NSF – Calling
Students are not indulging in flattery when they claim to be the pulse of the nation. It is a fact borne out by historical experience. When certain sections of people whose opinion enjoys the weight of authority, refuses to recognize this fact, there is no greater tragedy than that.
What is the role of student in national life? Some say – and they say it with patriarchal authority- that students should have nothing to do with national life; that they should confine themselves to their schools, colleges and universities and get lost in their books, till they are called upon to come out and face the objective realities of life. In other words, these wise men want us to believe that student should scrupulously avoid coming in contact with the currents and cross currents of national life to put it more bluntly, the students shall walk of 20- 25 years period of hibernation straight into the main current of national life, of which they know nothing ! Today’s students shall come out of their colleges and universities to play their role as tomorrow’s leaders without the slightest idea of who they are going to lead and how?
Granted that the student’s job to learn. But then man never cease to learn all his life and learning is not confined to books. Book knowledge, tempered by practical experience of all aspects of national life, gained by direct participation in it, is what can make today’s student the leader of tomorrow. It, therefore comes to pass that students should as matter of necessity participate in national life so they are to play their historical role correctly and successfully, in the various spheres of national life in which they will find themselves tomorrow. Otherwise, their future role will come to them more as the result of an accident than as the natural outcome of proper grooming and training.
It should be borne in mind that students are, by nature devoid of the many complexes and prejudices which as a matter of course plague other section of people. Apart from small groups and sections of students who are exploited by vested interests, the bulk of students everywhere is always impelled by the purest and most selfless motives. Even when they struggle for better facilities of education for themselves and in that process, take up cudgels’ against the authorities, it is not selfishness which they betray but their sense of duty to the future which prompts them to demand the best education so that they may be fully equipped to do full justice to their role of tomorrow. Because they are basically and essentially honest and unprejudiced, the students are bolder, clearer and more forceful than most of the other sections of people, in their support to and advocacy of what is right and in their opposition to what is wrong. That is why students must have full freedom to express themselves and to participate in the national life, for, in what they do, you can hear the beating of nation’s very pulse. Those who ignore this basic fact about the students and scare them away from the world at large, are doing a gross injustice to themselves and to the nation, for, they are only helping to turn the students into a pack of puffed up but blunted weapons with which the nation shall have to fight the complex battle ahead.
It is in this perspective that a correct study of genes is and growth of our student movement and unbiased assessment of the role which the National Students’ Federation has played in it, can and should be made.
There was hardly any indigenous movement in Pakistan in the wake of partition. However, Karachi which experienced a fantastic rise in population in the matter of a year or two after partition soon became a city with the largest concentration of students drawn from practically all parts of the subcontinent. Consequently it became the center of conscious and purposeful student movement.
Right from the outset, the students of Karachi demonstrated a great sense of independent judgment, courage and conviction. They fought undauntedly to eliminate the numerous oddities of the institutional and organizational pattern of education which were in vogue in the city a direct legacy of the chaos of the post partition days which experienced one of the most gigantic migrations in history. The problems of admission; books; of fees and a great number of similar problems confronted them from the very beginning and true to the very nature of man the students of Karachi rose to meet the challenges and in the process fought many battles, made may sacrifices, overcame many difficulties, won many victories and suffered many defeats. The journey they have made to the present is a story of many ups and downs.
At this stage it should be remembered that Pakistan was made a hot bed of imperialist and neo-colonialists intrigues from the very first years of independence. The British imperialists having lost the “crown” territories of their world empire one after the other in quick succession, tried hard to preserve their foot hold in this country through subtler mean. They sought to maintain the old system of education devised by Macaulay to produce a nation of clerks – hundreds of thousands of human cogs, in the gigantic wheel of the British Empire. The students who had been greatly affected by the freedom struggle that had just ended and had developed a basic distrust and dislike for the British, naturally found their feelings harden as time passed. To make matters worse, the weak and faltering British were progressively replaced by the blunt and powerful Americans who knew very little in those days of gun-boat diplomacy, of subtle methods of the British and therefore quickly betrayed their real intentions. The students were swift to detect the mounting influence of American imperialists in the country and were equally swift to demonstrate the resentment by concrete action. The history of student movement in Karachi has much to say about the part played by students under the leadership of National Students Federation in combating the evils of Imperialism in Pakistan. In the course of this struggle, they often had to fight against those student bodies which were created and nursed by local and foreign vested interests to act as provocateurs and splitters of the student movement, as will be proved by later events.
