PTUDC report from Quetta

K.A.Khan Kashmari, the Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign organiser in Quetta reports on the demonstrations and clashes against US aggression in Afghanistan and the general mood of the workers there.

Quetta, October 8, 2001

Dear comrades,

After the American air assault on Afghanistan life was paralyzed on 8-10-2001 for the whole day in every corner of Balochistan’s cities and towns.

This was specially the case in Quetta city which is the capital of the province. It is hard to estimate the proper figure of demonstrators because they were divided in small and large groups (may be up to fifteen to twenty thousand in tiotal) in order to sabotage the police efforts to stop them. Police officers were out in large numbers everywhere in Quetta city at about 9 to 10 AM.

The protestors were blocking the roads, breaking the glasses of windows, doors, of the shops, looting Banks and burning tyres on the roads, stopping people going to offices or coming from offices to home etc. The police opened fire and used tear gas as a result of which 28 people were injured and one was shot dead. The police lost control of the situation on several occasions. A city police station was partially burnt, together with three cinemas, the UNICEF office and Government and private vehicles were burnt.

Most of the demonstrators were from backward layers of society which partly explains the damages caused. But this is only one side of picture and doesn't mean that other, more conscious, layers of society don't have any sentiments. Everywhere in every sphere of life there are discussions on the attacks taking place. Generally people condemn these brutal attacks of US imperialism against innocent Afghan people who had already been pushed back in dark era. They are saying that America itself is a great terrorist and the of their increasing miseries.

One thing that can be seen in the reaction of the masses is that everyone understands the imperialist character of the United States. This is very positive development and provides the basis for a Marxist explanation of the nature of the capitalist system.

According to some reports demonstrators tried to attack the Governor’s house and one of them snatched the rifle from a policeman and a camera from a press photographer. As a result the police did not let the journalists cover the demonstration. Subsequently all the international journalists filed a case in court against the district administration and the court took a decision to allow in only three international journalists, on their own risk. The court further stated that the Govt of Pakistan would not be responsible for their well being.

This shaken position of the state departments shows the condition of the state even at the time when there is no revolutionary upswing of working class. Another information which makes this position of the stare clearer is that the superintendent of police has announced that he will refuse to control the crowds is riots erupt again in the coming days, explaining that he doesn't have enough force to do so.

The Diffa-e-Pak Afghan Council (the Pakistani-Afghan Defence Council) and other religious parties have called for a further demonstration on October 12th.

Comrades it is difficult to measure the exact point of tolerance of society. But the continuation of the recession in the economy internationally which will result in more unemployment, more privatization, price rises and the increase in the already vast gulf between the classes in society clearly indicates the inability of capitalism to develop the means of production in a progressive way.

The present crisis can represent the qualitative change that can make agrowing section of the masses understand that a socialist revolution is the only way out for humanity.

With Bolshevik greetings,

K.A.Khan Kashmari, 
PTUDC Organiser