Musharraf’s emasculation of real political parties in Pakistan created a vaccum that came to be filled by its religious parties. The same holds for its universities.
The one group of students who would do well to heed Gen Musharraf’s injunction against students involving themselves in politics is busy running a religious ‘training camp’ right in the middle of Punjab University. The university authorities, under the command of a retired army general — who is vice-chancellor — deny any knowledge of these camps.
It has been reported that it regularly holds secret meetings, and just a few weeks ago held a special lecture on jihad, which was delivered by Javaid Kasuri, a senior functionary of Pakistan-based Jihadi organisation Hizbul Mujahidden. Kasuri allegedly told the more than hundred students assembled in Sultan Tipu Hostel (number eight) to carry out jihad in Jammu and Kashmir. [DT]
Yes, Pakistan’s jihadi camps have scattered, but they persist. While the nexus between madrassas and terrorists is well-known, the continued presence of jihadi organisations and infrastructure in Pakistan’s universities is under-reported, but not less important.
And it the existence of these camps that calls Musharraf’s bluff more than anything else. It is one thing for Musharraf to claim that there is only so much he can do to reform the madrassas (a process that came to a grinding halt by 2004). But with the entire higher-education system under the control of serving and retired generals, moderate ones surely, it is telling that Jamaat-e-Islami’s student wing can engage in selling jihad so openly. The Acorn believes that Pakistan will benefit from vibrant student politics; but training camps promoting jihad, conducted by members of banned terrorist organisations, do not, well, make the grade.