By Asra Haque and Ayesha Nazar
Let down by successive democratic governments and banned by military dictatorships for over 35 years, the students of Pakistan came out on the streets, demanding to be heard loud and clear.
Students, activists, and their supporters under the Progressive Students’ Collective came out in 50 cities of Pakistan to present a charter of demands including the restoration of student unions and better education facilities.
Their rallying cries were heard around the country as even the tightly controlled mainstream media aired their demands.
But what is it that they want besides lifting the decade old de-facto ban on student unions?
From cutting tuition fees and making education accessible to rural areas, strict action against sexual harassment cases on campuses, greater allocation of funds to education, to ensured employment after graduation… students shouted their demands in hopes for securing a better and safer future.
Young blood raises its voice against state brutality
The young blood of Pakistan raised their voice for the victims of state brutality… like Baba Jan, a symbol of resistance in Gilgit-Baltistan who remains under arrest since 2010 for leading protests in favour of the displaced masses of Attabad Lake.
The marchers also relentlessly chanted against the brutal lynching of Mashal Khan under a false blasphemy charge, and cried for justice for the slain Naqeebullah Mehsub, killed in a fake encounter with the police. These students raised their slogans for missing persons in Baluchistan and demanded their safe return.
The young students banged on their drums, shouted from every corner and raised their slogans in solidarity with the victims of harassment at Balochistan University Mashal Khan, his family and others like him the transgender community who marched for equal access to education alongside students, ethnic minorities and labourers, who marched for freedom. It was heartening to see students from across Pakistan raising voice for these victims and bringing them to light after they have faded from the memory of the mainstream media.
These faces bring the pain and suffering of their people to their struggle…. they march with a conscience…. the bold and young of Pakistan.