Archive for Lawyer’s Movement

Comrade Iqbal Bali: A Tribute

Posted in Communist Movement, Pakistan with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 15, 2009 by Umer

by Dr. Faheem Hussain

My dear friend and a great revolutionary, Mohammed Iqbal, affectionately know by all his friends and admirers as Bali, died on 19 June in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, following complications after major heart surgery.

Comrade Iqbal Bali

Comrade Iqbal Bali

How does one talk of this man so full of energy? For me it is impossible to imagine Rawalpindi without him. For the last forty years he was the moving force in all the demonstrations and meetings held in Rawalpindi to promote democracy in Pakistan. In this article I will talk about how I knew him and about some of his political ideas. The activities that I will highlight pertain basically to the period from 1969 to 1989 when I worked closely with him. I left Pakistan in 1989 and withdrew from taking active part in the democratic movement because of personal reasons and because of the collapse of the left and the trade union movement.

Bali’s political activism goes back to the days in the sixties when he was a radar technician in the Pakistan Air Force. He got into a lot of scrapes while in the air force as he stood up to officers who mistreated ordinary airmen and fought for the rights of the latter. Several times he was punished for this.

He moved to Rawalpindi in the late sixties when he was immediately involved in the 1968-69 student movement against the Ayub Khan dictatorship. At this time there was a rebirth throughout Pakistan of socialist and Marxist ideas inspired by the great Vietnamese resistance and the student movements in Europe and America against the war and for greater democracy. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was also riding this wave with his slogans of “roti, kapra, aur makan” (food, clothe and shelter). In Rawalpindi too there were many people discussing the concept of reviving a communist movement. Bali was part of a group of young idealistic people wanting to overthrow the oppressive capital social order in Pakistan. There were such groups consisting of intellectuals, students and workers springing up in all the major cities.

He worked with the People’s Labour Front (PLF), newly founded in Rawalpindi by Riffat Hussain Baba (now at PILER in Karachi) and Nazir Masih (Secretary-General of the Municipal Worker’s Union of Rawalpindi). (Sadly Nazir Masih, another great figure in the workers’ movement in Pindi, died many years ago). In its heyday the PLF was the main trade union federation for the major industries of Pindi and Islamabad, including the large Kohinoor Textiles Mills on Peshawar Road. The PLF played a leading role in negotiations for workers rights. There was many a heroic battle that should be recounted by others. During his PLF years Bali ran study circles with workers and wrote pamphlets and helped to distribute them and to paste them on walls around the city. He was always an activist who did not like long theoretical discussions and he wanted to immediately get into action.

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Left with Hope

Posted in Communist Movement, International Affairs, Pakistan with tags , , , , , , , , on January 19, 2009 by Umer

by

Umer A. Chaudhry

More than 125 years after his death and 150 years after he wrote his most famous piece of work, Karl Marx seems to have managed his return from Highgate Cemetery of London. His specter is no longer haunting merely Europe, rather it has expanded its reach to every corner of the world. All this when only a few years back it was declared and uncritically accepted that there can be no alternative to new-liberal capitalism, history was stated to have ended, and even the human capacity to observe and understand the world was questioned based on, amongst other things, the limitations of language. On the other hand, the world also saw, with the alleged ‘death of Communism,’ a sharp revival of the politics and militancy in the name of religion. Set against this backdrop, even the modest re-emergence of Karl Marx in the political and social discourse is highly remarkable. After all, the modern capitalist class structure, upon whose criticism Marxism proudly stands, did not collapse along with the Berlin Wall.

The return of Marxist discourse is not unaccompanied by a noticeable global upsurge in the political presence of the Left. The victory of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists) in the Himalayas early in 2008 gave a major boost to the Leftist political activists around the world. The history and strategy of the Nepali Maoists were critically discussed and appreciated with reference to all accessible records and statements of the Party via various Internet forums and meetings around the globe. The out-pouring of Chinese students in opposition to Free-Tibet protests in many parts of the world just before the Beijing Olympics compelled many to have their first look at the history of China and the Chinese revolution. The mounting strength of Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales added by their increasing confrontations with U.S. Imperialism in Latin America became another source of inspiration for the world’s Left. The communist parties in India entered into a major struggle with the Congress Party, conducting mass demonstrations against the Indo-U.S. nuclear deals. Even in Russia, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation has maintained itself as the country’s second largest party and its largest opposition party. All in all, the global recovery of the Left, though not at a very grand scale, is apparent to every perceptive eye.

