Comrade Manzoor led the largest ever-parliamentary delegation from Pakistan to India since partition. It comprised of 20 members from the Pakistani parliament, who were attending the World Social Forum (WSF) held in Bombay, India, in January.
The WSF was a gathering of 200,000 people in which more than 5300 foreign delegates participated from all over the world. It was more a kind of a festival, than a purely political gathering. In spite of this there were many debates that focused on issues concerning working people.
For example, there was the seminar on Peoples’ Peace in Asia which was co-chaired by another Marxist MP from Pakistan comrade Qamar Zaman Qaira. More than five hundred delegates to the WSF attended this seminar. In his 45 minute speech comrade Qaira defended a Marxist position on war and peace. He said that, “the ruling classes and the crisis of capitalist system are responsible for war and destruction. The rulers of India and Pakistan can now neither afford to go to war nor can they sustain any durable peace. He said that only through the revolutionary overthrow of this rotten system could a lasting peace be achieved.”
On January 18, the World Parliamentary Forum started its sessions. MPs from Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America participated in the opening session. Its presidium comprised of the heads of delegations from various countries. 300 delegates from 40 countries were present.
From Pakistan comrade Manzoor Ahmed was elected to the presidium. In his introductory speech comrade Manzoor said that the present crisis of the subcontinent is the result of the capitalist system. In South Asia most countries face the same problems of poverty, misery, disease, hunger, illiteracy and unemployment. We all are in support of democracy but there can be no genuine democracy and democratic rights without their economic emancipation. I ask this question “there has been the largest democracy in the World in India for the last 56 years, but has this democracy solved a single problem faced by the oppressed millions in all those pain full years? The answer is NO. They have failed to complete any of the democratic tasks in the subcontinent. We see a classical case of combined and uneven development, the theory advanced by Lenin and Trotsky. This development had created new contradictions that are exploding in the whole region. The only way forward out of this mess is the revolutionary transformation of these societies and the overthrow of capitalism.”
After this speech he was approached by several MPs who congratulated him, among which MPs from Germany, Belgium, Italy, France, and European Union socialist group leaders, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and the South Asian countries.
In his concluding speech at the last session of the World Parliamentary Forum on January 19, 2004 Chaudhry Manzoor Ahmed, Marxist member of National Assembly of Pakistan, said: “We must not deceive people; we should be honest with them. There is no way-out under capitalist rule. We should not have any illusions in the present rulers of the subcontinent. The only way out from this misery is a socialist revolution lead by the proletariat through irreconcilable class struggle. We must provide a revolutionary leadership to this movement with a clear programme of internationalism and revolutionary socialism. I end my speech with Marx’s famous quote: ‘Workers of the world unite! We have nothing to loose but our chains we have a world to win!’.”
After these closing remarks comrade Manzoor got a thunderous applause and a standing ovation. Several delegates filled with enthusiasm said this was a great message from comrade Manzoor and “we are determined that we will take it back to the youth and workers of our countries.”
The World Parliamentary Forum also adopted comrades Manzoor’s and Qaira’s proposals to set up a South Asian Parliamentary Forum and also supported their resolution on terrorism which called for a condemnation of all forms of State and individual terrorism including the imperialist aggression on Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. Manzoor was able to have discussions with French, Mexican, Italian, German and Indian MPs who invited Manzoor to visit their countries and they committed themsleves to arranging meetings for him.
The comrades that went with Manzoor and Qaira took hundreds of copies of Lal Khan’s book Partition, can it be undone? and of the latest edition of the Asian Marxist Review. Delegates were queuing up to buy the books and magazines. So much so that very quickly all copies were sold out. This shows the huge interest in Marxist ideas across the whole subcontinent, and in particular in India. Many delegates left us their addresses to stay in contact and work together in the struggle to develop the ideas and forces of Marxism in the whole of the subcontinent.
BOMBAY, 17-20 JAN. 2004