Punjab University (PU) started a program to provide free education to almost 100 students from Balochistan in 2012 in all departments; it was for the first time that PU welcomed these students. I was one of those first lucky 100 students from Balochistan to get admission free of cost in the department of Mass Communication. The university notified that education leading to PhD would be free and no hostel fee would be charged and that theses students would also receive a stipend of Rs. 3000 per month.

Like previous year, this year the university also reserved 100 seats in all 74 departments with free education and accommodation along with a stipend of Rs. 3000 per month. The VC Dr. Mujahid Kamran says there is no other purpose but to strengthen the national cohesion, to promote brotherly bonds and to address the developmental gap between Balochistan and the rest of the country. This was warmly welcomed by the students from Balochistan as educational system in the province is disappointing and not standardized and a very small number of students can afford to go out of the province to get higher education.

However, to the extreme dismay of students from Balochistan, recently the university administration has notified that it can’t afford to provide free accommodation. The students have become desperate as despite request to the authorities concerned to provide them free accommodate nothing has been done. This issue has been raised in the media and Punjab University is enjoying being in the lime light but is not helping the estranged students in resolving this issue.

The students from Balochistan now seriously want to know if Punjab University really wants to strengthen national cohesion and promote brotherly bonds. That they are not being provided free accommodation, as per the promise at the time of providing admission does not bode well and gives signals of mixed feelings. How will these students effectively study if they are not granted accommodation as most of them belong to middle class families who cannot afford private accommodation?

MUHAMMAD YOUNUS,

Lahore, November 28.