What would a Socialist Pakistan look like? – Speech at 31st congress of The Struggle

In Pakistan today millions of people feel the pain of hunger and suffer from diseases for which they receive no treatment. Under capitalism medicine, like everything else, is used for exploitation, not for treatment. In a Socialist Pakistan no man or woman will die of preventable disease. No child will go to bed hungry. There will be medicine for everybody.

Consider the state of education. In our country 65 percent of children do not go to school. Millions of children are being denied basic education. I have a newspaper before me. But what good is a newspaper to a person who does not know what is written there? Illiteracy is darkness. It is a crime against humanity. Just like medicine, education under capitalism is regarded as a business. In a Socialist Pakistan education will be free for everybody and illiteracy will be a thing of the past.

So useless and degenerate is the bourgeoisie of Pakistan that they cannot even provide the people with electricity. The provision of electricity ought to be a basic right in a civilised society. Yet every day millions of poor families have to suffer the torture of load-shedding [selective power cuts] and outages [power failures].

The crisis of electricity is the direct result of privatisation that was carried out underr a “democratic” regime in 1994-95. The private electricity companies produce far more electricity than they use. The potential is there to provide electricity, but it is not being used. These companies remit profits of between 3 to 4 billion US dollars every year to other countries. And Pakistan is in darkness.

Why don’t these companies run on full capacity? It is because it is not profitable enough. In a Socialist planned economy such a monstrous thing would be unthinkable. A Socialist government would begin by renationalising the entire power sector, and also nationalising all the big companies involved in hydroelectric schemes, coal mining, gas, oil and all other fuels.

Who produces the electricity in any case? Not the parasitic owners, but the workers. Once we have removed the parasites, we could solve this problem in one hour!

Lal-KhanLal KhanThe PPP Government is always promising to put an end to load-shedding. But these are empty promises because Nawaz Sharif, Zardari, Gilani and other right-wing politicians are not prepared to tackle the big power corporations. Of course, their houses do not lack electricity! As always, it is the poor people who suffer and the price of electricity is rising all the time, so that the poor people are subsidising the rich.

Why should this be the case? Pakistan has huge resources which are not being tapped. In Balochistan there are estimated deposits of 1500 billion cubic feet of gas under the ground, and also vast reserves of coal. Why can’t they use these resources for the benefit of society? Instead, these valuable resources will be plundered by big foreign companies, aided and abetted by their local agents in the governments of Pakistan.

Pakistan need not be a poor country. We have plenty of resources, but our corrupt Pakistani ruling class has never been able to use these resources for the benefit of the nation ever since it was established. Just look at how the wealth of Pakistan is being wasted! Sixty percent of the nation’s budget goes to pay the interest on debt. Every year vast sums of money squeezed from the workers and peasants of Pakistan flows out of the country and into the hands of foreign bankers and capitalists.

The first measure of a Socialist government would be to immediately cancel all foreign debts. The truth is that these debts have already been paid time and again. Not a single rupee more must be paid to the parasites. In addition, a Socialist government would introduce a state monopoly of foreign trade, and strictly control all movements of money in and out of the country.

After paying 60 percent of our national wealth to foreign bankers and capitalists, a further 30 percent is generously handed over to the Pakistani army to pay for new toys for the generals to play with, as well as furnishing them with big houses, flashy cars and fat bank balances. And what is left for the people of Pakistan after all this plunder has taken place? A miserable 10 percent is all that is left over to pay for things like healthcare, education, housing, transport and infrastructure. Only 0.4 percent is spent on people’s health, and a disgraceful 1.5 percent on education.

These barbarous figures are a real condemnation of the rotten Pakistani bourgeoisie. Because of this plunder, Pakistan cannot afford to spend money on research and development which is needed to modernise our industry, renew our crumbling infrastructure and exploit our huge natural resources. It is the same story elsewhere in the so-called developing world. Nigeria is floating on a sea of oil, but its people are going hungry. It is not a lack of resources that causes these problems but the barbarous capitalist system itself.

I have before me a bottle of mineral water. On the label is written the word Nestlé. This is typical of the situation of Pakistan today. Everything is dominated by giant foreign monopolies, especially the food sector. This means ever higher prices for basic foodstuffs. The capitalists are creating artificial shortages in order to increase prices. For them food is a commodity like any other, something to be used for speculation and profiteering. As a result, millions of people go hungry.

A Socialist government in Pakistan would put an end to this barbarism by nationalising the productive forces and placing them at the service of the people. Socialism means production for the satisfaction of human needs and not for the sake of private profit. That is the essential difference between capitalism and socialism.

