Asia

Unilever is extracting huge profits in Pakistan through brutal exploitation of workers. Most of the products of Unilever are now manufactured through Third Party contracts in which workers are given starvation wages and no other benefits at all.

Ever since a recently established war crimes tribunal came to the verdict of a life sentence against the Jamaat-a-Islami chief, Abdul Qadir Mullah, on 5th of February for crimes against humanity during the civil war in 1971, Bangladesh has been embroiled in clashes and unrest in which several people have been killed and wounded.

There has been an aggressive campaign in the media that the recipe for growth and the solution to the economic crisis is privatisation and not the nationalisation of industry, agriculture, finance capital and the economy. Nationalisation has been dubbed as a failure and an economic disaster.

Today marks the beginning of a two- day general strike in which the working class of the whole of India will rise with one voice to declare their dissatisfaction at the horrible conditions being imposed upon them by the crisis of capitalism. This unprecedented action should not be seen as a one off event or as simply a demonstration. Rather, it is indicative of the pressure that has been building up within Indian society over the last period and is symptomatic of the on-going fight within the trade unions to force the leadership to come up with a fighting solution to the problems which are faced by the workers on a day to day basis.

On December 16, 2012 Jyoti Singh Panday along with a male friend boarded a bus in South Delhi. When Jyoti and her friend boarded the bus, they expected to be transported to their destination. They could not have known of the horror that was awaiting them. The victim, Jyoti, was gang raped and brutally tortured by a group of six men in the bus. Jyoti and her friend were then thrown out of the moving bus and she was taken to hospital in a critical condition. She was later flown to Singapore for better treatment but unfortunately she died there on December 29.

Coca Cola International is one of the most famous monopolies in the world’s beverage sector. The company has expanded its network of business to all parts of world. The company earns more profits than the total GDP of many so-called “third world countries”. However, these huge profits are based on the exploitation of workers. In order to enhance their rate of profit, the management of Coca Cola uses anti-labour measures and the forces of repression to attack the rights of the workers.

The recent criminalization case of comrade Sultoni Farras, a worker activist from Progresif Union and Sekber Buruh, who is being sued with “Unpleasant Action” law by the bosses, puts forward a question that at first seems petty but if we look further turns out to be quite fundamental in the workers’ struggle. This relates to the question of “pleasantness” and “unpleasantness”. (Note: in Indonesia, the word “pleasantness” can also mean “happiness”)

The grotesque, remorseless and relentless slaughter of the Shiite Hazaras in Baluchistan is yet another grim episode that lays bare the escalating conflagration in the region, the extreme complexity of the national question and the sectarian strife that is prevalent. This was an act of barbarity that is the outcome of a rotten state and a system that has failed miserably to bring any peace, prosperity or stability to the region. Rather, there is mounting evidence that sections of the state are involved in perpetuating this catastrophe. The Hazaras have been systematically targeted and killed for almost a decade now. None of the perpetrators have been arrested or prosecuted. The

...

Islamabad has been witnessing “anti-corruption” protests led by Tahir ul Qadri recently returned from his long residence in Canada. He leads a reactionary movement that is actually being fomented by a section of the Pakistani ruling elite. Here we publish a comment on this phenomenon by Lal Khan that was first published in the Pakistan Daily Times.

The general elections in Japan, held on December 16, 2012, led to the victory of the right-wing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), amidst the lowest voter turn-out in Japanese history. The ruling Democratic Party (DPJ) lost 173 seats and is now down to only 57. It only got 22.81 percent in the electoral districts around the country, a reduction of about 25 percent compared to the 47.43 percent it won in 2009. The LDP, on the other hand, got only slightly more votes than last time (43.01 percent compared to 38.68 percent) while it increased its number of seats from 176 to 294.

Bhutto’s legacy is relevant today in Pakistani politics mainly because what the oppressed masses in general see to the left of the rightwing parties and obscurantist outfits is the PPP.

