Students throughout Pakistan (around 60 cities and towns) came out in a march on November 29, 2019 to demand the restoration of student unions, higher allocations for education, lowering fees to provide access to education to poor students, and a host of other demands on issues that affect the youth in the educational field. Three notable characteristics of the march were: the unprecedented unity of the students, the leading role played by women students, and the slogans, placards and speeches in favour of a progressive Pakistan. None of these demands were against the law or Constitution, the rallies were orderly and peaceful, and no untoward incidents were seen.
For their pains of raising the universal demands of all students across the country, six of the organisers and 300 unnamed participants had sedition charges placed on them. Alamgir Wazir, one of the student leaders, was whisked away from Punjab University Lahore and remains incarcerated. The six organisers have either obtained or are in the process of getting bail before arrest. The government of Imran Khan is red-faced because some of their leaders had supported the students’ demands. This reveals the movers of these sedition cases as being other than the civilian government, and arguably the real power centre.
Rashed Rahman is a distinguished journalist who served as former editor of one of Pakistan’s leading newspapers, the Daily Times.