Historic congress of Pakistan Marxists: the Second Day

After a very successful first day the congress delegates and visitors were in a very excited mood, discussing till late at night the issues raised in the sessions and commissions. Today the comrades gathered for the second day of the congress.

It is worth commenting on the huge logistical problems involved in organizing such an event. To arrange the transportation, food and accommodation for over 2,600 people would be a formidable challenge even in Europe and America. But in a backward and poverty stricken land such as this, with its highly defective and primitive infrastructure, it is little short of miraculous.

Congress HallFor months before, the comrades worked extremely hard to raise the finance from sympathizers to pay for the hire of the hall and other things. We received many donations not only in cash but in kind, particularly food. Sympathetic farmers donated sacks of rice and flour, chickens and other items that are being used to provide meals for every congress participant. The quality of the food has been excellent.

These facts alone show that we have built a very serious and professional organization in Pakistan.

The third session: Pakistan after a socialist revolution

Lal KhanLal KhanThe third session was opened by a speech on the topic of “Pakistan: After Socialist Revolution”, introduced by comrade Lal Khan. Before commencing his speech he called the comrades’ attention to a report published in all the Sunday papers highlighting the election of comrade Aslam Gihani to the Cambridge Postgraduate Union. “The election of a Marxist to this post shows that Marxists can work successfully even in the most bourgeois universities,” he commented.

In a fascinating lead off, Lal Khan dealt with a subject that has never been discussed before in a Marxist congress in Pakistan: the complex question of how the transition from capitalism to socialism can be effected in a backward country like Pakistan.

This is very important topic for Marxists in Pakistan where many people ask how it is possible to achieve the transition to socialism, given the miserable condition of society. In his speech comrade Lal Khan explained how a socialist revolution would practically solve various problems in this backward country. We will try to publish the complete text of his speech tomorrow.

A draft document for this session had already been published in which a detailed analysis of this question is elaborated on. The first chapter is about “Socialist Revolution – Why and How?” The subsequent chapters include the State, Economy, Infrastructure, National Question, Women, Art and Media, Foreign Policy and Socialist Federation of South Asia.

The fourth session: Organsiation

The fourth Session on organization, was introduced by comrade Adam Pal giving the lead off. In addition to the annual report he also outlined the proposed targets for growth in the next twelve months.

Farhat-abbas-Shah-reads-his-poetry copyFarhat Abba Shah reads his poetry.Comrade Adam was able to report a considerable development of the organization. For the first time the IMT has a solid base in every region of Pakistan. Our work is divided into 12 regions and over 300 functioning branches:

1) Balochistan. We have a very solid base in Quetta , Khuzdar, Mastung, Kalat and Jaffarabad. Despite the ongoing civil war and serious strife between different ethnic and religious groups, we have comrades from all nationalities: Baloochis, Pushtoons, Punjabis, Hazaras, etc. Because we have organized a solidarity campaign in the rest of Pakistan to condemn the brutality of the Pakistan army, we have got an echo among the Balooch nationalists, not only the student organization, the BSO, but even among the guerrillas.

2) Karachi: We have 115 comrades in the most proletarian city in Pakistan, with a good base in the working class (Karachi steel, electricity, ports etc.). Work here is very dangerous because of fundamentalism, criminal gangs and the fascist MQM. Last year 1200 people were killed.

3) Sind: There are 353 comrades in 26 branches in Hyderabad , Mirpur Kash, Badin , Sukkar, Rohri , Jamshoro, Ghuttki and many other towns and villages. Our work has been hampered by the floods that destroyed many villages and comrades have been left homeless. We also have a strong base in the unions and the PPP.

4) South Punjab: 92 comrades in 12 branches in Rahim Yar Khan,, Sadiqabad, Bahawalpur , DG Khan , Bahkar, Layyah, etc., and a strong base in the unions in Fertilizers, Unilever, Coca Cola, etc.

