February 9th, 2022
By Hamid Riaz
Baloch students are staging a sit-in outside the Vice-Chancellor (VC) office in Punjab University against what they have termed as a ‘deliberate procedural delay’ in the allotment of seats reserved for students belonging to the Balochistan province.
“The university administration failed to formally put their signatures on the nomination papers of the Baloch students applying on reserved seats in different departments. As a result, several dozen reserved seats across different departments of the university have lapsed,” says Sheraz Baloch, General Secretary of Punjab University’s Baloch council.
“We have repeatedly expressed how important these reserved seats are for the educational development of our province’s youth. We have fought extremely hard for these reserved seats and we can’t let them go to waste like this. For this reason, we initiated a sit-in yesterday at 6 pm,” continues Sheraz.
The Pakistan Muslim League –N (PML-N) government in Punjab had launched two different scholarship and reserved seat schemes for students from Balochistan and erstwhile FATA, as an extension to an existing program initiated by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).
These reserved seats (and scholarships) were scrapped by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf led governing coalition in Punjab. As a response to this cancellation Baloch and Pashtun students from across Punjab had initiated a province-wide protest campaign which culminated in a grand long march. The PTI was forced to re-instate these seats after the students’ protest camp drew support from prominent opposition politicians including Maryam Nawaz.
In addition to this budding crisis around reserved seats, the students have also demanded that the administration take action against members of Islami Jamiat Talaba who have allegedly taken over hostels and are reportedly not allowing allotment of rooms to be reserved seat students.