Progressive Youth Alliance, a countrywide organisation of revolutionary students and youth, held its third central youth convention on 8 December 2022 in Multan. More than 700 students, youth, workers and progressive political activists from across the country participated in the Central Youth Convention.
Currently, Pakistan is facing a severe economic crisis and is on the brink of default, following in the tracks of Sri Lanka. Currency is depreciating rapidly and price hikes and inflation have reached record levels. Millions are getting unemployed and the future for the youth is dark. Despite this, students, youth, and workers donated generously and helped to organise this convention, which was held on the basis of a revolutionary programme. This is a wonderful example of true revolutionary politics, and the bonds of solidarity connecting radical students and workers in Pakistan.
There were not only financial but also administrative obstacles in organising this convention. Ideally, these student and youth issues should have been discussed inside an educational institute, but the administration of educational institutes and the government refused to accommodate PYA in any of the university, school or college halls, forcing students to pay a hefty sum to hold the event in a private marriage hall.
The PYA is the only student organisation in the country that is consistently denied auditoriums and conference halls inside university campuses across the country. Whether it is Karachi University, which denied a hall for organising a gathering of poets by the PYA to commemorate revolutionary poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz in February, or Karakorum University in Gilgit cancelling the booking of a hall for a Marxist school in November, everywhere the administrations have the same attitude.
Peshawar University administration also denied a hall to PYA to hold its activity, as did universities in Lahore, Bahawalpur and other cities. Usually, it is the officers from intelligence agencies of Pakistan that call and threaten university administrations to deny these halls and keep a strict hand on the activities of PYA. Even meetings in halls outside the campuses are difficult to arrange, as local police, city administration and intelligence agencies threaten the administrators and owners of public or private halls to deny these to PYA. By contrast, Islamic fundamentalist organisations or NGOs, and other reactionary student bodies are patronised not only by university administrations and state authorities but are allowed all kinds of activities inside and outside the campuses. The reason for this is simple: PYA is the only countrywide organisation that is fighting the genuine issues faced by the youth, including unemployment, fee hikes, national oppression, sexual harassment, the ban on student unions and other basic rights, on a revolutionary basis.
State oppression of revolutionaries and the crisis-ridden situation in Pakistan is no different from the rest of the world, where the capitalist system is in a decline everywhere. This convention was held at a time when the entire world is going through a very turbulent period. The capitalist system is taking its last breaths and is unable to give human beings anything but misery and agony. Many people face severe problems worldwide, like inflation, unemployment, hunger, poverty, war, and killings. While these problems are intensifying day by day, the resistance is also rising. Tens of millions of people suffering from these problems are now protesting against all this oppression. Mass movements are emerging in every region of the world. The mass movements of Sri Lanka and Iran are inspiring the spirit of resistance among workers around the world. Protest movements in China and the farmer movement against the Modi government in India are excellent examples of mass resistance.
In Pakistan, just like everywhere else, while the majority of people are suffering severely, the luxury of the ruling class has increased manifold. The rulers are fighting each other for their share of the loot. None of them have any solutions to all the problems that the masses face, nor are they interested in finding a solution. Their only aim is to fill their coffers. None of the political parties represent the people, and have become relics of past decades. In this whole situation, students, youth, and workers have no other option but to fight for a new political order that can genuinely represent them. At this juncture, resistance and struggle against the system have become obligatory for every youth.
That is why the third central youth convention of the Progressive Youth Alliance was named "Halla Bol" (“Raise Hell”). Through this convention, the message was clearly conveyed that there is nothing but humiliation, deprivation, and unemployment for the students, youth, and workers of Pakistan under capitalism. Now is the time to "Raise Hell" against the capitalist system.
Prior to the Central Youth Convention, several provincial and city conventions were organised in different regions of Pakistan, including Rawlakot (Kashmir), Quetta (Baluchistan, provincial), Karachi (city), Lahore (city), Dera Ghazi Khan (city), Bahawalpur (city), Gujranwala (city),Islamabad (QA university) Hyderabad (Sindh university), Kashmore (city) and Taunsa (city). Successful meetings involving large numbers of students were also held by PYA in Peshawar university, Buner, Chakdara in Malakand, Agriculture University Tando Jam, Larkana, Bhakkar, Karakoram University Gilgit and Gwadar in Baluchistan.
During the campaign for these meetings, thousands of leaflets were distributed and the message of war against unemployment, sexual harassment, expensive education, national oppression and capitalism was conveyed to students and youth all over Pakistan.
Along with this, a countrywide ‘Day of Action’ was also organised on 2 November 2022, to demand waiving the fees of flood-affected students. On this day, demonstrations and rallies were organised in more than 15 cities across the country.
Youth and workers from all over the country joined the Halla Bol Youth Convention. Student delegations from more than 30 universities across the country participated. This included Karakoram International University Gilgit-Baltistan, Poonch University Kashmir, Mirpur University of Science & Technology Kashmir, Sargodha University, Peshawar University, Punjab University Lahore, Balochistan University, Shah Abdul Latif University Khairpur, Sindh University, Karachi University, Islamia University Bahawalpur, FC College University Lahore, NUML University Lahore, Government College University Lahore, Education University Lahore, Punjab University Gujranwala campus, Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi, Islamic International University Islamabad, NUML Islamabad, QAU Islamabad and Ghazi University Dera Ghazi Khan, among others.
