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Participants of Faiz Aman Mela vow to continue resistance against oppression

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Faiz Aman Mela, an event organised every year to celebrate and pay tribute to revolutionary poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz, was held at Bagh-e-Jinnah’s Open Air Theatre on Sunday. People from all walks of life were in attendance and the event continued throughout the day. It featured four sessions on poetry recitation, dialogue, threatre and music.

The event began with a session on the crises of Pakistan’s higher education, moderated by academic Ammar Ali Jan with student activists Raza Gilani, Mohiba Ahmed, Haider Butt, Aiman Bucha and Muzzamil Khan as speakers. The panelists discussed the consequences students have to face as a result of the education system being class-based.

The speakers were of the opinion that education system does have an impact on nation-building, which is why the state tries its best to control it. They maintained that the curricula consists of hate literature that is designed to feed a certain narrative put forth by the state.

Panelist Aiman Bucha said that teachers are often also guilty of practicing discrimination among students on basis of their ethnicity or gender, adding that the class-based education system affects the teachers as well. “Teachers across the country are also facing problems such as pay cuts. They hold no power before administrations and are not allowed to have open debates in classrooms.” She added that teachers should fight alongside students against the discriminatory system instead of becoming representatives of the state.

Concerns were also raised over the non-implementation of Higher Education Commission (HEC) policy against sexual harassment in educational institutions. The incidents of sexual harassment of female students at the hands of their teachers are brushed under the carpet and the victims have to go through the mental torment of seeing their harassers every day, the speakers noted.

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Pashtun student activist Muzzamil Khan who studied at Punjab University said that the varsity is directly controlled from Mansura (Jamaat-e-Islami’s headquarters). He added that students associated with Islami Jamiat Talba (IJT), the student wing of JI, practice hooliganism on campuses and are given a free hand by the state. He claimed that Pashtun and Baloch students are almost always the target of such violence, adding that Pashtun students are not free to hold their events on campuses. “When we arrange an event at the varsities, security personnel come to video tape our faces, as if we are from an enemy country.”

The theme slogan for this year’s Faiz Aman Mela was ‘Rawal ko Reha Karo’ (Release Rawal). Rawal Asad is a student of Emerson College, Multan who was jailed over sedition charges for participating in a protest against the murder of Pashtun activist Arman Loni in Loralai.

Participants of the Faiz Aman Mela vowed to continue raising their collective voice against discrimination on bases of belief, ethnicity or gender and oppose terrorism. The event ended with a musical concern in which Jawad Ahmad Lal Band performed, among others.

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