May Day in Pakistan 2002

This the report from the Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign on the May Day activities that took place up and down the country. The main rallying slogan was for the release of the imprisoned strike leaders in Quetta, where Hameed Khan and around 150 others are still in jail, and that the only way out for the masses of Pakistan is the road of socialist revolution. The day was a great success.

In Pakistan, the May Day was observed against a background of increasing repression by the military dictatorship and attacks on working class. The PTUDC was already in a campaign for the release of comrade Hameed Khan and trade union leaders, activists of the Civil Secretariat and other government departments in Quetta, Baluchistan. Comrade Hameed Khan is the city organiser of PTUDC Quetta. These comrades have been in prison since April 22 leading a strike to get a wage increase promised by the regime after the November 2001 strike.

Already protest demonstrations for the release of the Quetta trade unionists had been held in Rawalpindi-Islamabad, Karachi and Quetta on April 28 and 29. Most of the other protest demonstrations and rallies were planned for May Day. The PTUDC centre in Lahore produced 7,000 leaflets in which the details were given of the state repression against the Quetta comrades. This May Day leaflet was also used to build up and accelerate the campaign for the release of the comrades. Similarly 2,000 traditional PTUDC posters were produced. A special May Day issue of the Urdu paper The Struggle was also produced. All this material was sent to all the regions of the country. The poster was flyposted in most of the major cities and towns of Pakistan.

On May Day PTUDC interventions and activities were held in 21 cities and towns of Pakistan. More reports are still coming in, but some of the major interventions have been the following:


PTUDC leaders and activists from steel, shipping, textile, telecommunications, railway, electricity, airlines, transport and several other sectors participated in the main rally organised by left union federations and PTUDC at Karachi Press Club. The PTUDC leaflet was distributed at the rally and slogans of socialist revolution were raised. A resolution for the release of the Quetta comrades was passed unanimously in the rally. The media has tried to block the news of the PTUDC activities, specially those linked to the campaign for the release of comrade Hameed Khan and other trade unionists in Quetta.

Still the PTV cameraman in Karachi could not resist our poster and filmed it. This was shown in the news bulletin on the nation wide network. The successful intervention of the PTUDC comrades in Karachi has strengthened our influence and this will go a long way in expanding our base in this industrial heartland of Pakistan.

Hyderabad (Sindh)

In Hyderabad, which is the political centre of Sindh province, the PTUDC organised a May Day protest demonstration in front of Hyderabad press club. About 60 trade unionists attended the demonstration. They raised slogans for the release of Hameed Khan and the other arrested workers in Quetta. The speaker condemned the rising repression of the regime and demanded an end to the policies of downsizing, privatisation and other dictates of IMF and imperialist agencies. The leaflet was distributed in the bazaars and factories in and around Hyderabad. The PTUDC poster was flyposted in all the main squares of the city. The PTUDC is becoming the main trade union force in Hyderabad and Sindh.

Mirpurkhas (Sindh)

This is another important town in South East Sindh. Here a May Day procession jointly organised by the PTUDC and Peoples Labour Bureau (PPP labour wing) was taken out to protest against the policies of the present regime and the arrest of the trade unionists in Quetta. About 80 people participated in the demonstration. Leaflets were distributed and posters flyposted in the town and surroundings villages.

Mirpur Methelo (Sindh)

This is an industrial town in northern Sindh. It has fertiliser and many other industrial plants. A PTUDC rally was held in which more than 200 people participated. The speakers demanded the release of the trade union activists arrested in Quetta. Resolutions were passed unanimously for the release of the comrades and acceptance of their demands.

Other towns in Sindh

In Sindh the May Day rallies under the banner of the PTUDC were also held in the towns of Khairpur, Thari Mohabat and Badin. The local organisers of the PTUDC conducted the proceedings.


As the main leadership of the PTUDC is in prison, May Day was observed both inside and outside the prison. In jail more than 150 of the arrested workers gathered in the central square of the prison and were addressed among others by comrade Hameed Khan.

