Michael Shammas, a third-year student at Harvard Law, wrote a blog in 2013 titled For a Better Society, Teach Philosophy in High Schools in which he talked about the miseries of American society. He proposed a very interesting solution to American policymakers: teach philosophy to the students for a healthy, prosperous and functional democratic society. Shammas argued, “A democratic society cannot function unless its citizens are able to rationally debate one another”. No society can ever flourish unless and until the individuals discuss, debate, challenge and question everything rationally. May be only for that reason Karl Popper in The Myth of the Framework argued that “The growth of knowledge depends entirely upon disagreement.”

Historically speaking, the rulers used to suppress the voice of people and too often the person who dared to voice an opinion was eliminated for the survival of the king and his company. Nobody can forget Socrates for what he did and how was he sentenced to death. Even in modern times, except for those who have no ideological or strong political threats, no one likes poor people raising their voice against them.

It was interesting to observe another awkward reality of our society when the University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF) expelled a PhD student over a Facebook status. When I came to know that this had happened, I couldn’t believe it. How could a university take such a shocking action in the age of Facebook and Twitter against a student only for a few words?

I thought it to be unbelievable. But I was wrong. This had happened, and the student named Syed Kashan Haider Gilani had been thrown out of the university for his Facebook status in which he criticized the Kisan Mela (Farmers Festival) organized by his university where no farmer was invited. Instead a dance concert was arranged by the university. And this is how Kashan criticized the concert:

It offended the university administration and he received a letter by the university to give an explanation for what he wrote. Kashan belongs to a poor family therefore he simply apologized to Director Student Affairs and Disciplinary Advisory in the University. But nobody cared. Then things started getting worse for him and he had to pack his bag and leave the hostel because of his words against the university. The notification the university issued contains a ridiculous argument that “(you) defamed the UAF and were involved in spreading wrong information and misleading the students/community on social media in connection with Kissan Mela.”

When media raised this issue the university had to listen to the student. There was public pressure on the university because people across the country were criticizing the action taken by the administration against the student. As Kashan has unconditionally apologized, the university administration reinstated him.

The point which I want to make here is very clear: Kashan didn’t 'defame' the university. He only expressed his own views regarding the event organized by UAF. If our educational institutions start silencing people by banning them, then what else can we expect from the rest of the society? And if there was a dance concert arranged by the university then why was the UAF hesitating to accept and own it?

I know there are so many Kashans who are the victims of our intellectual dilemma and compelled to be silent. But never forget one of the greatest lessons of history that no one could silence anybody forever. Suppressing voices is one of the most dangerous blunders the human has ever committed throughout the course of history.

Evelyn Beatrice Hall had written in Voltaire’s biography that “I disapprove of what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it”. So, I must say, I might not agree with what Kashan has stated but I really agree with his right to say it. UAF needs to learn and understand that we are a part of 21st century so please stop trying to silence us.