Asia

Three years after the Occupy Wall Street Movement spread out from Manhattan to several major cities all over the world, the Occupy Central movement has begun, earlier than planned on 26th September, after a couple of years of discussions and demonstrations, with the declaration of an “era of civil disobedience”. Prior to this, students from 25 universities and various schools joined a one-week strike called by the Hong Kong Federation of Students on 22nd September, which served as the ‘final warning to the regime’.

The Jammu Kashmir National Students Federation is holding its 19th central convention on 24 and 25 September in Muzaffarabad. The convention will coincide with the anniversary of the killing of former General Secretary of JKNSF Fahim Akram who was martyred by the reactionary forces.

This article looks at the situation in Pakistan, and describes on the one hand the effects of decades of rule by an inept and corrupt ruling class that has proven incapable of developing the country and on the other, highlights the immense work done by the comrades of The Struggle in building a Marxist Tendency in these every difficult conditions. [The text is a transcript of several talks given in the USA on Pakistan].

Comrades, I have just spoken on the phone to comrade Lal Khan who has visited Riaz in hospital in Karachi. The good news is that he miraculously survived the shooting and major surgery and is now out of danger and in a stable condition. Although he is said to be out of danger, he is still in a bad state, as one can see from the photo we have just received. He is slipping in and out of consciousness and has not yet spoken.

Comrade Riaz Lund, a leading member of the Pakistan section of the IMT and well-known class fighter in Karachi, has been shot in cold blood by assassins. In a cowardly and brutal assault, he was hit three times, twice in the stomach and once in the chest.

In the nauseating, disingenuous confrontation going on between the elites, the real issues are brushed to one side. Baluchistan appears in the corporate media in accordance with the whims and needs of the bourgeois state and the ruling classes. Ever since the creation of Pakistan, Baluchistan has been in a state of turmoil, revolts and insurgencies. The militant struggles and the military operations are raging on. In reality, Baluchistan has become a festering wound on the body politic of the whole region, including Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan.

In all the excruciating din about “changing the system”, none of the politicos of the present political setup – each representing different sections of finance capital – even mentions the name of the socioeconomic system that dominates and is ravaging this tragic land – capitalism!

The National Marxist Summer School was held in Malakand in Northern Pushtoonkhwa from 8-10 August. It is near the Swat valley which was controlled by the Taliban until a few years back. Despite the long distances, high costs of transport, difficult journeys and the dangerous security situation in the area, 225 young comrades participated from all over the country, including 26 women. The venue of the School was on the banks of the Swat River flowing through the green mountains of the valley.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the capitalist counter-revolution in China, an immense political vacuum opened up in ideology and politics on a world scale. In these conditions there was the resurgence of political Islam and religious fundamentalism.

We are publishing here a comment by Lal Khan – that first appeared in the Pakistan Daily Times – on the recent events taking place in Islamabad, where Imran Khan’s PTI in collaboration with Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, an Islamic scholar turned politician, have attempted to portray themselves as leaders of a mass anti-government protest. In reality they are nothing of the kind and have very little to say to the toiling masses of Pakistan.

As thousands reach Islamabad with high expectations of change, the masses at large are bewildered, indifferent and sceptical about all the streaks of the political elite. Speculations of deals brokered by the military chief, General Raheel Sharif, are rife. Pakistan is once again immersed in instability and turbulence.

Protests called by the Movement for Justice, led by Imran Khan and the Sufi cleric Tahirul Qadri under the banner of anti-corruption, demanding the resignation of the Sharif government, are storming Pakistan and are scheduled to hit Islamabad on August 14, Pakistan’s Independence Day. Rumours of a possible intervention by the Pakistani army, intrigues and conspiracies are poisoning the atmosphere of a country gripped by a permanent crisis and a constant in fight among different sections of the ruling class. Here we provide an analysis by Lal Khan.

If it were only a matter of praying to Allah for the masses to end their woes and achieve their emancipation, how easy it would be!

The discrediting of Congress, mass discontent in the country, a developing economic crisis and an anti-corruption mood led to a realisation by the ruling class that Congress could no longer be relied upon. Over the past period, when in power, Congress had been carrying out wide ranging liberalisation of the economy. However, it was too weak to carry out the tasks that the Indian capitalist class requires today.

India has seen two very powerful general strikes in the past two years, revealing a sharp class polarisation in the country, and yet we have the disastrous result in the recent Indian elections for the Communist and left parties. This apparent contradiction has brought into sharp focus the role of the leaders of these parties and their total inability to offer a way out of the impasse they themselves have been responsible for creating.

The upcoming presidential election in Indonesia (July 9th) has become much more interesting with the formal entrance of Jokowi as one of the presidential candidates. For more than a year the rumour mill was running non-stop as to whether or not Jokowi would throw his hat into the race.

