Pakistan

Whilst hundreds of delegates from 37 countries were participating in the fifth day of the founding congress of the Revolutionary Communist International (RCI), we received the shocking news that a government crackdown was underway in Pakistan-held Kashmir against the leaders of the movement that had scored victory against the regime in the fight against electricity and flour price hikes. The delegates, outraged by this news, passed the following motion in condemnation of the government and solidarity with the movement and its persecuted leaders in a unanimous vote.

On 13 May, more than 500,000 people gathered in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-controlled, so-called ‘Azad’ (‘Free’) Kashmir, to demand cheaper electricity and wheat flour. The ruling class of ‘Azad’ Kashmir and Pakistan, despite having brutally attacked the protestors previously, have now partially accepted the masses’ demands. This is a huge victory for the masses in this part of Kashmir, where people have been protesting for more than a year for these demands. This victory has sent shockwaves through the halls of power.

Like workers all over the world, the working class of Pakistan also celebrated May Day 2024 in a period of unprecedented crisis of global capitalism. Already weak and backward, capitalism in Pakistan is in a deepening crisis. The ruling class and the state are becoming ever-more vicious and are conducting an economic massacre of the Pakistani working masses at the behest of global imperialist lending institutions like the IMF.

“The darkness will pass, the red dawn is coming!” This fiery chant in Urdu rang out repeatedly from the hundreds of voices of Pakistani communists who assembled in Lahore on 2-3 March to participate in the congress of Lal Salaam. It was a weekend that combined joyous revolutionary optimism with intense fervour and solemn preparation for a new stage in the class war.

With general elections planned on 8 February, the crisis and splits of Pakistan’s ruling class and state are intensifying, while attacks on workers, under the dictates of the IMF, are continuing and unemployment and inflation are rising at an unprecedented level. No political party participating in the coming general elections has solutions to any of the problems in this country, and all of the political parties represent merely different factions of the ruling class. 

On 2-3 December 2023, a nationwide Workers’ Socialist School was organised by the Red Workers’ Front (RWF) in Landhi Industrial Area, Karachi. A large number of workers from both the public and private sector industries, in Karachi and across the country, took part in this historic occasion. 

Countrywide protests against extremely costly electricity have erupted in Pakistan during the past few weeks. The protest wave started in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, where students, workers, small traders, intellectuals, political activists and others organised large-scale public protests in various cities. This wave has now swept a nation that was already on the brink of an explosion.

From 21-23 July, the Progressive Youth Alliance (youth and student wing of the Pakistan section of the International Marxist Tendency) held a three-day Marxist school at beautiful Banjusa Lake near Rawalakot in Kashmir. The event attracted students, youth, and workers from across the country and provided a valuable opportunity for young revolutionaries to discuss Marxist theory, amid Pakistan's worst economic crisis, and utter political bankruptcy. The school gathered 220 participants in all, who engaged in important discussions on topics such as Pakistan and world politics, philosophy, economic theory and revolutionary strategy.

On 11 and 12 March, the Pakistani section of the International Marxist Tendency (IMT), Lal Salaam, held its 6th Congress at the Aiwan-E-Iqbal Center in Lahore. Despite the multitude of logistical issues that arose from organising a national meeting amidst crumbling infrastructure and rampant, arbitrary corruption, this landmark Congress was a resounding success.

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.

The crisis of the capitalist system in Pakistan is reaching unprecedented levels, reflecting the fact that it is one of the weakest links in the chain of world capitalism. Alongside the political and economic crises, the crisis of the state is unravelling to a degree never seen before, leading the whole society into an abyss of misery and wretchedness.

On 11 November 2022, the Halla Bol (“Raise Hell”) youth convention was organised by Progressive Youth Alliance Karachi at the Sindh Scouts Club. Hundreds of students, workers and political activists participated in the convention, which represented a declaration of war against unemployment, inflation, sexual harassment, expensive education, national oppression and capitalism. 

Pakistan has been ravaged by floods and torrential rains, while the ruling class continues to loot and plunder the impoverished masses at this time of distress and disaster. According to reports, around one third of the country has been devastated by the floods and rains of the last three months, while 33 million people have been affected. Around 1,400 have died, and around 4,000 injuries have been reported according to official figures. According to the recent reports 482,030 people have been displaced while 372,823 buildings have been destroyed.

A two-day Marxist School was held in Rawlakot, Kashmir on 6-7 August. It was the most successful Marxist School ever organised by the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA), with more than 200 students, youth, workers and political activists participating from Karachi to Peshawar, and Baluchistan to Kashmir.

In Pakistan, the government has changed but the political crisis continues, reflecting a deep economic and social crisis. Imran Khan has been ousted. The cracks within the ruling class are widening and the fighting among various factions of the state has now reached levels never seen before, with each side attacking the other publicly and on social media.

A political and constitutional crisis has opened up in Pakistan, leading to a back and forth over a no-confidence vote in the Imran Khan government. In reality, these fissures at the top are merely symptoms of a deeper rot in Pakistani capitalism, which has been rocked by the global capitalist crisis, while the ruling class endures the consequences of attempting to play different imperialist blocs off of one another. Such pathetic charades will never end while the capitalist system stands!

On 4 December, hundreds of workers both from the public and private sector; as well as trade union representatives, students and peasant leaders, gathered in Lahore from all over Pakistan to attend the central workers’ convention hosted by the Red Workers’ Front. The convention was held in the Bakhtiar Labour Hall, which belongs to the Hydro Union for WAPDA (the state electricity department), the largest public sector union in Pakistan. This was the conclusion of a long series of conventions held in dozens of cities across the country in November.

Today marks the 114th anniversary of the birth of the great revolutionary, Bhagat Singh. Our comrades of the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) in Pakistan have released a special documentary on the political life of Bhagat Singh in Lahore to mark the occasion. In this documentary, presented by Adam Pal, the comrades visit all the places where Bhagat Singh himself used to live, or which were of historical significance to the revolutionary path that his life took.