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Students’ rare show against emergency

November 06, 2007


LAHORE, Nov 5: About 400 students staged a rally at Lahore University of Management Sciences on Monday afternoon reflecting rising anti-government sentiment at Pakistan’s leading varsity, following the declaration of emergency rule on Saturday and the detention of three of the LUMS professors on Sunday night.

Student leaders had earlier circulated e-mails calling for a “black day” and urging members of the LUMS student body to attend classes wearing black clothing.

The rally, first of its kind on LUMS campus, follows the arrests of Prof Dr Cheema, Head of the Economics Department, Prof Dr Parvez Hasan, a member of the LUMS Management Committee, Mr Bilal Minto (adjunct faculty in the Department of Law & Policy) and Mr Aasim Sajjad (Social Sciences) on Sunday night for participating in an anti-government meeting held at the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) office where police conducted a massive raid arresting 70 civil society activists.

A flurry of e-mails sent on the internal LUMS e-mail system reflected the student body’s disbelief at current events. One e-mail read: “I believe that most of us consider their choice of peaceful resistance to be a mark of honour and a positive sign of patriotism, not a criminal act”, while another said: “On behalf of the students of LUMS, we strongly condemn the illegal and unjust arrest of our esteemed faculty members, and all other victims of similar oppression all over our country. As the night grows darker over your prison cells, we want to tell you that the students of LUMS, in fact the whole LUMS family, stand one with you.”

Earlier in the day, up to 35 students from LUMS had left classes to attend the protest rally, which took place at the Lahore High Court in the morning. They all returned to campus unscathed.

Before students went for an on-campus demonstration, they were addressed by Justice Khwaja Muhammed Sharif of the Lahore High Court, who refused oath under the PCO, as well as prominent commentator and Prof Rasul Baksh Raees and Prof Osama Siddique at the cafeteria. The speakers denounced the government for imposing state of emergency in the country.

A student leader told Dawn: “Students and labour movements have been part of all great movements and revolutions and it’s important we take a stand now.

“This is the first ever rally of this kind to be held at LUMS, which has traditionally been apolitical. We want to send out a message to Gen Musharraf that this injustice will not be tolerated.”

Later, the LUMS administration officially joined in the condemnation by issuing a statement expressing their “extreme outrage” at the arrests and “complete solidarity” with their colleagues for “exercising their right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression”.

The statement also called for their immediate release along with all other civil society activists.

PU STUDENTS: Punjab University Law College students on Monday staged a protest demonstration against imposition of state of emergency in the country.

Students wore black armbands and hoisted black flags and banners chanting protesting slogans at the university main gate and different departments.

They demanded martial law be removed, democracy revived and Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry reinstated.

Jamiat Talba Islam Nazim Muhammad Ayub said attack on the judiciary was highly condemnable and students would never accept “unconstitutional action by an unconstitutional president”.