In Pakistan, the Left has also made a modest yet a noteworthy reappearance. It was mostly due to the movement against the unconstitutional and illegal imposition of emergency that the Left has been able to gain visibility at a larger scale. Many journalists expressed their surprise at activists robustly raising the traditional slogans of the Left during major rallies of the lawyers’ movement. Many lawyers, who had any past association with the Left, were instantly attracted towards the sight of the red flag and the octagonal Mao caps. Young students, out of curiosity, inquired about the new crimson element on the streets and got to know about the strong tradition of resistance and struggle that Left carries forward. They were even more astonished to know that Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Habib Jalib, whose poetry also returned and was received with great appreciation, were also leading figures of the Left in their times.

Many people, however, are still not clear regarding why the Left engaged with the lawyers’ movement in the first place. It was not a knee-jerk reaction and obviously not an ignorance of the fact that the lawyers’ movement hosts a whole lot of forces, including the staunch right-wing elements of mainstream political parties- traditional foes of the Left. On the other hand, the Left participated in the lawyers’ movement to connect it with other anti-dictatorship movements that occurred in the past eight years, in order to help in building a larger movement for democracy, secularism, social justice, and rule of law – something running contrary to the goals of the religious right-wing. The Left made attempts within its capacity to build a movement that could address the basic question of the Pakistani State and society, and efforts were made to invite groups like Anjumen-e-Mazareen Punjab (AMP), Railway Workers’ Union (RWU), and the striking PTCL workers to the lawyers’ processions. However, it can be a criticism of the Left at the lawyers’ movement that it did not build any bridges with mass working class organizations, as was done during the anti-Ayub movement of the 60’s, though heavy focus was laid on traders’ organizations. The Left may not have succeeded in giving a more progressive and inclusive shape to the lawyers’ movement, despite all out efforts to do so. Notwithstanding, the Left stood staunch as to its goal and, at the very least, floated the right idea.

Nevertheless, a degree of confusion did exist during the course of the lawyers’ movement when many parties of the Left -including Labor Party of Pakistan (LPP) and National Workers’ Party (NWP)- decided to join the All Pakistan Democratic Movement (APDM) and boycotted the elections early in 2008. One of the parties of the Left that did not join the APDM, a noteworthy exception, was the Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party (CMKP), which held that the Left must unite itself as a secular-democratic force in efforts to distinguish itself as a progressive force in the democratic movement, refraining from partaking in an alliance that has known reactionary right-wingers as its leading faces. The APDM-Left, conversely, either argued that the APDM was not dominated by the right wing, or that the alliance helped them in expanding the scope of their political activity. Be that as it may, the Left managed to make unified calls for the struggle against the Army dictatorship and its political cronies during the vital days of the February elections; only to have been responded by threats by elements of the State as a witness to their efficacy.

Another debate that was waged with passion in the circles of the Left, which are accessible to intellectuals and students through Internet forums, was the position regarding the conflict in the tribal areas of Pakistan. The Left that mingled with APDM called for an immediate stoppage of the military operation for the reasons that it targeted civilians, lacked efficiency due to double-dealings of the ISI and was conducted under the directions of the U.S. Imperialism. The CMKP, finding itself alone here as well, took a different stance. Vehemently opposing the civilian casualties, the double-dealings of the ISI, and the U.S. drone attacks, the CMKP argued that history and circumstances have led Pakistan to such a stage where extremism cannot be rooted out through peaceful dialogues and negotiations. Such means, it is believed, have a negative outcome as they allow the militants to get back on the offensive. Hence, it is essential to use force to deal with the threat of religious fanaticism. There are many other arguments, with varying degrees of sophistication, made for or against the afore-mentioned positions; what was most awe-inspiring was the level of thoroughness of some of the debates.

