Thursday, May 24, 2007

Pakistan's Workers' movement fighting for democracy

“Most widest and broadest gathering” in support of Advocates movement

Report by: Khaliq Shah

The advocate solidarity conference decided to stir up more public support for the advocate’s movement for an independent judiciary and an end of military dictatorship. It decided to brig more and more people in the demonstrations and rallies planned for future.

“Without participation of the working class, the movement can not achieve its real goals” was message echoed again and again.

Organised by Labour Party Pakistan in collaboration with Labour Education Foundation at Lahore Press Club on 23rd May, the conference was the “most widest and broadest gathering so far in support of the advocate movement” according to Sardar Asif Ahmad Ali, a former foreign minister and a leader of Pakistan Peoples Party. Asif Ahmad Ali was one of 35 speakers at the conference.

Over 60 radical organizations participated in the conference. It was almost all the radical forces of Lahore that got together. The president Ahsan Bhoon and secretary Sarfraz Cheema of Lahore High Court Bar Association, the main leaders of the movement, spoke in length about the movement and why they need all the help from the trade unions, radical social organizations and professional organizations.

Chaired by Talib Nawz, central president of Pakistan Workers Confederation, the main trade union body in Pakistan , speakers after speaker warned the participants that this is last chance to get rid of the dictatorship, it is matter of life and death, many commented.

Several commented on the most recent statement of the General Musharaf who said that he will not take of the military uniform and that he is so used to the uniform that it is like his skin and I can not take of my skin.

“The skin will be taken of like we do it during the sacrifices of the animal on Eid days, but we are not professional butchers, so there will be many cuts on the skin while taken it of, there will be a lot of pain for the General during this process, we are sorry for that but we will take it of in any circumstances, we will not tolerate the military uniform as the president of Pakistan” commented Sarfraz Cheema, the young and ever fighting secretary of Lahore High Court Bar Association.

The conference tone was very radical. It was a message of defiant. It was a full support for the movement of the lawyers that has inspired every one. It made it clear that we not only need to change the faces but also to change the system. Speakers made it clear to the leaders of the political parties and even to the leaders of advocate movement that any deal with the military dictatorship will not be accepted. It is to get rid of dictatorship.

The common declaration not only opposed the process of privatization but it suggested nationalizing all the denationalized industry. The declaration adopted unanimously demanded an end of neo liberal policies and a minimum wage of 10,000 Rupees (US$ 170) a month. It demanded an immediate resignation of Generl Mushjaraf, formation of a transition government under the representatives of civil society organization in consultation of political parties and a formation of an independent election commission. The transitional government must organize a general elections within three months and hand over power to the elected representatives.

The advocate solidarity conference, the first of its kind so for was attended by the following political parties, Pakistan Peoples Party, Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz Group, Awami National Party, National Workers Party, Awami Tehrik (Peoples Movement), Istiqlal Party, Labour Party Pakistan. These were the invited political parties and they all came.

The Ihsan Wain general secretary Awami National Party (ANP) was one of the main speakers at the conference. 26 members of ANP were killed in the Karachi May 12 incidents by MQM thugs, a semi fascist group in Karachi supporting military government when they were in the streets of Karachi to welcome the chief justice. It was a bloodiest day in the history of Karachi , over 43 was killed and many hundreds injured. He told the conference that I have fought against three military dictatorships during the past 50 years. I can say after judging the mood of the people that this military government will not survive either. “Join the movement, the days of the dictatorship are numbered, kick them hard, it is a fight of life and death” Ihsan Wain told the conference.

Sardar Asif Ahmad Ali categorically denied any deal of Benazir Bhottu with the military dictatorship. “I was in Dubai last week on the invitation of Benazir Bhottu, She has asked me to make it absolute clear that PPP will fight under the leadership of the advocates to get rid of this military dictatorship.

Choudry Gulzar Ahmed general secretary All Pakistan Trade Union federation and president Pakistan Workers Confederation Punjab, Yousaf Baluch chairman National Trade Union Federation, Mian Qayum, president All Pakistan textile workers union and several more trade union leaders asked the working class to join the movement.

Shah Taj Qazalbash convener Joint Action Committee for Peoples Rights, Gulnar of Women Action Forum, Rabia Bajwa a fomer finace secretary of Lahore High Court Bar Association, Nazli Javed of Labour Education Foundation, Azra Shad of Women Workers Help Line spoke of women participation in the movement and need to bring more and more women in the movement.

A joint Action Committee from the Lahore High Court Bar Association decided to meet every Tuesday at Lahore High Court with representatives of trade unions and social organization to coordinate the movement.

The massive presence electronic and print media showed the importance of the event.

The Messages of solidarity from international left organizations were handed over to the representatives of the advocate’s movement.

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