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Code of Conduct Needed to Restore Student Unions: Imran Khan

by Newsweek Pakistan

File photo of Prime Minister Imran Khan. Aamir Qureshi—AFP

Pakistan’s prime minister suggests ‘enforceable’ code required to prevent student unions from devolving into ‘violent battlegrounds’

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday suggested his government was willing to restore student unions in universities across Pakistan—once it has established a “comprehensive and enforceable code of conduct” for their functioning to prevent past violence.

In a post on Twitter, Khan said it was unfortunate that students unions had devolved into “violent battlegrounds” that “completely destroyed the intellectual atmosphere on campuses.” He said a code of conduct designed using best practices adopted by internationally renowned universities would be established to prevent student unions from similarly devolving in future.

“Universities groom future leaders of the country and student unions form an integral part of this grooming,” he added, in reference to increasing demands from students for the restoration of unions on campuses to grant them representation in the operation of their varsities.

On Nov. 29, hundreds of thousands of students across Pakistan took to the streets as part of the Student Solidarity March to issue a list of demands, including but not limited to a greater allocation of the federal budget for higher education, restoration of student unions and establishment of committees to probe cases of sexual harassment.

Addressing the demands, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan said P.M. Khan had directed the federal and provincial governments to formulate a comprehensive strategy for the protection of students’ rights. “The young generation is a valuable asset of ours and [our] hope for a bright future,” she said on Twitter, adding the prime minister was dedicated to helping the youth realize their hopes for the future of Pakistani society.

“We need to build our youth’s character based on the principles of hard work and honesty. Along with this, it is very important to make their dynamic character compatible with society’s well-being, national interest and safety,” she added.

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