ISLAMABAD: Following clashes between different students’ groups that brought life on campus to a standstill a couple of days ago, the International Islamic University, Islamabad (IIUI) on Tuesday issued a notification “reiterating” that it has already banned all students’ organisations.

One of the capital’s largest universities with over 30,000 students, the IIUI is no stranger to on-campus violence — a student was killed in a deadly clash between rival groups in 2019.

Although the ban on students’ organisations was notified by the university in Aug 2021, sources said such activities continued unabated and the administration had failed to take corrective measures, which led to Monday’s clash.

University officials had blamed the clash on students affiliated with the Islami Jamiat-i-Talaba (IJT) and the Pakhtun Council, whileIIUI Rector Dr Masoom Yasinzai had said that the incident was a result of the fallout from a recent fight between IJT and Pakhtun Council at Quaid-i-Azam University.

IJT claims all student organisations hold activities on campus, belying varsity’s assertion that such activities are already prohibited

Meanwhile, IIUI President Hathal Homoud Alotaibi on Tuesday chaired a high-level meeting where he said the university would show zero tolerance for the culprits of the recent violent incident. According to a press release, he directed the students discipline committee to expedite proceedings and bring those responsible to book as soon as possible.

The meeting was attended also by the vice presidents, deans, directors general, executive directors, relevant directors, provosts and students advisers.

According to the press release, the IIUI president said that no stone should be left unturned for the honest, stern and speedy conclusion of the case.

He directed the concerned officials to hand over evidence, record and relevant information to students discipline committee, which also met at the new campus.

An IIUI spokesperson said an FIR had been lodged on behalf of a student, while the university administration would get FIRs registered after the inquiry of the disciplinary committee was completed.

According to the notification issued on Tuesday: “President IIUI has reiterated compliance on instructions of Board of Governors made in its 86th meeting held on 10-11-2020, duly notified in same year… whereby all students’ organisations (ethnic/cultural, religious, sectarian and political) were banned and the students were advised to observe the university’s code of conduct.”

It further said: “All concerned are hereby advised to demonstrate their due responsibility and no consolation whatsoever should be exercised in this regard. The violators should be proceeded against under disciplinary rules by observing the prescribed procedure; so that no one should be able to disrupt the peaceful academic environment of the university.

However, social media accounts linked to IJT and other student groups contain several photographs and videos from recent events organised by these student groups on campus.

Sources told Dawn that on Dec 23, IJT held a function in connection with its foundation day in a university auditorium where IJT flags and slogans were on full display and several leaders also made speeches.

When asked about this, IIUI spokesperson Nasir Farid claimed,“Actually, there was a seminar in progress when some students entered the hall and waved flags to give the impression that IJT’s foundation day is being celebrated.”

When asked if the university had taken any action against those students, Mr Farid said: “The university was in process of holding an inquiry to identify those who did carry out political activity on campus on Dec 23, but meanwhile Monday’s incident transpired.”

He claimed that the university had been following a strict policy and action would be taken against all those found responsible.

In addition, IJT had also organised a book fair and a blood donation drive on campus in December.

When asked about these activities, the IIUI spokesperson maintained that the university made it clear to students that they could not use flags of any religious or political parties, and they complied.

IJT Islamabad General Secretary Amir Baloch, who is also a student of IIUI, told Dawn that not only they, but all students’ groups had been holding positive activities on campus, which was their right.

He said his organisation had no grudge against the Pakhtun Council, who had organised a ‘Peace Walk’ which became the epicentre of Monday’s altercation. However, according to him, the catalyst for violence was the presence among the walk’s participants of certain individuals who were involved in the death of their friend, Tufail, in 2019.

However, members of the Pakhtun Council claim IJT members attacked their peaceful rally.

“In the past, the IIUI was a hub for religious student groups, but with time other groups such as the Pakhtun Council have also emerged. Now, everyone wants to dominate the campus, that’s why there is often violence,” a faculty member told Dawn.

Published in Dawn, January 5th, 2022

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