Why are student unions important for Pakistan?
Freedom of association is the basis of our intellectual and ideological freedom. The formation of associations is based on ideas and common agendas related to either social or political problems. These movements can bring about significant changes to the society and its ideologies, such bodies are healthy for the community's growth and play an integral part in the younger generation's development of character. However, Student Unions have remained Non-Existent in Pakistan for the past 27 years.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan imposed a ban on the assembly of student unions on 9th February in 1993 and took away the right to assemble from the student body of Pakistan. For the past 27 years, the students do not have a platform to voice their issues or a medium where they can highlight the problems they face. The 1993 Verdict banned the unions because they are a threat to the law and order as they are violent and prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of Pakistan.
However, the younger generations deny the claim, and demand the right to form student unions since they are flag bearers of democracy. The Progressive Student’s Collective is an organization that speaks up for the students’ rights. It has been a strong advocate against the fee hikes, harassment, and the government’s poor policing and budget allocation towards the education sector.
Regarding the issue, in 2017, an attempt was made for the revival of the student unions. The Senate of Pakistan unanimously passed a bill stating to reinstate the Student Unions. However, the bill never got to the parliament. The bill was merely a showpiece, and the students remained deprived of their rights.
Students have found refuge in various organizations based on religious, ethnic, and geographic similarities. These organisations work for a unified plan and a singular idea that benefits the organizations individually and not the whole student community. These organizations have contributed more or less to the amelioration of Pakistan's student body, but the need for student union remains unfulfilled.
These unions are used to represent students in schools and universities and externally as well but due to this ban this representation is effected drastically as no discussions and ideologies cannot be shared which puts a cap on a student’s thinking process which shouldn’t be there so a student can accomplish something different every day. Student Union also teaches a student how to lead and how to handle an issue in the real world something you cannot learn in a school. Pakistan should end these bans and laws should be set up that stop the fights in student unions as these fights were the main reason student unions were banned 27 years ago.
Opponents may argue that Student Unions breed intolerance and hatred amongst the youth. It needs to be recognized that the youth needs an outlet to express their views. Only by giving them a platform can the ideas of the next generation be taken into account and progressive steps can be taken by the Government in order to meet them.
Moreover, we also need to look at the fact that things in the past were different and that some changes should be made as this is a new time period with students with a different mindset the reason students unions should be given a chance by the government so the whole student body of Pakistan can benefit from this decision.