Outside in the city a procession and rally were jointly organized by the PTUDC, progressive Mazdoor Itehad (Progressive Workers' Unity) and Baluchistan Workers' Front. In the rally one of the main speakers was comrade Kabir Ahmed, a telecommunications union leader and a leading figure of the PTUDC in Quetta. His speech transformed the whole atmosphere. Even the reformists trade union leaders had to take a radical stance in their speeches. Around 700 workers attended this meeting. One thousand leaflets were distributed by midday and the comrades had to do a reprint due to the rising demand. The repression of the state and arrest of the trade union leaders has had the effect of increasing the anger and revolt amongst the workers in Quetta.

On the day of Musharraf's farcical referendum there was a total strike and the whole city of Quetta was shut down and came to a standstill. The workers and public appreciated the PTUDC poster in general. It could be seen in all the important venues of the city. This is a very crucial period for the PTUDC in Quetta. We are under attack from the regime. Our comrades are facing serious repression and imprisonment by the military-police dictatorship. They want to isolate us. During the Afghan war the state had temporarily retreated. They had accepted the demands only as a deception. They had released comrade Hameed Khan and other trade union leaders due to the international campaign launched by But another reason was the embarrassment they were facing in front of Americans, as Quetta was the centre of the war zone.

Now after the referendum they are going for a more brutal repression to crush this movement, as a lesson for other revolts, which will emerge due to the appalling conditions the workers are being subjected by the regime. They know that PTUDC is a serious ideological force, which is gaining more and more support from the workers due to its steadfastness, honesty in struggle, and irreconcilable class position.

This is not hide and seek. This is not the sort of arrests where people are picked up and released from one end of the road to another. But the PTUDC and its political supporters have vowed to take up the challenge and have launched the campaign nationally and internationally. The comrades in Quetta are defiant and they are not going to give up the struggle nor succumb to torture and state brutalities. In a message smuggled out of prison comrade Hameed Khan along with other comrades in the Quetta central jail send their warmest revolutionary greetings on the 10th anniversary of Socialist Appeal and They have expressed their gratitude to all the comrades around the world who have given their solidarity and support for the struggle of the Quetta comrades and the PTUDC.

Khuzdar (Baluchistan)

This is the second largest city of Baluchistan. Here May Day was observed under the Workers' Alliance in which all the unions and trade union federations joined together to hold the rally. The rally was preceded by huge procession, which after passing through the main roads reached the venue of the rally, the compound of the central post office. During the procession anti-regime and anti-capitalism slogans were raised. The rally was presided by the chairman of the Workers' Alliance comrade Nazar Mohammed Mangal. He is also the provincial organiser of PTUDC Baluchistan. The chief guest was the Baluchistan All Parties Conference chairman Inayat Ullah. The main speakers were trade union leaders from the following sectors: Agricultural Workers Union, Paramedical Staff Union, Agricultural Engineering Workers Union, Teachers Action Committee, Nation Union of Postal Employees, telecommunications workers union (PTCL) and the PTUDC Khuzdar Organiser, Faizdin Sasoli.

The speakers paid tributes to the Martyrs of Chicago and vowed to carry the traditions of struggle set by these American workers. They criticised the policies of privatisation, downsizing, retrenchments and other anti-working class acts of the present regime. They condemned the IMF, World Bank and US imperialism whose exploitative role was responsible for the price hikes, poverty and misery in society today. They also condemned the loot and plunder by the rulers of billions of dollars of public money spent on the façade of Musharraf's referendum. On the other hand the workers and masses of Pakistan are deprived of health, education and other basic facilities. In the end a unanimous resolution was passed for the release of the Civil Secretariat and other state employees of Quetta. The participants pledged their full support in the struggle of their brethren in Quetta.


