Farooq Tariq

In the first four days after Osama bin Laden’s assassination by US forces, the mass reaction in Pakistan is very mixed. In Punjab there is a general sympathy towards bin Laden, but not many are expressing it openly. In Sindh, the responses differ in different cities. For example, in Karachi there is more active commiseration for bin Laden and condemnation of the US attack. Surprisingly, not much happened in Khaiber Pakhtoonkhawa, where bin Laden was killed. Similarly, Baluchistan responded meekly against the killings.
The recent devastating floods in Pakistan, which affected the lives of more than 20 million people, has once again revealed the severe poverty its people are facing. The only property that many hundreds of thousands were left with after fleeing their mud homes was just a trunk, a few clothes, pottery and maybe a donkey, cow or buffalo.
A multi-party conference in Lahore on August 29 has launched a campaign to cancel Pakistan's crippling foreign debt and to organise mass rallies in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad. The first rally took place on September 2 in Islamabad. The Labour Relief Campaign, in association with Oxfam Pakistan, called the conference to discuss the issue of debt repayment in the post-flood scenario. It was chaired by Aman Kariaper and Ammar Ali Jan. Senator Hasil Bezinjo vowed to take the issue to Pakistan’s Senate and present a resolution to demand that government refuse to pay the foreign debt.
By August 12, more than 20 million people had been affected by the floods in Pakistan. Waters remained at dangerous levels in several parts of the country, with more torrential rains forecast by the weather department. This has been one of the most devastating floods in world history. The UN has once again appealed for donations for Pakistan. But the international response has been slow.
On July 6, while 32-year-old Mustansar Rindhawa was listening to a worker who had not been paid his wages by a textile boss, an unknown person with a Kalashnikov entered the front room and fired. Mustansar tried to save his life by running to the next room, but 10 people were determined to finish him off. I met Mustansar briefly on June 19 in Faisalabad, less than a month before his murder. He was one of 30 participants in a trade union training course at the Labour Qaumi Movement (LQM) offices.
An historic gathering took place in Faisalabad, the third largest city in Pakistan, on January 29.
Once again Pakistan has become the focus of world attention. Every day there is news about the latest suicide attack or military operation, with killings, injuries and displaced communities.
The attack on Sri Lankan cricket team at Liberty Chouck, Lahore on March 3 left eight policemen dead and six Sri Lankan cricket players injured in firing that lasted 25 minutes.
Thousands across Pakistan celebrated the humiliating departure of dictator Pervez Musharraf on August 18.
More than 10,000 peasants rallied on August 4 in Okara, Punjab demanding the withdrawal of false charges of murder against the leaders of Tenant Association of Punjab (AMP).

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