Pakistan: Ten left parties seek alliance

A committee meeting discusses the proposed merger of 10 left and progressive groups in Pakistan, in Garhi on March 22.

In the maiden meeting to form an “alliance of the left” held in late December, the leaders of 10 progressive and left-wing parties agreed to form an eight-member committee as part of seeking to form an alliance.

In a statement issued to the media after the meeting, the leaders presented a list of demands. These included recovery of all activists who have disappeared and following of due process if they are accused of any crime; protecting young women from the thugs using the name of religion; regulating the sugar mills mafia; restoring tenancy rights to till the protected forest land in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; withdrawing unjust criminal cases against farmers of Hashtnagar and Okara Military Farms; and restoring student unions.

The meeting rejected the election reforms bill passed by the parliament and demanded that the reforms might be reframed according to the petition filed by the Awami Workers Party (AWP) in the Supreme Court.

The meeting was hosted by the AWP. It deliberated on the economic and political situation and agreed that the mainstream ruling class political parties had miserably failed to present solutions to the growing economic and political crises in the country.

“In our view, corruption is an integral part of bourgeois system which needs to be replaced by an alternative system,” the statement said. “And that alternative is socialism.”

The meeting’s participants said a vast majority of the Pakistani population was still living under feudalism. The ruling classes were using religion to camouflage their exploitation and suppress social forces striving for a real socioeconomic change. This practice was exacerbating trends of fundamentalism, extremism and intolerance.

“Therefore, we resolve hereby to launch a concerted struggle against the flowing anti-people trends in the country,” the parties announced.

They made a pledge to launch campaigns against feudalism and fanaticism; to support workers, farmers and tenants; to work for the supremacy of the parliament against the security state; establish Pakistan as a multicultural country so that every nationality might have full control over their resources; ensure gender equality; reconstitute a state on the principle of separation of state from religion; establish a socialist economy with no distinction of class in the education system; constitutional guarantee for fair access to all citizens to shelter, employment, education and health care; and work towards a positive, non-aligned foreign policy, with friendly economic and political relations with all neighbouring countries based on the principle of non-interference.

Some political observers, however, wondered about inclusion of some parties, such as the radical nationalist party Jeay Sindh Mahaz, headed by Khalig Junejo, in the leftist alliance. A similar point was raised in relation to Haye Baloch’s Balochistan National Movement, which did not attend the first meeting but has since been invited into the alliance.

Defending these inclusions, the AWP’s Farooq Tariq said his party had provincial alliances with both these parties. “They are still not part of the alliance and have their own reservations. It was only the first meeting and many issues remain to be thrashed out.”

The parties that attended the meeting are: the AWP, Pakistan Mazdoor Kissan Party, Awami Jamhoori Party, Jeay Sindh Mahaz (Khalig Junejo), JK Peoples National Party, Balochistan National Movement, Pakistan Trade Unions Defence Campaign, Pakistan Mazdoor Mahaz, JK Awami Workers Party, and Communist Party of Pakistan.

[Abridged from The Dawn.]

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