The upheaval that led to the eventual breakup of Pakistan started not on the national question but on the basis of class struggle

نومبر1967ء کی دھندلی صبح پاکستان کے مختلف علاقوں سے تین سوکے قریب افراد ہر طرح کی مشکلات اور سماج کے جمود کا مقابلہ کرتے ہوئے سماجی و معاشی انصاف کی جدوجہد میں لاہور میں اکٹھے ہوئے۔ موسم خزاں کی فضا میں انقلاب کی مہک تھی۔ پارٹی کی تاسیسی دستاویزات غیر مبہم تھیں، ’’پارٹی کے پروگرام کا حتمی مقصد طبقات سے پاک معاشرے کا قیام ہے جو صرف سوشلزم کے ذریعے ہی ممکن ہے‘‘۔ لیکن پی پی پی کو عوامی قوت بنانے والے واقعات کا نکتہ آغاز راولپنڈی میں طلباء کی بغاوت سے ہوا جس نے ملکی تاریخ کے سب سے طاقتور انقلاب کا آغاز کیا۔ ...

The PPP’s present leadership takes its support base for granted. As a tradition, the PPP has prevailed upon the oppressed masses for four decades.

At the moment, the Chinese capitalist class, on the whole, is happy to go along with the status quo. They see no alternative, and are terrified of lifting the lid on the anger of the working class, therefore they seek stability at all costs.

Xi Jinping, relatively unknown in the West, will be China’s President for the next ten years, that is, if he can keep a lid on the simmering pot of anger that China has become. The new Prime Minister is Li Keqiang, apparently the outgoing President’s favoured successor.

The slogans of eliminating feudalism, and for democracy, secularism, human rights, social justice, gender equality, national sovereignty are hardly new

In August and September Japan’s manoeuvres of the disputed islands of Diaoyu provoked some of the largest demonstrations in China since the uprising of Tiananmen Square in 1989. The dispute over the islands is predominantly an imperialist conflict over control of trade routes and oil resources. However, the protests in China went beyond the level of expressing anti-Japanese sentiment. In fact, although the government did attempt to limit them to this, the protests were as much against the regime in Beijing as against Japan’s aggressive manoeuvres.

Young Doctors in Punjab achieved victory on Wednesday 7 November after a struggle that lasted over two years. More than 22,000 young doctors in Punjab were united in their demands for better wages and service structure under the banner of a new organisation called Young Doctors Association (YDA).

We look back at the 1925-27 revolution, which was a heroic attempt of the Chinese workers to follow in the footsteps of the October 1917 Russian Revolution. However, due to its unprepared and irresolute leadership, it went down to a tragic defeat. Failed revolutions are always the greatest of tragedies. However, the only way of really honouring the many victims of the counter-revolution that ensued is to study the revolution and learn from its mistakes.

The ruling of the Supreme Court in the Asghar Khan case [in which a former army chief and a former chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) have been found guilty of rigging the 1990 general elections] has laid bare the burgeoning intrinsic conflicts between and within the most vital institutions of the Pakistani state, the titans, the political executive, military establishment and the judiciary.

In the past two months a handful of tiny Islands off the coast of China have been making headlines across the world. The disputed island chain, known as the Diaoyu in China and the Senkaku in Japan, made international news after Japanese nationalists planted the flag of Japan on its uninhabited shore (with lavish media coverage). The tension escalated when in September the Japanese government nationalised the islands, previously owned by the Kurihara family, sparking off a wave of militant nationalist protest in China. But why are these seemingly irrelevant islands so significant?

The political apathy that prevails amongst the deprived and oppressed masses in Pakistan reflects the deep malaise and despair that has set in society. The mammoth reception that Benazir Bhutto was accorded five years ago on her return from exile to Karachi on 18th October 2007 that had raised new hope for the masses and the subsequent campaign that has turned into a vigorous movement had sent tremors in the echelons of power.

