Asia

The international campaign demanding the release of our comrades, who were abducted by the Rangers in Karachi on 22 April, continues to build. There have been demonstrations at Pakistani embassies all over the world, and our official petition has acquired thousands of signatories, including from some prominent figures from the political left and trade union movement. Here, we provide an update on the solidarity campaign's latest activities.

Yesterday, we had a fantastic response from comrades around the world, protesting the abductions in Pakistan. The good news is that three of our comrades were released today: Aftab Ashraf, Karim Parhar and Zain ul Abidin. However, the Rangers are refusing to release the other three comrades, who remain in custody in their headquarters in Karachi. Comrades must step up the campaign of protest for Bilawal Baloch, Umer Riaz and Mohammed Gulbaz. We demand the immediate release of all of our comrades.

Pakistan is a country of over 200m people, but at least 40 percent live in poverty. Life expectancy is low, at an average of 66 years and infant mortality is high, with about about 64.2 deaths per 1,000 live births. For a large part of the population life is a living hell. But on top of this there is also the impact of imperialist intervention in Afghanistan, the effects of which have spilled across the border, and the repressive operations of the state security forces.

Update 11:34 - we have received reports that these two comrades have now been released. Yesterday in Karachi two more supporters of the Lal Salaam group were abducted by the Rangers. They were protesting peacefully, together with other left activists and groups in front of the Karachi Press Club, against the previous abductions when there was crackdown by the military and four protesters were taken away. Later two of them were released. The two that were not released are Yasir Irshad and Shay Razai, who are presently being held by the Rangers. See this Reuters report, ...

The seven socialist activists abducted by the Rangers in Pakistan are still being held. Their whereabouts remain unknown. All possible measures are being taken to locate them. As yet, no charges have been made and the reason is that no crime has been committed. They have been abducted because of their solidarity activities with the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM): a mass movement of immense proportions of the Pashtun people, who are demanding to know where the 30,000 people who have disappeared over recent years are, whether they are being held in prison or whether they have been killed.

Today, protests were held in Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta, Rawlakot and other cities to demand the release of comrades abducted in Karachi by the army and Sindh Rangers. They were disappeared because they joined a protest in front of the Karachi Press Club that was called by the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM). Nobody has been informed of their whereabouts so far and no case has been registered against them. Their family members are experiencing extreme shock and worry, but still don’t know the location of their loved ones.

A number of prominent youth and trade union activists have been disappeared in Karachi by the Army and Sindh Rangers, a paramilitary state department notorious for extra-judicial killings. No case has been registered against them. Those remaining in custody are being held at the Rangers' headquarters in Karachi.

Comrade Bilawal Baloch from Quetta is suspected to have been abducted by the armed forces of Pakistan. He attended the protest held yesterday in front of the Karachi Press Club, which was called by the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), and was heading back from there to his home in Quetta. But his mobile phone is permanently off and nobody has been able to contact him.

Six comrades of the IMT were abducted today in Karachi by the Army and Sindh Rangers, a paramilitary state department notorious for extra-judicial killings. We need to raise this in the labour and student movements around the world. We need messages of protest and of solidarity. Act now!

A new Pashtun movement has erupted in Pakistan, mobilizing hundreds-of-thousands of people across the country, with tens-of-thousands attending its public meetings. The state apparatus and the entire ruling class, including all establishment political parties, are trembling at the sight of this huge movement, which originated from the most backward areas of the country – where it was least expected.

On 6 March, some 35,000 farmers from across Maharashtra marched to Mumbai, demanding of the state government land rights, loan waivers, fair compensation for their produce, respect and dignity for farmers from indigenous tribes (adivasis) and improvements in the agriculture sector, which makes up half of India's workforce and 14 percent of the economy.

A great victory has been won by striking workers of the Pepsi-Cola factory in Faisalabad, industrial hub of Pakistan. On 29 January 2018, almost 250 workers completely shut the factory down in solidarity with three colleagues who had been laid-off by the administration without prior notice. The three workers who were fired actively motivated their colleagues to raise the demand for an increase in their daily wages. The workers' militant action put the bosses under severe pressure and eventually forced them to buckle.

The Taiwanese working class has begun to move with mass demonstrations and the rise of new trade union organisations. Recent anti-worker legislation passed by the government has proven to be the whip that has driven them to action.

Comrade Adam Pal opened the morning session of the second day of the congress with a highly informative and engaging lead-off on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Adam explained that, contrary to the promises of milk and honey from the Pakistani ruling class, CPEC in reality means increased misery and exploitation for the masses.