PA asks Sindh govt to lift Zia-era ban on student unions

Updated 05 Nov 2019

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The Sindh Assembly on Monday unanimously passed a resolution that asked the provincial government to lift the ban on student unions in the educational institutions of Sindh by introducing a code of conduct that may help avoid conflict among various student organisations in future. — APP/File
The Sindh Assembly on Monday unanimously passed a resolution that asked the provincial government to lift the ban on student unions in the educational institutions of Sindh by introducing a code of conduct that may help avoid conflict among various student organisations in future. — APP/File

KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly on Monday unanimously passed a resolution that asked the provincial government to lift the ban on student unions in the educational institutions of Sindh by introducing a code of conduct that may help avoid conflict among various student organisations in future.

The “historic” resolution was originally moved by the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party’s Nida Khuhro, which was later endorsed by the three major opposition parties in the house — the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Grand Democratic Alliance and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf.

The mover said the resolution was of crucial importance for the youth of Sindh to actively and meaningfully participate in the democratic, social, cultural and political processes of their country and province.

“The student unions provide an opportunity to the students to enhance their leadership skills through participation in healthy political, cultural and social activities.”

The house resolved and recommended to the Sindh government “to lift the ban on student unions in the educational institutions of Sindh in the light of Article 16 (freedom of assembly) and Article 17 (freedom of association) of the Constitution”.

Another unanimously passed resolution voices concern over the deteriorating health of Asif Zardari

“The student unions are a major forum for organising social activities and for addressing a range of academic and welfare issues through collective representation of students. It will also allow students to practise their skills of diplomacy, debate, politics and leadership,” said the resolution.

It went on: “This house further recommends the Sindh government that instead of imposing a ban on the student unions, they should strictly be regulated through the code of conduct in order to avoid any conflict amongst the different student organisations.

“This important step will help in reviving the student unions as well as maintaining healthy environment within the educational institutions of Sindh.”

Scores of students belonging to student organisations from various districts of the province were allowed by Speaker Siraj Durrani to witness the proceedings while the resolution was being moved.

Nida Khuhro said student unions were nurseries of producing leaders in the country, which were abolished by dictator General Ziaul Haq in 1984. She said all the senior politicians of the country were products of student unions.

She said Benazir Bhutto had lifted the ban on student unions and trade unions soon after she was sworn in as prime minister in 1988; however, it was challenged in court a couple of years later. She said the apex court’s judgement had not imposed a ban on student unions; thus, Sindh should revive them forthwith.

Information Minister Saeed Ghani said the ban on student unions had gravely affected the politics based on ideology and promoted the politics of friction and sectarianism.

He said dictators designed their plot in such a manner that they made politics a negative thing. He said students should form unions at college and university levels to make their own opinions.

Agriculture Minister Ismail Rahu said banning student unions explicitly showed the mindset of dictators and such remnants of the dictators should be uprooted.

Women Development Minister Shehla Raza said she was one of the many politicians who were groomed through student unions. She said good politicians had stopped emerging in the country since that ban was imposed.

MQM’s Mohammad Hussain joined the list of movers of the resolution. He said student unions had provided a positive platform to the country’s youth to become stakeholders in policymaking and leadership.

He said the ban should have been lifted decades ago; but that could not happen. He said the provincial government should restore the unions through a notification forthwith.

GDA’s Razzaq Rahimoon and PTI’s Imran Shah also became movers and supported the resolution.

PPP’s Ghulam Qadir Chandio and Sharjeel Memon called it a historic piece of legislation.

Speaker Durrani placed the resolution before the house and got it passed unanimously. The house resounded with sloganeering by the students sitting in the galleries.

Zardari’s health

PPP’s Sadia Javed presented a resolution expressing concern over the deteriorating health condition of former president Asif Zardari, which too was passed unanimously by the house.

“This house expresses its serious concerns over the lack of provision of proper healthcare facilities to former President Asif Ali Zardari,” the resolution said.

“As the former president has been undergoing serious health problems, therefore, this house demands that a board of private doctors and specialists be constituted for his medical check.”

The resolution went on: “Since the government has formed the board, it has also raised alarm and advised to immediately examine the status of clotting in the arteries; sugar levels are fluctuating and if they were not brought under control can cause serious harm to other organs including hypoglycaemia. The government-formed board itself has pointed out that due to non-provision of special orth-bedding in jail, his longstanding spinal condition has deteriorated significantly exacerbating cervical and spondylitis issues.”

The house asked the Sindh government to approach the federal government for the provision of proper healthcare facilities to Mr Zardari, including “constitution of a medical board of private doctors and specialists; and not to put at risk the life of former president Asif Ali Zardari”.

The resolution was passed unanimously.

Resolution against PTI lawmaker

PPP’s Burhan Chandio moved another resolution in which he claimed the guards of PTI’s parliamentary leader Haleem Sheikh resorted to firing during his visit to Kunri that “created havoc in the area”.

He further said: “The guards of the honourable member of this august house kidnapped Mr Rizwan, who was severely tortured before he was rescued and [Rizwan] has marks all over his body.”

He said Rizwan was being treated in a hospital. He said provocation and use of violence on the part of the PTI lawmaker was unbecoming of a public representative, “which has seriously hurt the feelings of the people of Sindh”.

The resolution demanded that the provincial government order an inquiry and “punish those who are found guilty of aerial firing and kidnapping of a resident of Kunri”.

This resolution was also passed unanimously as members belonging to the three large opposition parties were absent on that occasion.

Earlier, a number of calling-attention notices were given by various members, most of which belonged to matters pertaining to the local government ministry.

Published in Dawn, November 5th, 2019