While keeping education as their primary goal and fighting to make it easier, cheaper, better, the students of Karachi always joined forces with the people of Pakistan on all national and international issues and often acted as the leading corps. Karachi students were the first to support the Tunisian’s people struggle for freedom from French colonial rule. Again Karachi students were most vociferous in their support for the heroic people of Algeria when they were fighting their glorious war of liberation against the French. Similarly the Karachi students have lent whole hearted support to the unfortunate people of Palestine whose land was divided and parceled out to Zionism by the Anglo-American Imperialists. And again the Karachi students were the first to voice their support for the people of Egypt against British conspiracies in their early fifties. On the national front, the Karachi students were the powerful support to the student of East Pakistan in their battle for Bengali language and all this was done under the leadership of our federation and its fore-runners.
It was 1952 that the students, for the first time, got an organizational platform of their own. That was the Democratic Student’s Federation. The Dow medical college was the corner stone of this movement as was amply demonstrated on the 8th January 1953 when the students of Karachi wrote history in their own blood as they fought heroically to force a stubborn Government to concede their genuine demands. The victory achieved at such great cost is as equally great, as far as DMC is concerned.
20% reduction in tuition fees, 50% reduction in exam fees;
40% reduction in mark sheet fees, construction of two new hostels
Recognition of DMC’s, MBBS degrees by PMC and above all the establishment of DMC’s lending library.
These are the few of the glorious achievements of DMC students made in that historic year. Speaking about the landing library, it should be remembered that this unique institution launched with Rs. 2200 in cash and 208 books in September 1953, has today got assets exceeding Rs. 200,000, thanks to devotion and care shown by NSF in nursing and enriching it.
It was in 1956 that the National Students Federation became the successor to the ideals set by pioneers. The NSF in fact filled the vacuum caused as a result of great suppression following the APSO convention after which the entire student leadership was suppressed by the iron fist. Since then, the NSF has carried torch faithfully and fearlessly.
The historic hunger strike of the DMC students under the leadership of NSF which forced the prime Minister of Pakistan (H.S.Suharwardy) to call personally at the college to announce the acceptance of the student demands, is one of the many glorious battles fought and won under the leadership of NSF. Again the mammoth demonstration organized that year by the Karachi Students in support of the people of Egypt when they were treacherously attacked by the British, French and Israeli forces was led by none but the NSF.
We are not applauding over selves, but are only playing a deserving tribute to the fighting spirit and missionary zeal with which the DMC students have fought their battle when we recall:
That the DMC union became all students body and got the first constitution under our leadership.
That the irregular system of exams was abolished, exemption percentage was reduced from 60 % to 40 % and the DMC canteen was constructed under our leader ship.
That the biggest collection in DMC history, for the Lending Library was made under our leadership.
We have other student bodies indulging in sporadic demonstration which look more like periodical fits than sincere, dedicated and conscious support for the freedom struggle of Kashmiri people. The NSF unequivocally condemned the role of India as a fraud and as a gross insult to world conscience. We have stood solidly behind the people of Kashmir and shall stand by them through their trials and tribulations till they achieve their freedom from Indian occupation. No other student body however vocal they may have been in raising religious slogans in support of the people of Kashmir has so firmly and so consistently lent its support for the liberation struggle of the people of Kashmir. The reason is not far to seek. We are different from others because we are not moved to action by narrow, selfish, irrational, emotional and demagogic slogans. We are moved by principles which we consider inviolable. When we defend and support the people of Kashmir, we are defending and supporting a principle. And as principles do not change, our stand does not change. Here lies the difference between us and others.
