LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistani students backed by rights activists are holding rallies across the country in a rare show of strength to urge Prime Minister Imran Khan to lift a decades-long ban on peaceful political activities at education institutions.

Friday’s rallies in the cities of Lahore, Islamabad, Karachi and elsewhere were attended by hundreds of male and female students, many of them carrying red flags symbolizing socialism and communism.

Students say they should be allowed to form unions at educational institutions, a demand which has been ignored since 1984 when former dictator Gen. Ziaul Haq banned student political activities at educational institutions.

Students also want a reduction in fees and provisions for better facilities.

Authorities deployed police to ensure peace, but students say they will peacefully disperse after completing their rallys.