At dawn on Sunday, June 15 the Pakistan government gave the green signal to over 30,000 ground troops, backed by air force jets, to move into action in North Waziristan. This is the beginning of a long talked about and expected military operation against the many and numerous Islamic terrorist outfits that have been wreaking havoc throughout the country for almost two decades. The terrorist attack at the Karachi Airport in the preceding week seems to have been the final straw.

Ever since the reactionary and bloody partition of the South Asian subcontinent in 1947, any major incident, whether it be a terrorist outrage, a colossal accident or natural disaster on either side of the Radcliff line that divides the South Asian subcontinent, the drums of blame immediately start beating in full glare with fingers pointing across the other side of the border.

As we reported last week, John McDonnell MP was planning to issue an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons regarding the campaign against privatisation of Pakistan Telecommunication Company Ltd. We are pleased to produce the text for our readers. The aim of the Early Day Motion is to highlight the issue and to gather support from other Members of Parliament as a means of putting pressure on the British and Pakistani governments. (June 22, 2005)

Gone are the days when on Budget Day almost everything came to a halt on the streets, with people glued to the TV screens or radio sets in anticipation of some major concession for the working masses. After all in those days the budgets did matter. Now that is a bygone era and the masses having little interest in what is being said or are in no mood to be continuously duped by the sermons of these false prophets. Ironically what interest them more than the monotonous theatrics of a budget speech are ‘fixed’ cricket matches. Despite the working masses being written off by the ruling elite, analysts and the intelligentsia, do their instincts not hit upon the brutal reality behind these

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Twenty-five years ago, on 4th June 1989, the Tian’anmen square movement was brutally smashed by the rifles and tanks of the Chinese troops. It was a heroic movement of the Chinese people in a struggle against the bureaucracy in general, and more specifically against the lack of democracy, corruption, and the negative impact of the market economic reforms.

The landslide victory of the BJP and the meteoric rise of Narendra Modi as a populist leader have stunned a large number of secular and liberal analysts in India and elsewhere. They were in reality hoping against hope for the result to be different from the media predictions of the bourgeois pundits.

On 27th April a mass meeting was organized in Malakand, Pashtoonkhwa to commemorate the 36th anniversary of Afghan Saur Revolution of 1978. More than 500 workers, students, youth and political activists participated in the meeting. The participants travelled long distances on rough roads through the mountains of Pashtoonkhwa to get there. Comrades and activists from Malakand, Shangla, Swat, Dir, Buner, Kohat, Peshawar and Islamabad were in attendance. A group of students from Afghanistan also participated.

Over the past 2 months a mass protest movement has shaken Gilgit-Baltistan, a Pakistani region which borders China, India and Afghanistan. The movement initially started as a reaction to price increases caused by the removal of government wheat subsidies in Gilgit-Baltistan.

For the last thirty-five years the anniversary of Chairman Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s brutal murder by the vicious Zia regime has been commemorated with reverence and a big gathering of the workers and PPP leaders at his tomb in Ghari Khudabaksh near Larkana. However the essence and message of this commemoration has been altered and manipulated by the subsequent leaders. Today it barely resembles the PPP's founding programme, its goals, destiny or the fervour, passion and commitment to take on the oppressive system and its repressive state.

During the , In Defence of Marxism interviewed comrade Yaru from the interior of Sindh province. His hair-raising personal experience in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the story of how he found the comrades of The Struggle, and his indomitable dedication to the struggle for socialism in the Indian Subcontinent and worldwide is an inspiring example of modern-day Bolshevism and a testament to the calibre of the comrades the IMT is assembling around the world.

India is hyped as being very modern, yet in the midst of the towering buildings and corporate plazas there are huge swathes of ghettos overflowing with intense poverty and misery, where human beings are forced to live in bestial conditions of unhygienic and filthy dwellings. The artificial glitter and the facade of modernity fails to conceal the primitive social and economic conditions that prevail across India. These conditions are reflected in politics, and particularly in the elections that are being held in nine stages from 7th April to 12th May this year.

During the question hour in the National assembly, in a written reply to a question submitted by MNA Lal Chand, the finance minister Ishaq Dar told the house that “from July 2013 to February 2014 the government waived Rs. 320.8 billion to the business class in tax exemptions.” This was actioned in a country whose major social indicators – tax as percentage of GDP, education spending as a percentage of GDP and healthcare spending as a percentage of GDP – are the lowest in the world.

South Asia’s elite historians have deliberately distorted certain events within their accounts of the struggle against British imperial rule and subsequent bloody partitioning. One such significant episode was the struggle of the Hindustan Revolutionary Socialist Association (HSRA) and its most renowned martyr Bhagat Singh. On the 23rd of March 1931 the twenty three year old revolutionary and his comrades in arms Sukhdev and Raj guru were murdered at the Lahore central jail.

