Abdullah Qureshi, 1935 — 2007

January 25, 2008

On December 9, 72-year-old Abdullah Qureshi, a member of North West Frontier Province (NWFP) provincial council of the Labour Party Pakistan (LPP), was murdered in a suicide attack in Swat valley — currently the scene of a military operation against religious fundamentalists who control a majority of the valley.

One of the main reasons given by the dictatorship of General Pervez Musharraf for the imposition of the state of emergency on November 3 was to free the valley from the religious fanatics.

Qureshi was the pioneer of left politics in Swat valley. Born in 1935, he came from a working class background. In the early '50s he founded "Swat Rorwali" (Swat Goodwill), which organised the people's resistance against the nawab of Swat, who at the time was absolute ruler of the valley.

Arrested several times, Qureshi was deported from the valley in the early '60s. He settled in Gojaranwala, Punjab. He was a close friend of Ajmal Khatak and Sikander Khan Khalil, the leaders of the National Awami Party, the main Pakistani left party in the '60s.

In 1968, when Swat valley formally joined Pakistan, Qureshi returned to Swat to organise the NAP. He was elected Swat NAP general secretary. The government of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto banned the party in 1974 and Qureshi was arrested.

He joined the Awami National Party, the new name of the banned party. He was unsatisfied with the ideological confusion within the party, wanting a more socialist orientation. Later he joined the Pakistan National Party. Disillusioned by the fall of the Soviet Union, he withdrew from left politics.

He joined the LPP after it organised Swat valley's largest May Day rally in 2006, attended by over 600 workers. The red flags covering the valley inspired him to join the party, despite being over 70.

At the second NWFP LPP provincial conference in June 2007, he was elected to the provincial council. Within a year, he had organised the party throughout Swat, making it the area's main left party. Most left activists in Swat joined the LPP after he did.

Hakim Bahudar, LPP national committee member and a close friend of Qureshi, said: "He was very much inspired by LPP activities for some time. He was a regular reader of Mazdoor Jeddojuhd (Workers Struggle — the LPP's journal). After he joined the LPP, the party became very respected and prestigious [throughout the] valley. He was the symbol of left politics."

The suicide attack resulted in the deaths of several other civilians. The LPP's 4th national conference was taking place in Lahore at the time. Qureshi and other delegates from the valley could not attend because of roadblocks and military operations.

Qureshi's family did not want to disclose the news of his murder earlier because of fear of more attacks. They believe it was a targeted attack because of his left-wing activism. The family is investigating this and has asked LPP to help.

Now, with the permission of the family, the LPP is announcing his death with great pain.

Although Comrade Qureshi was only in the LPP for 16 months, his whole life was devoted to left-wing ideals. Willing to risk his life for these, he joined the LPP while there was an upsurge of religious fundamentalism in the valley. The LPP will hold memorial meetings all over Pakistan.

[The LPP is calling for assistance from pro-democracy supporters around the world to help carry out its work. To help, you can deposit money in the account: People's Power Fighting Fund, Commonwealth Bank, 062026 1006 0743.]

You need Green Left, and we need you!

Green Left is funded by contributions from readers and supporters. Help us reach our funding target.

Make a One-off Donation or choose from one of our Monthly Donation options.

Become a supporter to get the digital edition for $5 per month or the print edition for $10 per month. One-time payment options are available.

You can also call 1800 634 206 to make a donation or to become a supporter. Thank you.