How moderate Lahore campus is fast falling prey to Talibanisation

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New York, Apr.21 (ANI): The Lahore campus of the University of the Punjab, which was once known for its top grade academics and was even compared with the world's best study centres, is fast becoming a hub for turning youngsters towards the radical Talibani bigoted form of Islam.

Recently, an environmental science professor Iftikhar Baloch was severely thrashed by members of student group, Islami Jamiat Talaba, which is virtually running a parallel administration in the campus.

The student union is supposed to be an offshoot of Pakistan's oldest and most powerful religious party, Jamaat-e-Islami.

The aggressive decisions of the student group are not only marring the academic proceedings in the campus, which has over 30,000 students, but also transforming more and more youths into an intolerant group of people.

The student union often preys on young freshers who come from an underprivileged background, promise to address their weakness and convince them that they will bring them at par with those having access to all facilities.

"The group appeals to this weakness, helping with expenses and opening up a system of benefits: More milk in their tea. Better food. Cleaner dishes," The New York Times said in its report.

"It's an addiction,"said a young teacher Tayyib, while describing the thinking of the young recruits: "I'm from a remote area, and no one ever listened to me. But now I'm important."

The activities of these student unions highlight how the Taliban and other militant groups, though small and often unpopular minorities, retain their hold over large portions of Pakistani society, the newspaper said.

Professors at the Lahore campus of the Punjab University are worried over Islami Jamiat Talaba's activities inside the university grounds, saying there is an immediate need to put an end to the 'hooliganism'.

"They are hooligans with a Taliban mentality and they should be banned, full stop," said Maliha Aga, a teacher in the art department,

"That's the only way this university will survive," she added.

Shaista Sirajuddin, an English literature professor highlighted that the problem has persisted for long, but every government has avoided addressing the issue.

"It's fascist. Every single government has averted its eyes," Sirajuddin said.

However, Tayyib, said the rise of such violent groups is due to the ineffectiveness of the university administration.

"It's our fault. We are weak. The administration is lethargic," Tayyib said.

But there is a ray of hope, believes professor Baloch, who received more than 30 stitches on his head during the attack earlier this month.

Baloch said the attack has galvanized public opinion against the group and that it would make people turn against it.

"The wheels of justice grind slowly but surely," he said. (ANI)

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