Ban? What ban?


The prospect of violence looms large in many educational institutes of the city as banned organizations gain power in many universities of Sindh. This is happening under the very nose of law enforcement agencies while the administrations of these universities have also not taken an active interest in the issue.
It has been learned that activists of Sipah-e-Muhammad Pakistan (SMP) and Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) and Sindhu Desh Liberation Army (SDLA) are carrying out their activities openly in many universities.
The aforementioned organizations are strengthening their positions in many educational institutes and are trying to convince many new students to join them. Karachi University, Federal Urdu University, Dawood College of Engineering and Technology, and other institutions of the city are the targets of these organizations.
The government of Pakistan imposed bans on Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan and Sipah-e-Muhammad in 2001 as activists of both organizations were involved in sectarian killings (a menace which has claimed more than 5000 lives in the last 20 years) and in bombing their rivals’ mosques.
Sources claimed that SMP have sitting points in front of the cafeteria of Karachi University and have formed pickets on the roof of the cafeteria to provide shelter to their activists while activists of SSP were openly arranging gatherings in different departments.
Both organizations have chalked their slogans and their names on the walls of Karachi University and are distributing their literature amongst the students. It is pertinent to note here that the government of Pakistan had imposed a ban on the literature of both these organizations as it was fanning sectarian hatred.
Sources further claimed that these SMP activists conducting these activities were not students of Karachi University and visited the university only to run their affairs. About 100 activists of SMP used to sit in front of the cafeteria while 10 to 15 armed activists of SMP were positioned in the surroundings of that cafeteria to provide protection to the other activists.
Even though members of SMP have been apprehended in different cases by the Karachi police, they still continue to conduct these activities with impunity. Ina particular case, a member of SMP was arrested by the police in 2010 and heavy weaponry was recovered from his vehicle. Sources claim that this very person is now leading campaigns in Karachi University and has openly admitted to being a shooter for the banned outfit.
Unfortunately, some of the teachers in these universities, having affiliations with both sects, are providing support to these organizations. A staff member of Karachi University told Pakistan Today on the condition of anonymity that teachers are openly supporting these banned organizations and that a female teacher, serving on an important post within the administration, is actively participating in the activities of SMP. Sources claimed that this teacher provided the activists of SMP with a separate area for conducting their activities while another male teacher had given them free use of his home, situated in staff colony of Karachi University.
Students of Karachi University told Pakistan Today that activists of SMP openly offered prayers in the main mosque of the university. Due to this, for the first time in the history of KU, separate prayers were conducted for members of different sects.
The students implored the administration to stop these elements and to discontinue this practice of offering separate prayers as there was little sectarian hatred in the institution in the past and persons belonging to different sects had always offered prayers together.
It was further claimed by some students that some teachers were now working for the establishment of separate mosque for different sects within the university. They said that this was not done in any educational institute in Pakistan and would only serve to sow sectarian discord.
Like the activist from SMP and SSP, those from SDLA and BLA are also working in the universities, distributing their literatures and conducting their meetings. They are working under the shelter of other student organizations and are targeting new students to join them and participate in their activities. These organizations are mainly being handled from the universities of interior Sindh, especially Chandka Medical College, Jamshoro University and an educational institute in Larkana. These banned groups have strongholds in most of the educational institutes of interior Sindh and they are now trying to penetrate the universities in the provincial metropolis.
More than 500 personnel of the Pakistan Rangers are getting many amenities, including residential facilities in the student’s hostels, in these universities. They are posted there to provide security to the students but sectarian and anti-state activities are taking place on their watch. Moreover, about a 100 personnel of intelligence agencies are also working in universities but that hasn’t stopped activists of these organizations from going on about their business either.