The last few days have awakened the most crucial forces that have been missing in the politics of Pakistan for a very long time. The students of Pakistan, who have decided to rise from the slumber of passivity, have decided to reclaim their legacy. They know that they brought down a military dictator in 1969, and they are up for it again. The students movement, though in embryonic form at present, have given bright hopes to numerous those who considered battle against General Musharraf a lost cause. Rejecting those who laid arms without even giving a good fight, the students of Pakistan have shown the struggle for democracy is not over with the arrests of lawyers and political workers.
The call to students came from the most unexpected quarter. Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), considered to be an elite university in Pakistan, became the recipient to the honor of organizing the first student protest for democratic rights in the present anti-Musharraf movement. For the last four days, LUMS students have been actively involved in waging a constant struggle for their democratic rights in the face of intimidations and ill-intended rumors. Starting from Monday, when some students also decided to visit the Lahore High Court and saw the State repression happening in front of their very eyes, students from LUMS have been organizing rallies and meetings on the campus. The momentum of these meetings is escalating with every passing day.
The most remarkable feature of LUMS protests is their prudence in attracting massive attention from local and international media without engaging in any active confrontation with the Police. The coverage given by local and international media to LUMS, and the news of similar protests taking place at other educational institutions, has further raised the enthusiasm of the Luminites. Despite a strong presence of adventurists, the students are realizing that they are up for a protracted struggle and any clash with the Police, in the absence of iron solidarity, can compromise their efforts in organizing the students of Pakistan at large.
Following the lead of LUMS, students of other educational institutions have also risen up for democracy. The students of FAST-NU had to face the brunt of State on Wednesday, November 7, when a group of students and faculty members organized a demonstration. The Police trashed a student, Abdullah Zaki, and sealed the campus with numerous Policemen deployed at the gate to harass the agitating students. The enthusiasm shown by the FAST-NU students while facing the rage of the State was exemplary.
The faculty of Punjab University discussed the plans for protests on Wednesday. Around one hundred teachers of the University took out a rally an on-campus demonstration on Thursday.
While Lahore is following a trend of on-campus protests, the Leftist organizations of Rawalpindi have devised a unique ‘protest and run’ strategy. This strategy is very simple. As the term implies, get together, protest, and as soon as the Police is in sight, run. No arrests. That has been the course for the last couple of days. They demonstrate at random places, even famous markets, and retreat within fifteen minutes. The Police, unable to lay their hands on these careful protestors en masse, are further frustrated by the sympathizers who help the demonstrators to make safe escapes.
The students have also adopted the novel ‘protest and run’ method of getting the message through without undergoing much trouble (though no political activity is without risk in Pakistan these days). Students of Hamdard University have successfully implemented these tactics on Wednesday. Quaid-e-Azam University, another place which has surprised many, has also employed the ‘protest and run’ strategy with success.
This is so far the development of the early stages of the anti-dictatorship movement. While the university students will continue to mobilize there forces and strengthen to participate in the up-coming second wave of protests, some young twelve year olds from Karachi have understood the Emergency crisis in a very fascinating way.
The seven grade student of Karachi have observed from the Emergency that: General Musharraf is the evil Lord Voldemort of Pakistan; Benazir Bhutto is Umbridge, an evil ministry witch who had given Harry a hard time in his fifth year at the Hogwarts; Quaid-e-Azam is Professor Dumbledore; Shaukat Aziz is Thackneize, who was the prime minister of the wizards appointed by Voldemort; and, the Media emerged as the ‘Order of Phoenix’, a secret society working hard to bring down Voldemort independent of the Ministry of Magic. Guess who is the Harry Potter? Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, the lawyers being Harry’s friends.
Carry on the good work, kids.
You will soon find Dumbledore’s Army in action as well.