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Freedom of Speech or Your Degree – What Would You Choose?

As the momentum of the “Student Solidarity March” grows, reports coming out on Wednesday seem to suggest that many universities are clamping down on their students taking part in the march.

The Student Solidarity March is set to be held throughout Pakistan on 29th November, but it has been shrouded in controversies for the past few days. The most recent one has arisen from Punjab University (PU), Lahore, where the degree of one of its postgraduate students has been allegedly terminated.

The degree of Hasnain Jameel, a student of M. Phil degree in Political Science at PU, has allegedly been canceled by the university due to his connection with the march. According to the notification by PU, not only Jameel’s degree has been canceled but his entry inside the university has been banned too, and all this happened without any prior notice.

Jameel was recently seen in a viral video that came out of the Faiz Festival held in Lahore, from 15th to 17th November. In the video, students were seen singing Bismil Azimabadi’s poem “Sarfaroshi ki tamanna”, while Jameel was providing the beat to these chants through a traditional drum.

Ammar Ali Jaan, a sociologist and activist, who has been one of the main faces of the march, tweeted out that this move by PU is “proof that corrupt university admins are afraid of emerging power of students”.

Journalist Rabia Mehmood also said that Jameel was informed of this termination verbally but was never given a written warning.

The governor of Balochistan also issued directions to place a ban on all kinds of political gatherings and activities on campus for the students of University of Balochistan.

As people have observed, university administrations seem to be taking measures that would prevent the students from participating or mobilizing for the march. Are the universities right to take such measures? Or should the students be free to express their concerns and opinions, and be allowed to make decisions for themselves?

Let us know what you think!

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