People from various walks of life – including students, rights activists and supporters – on Friday took to streets across the country to join the Student Solidarity March for the restoration of student unions – that have been banned since 1984.
The march in dozens of cities received messages of support from several political leaders.
“The spirit of activism and yearning for peaceful democratic process from a new generation of students is truly inspiring,” Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari tweeted.
He added that his mother's [late Benazir Bhutto] efforts to lift the ban were thwarted in order to “depoliticise society”. In 1989, Benazir reversed the ban, but her decision was challenged in court.
The PPP has always supported Student unions. The restoration of student unions by SMBB was purposely undone to depoliticize society. Today students are marching in the #StudentSolidarityMarch for the restoration of unions, implementation of right to education, 1/2— BilawalBhuttoZardari (@BBhuttoZardari) November 29, 2019
end to privatization of public universities, implementation of sexual harassment legislation, right to student housing & the demilitarization of campuses. The spirit of activism and yearning for peaceful democratic process from a new generation of students is truly inspiring. 2/2— BilawalBhuttoZardari (@BBhuttoZardari) November 29, 2019
Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry also took to the microblogging site tweeting in favour of the march.
“I fully support Restoration of students unions, ban on students unions is anti-democratic,” he said.
I fully support Restoration of students unions, ban on students unions is anti democratic,we can always ensure that students politics must remain violence free and regulations may be introduced for smooth functioning but ban on students politics amounts to limit future politics— Ch Fawad Hussain (@fawadchaudhry) November 29, 2019
Students in Islamabad said they welcomed his tweet but wished his government would follow it up with legislation to help them.
Students who want admission in colleges and universities have to sign an affidavit, along with their parents that says the student cannot participate in any mobilisation or political activity on campus.
Demonstrators gathered at Regal Chowk, opposite the electronic market in Saddar, a little before 3pm. They are mostly students, dressed in black with red dupattas around their necks.
They marched for their demands - the provision of merit-based, quality education in all institutions, an end to racial, religious, and gender-based profiling of students, withdrawal of the recent fee hikes and restoration of the HEC's budget, constitution of legal committees for sexual harassment cases with students' representation, uniform curfew timings irrespective of gender, and the lifting of the ban on student unions as per Sindh Assembly's resolution and for the rest of the country to follow suit.