Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday expressed the government’s willingness to allow the restoration of student unions subject to the establishment of a “comprehensive and enforceable code of conduct”.
“Universities groom future leaders of the country and student unions form an integral part of this grooming,” said the prime minister in a post on Twitter.
Referring to the student unions of the past, the prime minister said that they had become “violent battlegrounds and completely destroyed the intellectual atmosphere on campuses”.
He, however, clarified that unions will be “restored and enabled to play their part” in grooming the future leaders of the country. The premier said that a “comprehensive and enforceable conduct” based on the “best practices in internationally renowned universities” will be developed so that their restoration can be made possible.
Earlier in the day, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan had announced that the prime Minister has directed the federal government and the provinces to form a comprehensive strategy for the protection of students’ rights and for the speedy resolution to their problems.
“The young generation is a valuable asset of ours and [our] hope for a bright future,” said Awan in a tweet.
She added that the realisation of the youth’s dreams is a fundamental mission of the premier.
In another tweet, the premier’s special assistant said that students demanding their rights was a reflection of the increasing consciousness and concern among the youth, which she said was very promising.
Awan added that the youth has the determination to face every challenge.
“We need to build our youth’s character based on the principles of hard work and honesty. Along with this, it is very important to make their dynamic character compatible with society’s well-being, national interest and safety.”
Today’s announcements come two days after students, activists and supporters across Pakistan came out to join the Student Solidarity March, led by the Student Action Committee (SAC), to present a charter of demands.
The march demanded restoration of budget for the Higher Education Commission, end to the layoff of academics, allocation of five percent of the GDP for education, nationalisation of educational institutions and withdrawal of the recent fee hike.
The students also demanded the establishment of committees in all the educational institutes to investigate cases of sexual harassment as well as ensuring representation of students on these committees.
Furthermore, they asked that offices of security forces be removed from campuses, and undue checking should end, among other demands.