The reactions of the political elite during the recent caricature of a long march launched and abruptly ended half way by Imran Khan [a right wing populist politician and former Pakistan cricket team captain] were either hysterical or comical. The Jamaat a Islami and other religious outfits that supported it are trying to create an extreme right wing political force at the behest of the sections of the state.

The suffering of the people of Pakistan is largely unknown in the West. A veil of silence has been carefully drawn over the number of people killed every day by American drones and Taliban murders. But recently a small corner of the curtain was raised as the result of a particularly appalling event.

Amazing! There is no other word that can describe the situation on October 3. Workers all over Indonesia went on strike and took to the streets. This first national general strike in half a century truly raises expectations and hopes that it will be a turning point for the Indonesian labour movement.

Tomorrow, October 3, will witness an important event in the history of the labour movement in Indonesia. For the first time in 50 years, Indonesian workers will carry out a national general strike which will involve an estimated 2 million workers in 21 different cities. Three demands serve as the basis of this general strike: increases in the official minimum wage, an end to all outsourcing arrangements, and universal national health care for all.

Bhagat Singh was a fervent torchbearer of the proletarian struggle. He rejected the prejudices of caste, creed, nationality, race, gender, and, of course, religion.

Sixteen years ago on September 20, 1996, in the dusk falling into darkness, Mir Murtaza Bhutto, aged 42, was riddled with the bullets of this ferocious state. He was assassinated along with six of his comrades in front of his house, 70 Clifton, Karachi — the most renowned political address in Pakistan. At the time, ironically, his sister was the prime minister and the chief executive of the country. Innumerable conspiracy theories and accusations have been doing the rounds since. Yet none of the culprits have been apprehended or indicted and those personnel of the state forces who were named and arrested have gone scot-free.

The Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign has organised a campaign of public meetings to commemorate the hundreds of workers who were recently killed in fire factories in Karachi and Lahore, exposing the criminal behaviour of the owners who had locked all exits bar one [at the Karachi factory] and even then insisted that finished goods should have priority over workers trying to escape to save their lives! The capitalists of Pakistan stand condemned before the whole of the working people.

The horrific factory fire at a Karachi garments and clothing enterprise where 289 workers, men, women and children, perished and hundreds were injured with severe burn wounds in an inferno in a caged factory with sealed gates is not an exception but the norm for the proletariat in Pakistan. It lays bare the conditions in which they are forced to work.

The picture of the Chinese economy painted by commentators in the West is often one of strength; an economy dominated by exports, with unstoppable growth and development; in short, a model to emulate. Recent figures released by the International Monetary Fund, however, describe a very different situation; a situation where contradictions are intensifying below the surface; a situation that is pregnant with crisis and revolutionary consequences.

The dominant intelligentsia with its constricted outlook, shackled in the fetters of an obsolete and redundant capitalist ideology, is now the merchant of doom.

South Asian subcontinent’s iconic poet and an ardent communist, Faiz Ahmed Faiz termed the independence of the subcontinent in August 1947 as a ‘blighted dawn’ in his famous poem ‘morrow of independence’. He was revolted with the bloody massacres during the partition on religious lines. It was perhaps one of the biggest genocides in modern human history. But if it began as a blighted dawn this independence has become a harrowing nightmare for the oppressed masses of the subcontinent sixty five years on.

The electricity shutdown that immersed almost half of India into darkness and brought life to a standstill exposed the stark realities of “shining India” and the fragile nature of its so-called economic miracle that has been portrayed to the world. This also lays bare the contrast between the high growth rates of the market economy in the former colonial countries and the debilitated conditions of the social and physical infrastructures in these societies.

For quite some time now several so called secular parties, especially the MQM, have been campaigning around the idea that feudalism is the real cause of the country’s plight and its abolishment is the only solution to Pakistan’s tribulations. Their endeavour is in fact mainly to defend the petty bourgeois businesses and the Mafia capitalism on which they rely for their social and economic basis.