5) D.G Khan: Here we have done successful work among the peasants in the Janpur area etc., with 283 comrades in more than 20 branches.

6) Multan: 127 comrades in 12 branches. A good base in Nestlé, railways, electricity, cotton industry, etc., and leading positions in the PPP.

7) Lahore: 91 comrades in 11 branches (includes Gujranwala, Gujrat, Okara, Sialkot and Kasur) based on workers and students.

8) Central Punjab: Faisalabad is the Manchester of Pakistan and the third largest city. We have a strong base in the unions (miners, textiles, ICI, quarries, journalists and lawyers) and the PPP, and a presence also in Jhang and Chiniot,

9) North Punjab: 243 comrades in 22 branches including Rawalpindi/Islamabad, Attock, Jand, Hassanabadal and Wah. It also includes Abottabad where Osama Bin Laden was captured.

Imran-Kamyana-speaks copyComrade Imran Kamyana10) Pukhtunhua (formerly the North West Province) which includes Peshawar, Malakand, Kohat, etc: 198 comrades in 18 branches. This is a relatively new area formed partly by former members of the Communist Party. It also includes SWAT, which was under the Taliban from 2004-8 and suffered terribly both then and later at the hands of the Pakistan army. The conditions of work here are extremely harsh.

11) South Pukhtunhua: This includes D.I Khan, Bannu and the tribal areas of North and South Waziristan where there is a war is raging between the Americans and the Taliban in which drone attacks are killing civilians every day. We have 56 comrades here working heroically to build the revolutionary organization, led by comrade Ali Wazir, a veteran comrade.

12) Kashmir: 223 comrades, mainly youth. We are in the leadership of the biggest traditional students organization, the JKNSF. Also postal workers, electricity, telecommunications etc.

There were separate reports on finance, the paper and publications, all three areas registered notable progress in the last twelve months. The organization publishes three papers: the main paper The Struggle is in Urdu and fifteen issues came out last year. There is also a Sindhi paper (every two months) and an English language theoretical journal, the Asian Marxist Review, which is quarterly.

Then came the three report backs from the commissions that were held yesterday evening (10 March) on trade union work, youth and women. In all these areas comrades reported significant advances, although it was felt that a lot more should be done to recruit women to the organization, a task that is being taken very seriously by all comrades.

Women's commission

Mahbaloos-Pattafi copyMahbaloos-Pattafi copyThe report back of the women’s commission was given by comrade Anam. Approximately 40 female comrades participated in the women's commission, representing every region and many occupations: teachers, nurses, marketing, housewives, students… Representatives of every region spoke, giving a report of the situation of the work among women locally. It was stressed that the worsening of life conditions in the last period has affected women more deeply than others. Now every aspect of life is a struggle.

These difficulties have made our female comrades more determined than ever to continue their committed work inside the organization and they have vowed to turn these difficulties to their advantage.

Among the targets posed was to have regular written material on women's issues in the paper and the website.

Also every area described what their current membership was and what the growth target was for next year. All in all, if we were to achieve theese aims, we would double the membership in 12 months.

Trade union work

Nazar Mengal, the President of the Postal Workers’ Union of Balochistan, reported back on the trade union commission. He reported the growing influence of the PTUDC in all areas. Last September the PTUDC organized a national tour of meetings right across the country. Meetings were held in: Peshawar, Lahore, Multan, Rahim Yar Khan, Islamabad, Wah, Gujranwala, Faisalabad, Hyderabad, Rawalpindi and Karachi, where there was a meeting of 350 workers. This initiative was so successful that we will be repeating it this year.

We are also making preparations for May Day. We are producing a poster which will appear all over the country. In the last week of April we will hold a national meeting to organize for May Day. The most important step to be taken now is the establishment of workplace branches of the IMT. We already have a base for this in many factories.

