Pakistan: The Struggle congress 2009 – Day two

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The second day of congress was dedicated to elaborating on the Perspectives for Pakistan, as well as a discussion on the building of the Marxist tendency, followed by a report on the work of the IMT around the world. After the congress the more than 2000 comrades left the conference hall and organised a protest rally in the streets of Lahore.

The second day of the congress of The Struggle opened on Saturday, March 28. The agenda included Pakistan Perspectives introduced by comrade Lal Khan, an organisational report and discussion introduced by Paras Jan, a report on the work of the International Marxist Tendency introduced by Ana Muñoz, of the International Secretariat of the IMT. The final session of the congress was closed by Alan Woods.

Pakistan: The Struggle congress 2009
The Struggle congress 2009

As usual the congress was preceded by a recital of revolutionary poems and songs, accompanied by revolutionary chants from the delegates and visitors. When comrade Lal Khan was called to the podium, he was greeted with a standing ovation by the congress. Lal Khan gave an excellent speech, full of passion, and a devastating indictment of the rotten Pakistani bourgeoisie and its system. He gave the following startling figures about the misery of the masses in this country: "Sixty two percent of children lack even primary education. Sixty percent of children grow up stunted as a result of malnutrition. Only 16 percent of people have access to sanitation. Many people have even lost their sense of smell because they live alongside open drains, amidst conditions of filth and squalor. Unemployment and poverty are increasing daily."

Agriculture is in a lamentable state. Sixty five percent of water from irrigation canals does not reach the fields because of the bad state of the infrastructure. On the other hand, industry has been ruined and now the PPP government is carrying out a criminal policy of privatisation, which will lead to further sackings.

Lal Khan leading off on Pakistan Perspectives
Lal Khan leading off on Pakistan Perspectives

According to the official figures, Pakistan's economy in 2009 is expected to grow by just 1.9 percent - which is probably an optimistic estimate. The Pakistani state is bankrupted and has been compelled to obtain a loan of US$7.7 billion from the IMF, which has imposed the most draconic and humiliating conditions.

But not everyone in Pakistan is suffering. Opposition leader Nawaz Sharif is the fourth richest man in Pakistan and President Asif Ali Zardari, the leader of the PPP, is the second richest man in Pakistan. How can such people represent the interests of the poor workers and peasants?

Comrade Lal Khan went on to describe the extreme crisis of the capitalist state in Pakistan, which is split with deep divisions. Some bourgeois commentators have even warned that if something is not done soon the state could collapse within six months. This grim warning received a bloody confirmation at 8.30 this morning when for the second time in a matter of weeks a group of terrorists staged an attack in Lahore, this time against a police training centre. The attack still continues as we write this report.

Comrade Lal Khan stressed, however, that it was not a question of a "failed" state but one of weak and degenerate Pakistani capitalism that has failed. Only a socialist revolution could save Pakistan from a future of barbarism. Comrade Lal Khan's speech was followed by enthusiastic applause and chanting. A lively discussion followed in which many comrades participated giving the experience of different regions and groups of workers.

Paras Jan gives an organisational report
Paras Jan gives an organisational report

The next session was the organisation report given by Paras Jan. The Struggle is now an organisation which is present in every single state, region and district in Pakistan. It has a solid base in the working class and the trade unions (a list of those present was given in Friday's report) and is giving active support to the Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign (PTUDC), a broad based federation of trade unions which has been at the fore front of every major labour dispute in Pakistan in the recent period, especially the struggle against privatisation.

The Struggle has also made major gains among the youth. Supporters of The Struggle have won key posts in the Jammu Kashmir National Students Federation (JKNSF) central committee. This is the biggest youth organisation in Kashmir with more than 20,000 students. They have also won the majority of the Peoples' Student Federation (PSF) in Punjab - the most populated province of Pakistan.

The organisation also has a strong base in Sindh, Baluchistan and Pukhtoonkhwa. It is by far the strongest and most influential Marxist organisation that has ever existed in Pakistan. It now has a stronger base than the Communist Party ever had in the past, and many veteran communists have joined it. By contrast all the small leftist groups are in crisis and in the process of disappearing. The road is open to the success of The Struggle.

