Islamabad's students suffering from Pakistan's sit-ins

Students have been kept out of school during the month-long demonstrations in the Pakistani capital, outraging pupils and parents alike.

Islamabad's students suffering from Pakistan's sit-ins

World Bulletin / News Desk

While the month-long anti-government protests in Islamabad have captured headlines in Pakistan around the world, the capital’s students have been longing for a return to the classroom.

Talah Mehmood, 15, was, like hundreds of thousands of scholars, hoping to return from a two-month summer break when the supporters of Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf and Tahir ul Qadri’s Pakistan Awami Tehrik descended on the city.

The sit-in protest outside parliament and the ensuing violence between opposition activists led to the government closing all Islamabad schools for an indefinite period.

On Wednesday, dozens of students and their parents marched along one of the capital’s main highways demanding the opposition “let them study.”

“Our appeal to Uncle Qadri and Khan - please let us go to school,” read one student’s placard.

“If protest is the fundamental right of these two parties, then let me remind them, education is our fundamental right,” grade nine pupil Talah told The Anadolu Agency.

“It’s been over a month [that] we are away from our schools. Our careers are being ruined by these sit-ins.”

Not just the students, but their parents also appear fed-up with the length of the protest that has had a stranglehold on Islamabad since August 15.

“Enough is enough,” Mohammad Younas, a local businessmen whose three children have been sitting at home for the past month, said. “The government must take some action. They [Khan and Qadri] have no right to ruin the future of my children.

“Khan’s sons are going to school in London while Qadri’s children are sitting in Lahore, but they are playing with the future of our children.”

The protest leaders, however, blame the government for the school closures.

“The government has called out 30,000 additional policemen from other provinces who have been staying in the government schools,” Khan told supporters sitting near parliament. “The government must send them back to their home provinces and open the schools.”

Khan and Qadri set off on their separate long marches from Lahore in a so far unsuccessful bid to force Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to stand down over allegations of fraud in last year’s general election.

Initially, the capital’s schools were closed for a week but the government continued to extend school holidays following clashes with demonstrators and vandalism.

Three protesters have been killed and more than 500 people, including 100 police, have been injured in clashes over the last 34 days.

Last Mod: 18 Eylül 2014, 16:17
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