Agriculture is a vital part of our national economy. In the past, the Stalinists talked a lot of nonsense about the domination of “feudalism” in Pakistan. But in Pakistan feudalism was long ago replaced by capitalist relations of production, including in agriculture. The failure of Pakistani capitalism is reflected in the remains of feudal thought and vast landed estates. Everywhere cash dominates. In 1974 Z.A. Bhutto tried to reform agriculture and even proposed to nationalise the land. But this was sabotaged by the feudal lords who handed over the titles of the land to the banks for cash.

We will certainly nationalise both the land and the banks, and hand over the land to the people who cultivate it. We will encourage the peasants to enter collective farms where they will cease to be peasants and become agricultural workers with decent wages, houses, and access to schools and doctors, and decent pensions. Large-scale collective farms permit the use of the most modern technology, machinery and irrigation, which will vastly increase agricultural productivity. The application of new methods such as genetic engineering will enable us to grow new kinds of crops. Food shortages and high prices will be a thing of the past.

Lenin explained the law of combined and uneven development, which we see very clearly here in Pakistan. You can see the most modern highways next to a peasant hut, which has hardly changed for 1000 years. Only under Socialism will Pakistan experience a real development: a planned economy will mean that modern technology will be freed from the shackles of profits and be placed at the service of human beings. It will be a very easy thing to satisfy everybody’s basic needs. At present, even the most basic human needs are not being met. Sixty percent of children in Pakistan suffer from stunted growth because of malnutrition. Almost 80 percent of our people are living on the verge of poverty.

Let us look at yet another crime of capitalism: transport. In order to consolidate their rule over India, the British built the railways which for the first time really united the Subcontinent. That was undoubtedly a progressive step, although it was taken for the purpose of exploitation. But since independence the rotten Pakistani bourgeoisie has destroyed the railways. As a result, we have a chaotic situation on the roads. There are a lot of cars and no roads, and nowhere to park. Our towns and cities are clogged with traffic, with dreadful pollution, noise, accidents and deaths every day.

A Socialist government will nationalise all transport and replace the present chaos with an integrated, planned national transportation system, including road, rail, air and sea transportation. The cost of travelling has become prohibitive. A Socialist transport system will provide cheap, efficient and clean transport for all. It could even be possible to have free public transport, at least within the cities.

The bourgeoisie is destroying the railways because railways require resources which the capitalists are not willing to provide. The nationalised railways in Pakistan must be under the control of the workers. Let the workers elect the managers! I propose that the Managing Director of Pakistan Railways should be comrade Fazl-e-Qadir. I am sure he will make a better job of it than the present management! [Laughter and applause].

Ever since partition, the ruling class of Pakistan has been telling lies about our history. These lies are taught to children in the schools. They have assiduously built up the cult of Jinnah. But the real history of this land does not belong to Jinnah; it belongs to revolutionaries like Bhaghat Singh [the young revolutionary hero of the struggle against British imperialism who was executed by the British in 1931] [applause].

What has the bourgeoisie achieved in more than six decades? Look around you! See how dirty, chaotic and run-down everything is. There is not even proper sewage. There is a bad smell everywhere. The houses are crumbling. People are forced to live in stinking slums which are not fit for human habitation, while the rich live in palaces.

Housing is a basic human need and the present situation is intolerable. As an immediate step to solve the problem of homelessness, a Socialist government in Pakistan will confiscate all empty and unoccupied dwellings, palaces, mansions, etc., and make them available to homeless people.

A Socialist government in Pakistan will nationalise all the big building companies, the big cement and brick companies, and the steel and plastic industry. We will launch an emergency crash house building programme aimed at building a million new homes a year. Why should this not be possible? What is needed to build houses? We have plenty of land. There are plenty of bricks and cement lying idle, and much more can be produced. And there are millions of unemployed workers who should be mobilised to build houses, schools and roads.

Town planning is non-existent in Pakistan today. Cities like Karachi are a nightmare. They are not fit places for human beings to live in. In a Socialist Pakistan we will guarantee a decent house for every family with plenty of room to live. Rents could be very low or even abolished altogether. In the Soviet Union, housing was practically free, and included free gas, electricity and even telephones. This is entirely possible.

A Socialist Pakistan would need to defend itself against enemies – both internal counter-revolutionary forces and foreign intervention. We will therefore require an army, but the army that we require will not be anything like the Pakistani army of today. This is an instrument of repression which is not so much aimed against a foreign enemy as against the people of Pakistan. Just look at the monstrous way they behave in Balochistan and Pukhtunhua!

