Saturday, December 1, 2007

Students rally against emergency, media curbs

* SP warns of arrests
* Says protests under emergency rule illegal
* Students want right to form peaceful student groups on campuses

By Adnan Lodhi

About 300 students from various educational institutions protested the suspension of the constitution and curbs on the media at Liberty roundabout after Friday prayers.The students also taped their mouths shut and observed a 10-minute silence in protest. Superintendent of Police (Model Town division) Imran Ahmad said the police would take action against the students because the country was under emergency and nobody was allowed to protest on the streets.Students of the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), Beaconhouse National University (BNU), FAST National University of Computer and Emerging Sciences, Punjab University (PU), University of Engineering and Technology (UET) and Lahore School of Economics gathered at Liberty roundabout after Friday prayers. Lawyers, teachers and NGO workers also joined them.The students shouted anti-Musharraf slogans, as they marched within the roundabout. They held posters and placards inscribed with slogans such as ‘We are against PCO’, ‘Judiciary under PCO is not acceptable’, ‘Elections not acceptable’, ‘Adlia ki azadi tak jung rahai gi’, ‘Go Musharraf Go’ and ‘Adlia ko azad karo’. Several students also shouted slogans against the Islami Jamiat Talaba.Students also staged a sit-in at the roundabout and made speeches on the occasion. They distributed pamphlets amongst citizens to make them aware about the situation and to urge them to protest the emergency.A student from LUMS said the problems in Pakistan could not be resolved by removing a dictator. He said the country lacked institutions required to make it go ahead. He said that under such circumstances students had taken the first step to organise themselves under the banner of the Students Action Committee (SAC). “We will continue our movement even after the achievement of our short term goals. We want to win for the people of Pakistan,” he added.A student from PU said the students of universities were united against the emergency. He said the students had organised themselves on a common agenda to protest the injustices against the people. He said, “We demand empowering the people of Pakistan to decide the country’s future.”A teacher said, “We urge the youth of Pakistan to unite against the emergency and PCO, which has destroyed the judiciary.”A student from LUMS told Daily Times that they wanted the right to form peaceful democratic student organisations on campus where discussions and debates on politics and social issues could be openly held. He said students would continue protesting and would soon announce their next strategy after an SAC meeting.A large police contingent was present. The SP told Daily Times that the police allowed the students to protest within the boundaries of Liberty roundabout. However, he said legal action would be taken against them, as it was illegal to protest during an emergency.Another police officer said the police would contact the administrations of the colleges where the students studied to identify the protest leaders.IJT protest: Islami Jamiat Talaba (IJT) workers protested against criminal cases against PU teachers. According to a press release issued by the IJT on Friday, protestors also shouted slogans against the PCO and the emergency.PU IJT nazim Attiqur Rehman said the cases against teachers were illegal and that the government was victimising them for starting a movement against the emergency. He said the IJT would continue its movement against the emergency and that the government should end FIRs against the IJT.

Students should unite for Pakistan’s sake: Imran Khan

* Hundreds at students’ convention demand a free judiciary

Staff ReportLAHORE:

Students of the country should gather on one platform for the country’s sake, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan said at a students’ convention at the PTI office in Ichhra on Friday.A couple of hundred students of various educational institutions of the city including the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), Beaconhouse National University (BNU), FAST-National University and the Punjab University (PU), had gathered at the PTI office for the convention. The convention aimed at gathering student support for the judiciary’s independence and the lifting of the emergency.Khan said he had not called the students to launch a students’ wing of his party, but to mobilise them in the ongoing struggle for the judiciary’s freedom. He said the student’s participation in the movement was pivotal for success.The PTI chief said that incidents like the one when members of the Islami Jamiat Talaba (IJT) manhandled him in the PU and handed him over to the police would neither deter his resolve nor his confidence in the students’ power.He said the All Parties Democratic Movement’s (APDM) call to boycott the coming elections had a one-point agenda of restoring the judiciary to its pre-emergency status. He urged the opposition leaders who had expressed willingness to contest the elections to unite with the APDM for this purpose.Khan praised the deposed judges for not taking oath under the Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO). He also stressed the role of an independent judiciary for the rule of law in the country. “Without an independent judiciary, the country has no future.” He said the judges, who had taken oath under the PCO, were holding offices they did not deserve.Many students also made speeches at the convention and expressed support for Khan.IJT stops PU students: Some students of the PU told Daily Times on Friday that IJT activists had stopped many students of the varsity from participating in the convention.Ali Shah, a PU student, said IJT workers had stopped hundreds of PU students standing at bus stops from boarding buses heading towards Ichhra. He said the IJT workers also beat several bus drivers for stopping buses at the stops despite their signals not to.PU IJT media secretary Imran Kiyani said the IJT had not stopped anyone and termed the allegation baseless. He said that after the Friday prayers, all IJT workers had been at an IJT protest against the emergency.