Archive for PPP

LEASING OR SELLING PAKISTAN?

Posted in Communist Movement, Pakistan with tags , , , , on October 5, 2009 by Umer

Press Release

Karachi, Oct 2: At a time when the Pakistan People’s Party-led coalition government seems to be bent upon bartering away the strategic, political and economic ownership in the name of boosting financial resources, pro-people and patriotic political forces of Pakistan are perturbed over the rationale of the so-called ruling elite devoid of national interests and self-respect.

To resist the government’s latest move to lease 0.6 million acres of land to oil rich Saudi Arabia and one million acres to American and European investors, an important meeting of the representative of the National Workers Party, Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party Pakistan, Communist Party of Pakistan and Awami Party was held here at the residence of Yusuf Musti Khan, Vice President of the National Workers Party. The meeting was presided over by General Secretary, Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party, Comrade Ejaz Ghani.

The meeting took a serious notice of a devastating design under which the agricultural land would be sold or leased to foreign investors under the cover of bagging foreign investment, the ultimate outcome of which would culminate into losing the national grip of Pakistan’s ownership. This will not enhance agricultural production but is destined to be ominous for agricultural sector, jolting the very foundation of national sovereignty.

A plan of action against the nefarious government’s move was adopted and the modus operandi to resist it would be finalized within a few days.
Those attended the meeting included Akhtar Hussain, Usman Baloch and Ishtiaq Azmi (NWP); Mansoor Saeed & Dr. Mazhar Hyder (CPP); A.R.Arif & Zafar Aslam (CMKP); Ramzan Memon (AP); Zaheer Akhtar Bedri (writer & columnist) and others.

Issued by:
Zafar Aslam (CMKP)

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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 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

War in FATA – The Marxist View

Posted in Communist Movement, International Affairs, Marxism, Pakistan with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2008 by Umer

Let us begin from the first premise: What is the class character of the various forces that are in combat with each other? What are their aims? The position of the party of the proletariat must be clear; it can not consist of half-baked slogans, semi-support for one group and semi-support for the other—no it cannot be anything of the sort. Such positions, if taken to the masses, can only befuddle their minds.

“In any given situation, says Prachanda,”it is best in general terms to divide the struggle into its component parts—the forces of reaction (that seek to pull back the wheel of history), the forces of the status quo, and the forces of progress.”

I will use Comrade Prachanda’s rule of thumb as the benchmark—it is simple to grasp and easy to understand.

The present status quo is composed of an alliance between international finance capital, the comprador bourgeoisie and a section of the Pakistan Army that benefits from international finance capital. I will henceforth refer to this historical bloc simply, as the “status quo”.

1- The Taliban:

The Taliban represent the forces of reaction; let us be clear that they are not fighting a war against finance capital, or a war for national liberation. Let us also be clear that they are not even fighting a war for oppressed religious minorities.

Under what circumstances can the party of the proletariat support them? None.

2- The Pakistan Government

That a complete transition to bourgeois democracy has been made is un-dialectical. I agree. However, that is not the question that we are addressing.

As long as there is a temporary alliance between the class interests of the comprador bourgeoisie and a section of the army—leading to the formation of a new historical bloc—-they will jointly wage a battle against the Taliban.

To suggest—or to require—from contending class interests to always pursue their own course independently of other classes, even when there interests temporarily align against a common enemy is to reduce the class struggle into children’s playing field.

Yes, each class pursues a course of action, in the final analysis for its independent class aims and not for the aims of the allied class. But that does not imply that they will not ally against what they consider a common enemy. Contradictions are not immutable; antagonistic contradictions may metamorphisize into non-antagonistic ones and vice versa.

Coming back to the point—the Pakistan government at present is governed by the Pakistan People’s Party which historically represented the interests of the national bourgeoisie. That there has been a significant internal metamorphosis within the People’s Party, converting it into a party representing the interests of the comprador bourgeoisie is an important and objectively plausible hypothesis.

In either case, it is clear that they represent the forces that seek to maintain the present status quo as it stands.

3- The Pakistan Army

Does the Pakistan Army represent monolithic class interests? Or is it composed of different ideological strands?

If indeed, the Pakistan army is composed of different ideological strands, does this then imply that we can label its entire body under one caption: “Reactionary”. No it does not. Does it imply that we can label the entire Army as a force of the status quo? No it does not. Neither analysis is correct, in my opinion.