The army top brass have been selected as a special privileged caste. They see themselves as being above the rest of society. They keep the army separated from the people and use it for their own purposes. But the ordinary soldiers come from the working class and the peasantry. They share the same problems. While the top generals live a life of luxury, it is the ordinary soldiers, NCOs and junior officers who are sent to the most dangerous places where they are being killed every day. Thus, the army reflects the class contradictions in society.

The army of a Socialist Pakistan will be a People’s Army. We stand for the democratisation of the army and the election of officers. The army must be the servant of the people and not the master. In a socialist Pakistan every worker and peasant will be taught the use of arms and provided with basic military training. There will be a People’s Militia in every factory and every village, willing to fight to the death to defend the gains of the Revolution. This will be a deterrent far more powerful than nuclear weapons!

The capitalists are constantly increasing exploitation. They talk about increasing productivity, when in reality what they mean is profitability. The two things are not the same. Actually, there is no future for business students under capitalism. Genuine scientific management will only be possible in a Socialist planned economy, where production will be organised under the democratic control of the workers, together with the best scientists, technicians and engineers.

A socialist Pakistan will not require a bloated bureaucratic state like the one that presently devours a huge part of the wealth produced by the working class. The running of society will be done far more cheaply and efficiently by the working people themselves, organized in democratically elected committees, like the soviets in Russia in 1917. The word soviet is a Russian word meaning a council. But we have a perfectly good word in our own language, Panchayat, which means the same thing.

The Panchayats will decide everything. They will have far more power than the National Assembly. The ordinary people will have confidence in them – which they do not have for any state institution today. And people will no longer live in fear of the state and the police as they do now. We will not need high court judges. Instead of judges there will be People’s Tribunals in every street, village and factory. That will be far more effective in dealing with crime than the present set-up where people do not trust the police or the authorities.

Socialist Revolution means the awakening of the people. Revolution will bring the people to their feet, raising them to the level of true human beings and giving them the perspective of a new life. In a Socialist Pakistan the masses will feel for the first time that society really belongs to them. They will feel that nobody can oppress them.

Under capitalism people are not free at all. They are slaves of Capital. This is an inhuman society in which people are encouraged to be greedy and compete against each other in an animal struggle for existence. This unhealthy spirit of competition is even inculcated into the minds of little children in the schools. It is an inhuman and immoral philosophy. Socialism will encourage a different outlook, based on human solidarity, in which people will learn to respect each other and help each other. The relations between men and women will be transformed, on the basis of complete equality.

In order to assure the future of the human race, the two main obstacles in the way of progress must be abolished. These obstacles are private ownership of the means of production and the nation state. The present frontiers of Pakistan, in fact, are completely artificial.

The American socialist John Reed wrote a marvellous book about the Russian Revolution called Ten Days that Shook the World. In the same way, a Socialist Pakistan will immediately shake all Asia to the foundations. It will be an irresistible beacon to the masses in India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Nepal, Iran and further afield.

A Socialist revolution in Pakistan would very quickly spread to India and Bangladesh. In place of the old artificial frontiers the workers and peasants of the Subcontinent will create a Socialist Federation with full autonomy for all the different nationalities. The establishment of a Socialist Federation of the Subcontinent will put an end to the nightmare of fratricidal wars, national oppression and communalism. It will represent a giant step towards a Socialist World Federation.

We will defend the right of self-determination. If the people of Balochistan wish to set up their own state we will not oppose it. However, it is our fervent belief that the interests of all the peoples can best be served by joining together in a voluntary, free and equal Federation. By combining the vast resources of the whole Subcontinent in a democratic socialist plan, we can realise the limitless potential of this land.

Under a planned economy a growth rate of ten percent per annum would be a very modest target. This will mean a doubling of the economy within the space of a couple of five year plans. This will be more than sufficient to achieve the total eradication of poverty, homelessness and illiteracy. But the satisfaction of basic human needs is only the starting point of the building of a socialist society. Our aim is to create a society based on superabundance that will enable men and women to develop their full potential as human beings.

With the creation of an economy of superabundance, the animal struggle for life will disappear, and with it the material basis of the class struggle. It will transform all aspects of social life, creating the conditions for a genuine cultural revolution. Art, science, literature and music will flourish as never before. When people are freed from want, the state itself will begin to lose its coercive aspect and gradually dissolve into society. A new stage of human development will dawn. In the phrase of Frederick Engels it will be humankind’s leap from the realm of necessity to the realm of freedom.