Urgent appeal to all trade unionists
The situation in Pakistan is extremely unstable. The military have deposed the civilian government. Now a power struggle is taking place within the regime itself. The outcome of this is not clear, but one of the options is the declaration of martial law. The deposed civilian government was hated by the masses. It was carrying out a vicious programme of cuts and privatisations. On top of this it was an extremely corrupt administration.
In this situation the military are portraying their coup as a necessary measure to defend the well-being of the country. But we know from past experiences what a military regime would mean. I myself suffered the brutality of the last military dictatorship of General Zia, when I was imprisoned and tortured.
A return to military rule would mean the destruction of the few democratic rights that remain in Pakistan. The trade unions have already suffered greatly in the past period. Trade union leaders have been assassinated. Shop stewards have been victimised. That is why we originally set up the Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign.
Now we face the task of taking all precautionary security measures to protect our trade union activities. We are already in the process of doing this. I am sure you will be aware of what this involves. We have to move material away from our offices and also move prominent figures of our movement to safe places. All this costs money and we in Pakistan have very little resources to do this.
Therefore I am appealing to you to donate whatever you can to the Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign. We have an account in London and our representatives will give you all the necessary details.
At the same time I would call on your organisation to raise a protest about what is happening with your government and with the diplomatic representatives of Pakistan (Embassies, High Commissions, etc.).
We have to make it clear to the generals that the international labour movement will not sit idly by when its sister organisations are being persecuted in Pakistan.
Counting on your solidarity,
Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign,
12th October 1999
Write and send donations to:
PO Box 6977,
London, N1 3JN,