Students, activists, and supporters have taken to the streets across Pakistan to record their protest under ‘Students Solidarity March.’ For an avid social media user, the #StudentsSolidarityMarch won’t be a new thing, as it is currently trending hot on Twitter and Facebook. But, not all of us are aware of its backgrounder. Read on to know what is the Students Solidarity March and why & where is it happening?
What is Students Solidarity March?
The issued started to heat up when last week, a video of a group of students went viral.
In the video, a woman student can be seen chanting the slogan, “Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna Ab Hamare Dil Mein Hai.” The footage was reportedly from Lahore, and the participants were members of the Progressive Students’ Collective (PSC), the organizers of this whole event.
In Pakistan, there are nearly 25 active student organizations; 15 of them are in Karachi alone. Over time, these organizations have taken to the streets for their particular demands, but these individual and fragmented movements don’t often yield desired results. To make these demonstrations more effective, these organizations have been united under the banner of the ‘Students Action Committee.’
When Is It Happening?
Under this banner, these organizations are carrying out rallies on the regional level on Friday (today). As per a tweet, PSC’s official Twitter handle, demonstrations are being staged in 50 cities across the country.
Final locations of #StudentsSolidarityMarch organised by Students Action Committee today.
Istanbul Chowk to Punjab Assembly
Press Club to D-Chowk
A) Degree college to Zaheer Chowk
B) Poonch University to Main Road
— PSC (@PSCollective_) November 29, 2019
Twitter is filled with demonstrations videos and photos from all major cities of Pakistan, some of them are as under:
#StudentSolidarityMarch in #Islamabad proceeding from Press club towards D Chowk right now – energised environment with around 1000 students united to demand #RestoreStudentUnion pic.twitter.com/PYSMByuAy9
— Usama Khilji (@UsamaKhilji) November 29, 2019
— Mohsin (@MohsinNAbbasi) November 29, 2019
— Nasir yousafzai (@NasirYousafzai0) November 29, 2019
Sitting, standing, chanting listening speeches at Press Club Karachi in an account of #StudentSolidarityMarch.. I feel proud to become part of this great movement as PPP is only Political party that vocal for Student Union.@BBhuttoZardari @BakhtawarBZ @AseefaBZ @KasimGillani pic.twitter.com/Or9MQ3oNkS
— Khaleek Kohistani (@KohistaniKhalik) November 29, 2019
— voicepk.net (@voicepkdotnet) November 29, 2019
— Said Alam (@saidalammahsud) November 29, 2019
— M. Hussain Amin (@MHussainAmin) November 29, 2019
— ismail kakar (@IsmailKakar6) November 29, 2019
Why Is It Happening?
While each rally raised voice on their local issues, primary demands remain the same. The Student Action Committee has released a 10-point Charter of Demand, which has been listed below:
- Student organizations/unions should be revived.
- Education, based on the class system, should be abolished.
- The privatization of educational institutions must be stopped.
- All national languages must be made compulsory at the primary level.
- Strong actions should be taken to stop sexual harassment at educational institutions.
- Basic facilities, like transportation, hostels, and water, should be improved.
- Five percent of total GDP should be allocated for education.
- The intervention of security forces must be stopped.
- The recent increase in fees should be reverted, and HEC funds should be revived.
- Educational institutions destroyed during military operations should be reconstructed.
What is Next for Solidarity March?
This is not the first time such an event has been organized in the country. But, the momentum and the media coverage this year’s march has received is unprecedented.
Not only did it find space in the headlines, political bigwigs like Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also threw weight behind this mega students’ movement.
Here is what Bilawal said:
end to privatization of public universities, implementation of sexual harassment legislation, right to student housing & the demilitarization of campuses. The spirit of activism and yearning for peaceful democratic process from a new generation of students is truly inspiring. 2/2
— BilawalBhuttoZardari (@BBhuttoZardari) November 29, 2019
While this solidarity march is yet to take any shape in the recent political scenario of the country, the political commentators are seeing it as a next big challenge for the incumbent government in the days to come.