This year July 5 marked the 35th anniversary of the military coup in Pakistan that toppled the democratic government of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in the pitch darkness of the night. This coup was led by General Ziaul Haq who deposed the first PPP government and imposed the most vicious and tyrannous military dictatorship in the country’s history.

The latest strike of the young doctors has not only shaken the healthcare system in the Punjab but has laid bare its extreme decay and the callousness of the ruling elite towards the wellbeing of ordinary people. There have been a series of doctors’ strikes in the recent period particularly in the Punjab. Above all this exposes the rapid decline of the living conditions of professionals and the pauperisation of the once relatively prosperous middle classes.

The deposition of a relatively feeble chief executive by the hyper-swanked judiciary is yet another episode in the ongoing internecine conflicts between the different sections of the state to protect the interests of Pakistan’s ruling classes.

Unleashing of one scandal upon another of the scandalous Pakistani ruling class has almost become a norm in this society, ravaged by the disastrous crisis of a diseased capitalist system. It’s not just the corrupt and criminal nature of the elite that is being exposed but the decay and despicable conditions of the state and society are becoming more evident for the masses to comprehend.

The rapid deterioration of the relations and the seething though muted hostility between the US and Pakistan is due to the closing of the NATO supply route through the latter’s territory by the partner in the “war on terror”. What is being demanded, along with other things, is the increase in transit charges for NATO trailers from $250 to $5000.

Pakistan has one of the largest numbers of internet users in world despite its crumbling economy, rotten infrastructure and political & social instability. This is a striking example of “uneven and combined development” under capitalism in so called third world countries. The development of the new website of The Struggle tendency is a step forward for the work of the IMT in this country.

The exceptionally pro capitalist (2012-13) budget with large scale tax exemptions and benefits for the rich is a deceptive trap for the working classes whose blood, sweat and tears will be squeezed even more with the burgeoning crisis of Pakistani capitalism. In the recent period the masses have lost interest and suspense in the budget presentation ritual. This revulsion and distrust towards the asseverations of the ruling politicians and bureaucrats over the last period is not without a cause. Annual budgets have become a farcical exercise.

The brutal firing and gruesome killings at a rally in Karachi is yet another episode that epitomises the downward spiral into which the society and the state is unravelling disastrously. Under the deafening din of democracy, reconciliation, rule of law and independent judiciary, the economic meltdown is taking its toll on the beleaguered masses of this unfortunate land in the form of escalating violence, crime and bloodshed.

With two-thirds of its work force in the rural sector, Bangladesh’s agriculture contributes just 19 percent to its GDP. Sixty-six percent of exports are from the garment industry that makes it the third largest clothes exporting country in the world. It is perhaps the cheapest and most profitable place for garment manufacturers. However, the conditions of the workers, mainly women, are atrocious.

Although the sixty-five years of Pakistan’s existence have been marred by instability and crisis, now even from Pakistan’s dismal standards the turbulence and conflagration has reached unforeseen heights. In the last few years’ violence, apathy, hyperinflation, sprawling poverty and callousness have acquired unprecedented proportions.

The recent pilgrimage-linked Indian sojourn of President Zardari has been puffed up by the mainstream media. The Islamists and the extreme right wing, as usual, condemned it. Reactionary politics infested with hatred, prejudice, chauvinism and bigotry could not have come up with any other opinion. On both sides of the divide, this hostile crusade serves the interests of sections of the elite and the state.

It is often said that necessity is the mother of all invention. However, if we look at the masses on a vast scale in society it turns into its opposite. Most inventions become a necessity on a wider scale once people become aware of their benefits and end up becoming dependent on them. At that stage these inventions adopt the characteristic of social necessity.

The state in Pakistan is on the verge of collapse and basic infrastructure is crumbling. Pakistan Post is a key institution on which a lot still depends in the daily routine of common people. But this institution is suffering heavily due to the irresponsible behaviour of the Ministry of Post and its bureaucracy.

Join us!

Help build the forces of Marxism worldwide!

Join the IMT!