LAHORE: A number of progressive student organisations from all over the country on Monday formed the Student Action Committee at the national level to demand revival of student unions and other issues.

The Progressive Students Collective held a meeting of various student organisations under the banner of Education Emergency at the South Asian Free Media Association auditorium. Representatives of student organisations from Sindh, Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab participated in the meeting.

They all vowed to launch a nationwide struggle for revival of student unions, against the cut in educational budget, increasing harassment cases in universities, security forces interferences in educational institutions, student torture cases, lack of educational infrastructure and ban on freedom of expression.

The action committee would be led by Muzzamil Khan, and Mohiba Ahmed and Asad Baloch were appointed central information secretaries with two members from each organisation. These office-barriers announced to visit the country to organise students against the increasing educational crises with the first activity -- Students Unity March -- on Nov 29.

The student representatives discussed that the PTI government had left educational campuses and students abandoned, dejected and directionless. The government had reduced the higher education budget to almost half, bringing Pakistan into the list of countries that spent very less on education.

They pointed out that the university campuses in Punjab were becoming increasingly unwelcoming of students from outside Punjab, and campuses such University of Balochistan were becoming centres of sexual and mental harassment.

They questioned why there was no public sector educational infrastructure in Fata and Gilgit-Baltistan and why all educational institutions had increased tuition fee by 100 per cent across Pakistan? They said there were no sexual harassment committees on campuses, while fascist organisations were receiving support from the administrations and attacking innocent students in broad daylight.

They also said that hostels had been turned into prisons more than accommodation centres for the students.

Published in Dawn, November 5th, 2019