LAHORE: Hundreds of students from across the country held on Saturday a convention to demand free education and revival of students union.

The Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA), a student and youth organisation, organised the convention at Bakhtiar Labour Hall, which was earlier planned at Aiwan-i-Iqbal but the district administration cancelled the no-objection certificate (NOC).

One of the organisors, Adeel Hassan Zaidi, said the district administration earlier issued them an NOC one week ago but later cancelled it at the eleventh hour without any reason. Students condemned the act calling it an attack on democratic rights of the youth.

The event featured speeches and cultural activities including music, poetry and traditional dances.

Ghairat Brigade Band vocalist Ali Aftab, classical singer Ustad Nasir Ali Khan and poets Tehzeeb Hafi, Usama Zuraiz and Mazhar Ali Syed performed on the occasion.

PYA Chairperson Umar Riaz said the government was afraid of the demands of the youth events because they talked about exploitation of workers, peasants and students. He also talked about harassment of a student by the administration of the NUML University, Islamabad, for organising a strike against fee hike. He threatened to lodge a worldwide protest if any wrong was done to the NUML student.

Mishal Wayen said the university administration instead of solving genuine issues of students would stress upon implementation of discipline. Arooj Mansha highlighted the issues of the female students, while Khalid Mandokhel from the Balochistan University spoke about the condition of education in Balochistan.

He stressed the establishment of students parliaments in every educational institute to solve their issues.

Amir Yaqub, of Karachi, said the problems of poor students of Karachi were same but the ruling elite had divided them over ethnic basis.

The convention demanded provision of free education, end to class-based education system, revival of student unions, representation of students in decision making bodies of education institutes, strict action against harassment, notable representation of female students in student unions, and awarding of allowance to every unemployed youth.

Later, Umer Riaz from the Islamic International University, Islamabad, was elected PYA chairperson, Asfandyar Shinwari from the University of Peshawar vice chairperson, Wali Khan from the Balochistan University general secretary, Salma Baghi from the Guru Nanakpura Degree College, Gujranwala, finance secretary, Rai Asad from Lahore cultural secretary, Fazeel Asghar from Multan information secretary and Ubaid Zubair from Rawlakot in charge of study circle.

They also took out a procession from Labour Hall to the Lahore Press Club.

Published in Dawn, December 16th, 2018

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