Islamabad [Pakistan], November 26 (ANI): Hundreds of students marched in Pakistan's Lahore on Friday, demanding the revival of student unions and fee waivers for pupils from flood-affected areas.
The students marched from Nasser Bagh to Charing Cross and later on, the Progressive Students Collective (PSC), Baloch, Seriaki, Punjabi and Pushtun councils activists from different educational institutions of Lahore joined them on The Mall, Dawn reported.
The march started from Nasser Bagh around 2 pm and reached the Charing Cross at 4:20 pm.
The marchers, both men and women, chanted slogans and waved placards and banners inscribed with demands for the revival of student unions, fee waiver for students from flood-affected areas, the establishment of anti-harassment committees, early release of arrested student leaders, provision of clean drinking water on the campus and other facilities.
The most-chanted slogan was 'Hum kya chahte, Aazaadi" (What do we want? Freedom!).
The students also performed a street theatre on the theme of freedom of speech, according to Dawn.
In 1984, under the Zia regime, student unions were banned in the country. According to Dawn, the student unions were once the vibrant nurseries of democracy, but with the ban, the political culture in the country has been weakened.
The student-led activities helped the educated youth to interact with their fellow students, share ideas and develop intellectually, socially and academically, preparing them for future leadership roles.
The country has many seasoned politicians who were politically groomed on campuses brimming with ideas and activities, but the ban created a political vacuum which resulted in a crisis of governance and democratic culture in the country, Dawn reported.
Meanwhile, PSC's President Qaiser Javed said that the main issues for the students are the hefty increases in fees, enforced disappearances and harassment on campus.
He said the students from flood-affected areas could not pay the fees because their families suffered heavy losses and their belongings, including crops, cattle and houses, were swept away by the deluge, regretting that the government took no measure to waive their fee.
Javed further said that all the educational infrastructure in the flood-affected areas was damaged, creating problems for the students, Dawn reported.
Javed said some educational institutes had formed anti-harassment committees, but these bodies were not active and there was no representation of female students in the committees.
He said the universities were devising policies without consulting the stakeholders, while the students were facing difficulties due to a shortage of hostels and a lack of transport service. (ANI)