PESHAWAR: The University of Science and Technology in Bannu has banned not only the entry of Manzoor Pashteen, the youth spearheading Pakhtun Tahaffuz Movement, but also has forbidden its staff members and students from wearing the ‘specific cap’ calling it all ‘subversive activities’ .

Looks like growing influence of PTM in universities and popularity of the traditional Mazari cap of Manzoor Pashteen that is emerging as a symbol of unity and peace among his followers has alarmed the UST Bannu administration that looks upon this ‘specific cap’ as a sign of ethnic divide and a political statement.

The strong worded notification issued few days ago leaves nothing unclear about what was forbidden and what would be the punishment for violation of the instructions given to all staff members and students.

Also forbids teachers, students from wearing PTM cap

The notification, issued on May 4 by the administration of UST Bannu, sates: “All activities, which encourage social/ethnic divide, or anything which is against the interest of the federation of Pakistan is banned in the university.”

The notification further explaining subversive activities states that ‘distribution of such pamphlets or wearing specific caps whether by the staff members of students are forbidden and must be reported immediately’. The notification is signed by the director administration and addressed to all heads of departments, all chairmen, the provost and hostel wardens of the university.

“The entry of Manzoor Pashteen, who is a former student of Gomal University, is also banned in UST Bannu including hostels. Legal action will be taken against those students/staff members, who would facilitate his entry to the university,” warned the administration, making it a point to direct the provost and wardens to ensure students don’t assemble on this pretext in hostel and those, who are found involved, should be expelled and their admissions should be cancelled.

Dr Javed, the director administration of UST Bannu, when contacted to know why such a stern notification was issued not to allow even wearing a cap when no uniform dress code was in vogue in the public sector universities, he could only say that if a group of students wore a certain headgear they stood out and created a divide.

He said that the notification was issued after consultation with the vice-chancellor as a meeting of PTM was expected in the area and university administration sensing security threat could not allow its students to hold a gathering or allow such a gathering since political activities in universities were banned.

“In order to prevent students from holding a gathering on the premises of the university, we issued this notification,” said Dr Javed. He admitted that there was no direct approach from Manzoor Pashteen about holding any such gathering.

Dr Javed, however, only justified ban on the use of a specific cap associated with Manzoor Pashteen and simply said that it created disunity when a certain number of students were wearing a certain headgear.

Mohsin Dawar, a political activist and PTM leader, terms such notifications ‘instructed’ and ones that expose that the universities are under pressure. Such a notification exposes authorities fear of PTM too.

“The cap that Manzoor Pashteen wears is not a political symbol but a traditional cap. If university wants to impose ban on wearing a cap then all kinds of caps should be banned. Why this one in particular,” questions Mr Dawar.

Published in Dawn, May 10th, 2018