The aftermath of the Mumbai terrorist attacks has appeared as a great challenge for Pakistan’s Leftists. To understand the predicament faced by them, it must be understood that the Left has always directed its efforts against the Military-Mullah alliance: the elements of quintessential mainstream politics in Pakistan. These two institutions have always stood in the path of even the smallest transition of our country towards democracy- both feed on jingoism and excessively anti-Indian hate-mongering, in order to conceal their retrogressive and narrow political stance.

The distressing tragedy of Mumbai was followed by astute chauvinist nationalism, employing the electronic and print media to further its cause. The image of retrogressive forces is being resurrected, in a planned manner, and zealous calls of “unity” are being given. This is responded to with indifference and total underestimation of the unjust and negative politics of the Army and religious fundamentalists. Television channels are opened for people like Hameed Gul to beat their jingoistic drums in the name of religion and false patriotism. The Left, in these circumstances, is left with no option but to end its year by placing a struggle on the cards against the politics of hate-mongering and jingoism. In this, so far with some formal engagement, the Left appears to stand united.

All in all, the politics of the Left has generated great interest fresh circles. The youth and the oppressed, thoroughly disgusted with military dictatorship, religious extremism and the mainstream parties of Pakistan, are eagerly seeking a new alternative on the political scenario. The Left appears as a major hope. The Left must maintain clarity with regards to its political position while becoming as accessible as possible towards those who are willing to struggle for the solution that guarantees democracy, progress, and social justice. The Left must stand steadfastly with its commitment towards peoples’ democracy, secularism, land-reforms, independence from Imperialism, equal rights and opportunities for women, minorities, oppressed nations, and most notably, the emancipation of the workers and peasants.

This article was published in The Friday Times on 26th December, 2008.

Left Opposition to the PPP

Posted in Communist Movement, Marxism, Pakistan with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 21, 2008 by Umer

The Policy Document issued by the Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party (Communist Workers and Peasants Party) of Pakistan:

In the period of military rule (till February 2008), our Party supported all democratic forces fighting against Musharraf’s dictatorship. At the same time, we remained opposed to the extreme right-wing fundamentalists that had lodged themselves within the democratic movement (such as the JI, JUI, and other fundamentalist parties).

Whether it was in the lawyers movement or in the workers movement in general, our party can hold its head up high and say with absolute sincerity that we fought with courage and to the best of our abilities.

Our party won thousands of sympathizers from the heady days of street battles when we were in the front-lines of the clash with the police. We rekindled the appreciation of progressive poetry by reviving the memory of Faiz and Habib Jalib, singing them in the streets of Pakistan and attracting people to the red banner of revolution. We also brought to the democratic movement a theoretical rigor that was wholly absent in capitalist-democratic forces. And most importantly, we mobilized the working class and brought them into political action to defend workers rights and to struggle against military rule.

With the dastardly attack that killed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, we stood alongside the PPP in complete solidarity. We ideologically defended them from right-wing forces especially the intellectual hacks of the military and the mullahs). On the streets we supported them in their electoral campaigns, in protests and demonstrations demanding a UN probe into the murder, for the holding of elections, and ideologically defended their democratic right to form a government and for power to be transferred to the elected representatives of the people.

Between February 18th and August 18th, the elected government and Musharraf loyalists existed in an uneasy and tenuous situation. While the right-wing forces of the APDM conveniently forgot about the forces of military rule and concentrated their fire against the elected government. We felt that it was a mistake to align or join with the right-wing All Parties Democratic Movement (APDM) against the elected government (as the LPP, NWP, and AT had done). We felt that it was necessary for progressives to support the elected government against the dictatorship of Musharraf.

Since August 18th, the victory over the previous regime (but not the neo-colonial state structure) was complete. However, one of the vital movements that played a key role in the ouster of Musharraf, that is the lawyers movement, was bitterly disappointed that the Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry was not restored. At the same time, the activities of religious extremists increased, leading to the Bajour operation in the very same month of August. Again, while being critical of the military operation itself (that resulted in displaced people and numerous civilian casualties), we were supportive of the elected government against religious extremists.