The Pakistan Army is composed of sections that represent the forces of the status quo, and forces that represent the forces of reaction. This corresponds to the historical evolution of the Pakistan Army over the course of the past 3 decades. During Zia’s military regime, the Mullahs were a part of the ruling historical bloc. As a result, a process of Islamization was conducted not only in the country, but within the Army as well. Professor Colonel Abdul Qayum was appointed as the Chief Advisor to the President, and was given the task of presenting a series of lectures on “iman, taqwa and jehad fi sabillillah” to young army officers. These three words became the motto of the Pakistan Army. Further, Abdul Qayum recalls in his book “Zia ul Haq and I”, that the process of Islamization was aimed at creating an ideologically Islamist army, though “a large chunk of officers resented and wanted a largely secular Army”. (Zia ul Haq and I, page 31)

Did the reactionary lobby within the Pakistan Army enjoy the same ascendancy within the ensuing 20 years after Zia’s death? No it did not. Does this imply that the reactionary lobby was annihilated? No it does not. The reactionary lobby continues to exist within the Army as a junior partner; however, the changing international situation and the corresponding crack in the hitherto existing historical bloc have changed the balance of forces not only in the country but within the Pakistan Army itself. During the course of the past 12 years the Askari Financial conglomerate has established itself as the leading financial body operating in Pakistan. Its interests are directly aligned with the interests of Imperialism. Therefore, it directly benefits from the dictates of imperialism.

Its ascendancy within the ranks of the Army corresponds to the emergence of the new historical bloc; the dethroning of the reactionary lobby within the Army corresponds to the fact that the new historical bloc has amputated relations with the forces of reaction. The dethroned forces exist and continue to agitate from within the ranks of the Army. Dozens of right-wing officers were forcefully retired during Musharraf’s period; hanged upon plotting his assassination thrice.

What should the Party of the Proletariat Do?

The Party of the proletariat has to decide its course of action given the situation. It cannot ask “what if” questions when the battle has already begun.

First, let me say at the outset that any moral headcount of the number of children and men being killed because of the war does no good to us. Casualty and injury are the byproducts of war; they are unfortunate but unavoidable. This is precisely why Marxist-Leninists have been the greatest advocates of peace; however, we understand that in order to make peace an objective reality the system of antagonistic classes that lies at the root of war must be eliminated. Any talk of peace without an objective appraisal of the situation and the balance of forces between the various classes amounts to pacifism. Furthermore, is it not juvenile to expect contending antagonistic class interests to “not get messy in war” when an opposing class has already taken up arms?
Second, as far as the operation and its logistical dynamics are concerned, it is obvious that the civilian government neither has the manpower nor the necessary skills to wage a battle itself. Military combat is an art and science; it is acquired through years of training. The only force capable of leading such an operation is the military itself. That the democratically elected government (both in the Federal capital and the Pakhtunkhwa province) supports the operation and has willingly given the military control of the operations (through a decision of the Pakistan People’s Party and the Awami National Party) suggests that even if the hegemony of the operation lies with the military its armed action cannot be called “unpopular” by any stretch of the imagination. The election campaigns of both the Pakistan People’s Party and the Awami National Party were replete with positions in support of an active struggle against the “Jehadi’s”. The Pakistan People’s Party contingent was targeted on numerous occasions by suicide bombers precisely because of its support for the Lal Masjid operation.

Given then that:

1- The war has already begun, and that it is pursuing a course of its own, independent of our subjective desires.
2- The Pakistan People’s Party (the party of the centre) and the Awami National Party (the party in the province) are openly and actively pursuing the war.
3- The Taliban have violated the terms of the peace negotiations and are plotting suicide bombs almost every week.

It is a matter of secondary importance (although not unimportant) then whether the hegemony of the operation lies with the elected government or with the army. Our support for the operation should be based on whether or not it seeks to annihilate the forces of reaction or not. Our Party supported the Lal Masjid operation at a time when even a partial transition to democracy had not been made. It supported the operation for its class aims; the routing of the forces of reaction by the forces of the status quo. A similar mode of analysis must be utilized to analyze this operation. Instead of falling into the abyss of pedantics we must support the operation since it takes on a head-on collision with the forces of reaction; forces which have most consistently been the enemies of progress, reason and science.

The proletariat cannot stand aloof in times of war; it does not impose pre-conditions on the bourgeois democrats for its historical struggle against pre-democratic forces. It supports every measure that challenges the forces of reaction and criticizes every move towards reconciliation. It is the most militant and consistent representative of progress; it can under no circumstances show any sympathy for forces of reaction either in the name of peace or under the guise of half-baked slogans. We must support any attempt, however imperfect, by the ruling status quo to annihilate the reactionaries. The criteria for support or opposition must be the class character of the contending forces and their goals in the broader historical context. The criteria for support must be: Does this in the broader view of history advance the cause of the proletariat by annihilating or making a dent in the ranks of all or at least one of its class enemies?

In my view, the present operation does indeed advance the cause of the proletariat by taking a head-on battle with the forces of reaction. Yes, it has many imperfections, like all political battles which are seldom in line with pedantic.

We must support the operation.

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?