Moreover, students of various colleges and secondary schools from Kashmore, Sindh also participated. Also, a large number of students and youth from different educational institutions and areas of Multan City also joined the convention. Among them were Bahauddin Zakaria University Multan, Emerson University Multan, Science College Multan, Wilayat Hussain College Multan, Multan Law College, Institute of Southern Punjab Shamsabad, New Multan and others. A large number of workers also joined the convention, including a delegation of women health workers led by the central president of the National Health Programme Punjab Pakistan, Rukhsana Anwar; and workers from other institutions. Similarly, the top leadership of Red Workers’ Front, a nationwide revolutionary organisation of workers, was also present at the convention.
A tremendous convention against all the odds!
The convention started at 12 noon. Irfan Mansoor, student leader from Islamia University Bahawalpur, performed the duties of the stage secretary. Irfan welcomed the students, youth, progressive political activists, and workers from across the country and appreciated their revolutionary spirit for being a part of this convention in extremely difficult economic conditions.
The inaugural speech was delivered by Rawal Asad, organiser of the Progressive Youth Alliance Multan. Rawal spoke about the country's current political and economic crisis and the need for resistance in this situation, and gave an introduction to the Progressive Youth Alliance. After Rawal, Saddam Wazir from Peshawar University and hailing from Wana, South Waziristan drew a detailed outline of the decline of capitalism and its effects on students. After that, the President of Progressive Youth Alliance Karachi, Sajid Khan, a student of Karachi University, said that the formation of elected student committees in educational institutions should be accelerated, in which PYA will play a leading role.
Ubaid Zulfiqar from Mirpur University of Kashmir highlighted the inevitability of mutual and revolutionary struggle regarding the monster of the capitalist system and the bleak future of students. After this, the central President of the National Health Program Pakistan Punjab Rukhsana Anwar was invited to speak. She talked about the importance of women's role in the resistance to capitalism, and the struggle for their rights. After that, President of Progressive Youth Alliance Gujranwala Sahar Wayne spoke about the problems faced by the students of Gujranwala and the leadership role of PYA in the ongoing struggle to solve them.
Subsequently, the Central President of the Red Workers Front, Dr. Aftab Ashraf, addressed the participants. Dr. Aftab said that society has progressed so much that everything could potentially be produced in abundance and all shortages eliminated. But for that, we have to overthrow the capitalist system. The revolutionary period in Pakistan will be on the agenda sooner than expected, and we face a fight against time to make sure that we are strong enough to play the vanguard role in leading the mass movements to their ultimate goal of a socialist revolution.
Habibullah Shakir, a veteran left-wing lawyer and a student leader in the 1960s and 70s, also spoke to the students regarding the revolutionary demands of the day. After that, Adam Pal, leading member of the International Marxist Tendency, was invited to the stage. Adam spoke about the menace of capitalist society, its class character, and the necessity of replacing it with a socialist society.
Progressive poets also participated in this convention, who entertained the audience with their revolutionary poetry and received huge applause. Included amongst them were young poets writing in the Seraiki and Urdu language, Rakib Mukhtar, Asif Lashari, Khalid Khalil, Hatim Baloch, Momin Moulai and a senior poet Khalid Nadeem Shani. Their revolutionary poetry, the messages of hope and resistance conveyed through beautiful imagery and symbols, and the joy and enthusiasm shown by the audience cannot be expressed.
In the closing stages of the convention, the newly elected leadership of the Progressive Youth Alliance was announced and was sworn in by outgoing President of Progressive Youth Alliance, Umer Riaz.
Newly elected leadership includes:
- Fazeel Asghar (President)
- Ubaid Zulfiqar (Senior Vice President)
- Nayyar Abbas (Vice President)
- Anand Prakash (General Secretary)
- Saddam Wazir (Deputy General Secretary)
- Ghulam Muhammad (Joint Secretary)
- Irfan Mansoor (Information Secretary)
- Sanaullah Jalbani (Finance Secretary)
- Yaar Yousafzai (Cultural Secretary)
After the swearing-in of the new leadership, newly elected President, Fazeel Asghar delivered the closing remarks of the convention. Fazeel spoke about the dirty politics in Pakistan, the need for a socialist revolution and the historic responsibility on the shoulders of the comrades of the Progressive Youth Alliance. He also announced the next phase of activities and agitation, which include protests to fight against sexual harassment in educational institutions and workplaces.
The whole hall echoed with revolutionary slogans in response to the revolutionary poems and the fiery speeches. The convention ended with the music of renowned Seraiki folk singer Farooq Mehram. In the end, everyone left their chairs and became part of a dance, and the whole venue swayed to Faiz Ahmad Faiz's poem 'Hum Dekhenge' (W Shall Witness) sung by Farooq Mehram.
The Central Youth Convention of the Progressive Youth Alliance held in Multan is just another milestone in the beginning of a renewed phase of revolutionary politics of youth in Pakistan. The Progressive Youth Alliance will take this struggle against unemployment, sexual harassment, fee hikes, national oppression and capitalism to every street of Pakistan and organise youth, students and workers across the country on one platform. It will continue this struggle until the abolition of the capitalist system and the complete transformation of the society through a socialist revolution.
We invite all the youth and students to become part of the Progressive Youth Alliance in this struggle against capitalism. Instead of fighting their own separate battles, they should unite against all these problems and against the capitalist system.
Raise hell, comrades!
Raise hell against unemployment!
Raise hell against national oppression!
Raise hell against sexual harassment!
Raise hell against capitalism!
Long live the socialist revolution!
Workers of the world unite!