Pakistani communists prepare for revolution

“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.

Given the catastrophic predicament facing the international ruling class, and the dire state of crumbling Pakistani capitalism in particular, the need to prepare our forces for the historic tasks ahead has taken on a new level of urgency.

For this reason, over 350 comrades travelled from every corner of the country, from the mountainous region of Gilgit-Baltistan bordering China to the north, to Karachi on the southernmost coast of the Arabian sea. Comrades travelled from the remote western territories bordering Afghanistan, where the Taliban vie for power with local state authorities, and a delegation of over 100 comrades came from the far reaches of Kashmir to the east. Not a single region of the country was without representation.

Audience Image Lal SalaamOver 350 comrades travelled from every corner of the country / Image: Lal Salaam

Traversing Pakistan is no simple matter. Torrential rains in the days before the congress led to destructive flooding in various regions, plunging the already crumbling transit system into further chaos. Some comrades spent over 30 hours just getting to the venue.

This is not to mention the financial burden of the journey. For many, attending the gathering involved a significant economic sacrifice, saving up to a month’s wages at a time when inflation has spiked between 35 to 50 percent. But Bolsheviks know how to smash obstacles, and these efforts were worth the sacrifice for the revolutionaries of the IMT, who recognise the enormity of the task ahead.

On Saturday morning, the attendees gathered at the Railway Workers’ Hall, a facility located within a railway workers’ colony in Lahore. The comrades enjoyed warm cups of chai in the crisp morning air before filing into the brightly adorned meeting hall, draped with red flags with hammers and sickles. As participants took their seats, the loudspeakers boomed with the upbeat drumming of classic revolutionary songs from the subcontinent.

AP Image Lal SalaamAfter the chair formally welcomed comrades, Adam Pal took the floor to introduce the international delegations / Image: Lal Salaam

In keeping with tradition, the congress opened with the recitation of original revolutionary poetry composed by the comrades, including verses in the languages of the various regions. Spontaneous revolutionary chants erupted in between performances.

After the chair formally welcomed comrades and began the proceedings with introductory remarks, comrade Adam Pal took the floor to introduce the international delegations. This year, the congress was joined by guests from Italy, Sri Lanka, the US, and comrade Rob Sewell on behalf of the International Secretariat of the IMT in London.

The first session was dedicated to World Perspectives. Rob kicked off the discussion by vividly depicting a ruling class that is helplessly tobogganing toward a catastrophe with its eyes closed. World capitalism is locked in a downward spiral that is only accelerating with each passing year. The international bourgeoisie can make no right moves in the present situation; every attempt at restoring the economic equilibrium poses a direct threat to the political and social order and vice versa.
RS Image Lal SalaamRob kicked off the discussion by vividly depicting a ruling class that is helplessly tobogganing toward a catastrophe / Image: Lal Salaam

This is particularly stark in the case of US imperialism. After suffering decades of decline in their status as the unchallenged superpower on the world arena, the American imperialists are now hitting new lows. NATO has been utterly humiliated in its proxy war in Ukraine, which failed to weaken and isolate one of their major rivals. Far from crippling the Russian economy with sanctions, the war has weakened Europe, depleted Western arms and munitions, and exposed the incompetence of the US-backed military leadership in Kiev. Joe Biden’s cynical gamble backfired at the expense of soaking Ukraine in the blood of tens of thousands of youth.

As if that were not enough, Biden leapt at the chance to endorse Netanyahu’s genocidal slaughter, which has nearly spilled more blood in Gaza in the last five months than in the entire two years of carnage in Ukraine to date. But all that this has achieved is the further destabilisation of the entire region, which is now hurtling toward a broader conflict. The latest assault on Rafah threatens to spark a new Arab Spring that could spell the end for every regime in the region.

Against this turbulent background, we are witnessing a profound political crisis of all ruling institutions, which have lost their legitimacy in the eyes of the vast majority of the world’s working classes. In every country, the impasse of capitalism is beginning to seep into the consciousness of the masses. It is expressed as a widespread mood of anger, and this is leading to the rapid radicalisation of a vast new generation of communists all over the world.

crowd Image Lal SalaamOur comrades have gained authority in the eyes of a broader layer of contacts around the organisation / Image: Lal Salaam

Rob concluded his analysis with an appeal for comrades to draw the necessary conclusions from our perspectives: “We need to wake up and realise where we are right now! We have to seize this historic moment and act! We must fight shoulder to shoulder with the working class for every reform, all while explaining that real change can only come with the destruction of the capitalist system. It's time to build a revolutionary party!”

Following Rob’s introduction, the international guests added to the discussion with contributions highlighting the global scale of our struggle for revolution. The comrades from the US and Italy reported on exciting initiatives for seizing the opportunities in this new period by launching the Revolutionary Communists of America and the Partito Comunista Rivoluzionario, respectively.

The Sri Lankan comrade, who had participated in the mass movement that captured the presidential palace in the summer of 2022, said Sri Lanka had come close to an all-out revolution. “Having lived through the experience of an insurrection, I can tell you today there is nothing more powerful than the movement of a rising people. All that was missing was a revolutionary party to provide the necessary leadership.”

The second session of the congress began with a lead off by comrade Adam Pal on “Pakistan Perspectives”, which picked up the threads from the morning’s discussion. Adam observed that if all the most advanced countries of the western capitalist world were in such a decrepit state, how could anyone expect the system to work in a country enslaved by the IMF and the multinationals?

Centuries of colonial oppression and unbridled corruption have made Pakistan into a hard country of unforgiving conditions. Tens of thousands of people attempt to flee the country each year, while millions hunger and die from common diseases. Some 30 million have been displaced by mass flooding. This is the best that capitalism can offer a vast portion of humanity.

