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Protest Held In Lahore Against Termination Of Scholarship Quota For Balochistan, Ex-FATA Students

Baloch Solidarity Committee held a protest outside the Lahore Press Club on Friday in solidarity with the students of Bahauddin Zakariya University (BZU), Multan, and the Islamic University, Bahawalpur, over the termination of their scholarship quota.

The administration of these varsities said that they could no longer provide scholarships to the students as the Balochistan government has defaulted on payments.

The protest of BZU students prompted by this announcement has entered is 24th day, reported Dawn.

Under the Aghaz-e-Haqooq Balochistan package announced by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) in 2008 to provide free education and accommodation, a reserved seat quota was initiated for students of Balochistan in numerous public universities of Punjab, a student said.

“Unfortunately, those vague promises soon started to take a turn for worse as another structural drama of open merit reduced those reserved quotas to merely two percent,” he added.

Another student told the newspaper that they were already being denied the basic right of education in their much-marginalised districts and divisions, calling the recent announcement an attempt to aggravate their deprivation.

He said the administrations of these varsities said that due to the cuts in the Higher Education Commission (HEC) budget, it was no longer possible for it to bear the expenses of these students.

“Undeniably, the center’s adjustment with the IMF is just to benefit the industrialists and what the government cannot afford is the tuition of students,” he was quoted as saying.

Last month, a media statement was issued by Baloch student organisations that denounced the termination of the quota.

In a media statement, the spokesperson for the BSO-Azad condemned BZU’s decision, denouncing it as ‘prejudicial’ and an act of ‘animosity with education’.

According to Balochistan Post, the statement said that this decision is tantamount of plunging the future of the Baloch students’ in an abyss of darkness.

He said the situation of Balochistan in the past couple of years has driven the Baloch students into stress and anxiety, and some elements are also creating hurdles in their academic path, further aggravating the situation. “The reduction of the quota of Balochistan or the termination of scholarships for Baloch students in universities outside Balochistan are attempts of shutting the doors of education on Baloch students,” the statement said.

The spokesperson for the Baloch Student Council Islamabad condemned the decision as an attempt to belittle the students of Balochistan. He said that relative to other provinces, Balochistan is the most underdeveloped region of Pakistan. “The spokesperson appealed to the Chief Minister of Punjab, Sardar Usman Buzdar, and the Chief Minister of Balochistan, Jam Kamal Khan, to intervene and thwart this attempt to educationally backslide Balochistan,” the website reported.

The spokesperson for the Baloch Students Action Committee (BSAC) as quoted by on the Balochistan Post website also condemned BZU’s decision in strong words, denouncing it as a ‘well-planned conspiracy’ and the equivalent of ‘destroying the future’ of Baloch students. He said that a large number of Baloch students have been studying in reputable universities of Punjab on the basis of scholarships.

“The spokesperson appealed to the federal and provincial governments immediately take notice of BZU’s decision and reinstate the scholarship for the Baloch students.”

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