ISLAMABAD-Islamabad police registered FIR early Friday after one student was killed and several others injured during a clash between the two groups over an event at the International Islamic University, Islamabad (IIUI) a day earlier.

The incident took place on the heels of a debate whether student politics should be revived in the country. Student politics in Pakistan has had a tumultuous history. The Senate’s Committee of the Whole had passed a resolution calling for the revival of student unions in educational institutions. This was not the first time that restoration of unions has been given a green signal. Former Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani had also announced a similar decision after receiving a unanimous vote of confidence from the National Assembly in 2008.

A fresh debate for the revival of students unions started few weeks back followed by a protest by the students at Lahore so as to press the government on the subject. According to the some experts and the politicians, revival of student politics in Pakistan is a necessity.

As far as the recent incident is concerned, 16 students have been arrested so far. The incident had left Syed Tufail hailing from Gilgit-Baltistan dead.

According to the police sources, a search operation was conducted at the university and hostels followed by the incident, however, no weapons were recovered. The FIR was registered at the Sabzi Mandi police station on the complaint of a student, Fahad Khan Babar, under Section 302 (premeditated murder), 324 (attempt to murder), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon) and 149 of the Pakistan Penal Code.

According to Fahad Khan, the ‘Mega Educational Expo’ was underway at the University’s Activity Centre when some individuals attacked the participants. He said that speeches were going on during the event when at around 8:40pm, individuals from various counsels attacked the event, bearing firearms, glass bottles, iron rods, sharp tools, sticks and rocks. As per the FIR, the suspects continued to attack those at the event and injured several students.

The injured were immediately shifted to a hospital, where Tufail succumbed to his wounds. The FIR called for legal action to be taken against those behind the incident.

At the time of Pakistan’s creation in 1947, the only established student organisation was the Muslim Students Federation (MSF), the student wing of the ruling Muslim League. The MSF was formed to assist the League in recruiting students and young Muslims of undivided India and help it achieve its goal of attaining a separate country for the Muslims of the region, according to the reports.

Before student unions were banned by Ziaul Haq in 1984, their activities were conducted through regular annual elections in universities and colleges. According to a brief history of students union in Pakistan, Islami Jamiat Taliba, student wing of religio-political party Jamaat-e-Islami was formed in December 1947.

IJT is often accused of introducing firearms in student politics. It has had been a major political force on the campuses of Pakistani universities.

IJT being an Islamist group has had active rivalries with other political groups on university campuses of the country. Some of its most bitter rivals over the years have been Peoples Student Federation (PSF), student wing of the Pakistan People’s Party; Imamia Student Organisation (ISO), student wing of the Shia community; All Pakistan Muhajir Student Organization (APMSO) and Muslim Students federation. After coming into being in 1978, APSMO has had a very confrontational relationship with IJT, particularly in Karachi city.

National Students Federation (NSF): One of the oldest progressive student organisations in Pakistan. It began as the student wing of the Communist Party of Pakistan (CPP).

It exhibited electoral supremacy in student union elections through the 1960s and early 1970s and was at the forefront of the movement against Ayub Khan’s dictatorship in 1968. In the late 1970s and 1980s, the NSF became part of the progressive electoral alliances, the United Students Movement (USM) in Karachi and the Progressive Students Alliance in Punjab. Currently, the NSF has a small presence in a couple of colleges in Sindh, Punjab, and Azad Kashmir.

Peoples Students Federation (PSF): The student wing of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) was formed in 1972. It exhibited electoral strength in Interior Sindh and Northern Punjab and played a leading role in the anti-Zia agitation in the late 1970s and then again during the MRD movement in 1981 and 1983.

All Pakistan Muttahida Students Organisation (APMSO): Urban Sindh-based nationalist students’ group was formed in 1978; in retrospect the student forerunner of the Muttahida and the Mohajir Qaumi Movement.

It was part of the Progressive Students Alliance, until becoming an independent force in 1988. It neutralised the IJT’s influence in Karachi.

Muslim Students Federation (MSF): The student wing of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) supported Ayub Khan till 1965, but joined the NSF’s agitation against the Ayub regime in the late 1960s. Withered away in the 1970s before being revamped and revived in the late 1980s by the Zia-backed PML. It supported the Nawaz Sharif faction of the PML in the 1990s.

Progressive Students Alliance (PSA): The electoral alliance was formed in late 1970s to counter the IJT’s rise in Punjab colleges and universities. It defeated the IJT in 1977 and 1978 student union elections in northern Punjab.

United Students Movement (USM): The electoral student alliance was formed in Karachi in 1979.

It included the National Students Federation, the Democratic Students Federation, the People’s Students Federation, the All Pakistan Mohajir Students Organisation, the Baloch Students Organisation and the Pakhtoon Students Federation. It managed to route the IJT in the last student union elections held in Karachi in 1981. It was dissolved in 1990 after the APMSO left in 1988 and the PSF left it in 1989.

After student wings of the political parties were banned, ‘ethnic councils’ at the university campuses emerged.

Baloch Council, Siraeki Council, Pakhtoon Council etc. are the common words one can hear at a campus.

In wake of growing cases of violence in the campuses, the society and parents expressed their concern as they believe that the activities being violent, cause distractions from the task of receiving education. Parents and students alike now view unions and politics with suspicion.

On the other hand, the student unions/factions have been existing and functioning outside the ambit of regulations. Who is to blame; successive governments or the students themselves?