Multan is the largest city in central Pakistan. Here the PTUDC and the Pakistan People's Party organised the main May Day rally. More than 200 people attended the rally. The rally was presided by comrade Ilyas Khan, the Multan city organiser of the PTUDC and PPP leader. The main guests were comrade B. A Jigar and comrade Asad Patafi. The speakers were from the trade unions of railways, fertilisers, postal workers, textile industry, telecommunications, water and electricity and some other industries. The leaders of PPP Multan and PYO (People's Youth Organisation) also spoke.

Comrade Ilyas Khan in his closing speech condemned the arrest of Hameed Khan and the other trade unionists in Quetta. The rally unanimously passed a resolution demanding the immediate release of the Quetta workers and acceptance of their demands. Te participants of the rally pledged their full support for these comrades and vowed to continue the campaign and struggle until their release. Several trade unionists opted to join in the ranks of the PTUDC by agreeing to its socialist programme as the only way out of this misery of capitalist rule.

Rahim Yar Khan

The May Day public meeting was held under the banner of PTUDC. More than 250 people participated in the meeting. Banners and PTUDC posters were put up in different parts of the city. The trade union and youth leaders spoke at the meeting. They condemned the increasing repression of the regime and the arrest of trade unionists in Quetta. A resolution was passed demanding the immediate release of Hameed Khan and other trade union leaders and workers in Quetta. A number of trade union activists joined the PTUDC and vowed to speed up the struggle against imperialist exploitation. The main speakers among others were Haider Chughtai, the city PTUDC organiser and Saeed Nasir one of the main PPP leaders of the region.


A big rally was held by the PTUDC to commemorate May Day in this southern Punjab city. More than 300 workers and youth attended the rally. The rally was presided by comrade Qamar Zaman, the PPP parliamentary candidate from this area. Trade unionists, youth and PPP leaders spoke in the rally. There were slogans of socialist revolution chanted during the proceedings. The speakers condemned the arrest of the trade unionists in Quetta. They demanded their release and acceptance of their demands. The workers vowed to continue the struggle until the victory of the socialist revolution.


A large torch-bearing procession was taken out in Kasur by the PTUDC leadership. The procession apart from workers and youth on foot also had motorcycles and horse carts (tongas) and was more than a mile long. It passed through the main bazaar of Kasur, which was littered with banners, and PTUDC posters. Most banners demanded the release of Hameed Kahn and other trade union leaders of the strike movement in Quetta.

This was one of the biggest May Day rallies in the recent history of Kasur. The rally condemned the arrest of the 350 trade unionists in Quetta and demanded their immediate release. Slogans of socialist revolution pierced through the darkness of the night.

The procession ended in a rally, which was held at Kasur railway station. The main speakers were Mehr Ramzan, the city organiser of the PTUDC and Chaudhry Manzoor Ahmed, the PPP leader and the expected parliamentary candidate for the city. Several other trade union and political leaders spoke at the rally, which was attended by more than 500 people.


A rally of 250 people was organized by the PTUDC. The main speaker was comrade Rauf Khan Lund, the PPP parliamentary candidate for this area. This May Day rally became a protest demonstration condemning the arrest of the Quetta state employees. Rauf Lund demanded the immediate release of Hameed Khan and other comrades. He warned the regime of a massive retaliation by the workers if the attacks against the working class were not stopped. He said that the conditions for revolutionary change are ripe. Once the working class begins to move then this regime will collapse like a house of cards. He said that the strike movement in Quetta being led by Hameed Khan and other comrades is the first step, anticipating a new wave of class struggle. Te rally unanimously passed a resolution supporting the struggle of the Quetta trade unionists and demanding their immediate release.


There were three main activities on May Day. In the morning a rally was organised by the official union workers confederation. The PTUDC activists attended the rally, distributed about 500 leaflets and raised revolutionary slogans. The processions to this rally on the roads they passed and the buildings around the venue of these rallies were posted with PTUDC posters.

