A convention of hundreds of students belonging to the various educational institutes of the country on Saturday demanded an end to fees and restoration of students unions.

The event was organized by Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA), a political organistation of students and youth, and was scheduled to be held at Aiwan-e-Iqbal. However, the venue was shifted to Bakhtiar Labor Hall, Lakshami Chowk after the cancellation of NOC for the earlier venue. Adeel Hassan Zaidi, an organizer of the event shared that they had got NOC issued a week ago. However, district administration cancelled it at the eleventh hour. “When we asked them the reason, they refused to answer,” he added. He condemned the act, describing at an attack on democratic right of the youth.

The event was marked with the speeches of the students and youth and cultural activities; music, poetry, traditional dances.

Famous humorous singer from BeGhairat Brigade band Ali Aftab, classical singer Ustad Nasir Ali Khan, young poet Tehzeeb Hafi, Usama Zuraiz, Mazhar Ali Syed and others performed on the occasion.

Speaking on the occasion, newly elected chairperson of PYA Umar Riaz condemned the interruptions by the government in their activities, stating that neither they were armed nor drugs were recovered from their bags, nor they were receiving foreign funding.

He said the government feared them because they talked about exploitation of workers, peasants and students. “We talk about an end to fees, class-based education system. They fear us because we talk about politicization of poor students which the state has spent billions of rupees to depoliticize over the decades.”

Mishal Wayen, a student of Punjab University Lahore, said instead of solving genuine issues of students, the university administration stressed upon implementation of discipline. “They propagate as if discipline, strict dress code, hostel timings, attendance etc will solve all of their issues.”

Arooj Mansha from National College of Modern Sciences Mandi Faizabad highlighted the issues of the female students living in peripheries. She said there were no government schools in their villages and students had to travel several kilometres. “Transport system is pathetic. Harassment adds fuel to their woes, forcing girls to stay at home rather pursuing studies,” she said.

Khalid Mandokhel, a student of Baluchistan University, said everyone was aware of the condition of education in Balochistan, which had “fully decayed”. He stressed of establishment of student parliaments in every education institute – democratically elected student bodies – to solve their issues.

Amir Yaqub, a student of Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Law College, Malir, Karachi, said the problems of all poor students of Karachi were same, but the ruling elite had divided them on ethnic basis.

The convention passed resolutions for provision of free education, end to class-based education system, restoration of student unions, representation of students in all the decision-making bodies of all the education institutes, strict action against harassment, notable representation of female students in student unions, nationalisation of private educational institutes and awarding of allowance to every unemployed youth.

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