Our main and arguably only motivation for supporting the forces of capitalist-democracy against military dictatorship was to win more democratic space in order to organize the most revolutionary class of Pakistani society: the working class. Encouraged by the victory over military dictatorship, the workers movement forged forward. This may not have been obvious to those that were focusing on the mainstream media. But our party connected strongly with the working class movement could see the enormous difference. In this regard, our specifically working class campaigns began to bear greater results. Both our campaign on the food crisis and now our campaign for the enforcement of minimum wages where we bravely faced beatings and arrests began to bear fruit. We developed mass support among the textile workers of Lahore and in the advanced the banner of Marxism-Leninism in the face of hostility of reactionary forces.

Thus, our line of march has been to ally with the forces of capitalist-democracy against military dictatorship and right-wing forces in order to win more democratic space for the workers movement, while at the same time maintaining an independent Marxist-Leninist class position in opposition to capitalist ideology and influence and building the class organizations (unions) and revolutionary organization (communist party) of the working class. Aside from individual errors, we believe that the general line of the CMKP was correct and we have won many victories as a result.

In order to advance the interests of the working class, we are now faced with a new situation. There is a world economic meltdown the burden of which will be placed disproportionately on the working class. This is because ruling class parties are unwilling to step outside the framework created by imperialism to meet this challenge. Since their own class interests are tied to the preservation of the neo-colonial capitalist and imperialist system, they are following the diktats of the international financial institutions and will destroy the lives of millions of workers in order to prop their political government. They are utterly unwilling to challenge the very system that has given rise to this world economic crisis.

While the current economic crisis in Pakistan is no doubt partially related to the world economic crisis, and is partially explained by the neo-liberal policies of Musharraf’s government, this explanation alone does not suffice to explain the disastrous management of economic affairs by the PPP led government. Further, we are yet to see any radical transformation in the broad economic principles upon which the economic policy of the current government is based. Specifically, the neo-liberal agenda is still seen as the panacea for the people’s economic problems:

“The Government’s policy of liberalisation and privatisation is aimed at promoting market-based, private sector-led growth. Long-term growth is at the heart of poverty reduction. Distorted prices, lack of competition, and poor government management of businesses have hindered economic development, introduced inefficiencies, generated unproductive and unsustainable employment, slowed down investment, reduced access to services by the poor, resulted in sub-standard goods and services, and contributed to fiscal bleeding. Privatisation can help change this.” (Privatization Commission of Pakistan).

The Privatization Commission under the current elected government has drawn up a list of 20 key industries for “upcoming transactions” (i.e. privatization). This includes key natural monopolies such as the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL), Sui Southern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL), Pakistan State Oil (PSO), and the Pakistan Steel Mills Corporation. Let us also remember, that while the world’s greatest market pundits (including the reactionary economic school at Chicago) are suggesting that the Washington Consensus and the unholy trinity of privatization, liberalization and free trade has failed miserably our economic policy makers are still living in a bygone decade promising a neo-liberal paradise.

Nearly 70% of all textile units have been forced to shut down in the past 8 months, both as a result of unhindered competition from Indian and Chinese textile manufacturers, and inadequate power supplies. As a result, nearly 15% of the industrial working class has been left unemployed. The government has done absolutely nothing to provide at the very least a social security net to those who have lost their jobs in the crisis. Small wonder then, when a recent survey by the Centre for Research and Security says that “70 per cent of the population is living just over, just on or just below the poverty line as defined at an income of $2 per day, and that 49 per cent of the population lives in absolute poverty.”

The PPP’s commitment to international finance capital and imperialist financial institutions such as the IMF can be seen from the recent meetings in Dubai between a contingent of the Pakistan Government and the IMF. IMF rules dictate that a country may receive up to 300% of its debt quota; the Pakistan Government has requested an amount that is 4 to 6 times of the quota—between 6 to 9 billion dollars. The conditions imposed by the IMF are as usual a stricter application of the neo-liberal agenda. The IMF “policy recommendations” (read directives) include an increase in the real interest rate. This will too obviously, lead to a decrease in real output, and will further accentuate the crisis of unemployment in the country. It is estimated that nearly 80 million people will starve during the current economic year because of rising food and commodity prices and unemployment.