The second main activity was a protest demonstration organised by PTUDC for the release of Hameed Khan and other comrades. This demonstration was held in front of the Lahore Press Club at 2.30 pm in the afternoon. 70 people attended the demonstration. There was a big coverage of this demonstration in the national press in most cities of Pakistan. The pictures of this demo were printed on the front pages of some of the newspapers.

The third main function was a seminar on the "Pakistan workers and the present crisis". This was organised by the labour wing of the PPP (People's Labour Bureau) and coordinated with the PTUDC. In reality this was the official and main May Day function of the PPP. The main national leaders of the PPP and its allied parties attended it. A message of Benazir Bhutto from London was read out at the function. Comrade Amin Bhatti a leader of the People's Labour Bureau and the organiser of PTUDC Punjab chaired the function.

The PPP leadership was forced to allow comrade Lal Khan to speak due to the pressure from below. This speech changed the whole atmosphere and there were slogans of "Asia is Red with the blood of the proletarians" and "Revolution - Revolution, Socialist Revolution".

Lal Khan speaking at the PPP May Day event

In his 20 minute speech comrade Lal Khan, international secretary of the PTUDC, explained how the betrayal of the 1967-70 manifesto of the PPP had brought disaster to the party and the workers who had built the party with their blood, sweat and tears. The only way forward is the execution of the socialist programme given in the party's basic manifesto.

There was an enthusiastic response from about 700 people who had filled the hall and there was a standing ovation at the end of speech. Most of the leaders sitting on the stage however were not very happy and their faces were looked embarrassed and drawn.

The hall had PTUDC posters and banners on all sides. This meeting unanimously passed a resolution for the release of the trade unionists in prison in Quetta and supported their demands and struggle.


In this city in central Punjab, the PTUDC organised a May Day meeting. 55 trade unionists attended the meeting. PTUDC posters were pasted in the main avenues of the city. The meeting bore red flags and slogans against the repression and attacks of the regime were raised. The speakers condemned the arrest of the comrades in Quetta and demanded their immediate release. The meeting was presided by comrade Saqlain Shah and along with the veteran trade unionists a number of young workers spoke at the rally. After this meeting a new wave of enthusiasm developed and a number of trade union leaders offered to join the PTUDC and play an active role in the struggle.


In these twin cities two main May Day rallies were held. The first in the morning was organised by the official trade union confederation. The PTUDC comrades intervened in this rally with banners, posters and leaflets. Two of the main speakers were also the PTUDC organisers for Islamabad and Rawalpindi, comrade Azad Qadri and comrade Irshad.

This rally was filmed by PTV so comrade Azad Qadri's speech was shown in the main news bulletin of the PTV on the national network. The banner in front of the procession calling for the release of comrade Hameed Khan was also able to reach the TV screens.

This rally also passed a resolution for the release of Hameed Khan and other Quetta trade unionists. About 1,500 people attended this rally.

The second rally was held in the afternoon at the press club, which was jointly organised by the PTUDC and the RIUJ (Rawalpindi-Islamabad Union of Journalists). About 300 people attended this rally and the speakers lashed out at the repressive policies of the dictatorship. They condemned the arrest of the Quetta trade unionists and demanded their immediate release.

A petition of signatures was circulated by the PTUDC for the release of Quetta comrades. 331 people signed up and the signature campaign is still going on. This initiative of the Rawalpindi-Islamabad PTUDC is being followed by the PTUDC in other regions of the country.

PTUDC comrades from Texila Wah region and Kashmir also travelled to Rawalpindi to attend these rallies.


In Kashmir the PTUDC comrades in coordination with the JKNSF (Jammu-Kashmir National Student Federation) organised rallies. They were held in the towns of Rawalakot, Muzafferabad, Thorar, Hajira and Kotli. In Kotli, more than a hundred people attended the rally. The reports of the details of these rallies are still coming in. They are late due to the low level of communications and the mountainous terrain in Kashmir.