On Saturday, March 15, 2014, the Urdu edition of Marxism and the USA was presented at the National Press Club in Islamabad. The book, written by Alan Woods, was originally published in the United States. The public launch of the book, with the presence of the author, was a highly anticipated event. Comrades and media travelled from across Pakistan to hear Alan Woods present his latest book in Urdu. 300 people packed the hall until there was standing room only, and three television channels covered the event. Special mention must be made of the participation of dozens of hospital workers and nurses who are currently on strike, and who have been subjected to brutal attacks by

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It is rather surprising that the ‘Taliban’ didn’t include Shahbaz Sharif or Rana Sanaullah, along with Imran Khan in the list that would represent them in the ‘peace talks’ with the government. Although Imran Khan appreciated the gesture he could not go ahead to bat for the ‘Taliban’. He was well aware of the futility of these peace talks, in a situation where the present state, the system and the political entities are in a deep crisis.

At least one advantage of Sindh Festival being held in Mohenjo-daro will be that many people will come to learn more about this five thousand old civilization. However, civilization and culture are not limited to music, art and poetry but encompass the mutual relations, habits, feelings, attitudes, social behaviour and many other aspects of life. The most profound expression of culture is its architecture. It not only expresses the art of construction but also reflects the social values, productive relations and socio-economic system prevailing in society.

The Indonesian economy is slowing down, like many of the “emerging” economies. In these conditions methods of struggle that led to important gains for the working class in the recent past no longer have the same effects. This poses a number of questions that have to be answered by the labour movement.

With the impending partial withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan looming closer, some sections of the liberal intelligentsia and the ex-left civil society in Pakistan are tacitly trying to portray US imperialism as a lesser evil in comparison with the Taliban and the fundamentalist terror groups who have wreaked havoc in the region.

Luxury goods brands such as Louis Vuitton, Remy Martin and Bentley have posted falls both in growth and profits in the recent period, down from record highs. That the sales of luxuries have been booming in a period of global recession for the past few years appears remarkable in itself. This contradictory phenomenon, and its more recent decline, gives an insight into one aspect of the capitalist crisis.

As with numerous other political decisions of the present regime, the local bodies’ polls (Local Government Elections) have ended up in a quagmire and once again judicial activism has jumped into the fray exposing the utter indecisiveness and failure of the political elite to resolve anything at all.

Inflation and the prices of basic commodities under the incumbent Pakistani Muslim League (Nawaz) [PML(N)] government have risen enormously wreaking havoc on the lives of ordinary people. Purchasing power is declining rapidly with the depreciating value of incomes and salaries.

The crisis is spiralling out of control at tremendous speed. The strategists of capital have no clue how to address and find a way out of this economic and social catastrophe.

Today is the third day of strike action by workers at the Master Tiles factory in Gujranwala. After more than 15 years of repression, torture and violation of labour laws at the hands of the owners and management, workers finally managed to get their union registered by the Labour Department.

The incumbent PML (N) regime in Pakistan has announced the biggest ever privatisation of state assets in the history of Pakistan. Sixty eight State Owned Enterprises (SOE’s) have been identified to be sacrificed on the altar of aggressive “neo-liberal” capitalism.

Today is the beginning of a week of strikes and general strikes in Indonesia. During the past month the call for a general strike has been heard in every major factory in the country. The 28th of October has been in the mind of every worker, as it has been in the mind of every capitalist and politician – of course for different reasons.

Six months into China’s new Politburo Standing Committee under Xi Jinping’s Presidency, it has become abundantly clear that the next ten years under his rule will not resemble the relative social stability and rapid growth of the past ten years. The cart will not keep on rolling down the same path.  Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party stand at a crossroads, facing that classic dilemma of all ruling classes - either to open up to democratic reform or clamp down on growing dissent?

There is hardly a day when the news coming out of Pakistan does not have some form of a calamity or trauma with harrowing footage splashing across television screens. Terrorist attacks or suicide bombings, earthquakes, floods, other natural disasters, unbearable price hikes, collective suicides of impoverished families, selling of children and human organs and so many other horrific events have become a norm in this tragic land. It has been years if not decades that the beleaguered masses of this country have had any blissful respite.

As if there were not already excruciating misery for the working classes in Pakistan, the massive rise in electricity tariffs and the prices of petroleum products will wreak havoc on an already impoverished populace of this tragic country.

October 9th marked one year since the serene valley of Swat was suddenly overcome with pain and anguish at the bestial attack on Malala Yousafzai and other schoolgirls in the van taking them home as it rounded at an army checkpoint in the midst of a fundamentalist insurgency.

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