Students across the country held the fourth version of the Students Solidarity March on November 26, 2021. The students first and foremost demanded the restoration of student unions, formation of harassment committees and increase of education budget to five percent of the gross domestic product. They also demanded health care for students, 50 percent subsidy on transport, and a much underreported demand; the demilitarisation of university campuses in Sindh and Balochistan.
The demands put forth by the students are those that are the need of the hour for students of this country. One would expect that this being the fourth march, by now it would have set in motion discourse on student rights in the highest echelons of the state. Unfortunately, that is not the case. The demands of the march, like always, have fallen on deaf years. More disappointing has been how the media has not given much coverage to the march.
It seems like the state is hell bent on continuing the same policies set in motion by the military elite during the 1980s, wherein the state suppressed, once and for all, the voice of the students of this country by banning student unions.
Student unions provide the breeding ground for future politicians and activists, and with that channel closed, the politicians we have looking after the interests of the country are feudal landlords and industrialists, whose interests lie more in the land and their capital than the people of this country.
It is often that one hears politicians say that students are the future of the country. But these same politicians, when part of the state apparatus, suppress this very same future. We see time and again that student’s demands are ignored, and that is evidence of the fact that the slogans for the ‘future’ of the country are merely that, slogans.
It is high time the state starts paying heed to the demands of the students. None of the demands put forth by the Students Solidarity March are those that are difficult for the state to implement. But then, naïve as we are, why are we expecting feudal lords and industrialists to cede their authority to potential politicians?
Written by Mustafa Ali | Lahore