The Sindh cabinet has approved a bill recommending the restoration of student unions in the province. Per news reports on Monday, the provincial cabinet approved the bill in its meeting on the directives of Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
The draft bill will now be tabled in the provincial assembly and have passed in the ongoing session.
It was 1984 when late General Zia ul Haq proclaimed a ban on student politics at university and college campuses in Pakistan and it has been in place for the past 35 years, despite promises from every political and social leader to address this key issue affecting the youth.
The ban was aimed at curbing then spiraling violence and clashes between students, but despite the ban violence on campuses has only seen an increase over the years.
In recent months, the movement for restoration of student unions has gained momentum, especially capturing the imagination of students of Pakistan following some charged scenes at last month’s Faiz Festival in Lahore.
Last week, Prime Minister Imran Khan hinted at a possible lifting of the ban on student unions, tweeting a message saying, “Universities groom future leaders of the country & student unions form an integral part of this grooming. Unfortunately, in Pakistan universities’ student unions became violent battlegrounds & completely destroyed the intellectual atmosphere on campuses.”
He added, “We will establish a comprehensive & enforceable code of conduct, learning from the best practices in internationally renowned universities, so that we can restore & enable student unions to play their part in positively grooming our youth as future leaders of the country.”
The decision by the Sindh government is welcome news and may lead to other provinces following in its footsteps to take measures for restoration of student unions across Pakistan.