Ana Muñoz gives a report on the work of the International Marxist Tendency
Ana Muñoz gives a report on the work of the International Marxist Tendency

The last official point on the agenda was the international report which was given by comrade Ana Muñoz, a member of the International Secretariat of the IMT. Comrade Ana reported on the important successes of the IMT in the recent period, particularly in Latin America, as illustrated by the recent successful Pan-American School in Mexico: "Fifteen years ago we only had one section in the entire American continent - a group of about 50 comrades in Mexico. Now the Mexican section of the IMT has almost 300 members and a strong base in the youth and the trade unions. The IMT now has sections or groups in the process of formation in practically every country of the Americas, north, central and south. We recently won over a section in Brazil, with hundreds of members and a strong base in the trade unions and youth. It has been leading the struggle of the occupied factories and is leading the Black Socialist Movement."

Ana also reported on the remarkable success we had at the recent Havana Book Fair, where we launched Alan Woods' new book Reformism or Revolution. There was also a very successful launch of this book in Venezuela, where Alan spoke to meetings totalling over 4,000 workers in nine states and was also invited to meet President Chavez who has warmly recommended this book on several occasions. At present the CMR (the Venezuelan section of the IMT) is in the leadership of the struggle of the Mitsubishi workers, a big car factory in Barcelona where two workers were assassinated by counter-revolutionary elements. Comrade Ana's speech was greeted with enthusiastic applause by the delegates who demonstrated their fervent internationalist spirit and devotion to the IMT.

After the International Report, Jawad Ahmed, a famous Pakistani pop singer came to the podium to sing a revolutionary song which was taken up by the audience who sang and clapped enthusiastically.

Alan Woods gives the closing speech in which he praises the remarkable success of the congress
Alan Woods gives the closing speech in which he praises the remarkable success of the congress

Finally, comrade Alan Woods of the IMT gave the closing speech in which he praised the remarkable success of the congress, with its high political level and revolutionary morale: "Where else in Pakistan could you find anything like this?" he asked. In the course of his remarks, Alan mentioned the betrayal of the former member of the National Assembly, Manzoor Ahmed Chaudary. It is significant that up to this point nobody had even mentioned this question. Alan emphasised that there was no place in the ranks of the IMT for careerists and corruption, and that the leaders must set an example. We pointed out that Lenin and Trotsky, when they were leaders of the Soviet state lived on a worker's wage. In relation to Manzoor he said the following: "As long as he was under the control of the organisation he played a positive role in the National Assembly. But people in such positions come under the pressure of alien classes, and this was the case with Manzoor."

Alan quoted the words of Engels, "The party becomes stronger by purging itself" and added that, "These opportunists have been spreading rumours that they have taken the majority of the organisation. What do you say comrades? Is this true? (A loud chorus of "No" went up.) Look around the hall! Are we stronger than one year ago or weaker? (Shouts of "We are stronger".) Yes, comrades, we are much stronger, both quantitatively and qualitatively. If there is anyone who thinks they can join our organisation to further their personal career, I say to them ‘There's the door, you can leave the hall now!' We do not offer you a comfortable life, a career, or money. All we can offer is hard work, constant struggle and sacrifice. The road to the socialist revolution is a hard road. There are many dangers and difficulties. We face powerful enemies: the landlords and capitalists, the army and police, the fundamentalists and terrorists. But we are soldiers in the revolutionary army and will continue to advance and overcome all difficulties. Armies suffer losses: some are killed and wounded, and there will also be deserters, who we will treat with the contempt they deserve.

"We are ready to face all these difficulties because the prize in the end is very great. We are fighting for a new world. This new world already exists. It lives and breathes. It is present in this hall - in the hearts and souls of every one of you. It is growing stronger by the day and by the hour. We will fight until this new world is born and we will live to see it."

Demonstration and rally in the streets of Lahore against unemployment, poverty and privatisation organised by the PTUDC
Demonstration and rally in the streets of Lahore against unemployment, poverty and privatisation organised by the PTUDC

After these inspiring words the entire congress rose to its feet and cheered and applauded, and immediately the Internationale was sang with great enthusiasm. Jawad Ahmed came up to the podium and stood together with Alan Woods and Lal Khan to sing once again his revolutionary song which he dedicated to the comrades of the IMT. The entire congress erupted in a storm of applause, singing and dancing which went on for some time. In the middle of this scene of rejoicing the comrades produced a sea of red banners which they waved excitedly on the floor of the congress hall before marching out onto the streets of Lahore.

More than 2,000 comrades then staged a demonstration and rally in the streets of Lahore against unemployment, poverty and privatisation organised by the PTUDC at the end of the congress. The comrades staged a sit down in the centre of Lahore in front of the Punjab Provincial Assembly where Riaz Lund and other leaders of the PTUDC and of the BNT (Youth Anti-unemployment Campaign) gave militant speeches and interviews to the TV reporters present.

Read the report of the first day: The Struggle congress 2009 - Pakistan Marxists on the move!

 

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