At this point, it will be most appropriate to take a passing look at what those who proudly claim to be crusaders against NSF have been doing. We prefer to ignore those who at best can be termed petty groups or cliques confined to a particular institution and who are most like the occurrence of weeds. Though unwanted, they do emerge from the dust, try to grow as parasites feeding upon other’s food, try to play their poisonous role as long as they can and are eventually rooted out. We are here talking of those who parade proudly as the defenders of great principles but are exploiting religion for their own selfish ends – Mercenaries of the vested interests. These are the most dangerous for their slogans are deceptive. The vengeance with which they spread rumors against the NSF, the vehemence with which they condemn, as though we are vultures from hell, swooping upon the students of Karachi. The hue and cry they make when we stand up to condemn the imperialist outrage all over the world and imperialists conspiracies against our own country; the force with which they deride us as agitators, enemies of student interests and so on – all their screaming shouting and tear shedding come to naught and sound like the ravings of men possessed by some evil spirit – when we see them fuming and fretting and trying to raise the banner of fake revolt over some stray incidents in which some politico-religious demagogues masquerading as saints are restrained from spreading chaos and confusion in the name of the distant moon and from misleading the people into believing that science is as sham and a fraud. These self styled defenders of moral values and human dignity have silently looked on often gleefully while:-
Thousands upon thousands of innocent men, women and children are suffocated to death by poison gas and cut down by bullets,
Thousands are tied hand and foot and their bellies are ripped open to extract confession
Countless villages are burning through day and night and the beautiful land of Vietnam is being turned into a blazing hell by criminal hordes of imperialism.
All the names of moral values and human dignity, freedom, liberty and Fraternity and what not…… and when we rise to condemn this most heinous butchery in human history, these self styled moral mongers call us agitators, heretics and thousand other bad names……
Yes- the moral values these great defenders are defending are the moral values of the NAPALM bomb and the poison gas the moral value of the flying bullet, the moral values of the US murderers-mercenary the moral values of death and destruction.
Yes- the human dignity they are defending is the human dignity of the U.S. killers; the human dignity of Johnson, Mcnamara, Westmoreland, and the pentagon hawk. Yes- what they call agitation and bad politics, of which they accuse the N.S.F., IS OUR CONTEMPT AND ANGER FOR THE BUTCHER AND THE BRUTE; what they call’ sin’ of which they accuse us, is our support and sympathy for the victims of butchery!!!
The silence maintained by these moral mongers is an eloquent testimony to their duplicity and bad faith. It speaks of what they are hiding beneath their saintly cloaks and behind their holy slogans. The students of Karachi need not be warned against them, they are intelligent enough to see through the game of these self appointed wardens of our moral values and principles.
At every turn in the nation’s history, at every turn in the history of Karachi student movement; the National Student’s Federation has undauntedly stood for what is right and fought against what is wrong. NSF alone has fought fearlessly the difficult and protracted battle of Karachi students. No power on earth has succeeded in deterring the NSF from playing the role which history has assigned to it. Where others have to failed we have succeeded, where others have faltered we have stood firm, where others have lagged behind we have charged forward, where others have betrayed, we have faithfully braved the storms. The NSF alone has championed the cause of students faithfully, consistently and regardless of consequences. History is our witness and history shall our witness be.
National Student’s Federation has behaved as unfailing pulse of the nation and of the student movement. On all issues the voice of the National Student Federation has always been the first voice- the voice that is just and right and so it shall continue to be.
The role which destiny has assigned to the students of the Dow Medical College carries tremendous responsibilities to the present and to the future. We shall be called upon to perform the most difficult, the most responsible, and the most supreme of service to mankind, as the doctors of tomorrow. Medical service is the greatest service one can render to mankind. Let us not be name callers, slogans mongers and pseudo patriots. More than anyone else, we have to be motivated by self less objectives. More than anyone else we have to inculcate among ourselves the spirit of service, the sense of love for our people. More than anyone else, we have condemn all crimes and outrages committed against people anywhere in the world. More than anyone else it is our duty to abhor the forces of oppression and support the forces of truth and righteousness. More than anyone else we have to be unblemished patriots – men and women of great ideals.
We have to be the defenders of the very lives of our people. Unless we charter our course now, when we have the time, unless we are imbued with the best of qualities today; unless we are able to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong today; unless we know what we are and what we are to be, we shall fail in our great mission and shall be answerable to history for this unpardonable crime.
Rally around the National Student Federation; under the NSF banner march forward to the future with faith and confidence.
Issued By: Rasheed Hasan Khan
Gen. Secy. National Students Federation. Karachi.
[ PUBLICATION HISTORY–Introductory Pamphlet – NSF CALLING was published first on 10-4-67 in cyclostyle form and now the re- typed version is before you. ( courtesy- Roots) A scan of the original was published in JULY 2011 on Apnakal Blog. Unfortunately page -4 of the 6 page pamphlet has been lost. ]