Student Politics: Who To Blame?

Student Politics: Who To Blame?

“Those who refuse to participate in politics are destined to be ruled by their inferiors.”

Students are an integral part of the society. They play an important role in making or breaking the values of a society. Schools and colleges are the best places for the training of students. These schools and colleges should not work like factories where students may be treated like machines. Schools and colleges should be like gardens where students should be treated like plants which may bloom and blossom into flowers. A student’s personality has many facets: psychological, moral, social, political and educational. All these facets must be groomed intelligently by both parents and teachers.

Regarding the role of a student, there are two views. Most people are of the view that students’ activities should be confined to education and education alone. Most parents are scared of their children’s participation in any social or political activity. They think that any extra-curricular activity is a mere wastage of time, money and manners. Their fears are not baseless. The history of student politics in our country has been checkered. Most of the students indulge in negative activities because of politics. Their characters become shoddy. Their career is tarnished and their futures ultimately become bleak. Therefore, politics today is a forbidden field for good and intelligent students and this field has been left only for the rowdy youth. Nowadays youngsters with negative thinking are leading the political scenario in colleges and universities across the country.

However, there are some other people who hold a different view. They think that confining students only to studies would not be fruitful for their future. Mere book-reading and cramming mars a student’s personality because “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. A good education does not only mean passing on information – formation should also go along with information. Students are human beings and not robots. They are to play their role in society after getting the necessary education. They are to become good citizens for this purpose. They are to learn tolerance, civic sense, sense of cooperation, art of discussion and speech and many other characteristics of the head and the heart.

All these things can’t be learnt by moral and intellectual norms in isolation. A mere bookworm would make no contribution to the development of society. Now the question is, how can students attain these characteristics? This can neither be done in factories nor in offices. The only places suitable are schools, colleges and universities. These educational institutions can offer good opportunities for the realization of required characteristics. Colleges and universities provide different kinds of extra-curricular activities. There are sports, speeches and debate competitions and other socio-literary activities. They are the best channels through which students can know about current political, social. intellectual, religious, economic and cultural affairs. Through these organizations students can display their speaking capabilities and engaging in dialogue in a better way.

When passionate, determined students enter politics, they can change the system by keeping true to their principles of integrity. Society cannot make headway without sensible, sincere and strong leadership. In our country, leadership is emerging from one particular class only. All important positions in the corridors of power are possessed by jageerdars and big lords. There is no scope for the emergence of middle class or lower middle class in the present political scenario. This deficiency can be met by colleges and universities through student unions. However, student’s political activities should be under strict watch. College administration should encourage good and intelligent students to lead political activities. It has been rightly said by Nancy Gibbs that,

“We know what the birth of a revolution looks like: A student stands before a tank. A fruit seller sets himself on fire. A line of monk’s link arms in a human chain. Crowds surge, soldiers fire, gusts of rage pull down the monuments of tyrants, and maybe, sometimes, justice rises from the flames.”

Unfortunately, another astonishing reality behind the demise of good student politics is the teacher’s involvement in it. Beside political parties, teachers also use students to achieve their required purposes and teacher politics is also a harsh reality of our public sector institutions. I have witnessed several incidents while studying law at Punjab University, an institute previously known for its educational norms and legacy but these days famous for student union riots. Awais Aqeel, my senior at the Punjab University Law College, was brutally murdered on hostel premises five years ago because of his involvement with a particular student union and the university remained closed for 2-3 days. May his soul rest in Peace. Ameen! As usual, our security agencies failed to arrest the absconders while the government along with varsity administration did not take preventive measures to deal with these kinds of activities in future. This creates a sense of insecurity among students and their parents.

Political goons must be shunted from the arena of student politics to strengthen a friendly environment for good student politics as seen around the globe. It is strange to expect students to refrain from political activities while on campus on one hand and participate in the democratic process once they step into the real world on the other hand. Politics in Pakistan would gain much more if democratic culture was allowed to take root within colleges and universities.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” 
~Margaret Mead


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of or any organization with which he might be associated.

Mian Nairab Khurshid

Author: Mian Nairab Khurshid

The writer is a lawyer teaching Constitutional Law.