The campus and facilities of the Punjab University are such that it should be striving to be one of the best universities on the continent. But instead of focusing on education and research, clashes between groups of students on Friday turned the university into a battleground once again.

With 18 people injured in total as a result of a tussle between members of the Islami Jamiat Talaba (IJT) and the Pakhtun student council, one can only wonder when the university administration and the government will open their eyes to see that the violence always has the same organisations involved each time.

There have been other incidents of ethnic tensions in other campuses as well, with the Quaid-e-Azam University as a prime example. It is quite obvious that universities will continue to see incidents of violent conduct and clashes between large groups of students when our institutes are divided along religious and ethnic lines.

Instead of allowing student unions, that can actively be used to foster discussion, plurality of thought and more tolerance among campuses – if a proper code of conduct is devised – we have allowed for uncontrolled groups to take other students hostage.

We need student unions – which are composed on a spectrum of cultures and belief systems – to allow for greater diversity at higher education institutions. The government must also work with their provincial counterparts to develop a zero-tolerance policy on violence in campuses.

We can’t sit silently while are best and brightest are subjected to violence in situations where they must be allowed to feel safe, in order to properly exercise their mental faculties. All those involved in Friday’s violence must also be disciplined in the strongest possible manner. Whatever happened to the pen being mightier than the sword?