In last few years, Public Universities in Punjab have provided hundreds of scholarships as opportunity to the youth of neglected province of Balochistan with a positive intention to minimize cultural gap and promote peaceful coexistence of cultural diversity as strength of the country, along with capacity building of its youth to serve their deprived people of the province.
This has, somehow, come up with challenges in the initial stage of administration, where students from Balochistan, founding their community councils based on ethnicity following QAU model and not joining youth wing of political parties, have been grave differences with dominating role and practices of IJT members and thus giving a ground for possible clash, attached all the time.
Though this is not seen on campuses, where the administration is strict and doesn’t allow the presence of political parties amidst its vibrant legal student societies.
Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba (IJT), a youth wing of right political party, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) that has been sustaining strong and organized base in public sector educational institutions, colleges and universities, across the country since last few decades but that has not been the case in Balochistan, where ethnic-nationalist parties have been maintaining this status.
Youth activists not only fight among themselves in developing countries but also in developed ones and same has been the case of Pakistan with evolving democracy in a federal system and JI has history of self-interpretation of religious motivations that indirectly gives sufficient space to extremism but has been recently decreasing with increase in counter-extremism efforts and counter-terrorism operations by the military in the country.
Since last five years, several violent incidents have been recorded in Punjab University due to challenging the monopoly of IJT by newly founded student councils, first by students from Balochistan and now Seraiki, Sindhi and Gilgitis have also initiated their platforms, and that is to follow the model of Quaid-i-Azam university, where all councils are united under a single federation but clash with IJT always bolster and promote ethnic differences despite knowing that such clash does not include a minor factor of ethnicity but seems as a conflict between progressive thought of youth from backward areas without political back and the reactionary IJT, including activists and leaders from all other ethnicities, united politically for their interpretation of Islam.
Majority students of Punjab University who don’t like the superiority of IJT members in the campus, despite taking a neutral stance, stand against unjust actions of it but also feel tiresome of the unhealthy clashes due to historic lack of strict rule of law by the administration.
On one side, progressive youth feel that to evolve democracy, it is essential to defeating the status-quo while on another, IJT members have been promoting their self-interpreted principles of Islam to be observed in the campuses across the country, along with some healthy activities as a catchy point.
When people raised their concerns about incidents in the university through social media, Police acted and following orders, jailed more than a hundred students to disperse the anxious students for time being but this was a short-term action that was taken beyond campus level through exaggeration and propagation and obviously, arresting students of Balochistan by the Police, which could not prevent violent happenings ahead and students of Balochistan from other universities gathered on Mall road for protest but were also picked and students who went for a press conference were prisoned too, right after they did a press conference.
This gives serious implications to the leadership and authorities. Youth have been fruitful in past to escalate issues and treating them with anti-terrorism charges and the similar court have possible negative impacts on their minds that may determine their future course without stopping to the authorities. This minor issue of the campus, as was not resolved within the campus by the administration, has been spread out across the country, where students from Balochistan, in particular, are staging protests and raising their voices on social media.
Whatever the legal process is but implementing those on students at this time, may serve as a threshold for short-time and would affect the mentality of youth, particularly of Balochistan and FATA, who are already from a marginalized background, towards the system in long-run. The protests of youth in Peshawar, Quetta and Islamabad are attracting others towards this issue, which can substantially worsen the situations while more than 200 students are behind bars, including some of IJT members.
While imposing anti-terrorism charges and taking them to such special courts reflect the incapability and lack of common-sense in authority. Students without political affiliation and back unlike IJT, should not be treated this way, especially when they are pursuing their education away from hometowns with no relatives at all to look after them. There was a statement that said of affiliation of some students with banned separatist organizations but in this way, it is the worst pick to resolve the issue rather a proper way could be sort out if there is real intelligence reports about it, while taking into the contemporary politics as well which may exploit the situations to extreme level.
This should be immediately tackled otherwise would add to numerous existing issues of the country. Balochistan and Punjab governments need to be active, not only to release youth as soon as possible but also bring them towards reconciliation with the authorities to settle down such issue and minimize the influence of this week’s worst incident on students.
There is no doubt that students from both groups have problems within themselves but on one side it is strongly organized political wing while on other is the volunteer apolitical councils that should be distinguished and administration and teaching faculty should sort out a way forward for future to handle and teach their students as moral parents and bring them on right track.
Youth are emotional but pure, loyal and honest, they should be properly handled through love and not sticks.