This imposition of tighter market discipline, coupled with privatization of state assets will have suicidal repercussions on the economic environment in Pakistan. During the month of October alone, the inflation rate was above 25%; the inflation in food prices is just under 32%. The Government has failed to smash the power of hoarders, or the monopoly of wheat merchants over food prices. The miserable treatment afforded to oppressed nationalities is strikingly apparent when we fully appreciate the motives behind controlling inter-provincial movement of wheat.

Together, the joint issues of unemployment and inflation (stagflation) cannot be solved—and have never been solved through the free market—for they require supply side measures, such as an increase in the productive base and capacity of the macro-economy.

In conclusion, the elected capitalist government is and will continue to promote economic policies that will destroy the lives of millions of working people. They do not have the political will to call for the actual reforms that can take this country out of an economic crisis. The PPP of the 1970s proposed land reforms, nationalization of large scale industry, non-aligned foreign policy, control over flow of capital, large government investment in health care and education and so on. The truth is that the capitalist economic crisis cannot be bandaged by a few reforms. It is the structure of the system that must be destroyed to emancipate the people. Nonetheless, the present elected government is terrified even of such capitalist-democratic reforms that were once part of the program of their own party. The PPP has veered so far from its origins in the 1970s that if it looked at the mirror of its past, it would be terrified by its past open avowal of socialism.

Hence, we assert, and we would like every sane minded progressive whether within or outside the PPP to think about this extremely seriously, that the current PPP government does not represent the historical interests of the working people of Pakistan. Take the simple example of the appointment of ministers who have openly supported vani and other reactionary social practices. It demonstrates that the inability of the PPP to consistently stand even for capitalist-democratic principles. It is no doubt the largest party in Pakistan and it has spoken for the common man in the past. But any honest person, even within the PPP, can no longer turn away from the fact that the PPP is a party where the hegemonic and dominant ideas and social practice does not represent the same interests as the movement for the emancipation of the working class.
Right-wing forces stand for capitalism, discriminatory laws, and collude with imperialism. Right-wing struggles against anything that enables mankind to progress. They want to reverse the wheel of history. Though hiding themselves in progressive slogans, the right-wing has no problem with a dictatorship if it carries forward their regressive agendas. The right-wing has always been the foremost enemy of the rights of women, oppressed nations, and progress of the country. In Pakistan, the right-wing has historically aligned themselves dictatorship and Imperialism against the rights of the working classes.

The left-wing are all the forces that stand against this agenda. Left-wing struggles for the rights of the oppressed masses against the oppressors. Their major demand are peoples’ democracy, secularism, land-reforms and independence from Imperialism, equal rights and opportunities for women, minorities, oppressed nations, and most importantly the emancipation of the workers and peasants. We stand for progress of humanity for a system where the exploitation of humans by humans can be done away with. In Pakistan, the left-wing has always stood with and sacrificed for the cause of the working masses for their rights.

Therefore, the principles of a left-opposition are entirely different from those of a right opposition to the PPP. Most importantly, we continue to support the PPP in its struggle against religious extremism and military rule because these two objectives intersect with our party’s own analysis. And by doing so, we distinguish ourselves from the right-wing opposition to the PPP that acts in defense of fundamentalists and military dictators. Thus, we will neither join nor align with the right-wing forces as other leftists have done. In fact, we consider such an alliance a complete betrayal of socialism since it results in the complete silence by those organizations in relation to right-wing forces. Right-wing forces that are not only supportive of neo-liberalism (as is the current elected government) but also of reactionary and discriminatory laws against women, minorities and working people.

Since, it is abundantly clear that the PPP’s economic policies, like those of nearly every other previous government, have not fundamentally changed in the lives of the poor – factory workers, landless tenants or small farmers, we communists do not hesitate to hold them to account on their promises to the poor. In sum, left-opposition to the elected government will support the capitalist democrats only insofar as they are in opposition to the mullah’s and the military and struggle against them tooth and nail to defend the humanity of the working class. For this the CMKP has launched a left opposition movement against the PPP by channeling the revolutionary anger of the masses not only against the neo-liberal policies but also against capitalism as a social system. We have already begun work against the privatization of the OGDC and have joined workers in dharnas, hunger strikes and protest marches. Furthermore, we have begun the publication of a new working class newspaper called Sadai Mazdoor. We hope to make it the basis of widespread working class resistance to capitalism. In this regard, we would call on our comrades and fraternal parties and most importantly our brothers and sisters in trade unions to strengthen an anti-privatization alliance. The democratic revolution can only truly be completed through a people’s movement of the workers and peasants of Pakistan.

