At 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, 23rd March 2005, the traffic in the centre of Lahore was brought to a standstill by a militant demonstration of workers and youth. This was organized by the Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign (PTUDC) and the Anti Labour Laws Workers' Action Committee, with the backing of The Struggle, the Pakistan Marxist Tendency.
At 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, 23rd March 2005, the traffic in the centre of Lahore was brought to a standstill by a militant demonstration of workers and youth. This was organized by the Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign (PTUDC) and the Anti Labour Laws Workers’ Action Committee, with the backing of The Struggle, the Pakistan Marxist Tendency.
Passers-by looked on in astonishment as the demonstrators marched down the centre of the road, waving red banners with the hammer and sickle, and chanting slogans such as, “Revolution, Revolution, Socialist Revolution”, “We want to change the world”, “We don’t accept the laws of dictatorship”, “Abolish the Anti Labour Laws”, “Red, Red, Asia is Red, Red, Red”, “We Need Jobs” and “Food, Clothing and Shelter!”
The demonstration set out from the Punjab Provincial Assembly, proceeded along Egerton Road, halting traffic along the way until it arrived outside the Lahore Press Club, where the marchers staged a sit-down in the middle of the road. They were addressed in an improvised street meeting by a well known Marxist Parliamentarian, Chaudhry Manzoor Ahmed. He made the following remarks: “We have submitted bills against these laws. We are fighting against these laws within the Assembly. We have now decided that every Monday, in every district headquarters, workers will organize a demonstration, and on Tuesday, we will demonstrate in front of the Parliament in Islamabad. We will fight until these laws are withdrawn.”
Present at the demonstration were a large number of workers’ leaders: Shiek Mujeed, the General Secretary of the People’s Labour Bureau, Karachi, Naveed Aftab, from Karachi Steel, Manzoor Razi, the main leader of the Pakistan Railway Workers, Mohamed Khan Ahmadani, President, PTUDC Sindh, Nazar Mengal, President of the Postal Workers’ Union, Bulchistan, and others. Also present were comrades Alan Woods and Ana Munoz from the editorial board of Marxist.com, who marched behind the banner at the front of the demonstration.
The Musharaff dictatorship is clearly in a very shaky state. Opposition is growing everywhere. The handful of bedraggled and confused looking policemen, nervously handling their Kalashnikov machine guns, did not seem to know how to react. In the end, they decided to march a few steps in front of the demonstration, occasionally casting a nervous glance behind them, but otherwise not intervening in any other way.
The demonstration terminated two hours later without incident. Yet another demonstration! Yet another nail in the coffin of the Musharaff dictatorship!
p.s. In his speech, Member of the National Assembly, Manzoor Ahmed, made an impassioned appeal to the international labour movement to support the cause of the workers in Pakistan. We appeal to all our leaders to support the PTUDC, and to raise this in their Trade Union branches and conferences, as a matter of urgency.