It was our right to do so. We had been granted official permission by the university administration. Pakistan is also one of the signatories of the United Nation’s convention that proclaims International Nawroz Day.
But the festivities soon turned sour. In the ensuing brawl, five people were injured. Such thuggery is not unique. Clashes between the student wing of the Jamiat-e-Islami and that of the Awami National Party have become a common occurrence at the Punjab University and other colleges in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The Pukhtoon Student Federation was formed in 1968. Since the beginning, it has followed the non-violent principles of Abdul Ghaffar Khan. They work simply to promote education, peace, Pashtun’s language and culture.
Yet, the IJT began targeting us in early 1970s with the help of militants from Hizb-e-Islami. Campuses in Pakistan were flooded with weapons. Over time, we lost many members to violence instigated by the Jamiat’s young men.
In 1987, they shot dead Sadaat Khan Afridi, a senior member of the PSF at the Government Post Graduate College, Mardan. Then, in 1999, two years before I joined student politics, IJT men in Government Polytechnic College, Bannu, killed our colleague Haji Nawaz Wazir. Adnan Abdul Qadir a student of the University Engineering and Technology, Peshawar, was thrashed for listening to music in his room in 2010. He later succumbed to his injures and died.
We must understand that extreme militant groups have infiltrated the Talaba. On September 10, 2013, a high profile al-Qaeda leader was cuffed from a dorm room at Punjab University. That room belonged to Ahmad Sajjad, a member of the IJT. In another incident, on November 29, 2013, Abdul Rehman, an ex-student of Karachi’s NED University of Engineering and Technology, also formerly with the IJT, was killed in a drone attack in North Waziristan along with other members of the Punjabi Taliban.
The IJT has done much damaged. It has tainted student politics in Pakistan. It has brought violence to the campuses.
Their thugs may have halted our celebration that day in March. But we will not be silenced. As a rebuttal, Pashtun youngsters are celebrating and promoting the event across the country, using hashtags like #Attan4Peace.
It is time for the government to also send a very loud, and very clear, message to the IJT.
By Mohsin Dawar
Mohsin Dawar is the central chairman of the National Youth Organisation. He tweets as @mjdawar