At least 15 of the 37 youngsters held at Adiala Jail on serious charges inlcuding sedition are enrolled in various graduate programmes at leading public-sector univeristies in the federal capital. Data gathered by Daily Times shows that most of these youngsters hail from Pashtun-populated areas of Balochistan and are enrolled either at Quaid-e-Azam University or at the International Islamic University. They include highly accomplished individuals like Habib Kakar, who hails from Loralai district of Balochistan and is an alumunus of the prestigous Fulbright scholarship programme of the United States Education Foundation in Pakistan (USEFP). Kakar returned to Pakistan after recently completing his masters in Agricultural Studies. Others hailing from Loralai are Niamatullah and Hameedullah. The former is pursuing a PhD programme at the QAU’s Physics Department on a merit scholarship. Hameedullah is enrolled in an MPhil programme at the university’s Pakistan Studies Centre. At least five students hail from Zhob district of Balochistan. Of these, Aimal Mandokhail, Kamran Khan, Zulqarnain Mandokhel, and Mustafiz Khan are pursuing their undergraduate degrees in law at IIU. Roohullah and Kamil Khan are studying for a masters degree in sociology at the IIU. Among the incarcerated students are Akbar Khan and M Ishfaq Khan from South Waziristan. They are law students at IIU. Ishtiaq Wazir of Bannu recently graduated from the IIU’s International Relations Department; Raqeeb ullah of Pishin is enrolled in OAU’s Environmental Sciences graduate programme, and Ziaul Islam of Quetta is a a student of BSc (Economics) programme at IIU. These students were picked up by the police after a protest held in the federal capital to condemn the June 3 violent attack on unarmed civilians by armed members of an aman committee in Wana, the headquarters of the South Waziristan Agency. The armed men were apparently affiliated with the Mula Nazir cadre of the Taliban. At least two people were killed and several injured in the attack. The FIR lodged in the matter contains multiple sections of the Pakistan Penal Code including the one on sedition. The studnets and other protesters are accused of chanting slogans against the state and the armed forces. Responding to reports on social media that the protesters were being tortured and their relatives were not allowed to meet them, an official at Adiala Jail who identified himself just as Nabeel denied the claims and said that visitors were allowed once a week. He said quality food was being provided to the accused. Advocate Hashim Mandokhel, who has filed a bail petition on behalf of the accused, said that those enrolled in degree programmes had to miss their exams because of their incarceration. He said that the sections added to the FIR were of very serious nature and were meant for enemies of the state and rebels, and not peaceful protesters. “Every Pakistani wants peace and prosperity in the country but every citizen has the right to criticise the policies of any state institution. There are dozens of institutions in the country facing criticism on a daily basis, will the police arrest everyone criticising any institution?” he asked. “Booking someone under section 124A (sedition) for chanting some slogans is strange. If someone challenges the state, say by demanding separation, then the police are well within their authority to book them for sedition, but there is no justification for using the section to curb criticism of ill-designed state policies,” he said. Published in Daily Times, June 12th 2018.