There is a sense of the stable door being bolted long after the horses have gone up the road about the reports that Karachi universities are to share data they hold on students with law-enforcement agencies. The move is prompted by a growing fear of student involvement with militant groups and terrorism. To any observer of the climate inside universities, radicalisation has been obvious for many years; and extremist groups have operated freely and openly in many seats of learning. Given that law-enforcement agencies have been unable to implement the National Action Plan (NAP) in respect of vetting seminaries and educational institutions nationwide; the far greater task of conducting a not dissimilar operation in the universities is no more likely to succeed.
It is reported that universities held an emergency meeting at Karachi University to discuss the issue and that the decision to share data with law-enforcement agencies flowed from that. A decision is one thing, implementation another and all sides, including the agencies, admit that there is no current mechanism for data exchange and it appears that the varsities are expecting the LEAs to develop the appropriate protocols. Needless to say they are less than delighted at the prospect. On Thursday the chairman of the Senate weighed in and Raza Rabbani has written (in the capacity of a private citizen) to the chancellor of Karachi University expressing his concern at the decision and saying that such a move “will further consolidate the anxiety and fear in the minds of the students.”
All of this flare up in talks is little more than hot air and merely talks in its pure sense only. The universities — not all of them it is true — have been hothouses of radicalism and the seedbeds in which individual terrorists grew and came to maturity their evil designs to pursue for a decade at least. University administrations were well aware of what was happening on their campuses and chose not to shut it down in many — most — cases. The snakes in the academic gardens are now biting the hands that fed them — a development that nobody ought to express an iota of surprise at. This has been done with the full support of those in charge of our academic institutions that they have been turned into hotbeds and nurseries of terrorism. This gives a tragically ironic look to the “pen is mightier than the sword”, seems like the sword has won again.