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JI leader says Malik, Hasil, Sarfaraz with them in Punjab students’ dispute

A leader of the Jamat Islami (JI) has said that they enjoyed the support and confidence of Dr Malik, Hasil Bizenjo and Sarfaraz Bugti in the dispute between Baloch students and the JI’s student wing in the Punjab University.

JI’s Abdul Mateen Akhwanzada expressed these views in a letter addressed to two senior Baloch journalists – Siddique Baloch and Anwar Sajidi. He complained of the ‘biased reporting’ in their newspapers against the Islami Jamiat Talba (IJT), a student group often accused of moral policing in education institutions.

He also blamed Baloch National Party-Mengal (BNP-M), Pashtunkhwa-Map and Awami National Party (ANP) leaders for “fueling the fire” and “spreading hatred”.

On January 22, IJT activists were filmed thrashing Baloch and Pakhtun students in the Punjab University. Police later arrested 196 students on terrorism charges. Baloch and Pakhtun groups accused the Punjab police for turning a blind eye to IJT’s hooliganism and instead punishing the victims.

The students were released on bail on Sunday. But Vice Chancellor Dr Mohammad Zakria Zakar told Geo News that those involved in disturbing the peace at the varsity were being identified through CCTV footage. “Strict action will be taken against them,” he added.

Home Minister Balochistan Sarfaraz Bugti flied to Lahore on January 28 to “resolve the issue of Baloch students”.

“Enroute #Lahore on the directions of Chief Minister #Balochistan to resolve the issue of the Baloch students studying in Lahore. My personal request to @CMShehbaz to help us to resolve the matter,” he tweeted.

However, in a video shared on Twitter, Bugti appeared to be siding with the narrative of the IJT and Punjab’s security forces.

“We have eliminated the separatist narrative from the universities of Balochistan,” he said in the video, adding that the Baloch “separatist national anthem” was being sung in the Punjab University. “It’s alarming. It’s alarming for everybody.”

Earlier, sources from the security forces had told the media that Baloch students in Punjab were playing the role of “sleeper cells” for Baloch militant groups. An Urdu newspaper from Punjab, 92 News, reported that an intelligence agency had traced students affiliated with “banned outfits”. It further said students coming on special quota from Balochistan will be needing clearance from the government to get admission in Punjab institutions.

Baloch students, on the other hand, have denied link to militant outfits. Baloch groups have complained that, after Balochistan, Baloch students were now being harassed in education institutions of other provinces.

BNP-M chief Akhtar Mengal said the state was treating the militants and those seeking knowledge with the same standards. He said in a tweet:

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