Pakistani MP Press Conference on recent visit to Venezuela

This article was first published in the Pakistani daily, Dawn Metropolitan (Friday, April 23, 2004) under the title “Pakistan can learn from Venezuelan experience: MNA”. It is a report of a press conference held by Pakistani Marxist MP Manzoor Ahmed on his recent visit to Venezuela for the Second International Conference in Solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution. We are publishing it to make it available to a wider international readership. (April 23, 2004)

Pakistan can learn from Venezuelan experience: MNA

Venezuela is a case study for Pakistan where President Hugo Chavez succeeded in getting power again with the support of the people after his government was overthrown in a military coup.

This was stated by People's Party Parlamentarians (PPP) MNA Chaudhry Manzoor Ahmed at a news conference after his return from Venezuela on Thursday.

He said he had visited Venezuela to attend the celebrations of second anniversary of reassume of the presidency by Mr Chavez after a military coup in April 2002.

Chaudhry Manzoor narrated the incidents in Venezuela and said how people of the country had come out to fail the coup and forced the army to hand over power again to the people.

He said Mr Chavez was elected president in February 1999 and got 56 per cent votes. After assuming the presidency, he said, Mr Chavez introduced some 49 amendments to the constitution and sought people's support through a referendum. Later, he decided to hold mid-term polls and got 57 per cent votes in July 2000 and became president for the next term.

Mr Chavez had introduced reforms in constitution, industry, education and in all other fields like Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto brought reforms in Pakistan during 1972-1977, the PPP MNA said. He said Venezuela was the third largest oil producing country having oil reserves worth $77 billion, but before the rule of Chavez majority of the people were living below poverty line.

He said it was the people's power that forced the generals to hand over the government again to Mr Chavez after 48 hours.

He said despite the fact that the military coup in Venezuela was supported by the US, the army had to surrender before the people's power. He said still the US was busy in hatching conspiracies against Mr Chavez.

He said Mr Chavez appeared in a TV show titled “Hello President“, in which he and his ministers talked to the public live on every Sunday. The PPP MNA said he was also invited to the TV show and he gave replies to various queries. He said 50 members of Pakistani parliament had put their signatures on the “Hands off Venezuela" campaign launched at international level in support of Mr Chavez.

He said the incidents in Venezuela proved that if a government sincerely worked for the betterment of the people, they would not allow any force to overthrow it.

He said there was a need for taking steps to mobilize the public in Pakistan so that they could also offer resistance to military coups.