In a recent notification, the administration of the University Of Balochistan (UOB) banned all “political activities” and “political gatherings” in the premises of the university to avoid “disruption” in the educational environment of the university. The notification claimed that students’ wings have activated “anti-academic activities” within the campus which risks the “ongoing smooth” educational environment. The notification recommended the administration to “strictly direct” the security formations of the university to ensure the implementation of the ban.
The ban on student politics was not welcomed among the Baloch student circles. Baloch Student Organization Pajjar, a prominent champion of students’ rights in Balochistan, said that the university administration is afraid of “enlightenment” and “academic consciousness” among the Baloch students. The spokesperson said that the vice-chancellor and his underlings respect no boundaries when it comes to their illegal interest in the university. The administration has resorted to such petty tactics to conceal their misdeeds and failures. We will launch a movement in union with other student organizations against this decision, the spokesperson concluded.
Baloch Students Action Committee (BSAC), another well-known students’ rights organization, also condemned the decision. In a recent statement, the BSAC spokesperson said that the ban on student politics is alarming, as it is equivalent of curbing the democratic and legal rights of the Baloch students. He said that banning the extra-curricular activities in educational institutes has perpetuated an environment of “dread” and “suffocation” that bars the students from harnessing their creative skills.
The spokesperson further said that the ban on student politics is an attempt to deter the students from protesting against the violation of their democratic rights. He concluded by appealing to the authorities to lift the ban so that a conducive educational environment can be established where students can utilize their academic, political and creative skills.
Baloch students have been crying out loud for a long time that the University of Balochistan has been converted into a “cantonment.” They complain that the university has been manned to such an extent that “it looks less like an educational institution and more like a military barrack.” They say that the administration issues such bans to hide its culpability, as the student organizations can expose their misdeeds in the university campus, as they did in October 2019 when the UOB Scandal came to spotlight.
It was revealed that the university administration had been recording the candid movement of female students in the university premises and subsequently using that footage to extort financial and sexual favors from them. In the wake of the discovery, student organizations throughout Balochistan launched a movement against the administration and attracted national and even global attention. As a result, the vice-chancellor of the university and several other members of the administration were suspended and several security cameras were removed.
It is pertinent to mention that ban on student politics is not unique in Balochistan. In November last year, the governor of Balochistan banned students’ politics in the University Of Balochistan, ostensibly to maintain the “conducive academic environment.” In March 2019, Balochistan Higher Education and Colleges banned “political activities” in all government colleges and universities of Balochistan.
Members and leaders of several student organizations have disappeared throughout the years and many remain missing to this day. In extreme scenarios, the security forces have reportedly cracked down on the student organizations.