Rare unity in Sindh Assembly over passage of bill to revive students’ union in province

Published February 12, 2022
A view of the Sindh Assembly session on Friday. — DawnNewsTV
A view of the Sindh Assembly session on Friday. — DawnNewsTV

KARACHI: In a historic development, the Sindh Assembly on Friday unanimously passed the Sindh Students Union Bill 2019 paving the way for restoration of students’ unions in educational institution after over 38 years.

The ban on students’ unions was imposed in 1984 during the regime of military dictator Gen Ziaul Haq. It was lifted during the Benazir Bhutto-led Pakistan Peoples Party’s first government in 1989, but in 1993 the Supreme Court put a blanket ban on political activities by students on campuses.

Sindh will be the first province to revive the students’ union after enactment of the law.

All opposition parties in the house — Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Grand Democratic Alliance, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan, Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal and Tehreek Labaik Pakistan — supported the government bill, which was earlier scrutinised by the Standing Committee on Law, Parliamentary Affairs and Human Rights after deliberation of three years as it was initially introduced in 2019.

The bill, tabled by standing committee’s chairman Pir Mujeeb-ul-Haq, was swiftly passed as all parties supported it.

‘Historic day’

Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah termed the passage of the bill historic and said that the revival of students’ unions would pave the way for a healthy and conducive environment and create a positive atmosphere in educational institutions.

He also hoped that students’ unions would not participate in hate and provocative activities.

“Today is a historic day and the credit for this decision goes to PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari,” he added.

Unions will be formed in all private, govt varsities, colleges; treasury-opposition committee to finalise amendments to LG law

The CM recalled that the students’ unions were banned during the dictatorship of Gen Zia and it was finally lifted by the Sindh Assembly.

Pir Mujeeb informed the house that all stakeholders had been consulted for the students’ union revival bill.

After enactment of the bill, educational institutions would formulate necessary rules for revival of students’ unions within two months.

The statement of objects and reasons of the bill said that students’ unions and their activities would promote students’ success by offering a variety of programmes, activities, services and facilities.

It said that the unions would provide an environment for social interaction, education and exchange of thoughts.

Election to be held every year

As per the passed bill, the students’ union shall work for maintaining social and academic welfare of the students; ensure the rights and interests of all students are suitably represented and protected; oppose and bring to light any discrimination or injustice that obstructs the social and academic life of students; and ensure democratic and inclusive atmosphere for healthy debate that respects others’ opinions.

The bill said that no person or student shall indulge in any prejudicial activity in any manner whatsoever within the premises of any educational institution or any other place connected with or related to any educational institution.

According to the bill, there shall be a student union in every educational institution consisting of seven to 11 bona fide students of the educational institution and student union elections will be held every year.

The elected students’ leaders will be given representation in the Senate and Syndicate of universities.

It said that student unions would be set up in all private and government universities, colleges and institutions of technical education in Sindh.

Unlawful activities, hate speech and carrying of weapons will be banned in educational institution sunder the Students Union Act.

House committee on LG law

Earlier, the house unanimously decided to form a special committee for deliberations and consultation on the Sindh Local Government (Amendment) Act, 2021.

Local Government Minister Syed Nasir Shah told the house that the government held a meeting with the members of the opposition parties for amendments to the LG law.

He said that the meeting was attended by Opposition Leader Haleem Adil Sheikh and leaders of parliamentary parties.

He said that the opposition leader would give the names of opposition members for the proposed committee.

Mr Sheikh welcomed the move and said that the opposition from the day one wanted consultation on the local government law.

Published in Dawn, February 12th, 2022

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