Progressive Students Federation (PRSF) held Students Convention in Islamabad


Islamabad: (Abdul Hadi Qureshi) Hundreds of students from across the twin cities educational institutions as well as student leaders from other parts of Pakistan gathered on Saturday evening at Shah Abdul Lateef Bhittai Auditorium for the convention of the left-wing Progressive Students Federation Islamabad-Rawalpindi (PrSF Isb-Rwp), vowing to build connections with students and youth across Pakistan so as to resist the ongoing corporatization of education and the anti-people capitalist system in all spheres of society. The convention brought together not only students but also academics, trade unionists, political workers and artists. The event was crowned by a magical theatre performance by PrSF titled “Qafs” and a musical performance by Hamraz band.

Speaking on the occasion, newly elected General Secretary of PrSF Isb-Rwp, Fatima Shehzad highlighted that students across Pakistan have been systematically weaned off progressive politics since the Zia dictatorship, and displaced by violent and bigoted state-sponsored thugs. The standard of education has declined drastically and the classist education system has further exacerbated inequality in education which carries forward to the job market.
President PrSF Isb-Rwp Ikram Ullah Maseed talked about how students are forced to sign an affidavit while enrolling at higher educational institutions that they will not partake in any political activity, thus alienating them from the affairs of the wider society. He warned that this policy has had disastrous effects and that Pakistan’s current youth bulge – 150 million Pakistanis are under the age of 23 – demands that a conscious and progressive youth not only take an interest in but organize collectively to redress Pakistan’s many outstanding structural crises. In this regard, PrSF Isb-Rwp vice president Faryal Rashid demanded that the state lift the ban on student unions which has been upheld by the Supreme Court since 1993.

Former NSF student leader and current leader of the Awami Workers Party, Alia Amirali said that the only alternative for the youth is to organize in a revolutionary struggle against the systems that perpetuate and thrive on this exploitation, prioritizing their greed, above, and at the cost of the fundamental rights to education, health, housing, and recreation of the all of Pakistan’s people. She said that students have always been at the forefront of political struggle, most notably against the Ayub dictatorship, and progressive ideals of equality of nations, genders and religions continue to inform the struggle of PrSF today. She said that the combination of capitalism and the establishment-centric political order in Pakistan is driving young people and society more generally to the brink of implosion and it only if progressives come together that genuine social transformation in the interests of all future generations of Pakistanis can be fomented.

She rejected the narrative of the PTI government as being a party of the ‘youth’ and noted that more young people are today frustrated and alienated than ever before. If progressive organizations do not bring such youth into their ranks, they will be driven towards toxic state nationalism and the weaponization of religion.
Different students’ leaders expressed their views on students’ rights issues including outgoing PrSF’s leader Minhaj Swati; deputy general secretary Jammu Kashmir National Students Federation, Mujeeb Akber; president PrSF Buner, Shabnam Buneri and president Revolutionary Students Federation Isb-Rwp, Umer Abdullah. Other speakers included Ayaz Safdar Sindhu, AWP Punjab, Youth Secretary and Sana Afraz, General Secretary, Women Democratic Front Islamabad.