Three public meetings were recently organised by the PTUDC to protest the impending Imperialist attack on Pakistan and the terrorism perpetrated by the Islamic fundamentalist organisations. The first Meeting was held in the main city hall in Hyderabad, the main city of Sindh. More than three hundred people attended the meeting. They were mainly students from the three main universities of Sindh. The meeting was presided by the veteran left intellectual from Sindh, Comrade Ibrahim Joyo. The main speakers were Mohammad Khan Ahmadani, Chairman of the PTUDC, Sindh, and the editor of the Sindhi Marxist Paper ‘Class Struggle’ and Lal Khan the editor of the Asian Marxist Review. The speakers emphasized the history of state terrorism perpetrated by US imperialism and how they were directly involved in the creation of monsters like Osama Bin Ladin and the Taliban. They also explained the economic background to this situation and the implications of the world economic slump for politics and society. There was an enormous and enthusiastic response from the audience. 19 participants intervened in the discussion and asked very advanced questions. Lal Khan replied to the questions and summed up the discussion. Revolutionary poems were also recited at the function and at the end there was a feeling of optimism that a class movement will emerge as more and more people join in the upsurge as the military attack commences. This would break the stranglehold of the Islamic fundamentalists on the sporadic movement at the present time. A collection was raised at the end of the meeting, which had lasted four and half hours. A resolution for the release of Comrade Satish Kumar and withdrawal of all cases against him was moved and unanimously passed by the meeting. There was big coverage of the meeting in the Sindhi and Urdu press. It was also reported in the Sindhi press that Sindhi Nationalist leaders like Abdul Waheed Aresar, the leader of the largest Sindhi party also attended the meeting. This is the first time in many years that such big Sindhi nationalist leaders have attended public meetings organised by the Marxists. This was also the only public protest meeting on this present crisis organised by any left organisation in Sindh, till date.
The second meeting took place at the Thatta press club on the 29th of September. The meeting was organised jointly by the PTUDC and the Sindhi Marxist Journal ‘Class Struggle’. More than 150 people attended this meeting. Comrade Dastagir Uqaily, the local leader of the PTUDC, introduced the subject. The main speaker was Lal Khan who explained the impending crisis and the disasters and long-term instability that this war will bring to the whole region, and why an independent class position and a workers’ movement was necessary to defeat the imperialist aggression and the menace of Islamic fundamentalism by overthrowing the capitalist system which was the root cause of the present misery and poverty afflicting the teeming millions of this region. He also explained that American imperialism and Islamic fundamentalism were two sides of the same coin. Mohd Khan Ahmadani leader of the PTUDC, Sindh, explained the aims and objects of the PTUDC and its strategy of intervening in this anti-imperialist, anti-fundamentalist struggle and in defence of trade unionists and workers against the attacks by the state and the reactionary forces. Students, youth, workers’ and peasants’ leaders, political activists, journalists and intellectuals attended this meeting. Big banners condemning imperialist aggression and fundamentalist terror were displayed in the hall. A banner calling for the release of comrade Satish Kumar was displayed behind the stage. Several participants at the meeting asked questions about various issues evolving out of the present crisis. Some of the workers leaders also intervened in the discussion with important contributions. At the end a resolution was moved and accepted by the participants. One hundred and forty five new signatures were collected for the Campaign to Release Satish Kumar. There were also resolutions passed by the meeting against the attacks of the administration against the workers of the Thatta Cement works and sugar industries in Sindh.The mood at the end of the meeting was one of defiance and a new resolve to take the class struggle forward to defeat these evil forces representing different faces of capitalism.
The third meeting was held at the Pakistan Steel Mills near Karachi. Fifty steel workers and militant trade unionists of the Steel Mills attended the meeting. The meeting was opened and introduced by Comrade Naveed of Pakistan Steel. Comrade Lal Khan delivered the main speech. He explained the causes of the present world recession and the deep crisis of the capitalist economy, how workers all over the world are facing retrenchments and how these terrorist attacks have strengthened imperialism, which it would use to increase attacks on the workers on a world scale to enhance its profits. He also explained the struggle of the steel workers in Europe, America and elsewhere and the need to unite this struggle. In the discussion most of the steel workers asked questions relating to the lull in the movement, the present role of the leadership and the perspectives of the workers’ movement in the next period. Comrade Lal Khan replied to the discussion giving details of national and international perspectives arising out of the present crisis. He also explained how a fresh upsurge of workers will carve out a new revolutionary leadership. He also stressed the importance of preparing and developing the political level of the workers’ leaders in Marxist ideas and methods to play a role in leading the movement to a socialist victory. Here again the mood was optimistic and the steel workers expressed their determination to build Marxist forces in the workers’ movement and defy the attacks of the state on the conditions and jobs of the steel and workers of other industries. They also expressed their deep desire and will to develop direct relations with steel workers and their unions in Europe and other countries.
In the meantime the organising committee of the PTUDC met in Kinger, Sindh and drew up a programme to carry out a mass countrywide protest campaign against the imperialist aggression and fundamentalist terror. The main aim would be to raise the level and understanding of the workers of the present crisis, the recession in the world economy and the overall national and world perspectives. It was vital for the mobilisation of the advanced workers to defend their class and fight back against the attacks of the ruling classes in the next immediate scenario. The following steps were agreed.
1/ An anti-war and anti-terrorism poster would be produced and fly-posted throughout the country by the 10th of October. Several pamphlets and leaflets will be produced on the present crisis, both locally and nationally to educate the workers and expand the protest movement.
2/ Public protest meetings, rallies and demonstrations would be held in all the provincial capitals and main cities of the country from Kashmir to Karachi.
3/ These will also include various actions and measures to step up the campaign for the release of comrade Satish Kumar.
4/ The solidarity campaigns would be launched in Europe and elsewhere to get support and assistance from the trade unionists, youth, students and political activists to build up, increase and expand this struggle against imperialist aggression and Islamic fundamentalist terror here in Pakistan.
Report by Khalid Bhatti,
National Organiser, Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign [PTUDC].
Lahore, 1 October 2001.