Youth work

The youth report back was given by comrade Amjad Shahsawar. In April we will hold a youth conference in Rawalakot in Kashmir. Last year we set up the All Pakistan Progressive Youth Alliance involving a large number of left-wing progressive student organizations. This is a practical application of the united front tactic in the student field which is giving good results, attracting not only left students’ organizations but also radical nationalist students’ organizations. In addition to the student field we are conducting mass work among the unemployed youth through the BNT (Unemployed Youth Movement) which is organizing conventions at city, provincial and district levels throughout the country.

Women in the Hall

After the three reports, the slate for the new Central Committee and other leading organs was put to the vote and accepted unanimously, as were all the documents presented by the outgoing Central Committee.

At the end of the organizational session, the well known poet Farhat Abbass Shah read out a poem that he had composed especially for the congress. He said the following: “I was not a Communist before I came here, but this congress is turning me into a Communist.” The gist of his poem was: “I am not a military man. I am only a poet. But my verses are filled with gunpowder. I cannot fight with bullets but through my verses I will fight to the end for you.”

The International Report

The last session consisted of an International Report on the work of the IMT delivered very ably by comrade Ana Munoz of the International Secretariat.

Since its establishment the IMT has had some significant advances, which are shown by the wide spread of its operations. Ten years ago we had nothing in the Americas except the Mexican section. Now we have sections in Canada, the USA, Mexico, El Salvador, Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia and Argentina.

But these figures do not give an accurate idea of our influence. Our website, Marxist.com, has been a colossal success and is followed every day by a very large number of people in different parts of the world. In 2011 we received nearly 1.3 million visits and well over 2.3 million page views.

Comrade Ana praised the international work of the Pakistan section, pointing to the creation of a group in Afghanistan. She also mentioned the important work being carried out by the Pakistan comrades to establish new sections in countries like Bangladesh where we have some very promising contacts and India where we have already quite a few members and close sympathizers who are publishing a paper in Hindi.

Women on DemonstrationEvery member of The Struggle feels a fierce loyalty to the International, which was shown by their enthusiastic response to the international report. Many sections of the IMT sent their greetings to the congress, as well as a warm letter of support from Trotsky’s grandson Esteban Volkov, who wrote the following:

“To the Marxist revolutionaries of Pakistan, I send a brotherly hug. I wish to express all my admiration for those who are following the example and the vast experience left by the indomitable Marxist revolutionary Leon Trotsky.

“He remains as a bright beacon illuminating the path that leads us from the hell of capitalist barbarism towards a new world where exploitation, oppression and violence will be things of the past.

“Esteban Volkov.”

Concluding remarks

Singing at the end of the congressTo wind up the proceedings, comrade Alan Woods delivered the closing remarks. He praised the high political level of the congress and underlined the enormous responsibility on the shoulders of the Pakistani sections of the IMT: “I would like you to think for a moment of the following: If 12 months ago there had existed in Egypt an organization like The Struggle, the Egyptian working class could have taken power and the entire history of the world would have taken a different turn. What has happened in Egypt will happen in Pakistan as night follows day. We must be prepared!”

Comrade Alan’s remarks were met with a standing ovation. Immediately after this, Alan was joined on the platform by the famous singer Jawad Ahmed who led the congress in the singing of the Internationale.

DemonstrationDemonstration after the congressAt the end of this very successful congress the spirits of comrades were sky-high. Delegates and visitors spontaneously showed their revolutionary enthusiasm by coming down to the front and onto the platform, waving red flags, singing revolutionary songs, dancing and chanting revolutionary slogans like Roti, kapra aur makan! (Bread, clothing and shelter!) and Inqlab! Inqlab! Socialist Inqlab! (Revolution, revolution, Socialist Revolution!)

Delegates-demonstrate-in-LahoreDemonstration after the congressAfter this the delegates and visitors poured onto the streets of Lahore with red flags, halting the traffic and shouting revolutionary slogans.

Now all the comrades are returning to their towns and villages fired with determination to overcome all obstacles and work to overthrow this monstrous capitalist system of exploitation, misery and hunger and work tirelessly for the victory of the socialist revolution.