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President Alvi directs HEC to take steps against harassment of Baloch students

ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi on Friday directed the Higher Education Commission (HEC) and the vice-chancellor of the Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU), Islamabad, to take necessary measures to avoid harassment and racial profiling of Baloch students.

The directions were passed after the Islamabad High Court (IHC) formed a commission headed by Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani to address the grievances of Baloch students. IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah had passed the orders while hearing a petition filed by rights activist Mazari-Hazir against the harassment of Baloch students.

In a statement issued today by the President’s Secretariat, Dr Alvi observed that Pakistan was facing a “unique situation” and the resurgence of terrorist activities was a cause of concern.

“He added that counter-terrorism efforts are essential to our peace and existence but they must be carried out with utmost care and balance so as to not isolate or profile any segment of our population, particularly the students of Balochistan,” it stated.

The president also said that when it came to Baloch students, there was a “general sense of deprivation or isolation” and it was, therefore, incumbent on all educational institutions to take more care to address such sentiments.

He stressed on the development of a proactive programme of activities and debates within the student community to “address feelings of deprivation among Baloch students”.

“The president further asked the VC QAU to diligently monitor any activity which may be a cause of concern to the Baloch students at QAU and to verify the credentials of visitors in order to check the impersonification (sic) and maligning of law enforcement agencies,” the statement added.

Mechanism to end Baloch students’ profiling

A day earlier, the IHC directed the interior secretary to develop a mechanism to “stop what is happening with Baloch students” and ensure that their ethnic profiling is ended.

During the hearing, Justice Minallah had remarked that these students were the future. “Should the courts close their eyes to these human rights violations?” he asked. “Does the cabinet not know what is happening in the country? Weren’t those who are in the cabinet [now] going to them yesterday? Don’t they know?”

It is the job of the political leadership in a democratic society to find a solution, he had observed. The directions were issued after security agencies picked up Bebgar Imdad from the hostel of the Punjab University, purportedly in connection with the Karachi University (KU) suicide blast case.

 

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