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Constructive discourse in PU between
Baloch and Punjabis

Shabbir Sarwar

LAHORE: A very constructive discourse between the educated youth of Balochistan and Punjab continues in the heart of Punjab – the Lahore city – and the whole nation is optimistic about this new development and hopes for a positive outcome.

The venue is none other than the Punjab University, where free education is being offered to Baloch students as part of a principle decision.
Around 100 Baloch students are studying in various disciplines of the PU – five in MPhil programmes and 21 in engineering. The PU Syndicate, the largest statuary body of the university, took a policy decision last year and decided to allocate one reserve seat for Baloch students in all academic programmes of all disciplines in the university. The PU consists of around 70 departments, institutes and colleges, which are mostly offering more than one study programme.

As many as 97 Baloch students got admission in the university in 2012, while more than 100 students are expected to take admission this year. In its historic decision, the university also decided to provide free education and hostel accommodation to Baloch students.

There are around 32,000 students in the PU, most of them belonging to Punjab. The Baloch and Punjabi students are having a rare opportunity to mingle and engage in constructive dialogues. They are having discussions, raising questions and cross-questions, and brainstorming on root causes of the Balochistan issue as well as other issues confronting the country, besides proposing possible solutions to them.

Besides studying with their Punjabi classmates, the Baloch students are living with their local fellows in hostels – another opportunity to feel one and others' emotions, listen to their viewpoints and get the real understanding of the Balochistan issue.

Baloch and Punjabi leaders are giving the credit of this lively discourse to PU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Mujahid Kamran, who has a very scientific approach and vision towards the resolution of the Balochistan issue. He has opened the doors of the Punjab University to Baloch students. He is well aware of the fact that Balochistan's literacy is the lowest among all the provinces of the country. Increasing literacy and providing an opportunity to the Baloch students to mix up with their local fellows will definitely serve the purpose of unity and nationalism.

When some Baloch students approached Dr Mujahid Kamran with the request to provide them a separate hostel, he denied the request and asked them to go and live with the Punjabi students. This is his vision to bridge the widening gap between the people of both the provinces.

Many Baloch students said they could not afford taking admission to any university and finance their stay at hostels, but they were getting higher education at no expense at the PU.

In August 1947, when the British divided the subcontinent, Balochistan emerged as an independent state. Later, after a lapse of nine months, Mir Ahmed Yar Khan, the Khan of Kalat, the then ruler of Balochistan, agreed to merge Balochistan into Pakistan on Muhammad Ali Jinnah's request. There was resentment among the Baloch population and tribes, who believed that the Khan of Kalat signed the deal against the wishes of the Baloch people and without taking the consent of the bicameral Baloch parliament, the 35-member Darul Umra and the 52-member Darul Awam.

Five armed insurgencies, including the last one in the form of assassination of Nawab Akbar Bugti on August 26, 2006, added fuel to the fire. Military operations, mass killings, and missing persons are another cause of the increasing problem.

This dialogue has already started in the Punjab University among the Baloch and Punjabi students and their teachers.

Separately, the PU Academic Staff Association has arranged many seminars on the Balochistan issue, providing an opportunity to teachers and students to interact with Baloch leaders.
Curtsy:Daily Times: October 21, 2013



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