommending the Sindh government to approach the Centre for the provision of proper healthcare facilities for Zardari. 

Published in The Express Tribune, November 5th, 2019.

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