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ISLAMABAD: The Senate Committee of the Whole on Tuesday recommended revival of student unions in educational institutions and adopted a resolution in this regard.

The recommendations and the draft resolution will be presented before the Senate house sitting on Wednesday for approval.

The committee meeting was held with Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani in the chair. Before finalising the recommendations, the committee made several amendments to them.

“It was Zia’s doctrine which put a ban on the student unions. Actually, Gen Zia wanted to sack teachers having an independent voice so he first put a ban on the student unions to avoid resistance,” said Senator Pervaiz Rasheed.

Federal and provincial governments can review resolution and take appropriate measures, says Senate chairman

The members of the committee said banning the student unions was a step to quell students’ voice against the dictatorship of Zia and his policies.

They said the unions provided a platform to students to excel and groom in politics and raise their voice for their rights. “Because of the ban, our generation missed out lots of learning opportunities during their student life,” said Senator Murtaza Wahab.

In 1993, the Supreme Court prohibited the formation of student unions and called for a proper mechanism if the government wanted to revive them. But successive governments did not take any step for the revival of traditional student politics by taking shelter under the judicial verdict.

During the meeting, the members spent ample time in making amendments to the final draft.

Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed proposed replacing the word ‘forefront’ with ‘under the banner’ for the leading role student unions played in the past. The chairman and members said the word ‘deadly’ be removed as an adjective with ‘violence’. Similarly, Senator Taj Haider recommended replacing the word ‘democratic struggle’ with ‘political, cultural and social process’ in one of the paras of the resolution.

Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq while expressing support for the revival of the unions said there should be a strict ban on violent activities on campuses.

Senator Sherry Rehman said there should be clear instructions for keeping campuses and unions deweaponised.

The senators agreed to the point raised by Senator Mir Hasil Bizenjo that student unions had been banned for over 30 years on the pretext of checking violence on campuses but there was no violence when the student unions were in place.

Senator Mohsin Leghari proposed filing a review petition in the apex court.

The Senate chairman, however, said parliament should not look towards approaching the apex court in the form of a review.

He said the resolution would act as a recommendation to the federal and provincial governments who can review it and then take appropriate measures.

Published in Dawn, August 23rd, 2017