For the “golden prospect”
Following is my short reply to the message of Farooq Tariq of Labor Party of Pakistan (LPP) ‘A golden prospect to oust Musharaf’:
The elections have changed everything. Many political unions, forged into existence by doubtful personalities who wanted the revival of the religious Right in Pakistan, fell flat on its face on February, 18th. Unfortunately, some Leftist and Nationalist parties also took part in the “holy alliance” that came to be known as the All Parties Democratic Movement (APDM). These Leftist parties too had to face the “glory” coming to them through their mistaken stance when people went to vote.
However, one mistake by a section of the Left does not merit strong denunciation from other Leftists, particularly the young ones like me. All of us commit errors – no one is an angel here, so we are told. However, one who does not realize his mistakes in time, trying to hide it from the public eye with inept justifications, merits criticism in the strongest possible terms. The only way to redeem an error and to stand tall is to self-criticize as soon as possible. This spirit of self-criticism is required not only to reach correct conclusions in the future, but also for the unity of the broad Left in Pakistan.
The Awami Jamhori Tahreek (AJT), a united front of many Leftist Parties in Pakistan, primarily LPP and National Workers’ Party (NWP), made a serious error when they joined with the APDM. The composition of APDM raises serious concerns to begin with. It is led by Qazi Hussain Ahmed, Mehmood Khan Achakzai, Hamid Gul, and, last but not the least, the semi-Mullah Imran Khan. APDM, in short, was a united front of the religious Right that demanded the boycott of elections. Any benefits that the Left could have been gained from joining such a front must be compared with the serious compromises that would accompany such a decision, not only in the long-term, but also in the anti-dictatorship struggle of today. The stance of AJT was subjected to serious criticism by other parties of the Left, chiefly Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party (CMKP), but their advice was not heeded.
Now, with the results of elections before us, we can see that APDM has failed miserably in its boycott campaign. Everyone can see that joining the APDM was a mistake for the Left Parties. What did the Left gain from APDM? Nothing. And yet, while we were expecting some self-criticism, Farooq Tariq of LPP has emerged with an attempt to justify the decision of Left to join APDM with twisted logic.
According to Farooq Tariq, the APDM “helped anti Musharaf vote to express in a united manner” and “the boycott campaign was particularly successful in Balochistan and North West Frontier Province (NWFP)”. Was boycott a success in Balochistan? Let’s look at the polls. The King’s Party, PML-Q, has won around 17 seats in the province of Balochistan, a clear majority. Had the nationalist parties contested the elections, the results would have been very different. The “success” of APDM appears to translate into the victory of PML-Q in Balochistan.
As for NWFP, Farooq Tariq says that the Awami National Party (ANP) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) benefited from the split in the Right-wing MMA. This is the truth, but only half the truth. With hindsight, one can see that had MMA been standing united, it would have helped them only marginally. MMA was discredited among the people and there were few chances of them emerging successful in the recent elections. Anyhow, how did the Leftists in the APDM contribute to the appearance of cracks in the MMA? Clearly, they had nothing to do with these cracks. MMA had undergone a de facto split long before the Left decided to join the APDM. The Leftists within the APDM cannot take claim credit for causing the split in MMA.
APDM only succeed in weakening the anti-Musharraf campaign. What else was to be expected from an alliance which included General Hamid Gul and Qazi Hussain Ahmed? APDM is responsible for the low turn-out of voters and victory of PML-Q in Balochistan. Thankfully, the APDM project remained unsuccessful nationally and only marginally affected the anti-Musharraf campaign, which may now be waged from both inside and outside the parliament. In the meanwhile, the Left in APDM needs to self-criticize and break themselves from the decadent elements of the religious-Right to fortify the struggle against dictatorship and religious extremism. Only then we can utilize from the golden prospect.