Report on a PTUDC anti-war meeting held in Quetta, a city close to the Afghan border. American planes and Special Forces are operating from airbases in the area. The fundamentalists also have a strong presence here. In spite of this the comrades of the PTUDC held a successful meeting where the ideas of genuine socialism were explained to the workers and youth present.
Quetta is the capital of Baluchistan, the largest but sparsely populated and poorest province of Pakistan. The importance of Quetta in this war is mainly due to its proximity to Kandahar [Afghanistan] and the operations of American planes and Special Forces from airbases around here.
Most of the Taliban were trained and indoctrinated in Madrassas in this area. They have also a certain support through their mother party the Jamiat Ulema a Islam. Their most violent and fiercest demonstrations have also taken place in Quetta. The Islamic fundamentalists seem to have quite a strong grip here.
Hence it was considered a bit ambitious to hold a public meeting on a left platform in Quetta, mainly due to the implicit threat of attack by the Islamic fundamentalists. However the leader ship of the PTUDC in Quetta and Baluchistan in consultation with the national leadership decided to go ahead with the public meeting in spite of the dangers in the situation.
The meeting was held in a location in the heart of the city. The PTUDC poster was fly-posted for three days in all the main centres in the city. The venue of the meeting was reprinted on the poster in the space provided. The meeting took place at 11.00am on Sunday, 28th October. The comrades took special security measures and no assistance was either sought or accepted from the state. The meeting was attended by135 people, predominantly youth.
Comrade Ali Raza chaired the meeting. The meeting began by the recitation of a revolutionary anti-war poem by comrade Kabir Ahmed. The first speaker was comrade Hameed Khan, the organizer of the PTUDC in Quetta. He explained the background to the conflict, the history of the 1978 Afghan revolution, the causes of its defeat and the role of the CIA, the ISI and Saudi intelligence agency in propping up Osama bin Laden, the Taliban and other Islamic fundamentalist groups in this region.
He condemned the imperialist aggression on the innocent impoverished people of Afghanistan. He also emphasized that the fundamentalist actions of terrorism only result in the strengthening of the imperialists. He said that condemnations are not enough, neither is the stale pathos of peace going to end this barbarity.
Hameed Khan explained why a revolutionary programme and workers' unity and struggle were necessary to defeat imperialism. He said that Afghanistan and Pakistan have become a single war zone. Hence the workers of all nationalities, religions and races of the region have to unite to fight and transform the war into a class war if we are to win.
The other speakers included, Waheed Baluch [PTUDC], representatives of the BSO, JKLF and Habib Jalib the BNM senator from Baluchistan in Pakistan's suspended senate.
The main speaker and chief guest was comrade Lal Khan who had been invited to come down from Lahore to address this public meting.
The leaders of the two main nationalist Parties in Baluchistan the BNM [Baluch Nationalist Movement] and PKMAP [Pakhtoon Khawa Mili Awami Party] also attended the meeting. There was also presence from other left parties.
This was the first ever anti-war public activity launched from the left in this war zone since the commencement of the hostilities. The youth and workers from various sectors were very enthused by the meeting. All the fears of fundamentalist aggression were dashed by the success and the courage generated by this meeting.
The participants vowed to continue the struggle and take the Marxist position on war to wider sections of the Pashtun, Baluch and workers of other nationalities in this war zone. Several more such meetings are now being organized in different towns and cities of Baluchistan.
Report by comrade Abid,
November 2nd, 2001
Note: The Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign (PTUDC) have launched their own web site, www.ptudc.org. The PTUDC has been campaigning for the defence of trade union rights in Pakistan for a number of years. Now the situation has become even more complicated with the war against Afghanistan. The PTUDC has condemned terrorism, but is also actively campaigning against the war inside Pakistan itself. Thus they face the wrath of both the state authorities and the Islamic fundamentalists. They need your help in their campaigning work. You can help by publicising their material and by going to http://www.marxist.com/wellred/ptudc.asp to make a financial contribution to their campaigning work.