Lahore :Wednesday 10 October 2001.
The meeting was organized at the traditional left hall and café, the Pak Tea House. About 75 people attended the meeting. The majority of them were trade union activists and leaders. Youth, students and women workers also participated. The meeting was presided by the veteran trade union leader and chairman of the PTUDC in Punjab, comrade Amin Bhatti. The topic of the meeting was: The present war and the role of the working class. Two days before, the PTUDC poster was flyposted in all the main areas of Lahore.
Khalid Bhatti, National organizer of the PTUDC was in the chair. The first speaker was the Punjab University student leader Comrade Yasir. He explained the role of Islamic fundamentalists and their links with US imperialism. He gave examples of the terrorism inflicted by the fundamentalist organizations on the left wing students in the last 50 years. He raised the need of organizing the youth against the imperialist aggression and the menace of Islamic fundamentalism. The next speaker was the national coordinator of the PPP women’s wing Comrade Shahida Jabeen. She severely criticized the position taken by the PPP leadership in supporting US aggression. She stressed the need of an independent position of the working class condemning Imperialist aggression and fundamentalist terror.
The next speaker was the editor of the Frontier Post and renowned left intellectual, Rashid Rehamn. He explained in detail the history of the Afghan conflict and how the Americans were themselves responsible for the whole mess that has devastated Afghanistan and has culminated into this war. He explained how due to its extreme weakness the Pakistani regime and the ISI were forced to make a 180 degree turn in their policy on Afghanistan. He also gave graphic illustration of the events where the American officials scolded general Musharraf into total submission.
The last speaker was the editor of the Asian Marxist Review, Comrade Lal Khan. He explained the nature of this war and the need to convert this imperialist war into a class war. He elaborated that the victory of the working class in this class war is the only way to end all wars. Capitalism can only give wars and destruction - a future of barbarism. He said that history is witness to the fact that after every war revolutions have erupted. This will happen again and we have to prepare the forces of revolutionary Marxism to be ready when a revolutionary upheaval breaks out. At the end of the meeting comrade Amin Bhatti wound up the proceedings and appealed to the participants to take these ideas to every nook and corner of the city and arrange gate meetings in the factories, colleges and the shantytowns of Lahore.
Muzaffarabad, Kashmir, Saturday, 13 october, 2001.
Muzaffarabad is the capital of the Pakistan controlled Kashmir. The public meeting here was organized jointly by the PTUDC and CFSK [Campaign for a Socialist Kashmir]. There was heavy police presence as the students from the Muzaffarabad University came in forming a procession. A number of students had put on red bands round their heads and red scarves. They were carrying banners condemning the US aggression and the fundamentalists. The PTUDC poster was seen pasted on the walls in most areas of this picturesque hill station. The procession of about 200 students passed through the main bazaars and reached the press club of Muzaffarabad which was the venue of the meeting.
The hall was full and the speakers included representatives from the Kashmiri Nationalist Parties, the PPP and renowned college teachers and intellectuals. The meeting was also sponsored by the JKNSF [Jammu & Kashmir National Students organization], the largest students organization in Kashmir, whose newly elected President, General Secretary and most other office bearers are Marxists. Most speakers agreed with the position put forward by the PTUDC of condemning the Imperialist aggression, fundamentalist terror and putting forward a workers alternative with a revolutionary programme of socialist transformation. Even the Nationalist leaders had to agree with the need to link the struggle for national liberation to the class struggle as a real way out of national oppression.
The speakers came from the following organizations and backgrounds.
1/ Shehzad Kashir, CFSK.
2/ Azad Qadri, PTUDC.
3/ Hanif Awan, PPP.
4/ Shujahat Kazmi, President, JKNSF.
5/ Shaukat Ghanai, city President NAP.
6/ Faisal Azad, General secretary P.S.F. [Peoples Student Federation] Kashmir.
7/ Farid Awan, advocate and former Kashmiri Nationalist Leader.
8/ Prof.Khaleeq, Kashmiri left intellectual and veteran activist.
9/ Lal Khan, Editor Asian Marxist Review.
The meeting ended with an enthusiastic response from the participants. Kashmir has been the strong hold of Islamic fundamentalists due to the insurgency going on in the Indian controlled Kashmir and their support by the ISI. Hence this was the biggest left wing public meeting in about a decade. When the comrades from the Lahore arrived, they thought that the heavy police contingents deployed in the streets of Muzaffarabad were for the fundamentalists. They were pleasantly surprised to learn that Marxist ideas had such a tremendous response from the Kashmiri youth who has been in struggle for such a long time, that they had come out in a procession to welcome the guests for this meeting. This meeting has enormously strengthened the base and support for forces of revolutionary Marxism in Kashmir. The point is to further build upon this support.
PTUDC, October 17th, 2001