Students should not involve themselves in politics…

…and the military even less

Gen Musharraf’s latest advice to students is full of paternal concern — ‘look here kids, leave the politics-wolitics aside and focus on those grades’. But having seen the incidents in South Korea and Thailand in the late 1980s, and the extent to which his fellow dictators in China and Myanmar had to go to suppress their college politicians, Musharraf is not ignorant of the dangers student politics can pose. Besides, the Indian subcontinent has a long tradition of student politics that has produced umpteen heads of states.

If, instead of a self-made President, an elected political leader had proferred that advice, its motivation could perhaps be attributed to genuinely paternal feelings. But coming from an Army chief fresh who just violated (again) a constitutional norm that prohibits him from politics it is rather rich. Indeed, while it may be undesirable for students to get involved in politics at the expense of their studies, it is much more undesirable for soldiers to do so. And those soldiers are not just getting involved in politics, they are all over Pakistan’s education system too.

Pakistan’s political parties are loaded with feudal elites and other establishment types. If it is to ever become a electoral democracy, what it needs most as grassroots leaders who have genuine popular support. Student politics is one good way to create a new class of politicians who can potentially become part of Pakistan’s new democratic infrastructure. That suggests that contrary to Musharraf’s gratuitous advice, Pakistan actually needs healthily political students, of which it does not have many. What it does not need are political soldiers, of which there are one too many.

Update: Both the Daily Times and Dawn take the same view.

2 thoughts on “Students should not involve themselves in politics…”

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  2. Perhaps it is a sign of the murk in politics in India, but student politics in India does not look like a good thing at all. The “leaders” in the student politics arena are almost always the rather spoilt kids of rich parents (which gives them the necessary financial muscle) and always well connected to the local rowdies in the school (the also necessary other muscle). In colleges it is very easy to bump off a candidate who may be more worthy and popular, if he/she does not have the requisite vitamins like money and muscle.

    I do agree that Mushy baby is in no position to say it, and he is also very obviously saying it for the very wrong reasons, but having witnessed student politics at pretty close quarters, I can only say that forcing politics off the students in India will only do good for the colleges. As for the nation, the Laloos are a product of student politics and they are no better than the rest of the brood from that part of the country.

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