The working people of Pakistan already know that with the world financial financial crisis, a new phase of struggle is ahead of us. They are looking straight down the barrel of hunger, poverty, and destitution. And while some may clutch at straws for hope (such as the current democratic government) they all know the real truth: mainstream political parties are all in one way or another tied to various ruling class interests.

It is for this reason that we call upon the working people to organize a workers party. A party that represents the historical interests of the working class. A party that proudly inscribes socialism on its banner. A party that will do what is necessary to emancipate people from the grip of brutal jagirdars, rapacious capitalists, murderous imperialists, and ignorant and reactionary mullahs. That is create a iron dictatorship against the small murderous clique of exploiting classes and a democratic government for the exploited majority. Without such a party that stands without apology to smash the class rule of the exploiters and establish the class rule of workers and peasants, the emancipation of the working people is a utopian illusion. This essential feature is what separates a party that represents the historical interests of the working class from a party that merely pays lip service to the poor. Such a party, a party that represents the historical interests of the working class, is the Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party that stands on the theoretical foundations of Marxism-Leninism.

To defend the lives of workers and peasants in the context of the world economic crisis that is destroying the lives of millions of people, the CMKP calls upon all progressives to join us in forming a iron chain against neo-liberal reforms dictated by the IMF. To stand against privatization, to stand against the destruction of health, education. To fight, and fight to the death this capitalist/imperialist system that drinks blood from the skulls of its victims, whether through wars of conquest or through economic genocide.

In the words of Habib Jalib

Haal ab tak wohi hain ghareebon kay
Din phiray hain faqat waziron kay
Har Bilawal des ka hai maqrooz
Paaon nangay hain sub benaziron kay

Kal Aaj Aur Kal

Posted in Pakistan, Poetry, Literature, Art with tags , , , on November 11, 2008 by Umer

Music by Shahram Azhar and Taimur Rahman of Laal, the Band.

Translation of Lyrics

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

by Aitzaz Ahsan

In the prime of our youth
We dreamt of hope

Testimonies of a new world
Anthems of a new tomorrow

A world in which no one
Suffered sorrow or knew of hunger

On this side there were multitudes
On the other the elite

On this side the hungry the naked
On the other the treasures of Egypt

On this side were mothers and sisters
On the other prisons and jails

On this side the third world
On the other the old imperial order

On the one hand [the sufis] Sachal and Bahu
On the other hand the clergy and tradition

On the one hand [the lovers] Heer and Ranjha
On the other hand dogma and oppressive relatives

On the one hand rivers of nectar
On the other the waves of drops of poison

The whole world was asking
Speak! whose side are you on?

We had already declared
That we are with the workers
We are with the needy
We are with the oppressed

And then when Che leapt forward
We all marched with him
And when Chou [En lai] raised his voice
Hand in hand we followed

We were not divided by religion
And we all become one

The history of the world is witness
Without justice there can be no democracy

If we have justice our country
Can be saved from utter destruction

Without justice all [democratic] institutions remain weak
Without justice all individuals remain oppressed

Without justice citizens are helpless
Without justice there is nothing but sorrow

Just think, in the history of the world
When has the law giver been imprisoned

Just for the ego of a dictator
Justice has been trampled

It seems that one force straddles the earth
Roaming the entire world

It seems like every power fall at its feet

It’s bombardment has resulted in rivers of blood
It has made religion extreme, and suicide bombers have grown

But hark! true law givers will return to the halls of justice
We will provide the people with bread, clothing, and housing

Flour, electricity, water, fuel will become available to the people
The unemployed will find employment and work of their choice

The state will be like a mother, it will care for all citizens
The army will be respected only when it stays at the border

March on, march on, tell the world,
that our steps cannot stop
March on, march on, tell the world, that our heads can no longer bow

The road ahead is not long, we can see our destiny
The oppressor is running scared, victory is our destiny

