Punjab Students Convention 2004: Students have right to speak but not impose: Musharraf
* President tells students to be moderate, tolerate and to integrate
* Calls for de-politicisation of campuses
By Waqar Gillani
LAHORE: Addressing the Punjab Student Convention 2004 on Friday, President Gen Pervez Musharraf asked students to respect the right of others to speak their mind and voice their opinions but said that nobody had the right to impose his/her opinion on others.
President Musharraf urged the students to be confident, for which he mentioned three ingredients: character, truthfulness and contentment in life. He said that human interaction was worth half the success of life. The president said that it was up to the young generation to strengthen the nation and build Pakistan as a progressive and enlightened state.
The president announced cash awards of Rs 25,000 for the main speakers of the debating sessions and Rs 10,000 for the moderators and short-listed candidates. He said that the discussion themes were well thought through and had inspired new ideas. He appreciated the competition and said that his and other government’s top officials’ presence at the convention was proof of the government’s resolve to promote education. He also awarded shields to the students and the convention’s organising committee.
In his welcome address, Lt Gen (r) Khalid Maqbool, the Punjab governor and chancellor of all public universities, said that the federal convention was the spirit behind the first ever Punjab convention. He said that the convention would help organise young people and would enable them to understand national issues. He also spoke about education reforms and other initiatives taken in Punjab to promote education.
Dr Mugheesuddin Sheikh, the Punjab University Mass Communication Department head, conducted the convention, whereas Saira Dogar, Farhan Ibdat, Seema Sohail and Maryam Farooqi were the moderators of the four discussion sessions. The themes of the convention were ‘Jinnah’s vision of a moderate Pakistan’, ‘National Integration-Opportunities and Challenges’, ‘Learning to live together in a global village’, and ‘Role of universities in facing the challenges of a rapidly changing world’.
The speakers and discussants of the session ‘Jinnah’s vision of a moderate Pakistan’ included Fareeha Jamil, Ayesha Siddiqa, Sobha Sohail, Osama Ashraf, Afshan Shahid, Kehkashan Noor, and Khadija Yaqoob. They all claimed that Jinnah’s vision of moderation had been swarmed with conflict and contradiction. They spoke about Quaid-e-Azam’s views and quoted references for equal rights of citizenship, no provincial bias, humanity, freedom of expression, self accountability, promoting standards of social justice, honour killing, status of women and freedom of press.
The speakers and discussants of the session ‘National Integration-Opportunities and Challenges’ included Kamran Shaukat, Humeera Tariq, Sidra Naseer, Maryam Ishtiaq, Syed Mansoor Zaman and Irat Sohail. They said that the nation’s integration had become hollow and claimed that provincialism, extremism, sectarianism, terrorism, water availability, issue of equality of justice were the major obstacles to national integration. The speakers and discussants of the session ‘Learning to live together in a global village’ included Amara Zafar, Neelam Shafique, Anwarul Haq, Mahreen Bazam and Ferozudin Shah (a maddarasa student). They called for a larger role of clerics, discussion on globalisation, tolerance, absorbing others’ views and a focus on genuine issues. The speakers and discussants of the session ‘Role of universities in facing the challenges of rapidly changing world’ included Sidra Ra’ana, Sultan Ranjha and others. They called for universities to take the role of the leadership and demanded that campuses be de-politicised.
Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, Higher Education Commission chairman Dr Attaur Rehman, Punjab Education minister, vice chancellors, representatives of Punjab’s public and private universities, Education Department officials, bureaucrats and a large number of students were present.