Developments in Balochistan

Posted in Pakistan with tags , , , , , on August 30, 2008 by Umer

A massive military operation was carried out under the Musharraf regime against the Baloch nationalis movement, starting in the last days of 2005, that resulted in further alienation and estrangement of the Baloch people with the Federation.

The present government, after the extension of apology by Asif Zardari to the Baloch people, is taking out some measure to bridge the huge gulf that marks the Baloch conflict.

Recently, Adviser to Prime Minister on Interior, Rehman Malik said that the government would release all political prisoners of Balochistan. He announced exclusions of names of all political leaders of the province from Exit Control List (ECL), including Nawab Khair Baksh Marri and Nawabzada Gazin Marri. He also informed that Sardar Akhtar Mengal is living in Sharja as a result of these measures.

Rehman Malik also said, after his meeting with high government officials from Balochistan, that he had a list of 1,102 people who are missing in Balochistan.

This is quite shocking, moreso for the reason that it is Rehman Malik who is giving out this information. One perception can be that there is still heavy presence and influence of military in Balochistan, an expected hangover from the decade of military rule, that is creating hindrances for the provincial and federal governments to operate in Balochistan.

In this perspective, the government’s decision to abolish 35 of the 54 FC Posts in Balochistan is a welcome step. This can help in removing the military presence from Balochistan to some extent.

One may welcome these steps (they certainly give a respite to the Baloch people and allow them space to organize politically), the government’s actions must be scrutinized properly. One objective of the government appears to concentrate on fighting the Taliban in the NWFP. Fighting the Taliban is necessary. However, if the fight in not conducted properly, especially if it is conducted within the paradigm of “war of terror” and with a strategy dictated by the U.S. Imperialism, the spill-over of the war can be very dangerous for the people of Pakistan and can strengthen the reactionary forces of religious extremists (as it is often correctly pointed out, the two barbarisms fighting the “war on terror” reinforce each other).

While grant of certain civil liberties to the Baloch leaders must be supported, it must be crystal clear that this does not solve the Baloch conflict in any way. The recent debate in debate in Senate, leading to snubbing of Kashmir Affairs Minister Qama Zaman Kaira by female senators from Balochistan, shows what the Baloch problem is actually about. The debate in the Upper House started when it was pointed out that out of a total sum of Rs 17 billion given from Pakistan Baitul Maal to the provinces during the last five years, the Punjab got Rs 8.9 billion, Sindh Rs 3.6 billion, the NWFP Rs 3.2 billion and poor Balochistan received only Rs 704 million. Islamabad alone got 901 million, more than Balochistan!

Can the government of People’s Party solve the Baloch conflict to the end? I seriously doubt. The Baloch problem can only end with the relentless struggle by the Baloch population, of which they are perfectly capable. The present times call for the Baloch people to organize rapidly in the struggle for their social and economic rights. The progressives from other provinces, particularly Punjab, who have consistently supported the Baloch national struggle in their silent ways, must also utilize the liberty accorded to the Baloch nationalist leadership to mobalize public support from the masses of their respective provinces for the Baloch national cause.

References:

Govt to release all political prisoners of Balochistan, says Rehman Malik
http://www.app.com.pk/en_/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=50729&Itemid=2

Over 1,100 people missing in Balochistan, says Malik
http://www.dawn.com/2008/08/28/top10.htm

Most FC posts in Balochistan to be abolished: Baloch leaders to be released, cases to be withdrawn
http://www.dawn.com/2008/08/29/top2.htm

‘Islamabad alone grabbed more charity money than Balochistan’
http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=132725

CMKP Condemns Bhutto’s Assassination

Posted in Communist Movement, Pakistan with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 30, 2007 by Umer

Karachi, Dec 29: Heinous horrified assassination of PPP Chairperson Benazir Bhutto, a most popular leader and former prime minister, has once against testified the magnitude of the tyrant savage system controlled by military establishment. What she fell prey to the suicide bombing and so-called Islamic militancy were the culmination of the politics of Islamisation and Jihad that where put into motion by the military Zia regime and still being done by a section of establishment and supported by a group of fanatics. The objective has been just to brutalise the society and thwart the democratic aspirations of the people, to prolong the undemocratic rule. This has also showed the fault of the existing socio-economic and political system that needs its elimination through sincere and protected struggle. Moreover, nobody is safe under military-dominated rule.

In a press statement, Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party (CMKP) Pakistan Chairman Sufi Khalik Baloch condemned the brutal murder of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, while urging to expose and punish all those involved in such crime against humanity and decency. He added that at such a sad moment, he shared the shock and grief equally with the leaders and workers of PPP as well as her family. He paid tributes that she died bravely as she was conscious of the threat under the cover of religious extremism, although the fact is that she became the target for the dislikeness of domestic cliques that are counted in the politics of Pakistan. He hoped her blood could not go in vain but help strengthen democracy and socio-economic rights of the people.