LAHORE: A convention of hundreds of students hailing from different educational institutions of the country on Saturday demanded an end to fees and restoration of students unions in the campuses. The event was organised by Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA), a political organisation of students and youth and was earlier supposed to be held at Aiwan-e-Iqbal but the venue was shifted to Bakhtiar Labour Hall in Lakshmi Chowk due to the cancellation of No-Objection Certificate (NOC) at 11th hour. An organiser of the event Adeel Hassan Zaidi shared that they got the NOC issued a week ago for the event but the district administration canceled it at the eleventh hour. “When we asked them the reason, they refused to answer,” he added. He condemned the act describing it an attack on democratic right of the youth. The event was marked with the speeches of the students and youth and cultural activities including music, poetry and traditional dances. Famous humorous singer from Ghairat Brigade band Ali Aftab, veteran classical singer Ustad Nasir Ali Khan, famous young poets Tehzeeb Hafi, Usama Zuraiz, Mazhar Ali Syed and others performed on the occasion. Speaking on the occasion, newly elected chairperson of PYA Umar Riaz condemned the hindrances created by the government in their activities stating that neither they were armed nor drugs were recovered from their bags, nor they were receiving foreign funding. Then, why the government was scared from their activities. “It feared because we talk about exploitation of workers, peasants and students. We talk about an end to fees, class-based education system. They feared because we talk about politicization of the poor students,” he said. Punjab University D-Pharmacy student Mishal Wayen said that the university administration instead of solving the genuine issues of students, stress upon implementation of discipline. The varsity administration propagates as if discipline, strict dress code, hostel timings, attendance etc ensured would solve all their issues. National College of Modern Sciences student Arooj Mansha highlighted the issues of female students living at peripheries. She said that there were no government schools in their villages and had to travel kilometres. “Transport system is pathetic while harassment adds fuel to their woes. It forces the girls to stay at home then pursue their studies,” she said. Khalid Mandokhel, a student of Balochistan University, said that everyone is aware of the condition of education in Balochistan as it is just close to collapse. He stressed of establishment of Students Parliaments in every education institute, a democratically elected students body, to solve their issues. Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Law College student Amir Yaqub said that the problems of all the poor students of Karachi were same but the ruling elite had divided them over ethnic basis in Karachi. He said that they through the platform of PYA were organising the students of all the ethnicities to rise for solving their challenges. The convention also passed resolutions regarding the provision of free education, end to class-based education system, restore students unions, representation of students in all the decision making bodies of all the education institutes, strict action against harassment, notable representation of female students in student unions, nationalise private educational institutes and awarding of allowance to every unemployed youth. At the end, central body of PYA was also elected. Published in Daily Times, December 16th 2018.