World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

National Students Federation


National Students Federation

The National Students Federation Pakistan (NSF) is a left-wing students federation in Pakistan. In the late 1960s, NSF adopted the political line of Marxism–Leninism and Mao Tse-tung Thought [1]

Its predecessor, the DSF (Democratic Students Federation), had links to the


  • First split 1
  • NSF and People's Party 2
  • Afghan saur revolution 3
  • Ban on students' unions 4
  • Re-emergence 5
  • References 6

First split

NSF saw its first major split in 1965, between the pro-China and pro-Moscow factions, better known as the NSF-Miraj Group and the NSF-Kazmi Group. While the NSF-Mairaj group supported the PPP, the NSF Kazmi group was the student arm of the National Awami Party (NAP), which today is the ANP. Because this particular faction hold most backward views within the progressive movement they soon loose the ground. Mr Ameer Haider Kazmi took position in PPP and his faction was liquidated.

NSF remain active in many Pakistani universities and colleges and won the elections of Students Unions. It played a major role in the popular student and labour uprising against the pro-US dictatorship of Field Marshal Ayub Khan in 1967 and 1968. NSF activists were among the first major supporters of future Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and his populist/Socialist Pakistan Peoples Party to advance the democratic process and to weaken the religious fundamentalists. One of the leading leaders of NSF, Meraj Muhammad Khan, was made a minister in Bhutto's first cabinet but both NSF and Meraj fell out with the Bhutto government in 1973 when Bhutto started to compromise on his socialist agenda.

Meraj Mohammad Khan remained president of NSF till 1967 and was later replaced by Rasheed Hassan Khan (student of Dow Medical College Karachi) in a council session held in Lahore in 1970.

NSF and People's Party

The following are the main reasons which contributed in withdrawing NSF support from the PPP.

  • After PPP won the 1970 election and emerged as the single largest party in West Pakistan, it refused to acknowledge the mandate of the Awami League and their demands of greater autonomy and furthermore its policies regarding army operation in East Pakistan. The NSF and Mazdoor Kissan Party were the main left organizations who strongly opposed army operation against Bengalis.
  • Differences further deepened when the NSF realized that Bhutto was backing off from his promises of radical economical and social changes which he made to students and the working class.
  • Bhutto wanted to silence his dissidents so he cracked down on the workers and students.

The breaking point between Bhutto and the NSF came when Bhutto crushed the labour movement in Site on 7–8 June and in Landhi on 17–18 October in 1972. Several workers were killed and hundreds arrested. Rasheed Hassan Khan, then a Central President of NSF, had to go underground.

Consequently the NSF withdrew its support from the PPP and exposed Bhutto’s hypocrisy and opportunistic politics. Miraj Mohamed khan decided to remain in the PPP. Miraj was in view that it was Qomi Mahaz-e-Azadi and joined hand with cricketer turn politician Imran Khan and become Secretary General of PTI. He soon fell out with Khan and resigned from PTI. Once, a flamboyant student leader, Meraj fell in to political isolation and he never regained his position as a representative leader of working class, a position he enjoyed once.

Afghan saur revolution

NSF saw another split in the 1980s when the USSR invaded Afghanistan. A majority faction condemned the soviet invasion, believed that revolution can not be exported. It was said that this will provide opportunity to imperialist powers to use religious extremist to curb progressive movements.Within Afghanistan various Marxist parties and groups were also divided over the issue. The small faction headed by Zahid Hussain took the position that criticizing so called 'Afghan saur revolution' would meant to be supporting the Mujahideen and see this as support to the Army Junta and dictatorship of General Zia-ul-Haq, playing into the hands of the USA. That gave birth to a small dissident group headed by Zahid Hussain. This faction liquidated soon and member of this faction later joined various pro soviet groups or took positions in establishment. These Opportunist wolves in sheeps’s clothing done damage to NSF in particular and to the progressive and workers movement in general. Their position on this issue demonstrated that they failed to understand the imperialist strategy and their grasp of Marxism–Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought was fairly shallow. Revisionism and opportunism is always the main danger and obstacle to the advance of progressive movement.

Both betrayals from inside and the state crack down from outside were great setback to NSF and helped NSF's arch rivals, the right-wing, Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba (IJT), the student wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami, gain ground in the many student union elections held in the country's campuses in the 1970s and the 1980s. Till then the NSF had been sweeping student union elections in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970's. NSF was also affected by the creation of the Pakistan Peoples Party's student wing, the Peoples Students Federation (PSF) whose main purpose was to counter the NSF opposition to PPP in the early 1970s.

Ban on students' unions

Left leaning and progressive parties were persecuted and harassed by the Sind Medical College was stormed by police and shelled with tear gas. NSF workers like Hakim Baloch, Humayun from SMC, Babar Asad, Kaleem and Shahid from Dawood Engineering College and Sohail Jaffar and Bashmi Mumtaz from NED and Iqbal, Riaz Pekar from Karachi University were few to name on the forefront of this movement. Thousands of students led by NSF protested across Pakistan, hundreds were put behind the bars and tortured. This movement was brutally suppressed by the dictator and in later years a new era of de-politicization of youth began.

After the ban on students' unions, right-wing student organisations were given free hand to operate and violently curb progressive students activism by the military dictator. NSF suffered heavily from the trend of violence once pioneered by IJT and later adopted by APMSO, and MSF which was intensified in the late 1980s and 1990s. Across the country NSF workers were banned from entering or holding their political activities on campuses. Subsequently major campuses become no go areas for progressive students and NSF was overshadowed by pro establishment and other regional groups like APMSO and PSF and by Islamic fundamentalist student parties such as IJT and Pakistan Muslim League's student wing, Muslim Students Federation (MSF). NSF suffered greatly by the state crackdown and violence in campuses and its presence were marginalized. NSF held its Eighteenth Central Council Session in 2000 in Lahore but in later year saw little presence in campuses.


However, since the early 2007 NSF is regrouping and has seen activities associated with re-organisation taking along some of the old comrades as well as new ones. It has taken part in Lawyers' Movement against the dictatorship of General Pervaiz Musharraf.

Despite the numerous errors and zig-zags in developing progressive movement, NSF has made important progress towards Re-organizational work and In Jan 2014 NSF central council session was held in Awan-e-Iqbal Lahore. Hundreds of students participated from all over the Pakistan. In the two days council session, Sabir Ali Haidar from Punjab was elected as Central President and Ashiq Pathan from Hyderabad Sindh was elected as General Secretary. Participants vowed to continue their struggle and move beyond any ethnic, linguistic and sectarian affiliations and unite at a national platform not just for better education but for People's Democracy and class consciousness to the people’s movements.


  1. ^ "Student politics in Karachi: The classmate full of hate".  
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from iCloud eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.