URGENT APPEAL: Manzoor Ahmed and thousands of PPP activists arrested and brutalized by the Pakistani dictatorship

Last night and early this morning the Pakistani Marxist MP, Manzoor Ahmed, together with many other PPP MPs and thousands of activists were arrested and brutalised. Even women and children have been arrested. We call on you to mobilise all your forces to raise a worldwide wave of protest.

In the night of 15th and 16th April the Pakistani dictatorship in a brutal crackdown arrested thousands of PPP workers who were preparing to hold a mass rally to welcome Asif Ali Zardari, spouse of the PPP Chairperson at Lahore airport.

The crack down had started several days earlier. Several trains from Karachi and other parts of the Sindh were cancelled and borders of the Punjab province were sealed. This has exposed the so-called enlightened moderation of the Musharaf dictatorship which is a close ally of US and British imperialism.

This savage repression also exposed the fragile nature of this regime. It is terrified of a mass explosion due to its drastic anti-working class and anti-people policies being carried out on the behest of the IMF and the World Bank. The regime was afraid that this welcome rally might become the starting point of the movement that could lead to the overthrow of this pro-imperialist dictatorship.

Comrade Manzoor Ahmed, president of the PTUDC and Member of Parliament, was arrested along with several other PPP MPs as they were on their way to Lahore airport in the early hours of Saturday April 16. Other MPs who were arrested are CH. Aitizaz Ehsan, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Imtiaz Safdar, Shamshad Sattar, Dr Fehmida Mirza, Qamar-uz-Zaman Kaira, Zulfiqar Ali Gondal, Tasneem Ahmed Qureshi, Nayyer Bukhari, Zamurrad Khan, Shehry Rehman, Mutaza Satti, Fouzia Habib, Samina Khalid Ghorki, Shagufta Bukhari, Naheed Khan, Safder Abbasi and many others. The veteran PPP left wing leader Ghulam Abbas was also arrested. Some female parliamentarians including Fozia Malik, Ferzana Raja, and Uzma Bukhari were severely beaten up by the police and are now hospitalized due to their injuries.

Such is the ruthless repression of this regime that even small schoolchildren aged 8, 9 and 10 have been arrested in this crack down. The police custody cells are so crowded that the detainees are forced to stand up, as there is no room to sit. This is an act of cowardice and shows that the regime is on its last legs. Hence the desperate attempt to crush a rising tide of political revolt.

Comrade Manzoor Ahmed and other PPP leaders have vowed to continue the struggle till the overthrow of this regime and the rotten capitalist system it defends and represent. In their message from prison these parliamentarians have said that such brutal acts cannot deter them, but paradoxically will expose the real character of this regime and provoke a revolutionary upsurge.

They appealed to the workers, youth, and masses to support them in this episode of class struggle being launched in Pakistan. An Injury to One is An Injury to All!

We appeal to all our supporters and sympathisers, trade union activists, party activists around the world to mobilise protest actions. Phone your local Pakistani embassies, organise pickets, raise the issue inside your local labour movement organisations. Do not leave your Pakistani comrades in these terrible conditions without doing everything in your power to stop this brutal regime.

Reported by Hina Zain, Pakistan,
16th of April 2005

Embassy protest in London
A picket of the Pakistan embassy in London has been called by the Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign from 12.30pm to protest about these arrests. We urge all our supporters to attend:

35–36 Lowndes Square
London SW1X 9JN
We also urge our readers to phone and fax the embassy about this issue and to demand the immediate release of all those imprisoned.
Telephone: (020) 7664 9200
Fax: (020) 7664 9224