At the same time, there is another side to Pakistan. It is a country with some of the world’s most fertile soil, beautiful terrains, a rich and proud cultural heritage, and a resilient revolutionary tradition. Unlike the chronically corruptible class that rules over this land, while playing a subservient role to the IMF and the World Bank, Pakistan’s working masses are strong and tenacious, and possess a defiant spirit of struggle.

comrade Image Lal SalaamThe interventions of the women comrades during the congress were some of the most powerful moments of ardent agitation / Image: Lal Salaam

This point was later echoed in a stirring intervention to the discussion by comrade Salma. “The most oppressed layer of Pakistani society is its women. But we refuse to live in the depths of this hell. What sins are we being punished for?” She explained that women have taken an active role in recent protest movements across the country. The interventions of the women comrades during the congress were some of the most powerful moments of ardent agitation. Another comrade who spoke was the militant leader of the women health workers’ national union. “The weaklings of Pakistan are not the women,” she thundered, “... it’s the ruling class!”

Adam explained that several mass movements have broken out in various parts of the country in the recent period, and that our comrades have not only intervened, but have played a prominent leading role in them.

In Gilgit-Baltistan, hundreds of thousands poured into the streets for 40 days and forced the government to restore a wheat subsidy which they had previously cut under the guidance of the IMF. Our comrades played a leading role in coordinating this successful struggle.

In Kashmir, 10 months of protests against a similar attack on wheat subsidies were coordinated by a popular action committee that our comrades initiated. This initiative broadened into a fierce regional struggle that brought out thousands and included a strike of electrical utility bills with the participation of hundreds of thousands. The movement reached a high point when the action committee decided to orchestrate a full fledged blockade of all the roadways with the support of transport workers and thousands of residents of towns and villages, who occupied the streets.

In Balochistan our comrades have also intervened in the mass movement, addressing crowds of thousands and raising our revolutionary positions. Through all of these efforts, our comrades have gained authority in the eyes of a broader layer of contacts around the organisation. The urgent task is now to engage and recruit this layer of fighting workers and youth directly into our ranks.

PJ Image Lal SalaamParas delivered a rousing defence of the relevance of Lenin’s ideas today / Image: Lal Salaam

The second day opened with a session on the ideas and methods of Leninism, led off by comrade Paras Jan, who recently authored the book Leninism in Our Time. Paras delivered a rousing defence of the relevance of Lenin’s ideas today, and used many modern examples to illustrate the applicability of Bolshevism to the struggle for revolution in Pakistan. This discussion was part of a campaign throughout the International this year to commemorate the centenary of Lenin’s death and reclaim the genuine legacy of the greatest revolutionary in history.

In the context of a mass uprising, the role of a revolutionary party is to give an organised expression to the revolution, by guiding the working class movement towards the seizure of power. This means acting at the decisive moment to organise workers’ committees for the practical tasks of taking over the factories and key levers of society. But in order to do this, Paras explained, the party must have a clear and consistent ideological foundation.

Lenin never relegated revolutionary theory to a second plane below action. Bolshevism derived its force of will and iron discipline from its ideas; from the strength of the Marxist worldview. In a fiery summation to the discussion, Paras again highlighted the power of a materialist outlook for hardening a revolutionary will. “What is life after death?” he asked, “It’s a lie designed to fool people into accepting a life of barbarism. But the task of communism is to transform this world into a paradise on earth, to create truly human conditions for the one life that we get.”

One of Lenin’s key qualities was his ability to size up the situation at any given moment and recognise the immediate tasks that would advance the broader goal. In that spirit, the rest of the day was dedicated to a discussion of organisational tasks.

Comrades who had attended evening breakout sessions the night before now reported on the progress in various fields of work: trade unions, youth work, and the women’s commission.

Socialism in our lifetime Image Lal SalaamThe fate of the Pakistani revolution depends on the success of our comrades’ efforts / Image: Lal Salaam

Comrade Fazeel, chairman of the Progressive Youth Alliance gave an impassioned appeal for comrades to approach the organisational tasks with a bold revolutionary attitude. “What does the ideal branch meeting look like? It should have the same kind of seriousness you would find in a meeting of factory workers who sit down to discuss and make a decision to strike.”

He also warned against adopting a pragmatic attitude towards the work of building a revolutionary force. “Practical thinking is asking ‘why go the extra mile, when we’re facing so many obstacles? We have such high inflation, why should we go for a bigger office?’ This kind of thinking is the death of a revolutionary organisation. This is the kind of thinking that leads to defeat.” He concluded with a final call for audacity at this critical juncture for the forces of revolutionary Marxism in Pakistan: “We live in a time of war!”

After hearing international reports from the visitors about the unprecedented growth rates and the successes of the recent campaigns for an open communist turn throughout the International, the comrades heard concluding remarks from Rob Sewell.

Rob said that in nearly six decades of his time in the communist movement, he had never seen a world situation as favourable as the present one. Therefore, this is a time for every section of the International to come out of their shell, throw off all the old routines, and sharpen their weapons. The main danger for us is to miss what is happening around us. We must be confident in ourselves, our ideas, our party, and our victory. This is why we are launching the Revolutionary Communist International at the World School of Communism in Italy this June.

The congress closed with a rendition of The Internationale that immediately erupted into revolutionary communist chants in Urdu to the sound of comrades’ drums. It was a moment that gave expression to the determination that was felt in the hall throughout the weekend.

Ultimately, the fate of the Pakistani revolution depends on the success of our comrades’ efforts to assemble the most militant fighting elements of the working class into a party that can answer the demands of history.

Join us

If you want more information about joining the RCI, fill in this form. We will get back to you as soon as possible.