Victory is our destiny
Victory is our destiny
Victory is our destiny

Socialism and Constitutionalism in Pakistan

Posted in Communist Movement, Law, Marxism, Pakistan with tags , , , , on September 9, 2008 by Umer

by

Muhammad Ali Jan

The past one and a half year has seen an enormous regeneration of political life in Pakistan. What began as a protest by lawyers against the unconstitutional sacking of the Chief Justice of Pakistan
by the then President/COAS General Musharraf, quickly became (as these things usually become, being reflections of the myriad contradictions of class society) a democratic struggle for the ouster
of the Military dictator. The fervour of the streets shall forever remain engrained in our collective memory; the marching men and women in black and white, the slogans, the bleeding heads, the determined faces; the end of the dictator is surely the crowning achievement of these brave men and women.

However, the battle on the streets was always accompanied by the battle on the ideological front, with the meanings of various terms being hotly contested by all sides of the political spectrum. Today,
almost all parties are unanimous in their call for the ‘Restoration of the 1973 Constitution’ whether in government or in the opposition.However, what is missing from the ‘restoration’ discourse is the idea
of Socialism, already engrained in the constitution, but seldom invoked by its defenders. Perhaps this had to do with the nature of the historic blocs (to use Gramsci’s term) dominant within the
movement, whose class interests are tied to the existence of private property, but it would be a mistake for all those interested in the broad democratization of society (including many lawyers themselves) not to evoke this term; it would be a genuine test of revealing how
far the defenders of the Constitution will go before the various class interests within this seemingly homogeneous group are throughly revealed; in short, it would unravel not just the committment of
those in government to the 1973 Constitution, but also those who vow to struggle against it.

Background to Article 3: The PPP and Socialism

As many of you know that the PPP rode to power in the wake of the anti-Ayub movement of 1968-69. This was the height of the Vietnam War (the Tet Offensive had taken place in 1968), the Chinese Cultural Revolution and the Anti-Imperialist movement in the heartland of Imperialism, i.e. the USA. In Pakistan, the movement was lead by the radical sections of the petty-bourgeoise strata with its allies in the working class and the peasantry. Seeing which way the movement was turning, the PPP put the popular slogan ‘Maang Raha Hai Har Insaan – Roti, Kapra aur Makaan’ (Every human being is demanding Bread, Clothing and Shelter!) as well as the slogan of ‘Socialism avay hee avay’ (Socialism is bound to come!). The inclusion of what became the socialism clause are to read against this background and it is immaterial how much the PPP remained true to its word, the point is that the term occupies a central place within the constitution and it is important for its defenders to entreat it.

Article 3 and Karl Marx

The ‘Socialism clause’ is Article 3 of the Constitution (above clause 6 for High treason that no one tires of mentioned!) entitled ‘Elimination of exploitation’ and reads:

The State shall ensure the elimination of all forms of exploitation and the gradual fulfilment of the fundamental principle, from each according to his ability, to each according to his work.

The above quote is taken from Marx’s classic work ‘The Critique of the Gotha Program’ where he explicates how the principle of “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” can
only be realized in the Classless, Stateless Communist society where material production abounds and for socialist society, arising fresh out of the birth pangs of Capitalism, a better measure would be ‘from
each according to his ability, to each according to the labour performed’. Consequently, the above phrase was included as the cornerstone of the Constitution of the USSR, the first Socialist Country on earth. Despite not actually materializing, Socialism is definitely a part of our constitution.

Conclusion: ‘Restoration’ and Socialism

It is therefore abundantly clear that the question of the restoration of the 1973 Constitution is invariably tied to the question of Socialism in Pakistan. The fact that it has not been mentioned within
the numerous debates of the past one year may tell us something about the class composition of the Lawyers movement; it may also explain why the broad masses of the workers and peasants of Pakistan, although definitely inspired by the heroic struggle of the lawyers and their allies, have not actively participated in the Defence of the Constitution. The Radicals in the Democratic movement need to bring Article 3 to the fore in order to connect the Constitutional question with the popular classes, as well as to see whether the class loyalties of the ‘Constitutionalists’ take precedence over
their Defence of the Constitution. Any Takers?