Here we present a round-up of Alan Woods' tour in Pakistan, including a new report of his meeting with PPP leaders in Lahore on March 31 which was reported in the Pakistani media, but which we have not covered here until now.
The growing thirst for Marxist ideas in Pakistan was reflected in the excellent turnouts for the meetings that Alan Woods spoke at during his tour in March. Here is a quick round-up of his tour.
Lahore, March 21, 2002
Alan spoke at the 21st congress of the Struggle group, the Marxist tendency in Pakistan. He spoke to an audience of over 500 delegates in the Al-Hamra Hall in the centre of the city. This was the biggest communist congress ever held in Pakistan - even bigger than the Communist Party congress in 1953 when 226 delegates met.
Read the full report here: Pakistan - 21st Congress of The Struggle - The spectacular advance of Marxism in Pakistan
Lahore, March 23, 2002
Alan also attended the launch of Lal Khan's new book Partition - can it be undone? at the Lahore Press Club. Also on the platform was the historian Dr Mubarak Ali; Altaf Qureshi, the deputy information secretary of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP); Manzoor Ahmed, editor of The Struggle; and Ana Muñoz. The hall was packed to overflowing with more than 200 people.
Read the full report here: Launch of Lal Khan's new book Partition in Lahore
Rawalpindi, March 27, 2002
Alan spoke at the Islamabad-Rawalpindi Press Club to an audience of 250 about "The Kashmir Issue and Socialism". The event was attended by a large number of revolutionary Kashmiri students, members of the Jammu-Kashmir National Students' Federation (JKNSF), which at its last congress voted overwhelmingly for a Marxist leadership and programme, and supporters of the Campaign for Socialist Kashmir.
Read the full report here: Rawalpindi Struggle meeting - Marxist message inspires Kashmiri youth
After the meeting the PTUDC Rawalpindi organised a demonstration against the privatisation of Pak-Saudi Fertilisers.
Hyderabad, March 29, 2002
Over 350 people attended a packed meeting on the roof of the Hyderabad Press Club. At this meeting the Sindhi language version of the Communist Manifesto, which has been recently published by the Struggle together with introductions by Leon Trotsky and Alan Woods was launched.
Read the full report here: Hyderabad Meeting - Marxist resurgence in Sindh
See the press coverage of the meeting here: Hyderabad Meeting: Press Coverage
Karachi, March 30, 2002
The turnout at the meeting in Karachi was affected by a strike of public transport workers which meant that most of the people who wanted to come to the meeting were unable to - for example a delegation from Pakistan Steel Mills Karachi who have just won an important strike. In the event 82 people managed to make the journey. Nevertheless the meeting was reported in The Dawn, the leading English language paper in Pakistan. Here is their report:
Workers urged to join hands against globalization By Our Staff Reporter
KARACHI, March 30: A visiting writer, journalist and labour leader, Alan Woods, urged workers on Saturday to organize themselves and form a party that could safeguard their rights.
At a seminar on "Crisis of Global Capitalism and Workers' Course of Action," organised by the Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign at the PMA House, he said that the workers in Pakistan had stood up against oppressive economic policies in the late 1960s, but they lost their direction and suffered.
Now, he said, they were once again starting to raise their voice, so it was the right time to get organized and form a party to give them a direction and helped them achieve their goals.
He said that while capital could be shifted from one country to another under globalizaton, the workers of the poor countries were not allowed to enter the rich countries.
He said that the rich countries were using the i international monetary agencies as their tools which directed and issued advises to the poor countries regarding their economic policies, which actually favoured the rich countries.
He said that due to the control of the rich countries the prices of the exports of poor countries, which usually comprised raw materials, remained low, while the prices of the rich countries' products comprising manufactured goods, were going up rapidly.
He warned that if the people here did not wake up to the reality, Pakistan economy and workers could face the same fate as that of the Argentina.
He said the industrialised countries increased their production and dumped the surplus products in the developing countries at lower prices, creating problems for the local industry and workers.
He said that the workers in the developed countries were now getting organized against globalization as had been seen in two big demonstrations of workers held in Spain and Italy.
London-based Mr Woods arrived in the country a couple of weeks back and has been visiting various cities and addressing workers' meetings.
Lahore, March 31, 2002
On the Sunday evening immediately after returning from Karachi, Alan was invited as the guest of honour at a reception organised by Comrade Ghulam Abbas, a well-known mass leader, who had suffered imprisonment and torture under the Zia al-Huq dictatorship.
Ghulam Abbas, who is now the leader of the left wing of the Pakistan People's Party, is an old friend of Alan's and a close sympathiser of the Struggle. Present at the gathering were about 50 of the most prominent left-wing intellectuals in Pakistan and political leaders, including the general secretary and president of the PPP.
In addition to left-wing university professors and writers, there were a number of newspaper editors, including the editor of the Jang - the biggest daily paper in Pakistan. All of them were very well acquainted with the writings of Ted Grant and Alan Woods and asked a lot of questions about our opinions concerning the present situation on a world scale and in Pakistan.
After dinner, Alan was asked to give an impromptu talk on the present world situation. He spoke for 15 minutes, after which he was asked his opinion about the perspectives for Pakistan. Pointing out that the present regime could not last, Alan predicted that the PPP would get a majority in the next elections.
He stressed that the only way forward for the PPP is to break with capitalism and expropriate the landlords and capitalists, basing itself on the working class. He also pointed out that this was the basis of the 1970 programme of the PPP, which was never put into practice by the leadership. As soon as he had finished, an elderly university professor immediately said that he was 100% in agreement: "I have been telling the PPP this for the last 30 years," he said.
Let's hope they were listening!