Lenin and Pakistan’s Lawyers’ Movement

This was written at the height of the Lawyers’ Movement and gave the Marxist-Leninist point of view on the Lawyers’ Movement.   It is being reproduced because it remains relevant in modern context. A viable Left in Pakistan is a guarantee of a democratic progressive Pakistan. This is the reason why we put up articles that seem to some as being far left.   -YLH

by Bhagat Singh

It is important to understand the nature and scope of the movement for the restoration of judiciary in the context of the stage of the revolutionary movement. The Marxian method of reasoning is based on analyzing the general case, and moving to the concrete case, and deducing general implications from the analysis. I would like to explain the general Leninist appreciation of the bourgeois democratic movement, and will then move on the specific case of the current movement of the judiciary.

In countries such as Pakistan, unlike Western European societies there have been no bourgeois democratic revolutions (such as the French revolution etc). In our part of the world, capitalism was introduced through colonization, by the British.

In our country therefore, the proletariat is faced with the dual task of participating in and completing the democratic revolution through an alliance of the poor peasantry and the proletariat (the demands of the poor peasantry being bourgeois democratic), and the proletariat can only then enhance the sweep of the revolutionary movement to lead the socialist revolution.

The first question to ask then is: What is the current movement all about? This movement is a movement against military dictatorship, and its proponents seek to restore constitutionalism in the country. The present movement is by its class essence a bourgeois democratic movement. With respect to the movement for constitutionalism in Russia, 1905, Comrade Lenin writes:

“Russia is experiencing a resurgence of the constitutional movement. Our generation has never witnessed anything like the present political ferment… Although the proletariat is taking a comparatively small part in the more spectacular and ceremonious manifestations of the liberal movement, although it seems to be standing somewhat aloof from the polite conferences of the solid citizens, everything points to the fact that the workers are keenly interested in the movement. Everything points to the fact that the workers are eager for big public meetings and open street demonstrations. The proletariat is holding itself back, as it were, carefully taking its bearings, gathering its forces, and deciding the question whether or not the moment for the decisive struggle for freedom has come.”

Comrade Lenin understands the class nature of constitutionalism as a movement of the bourgeoisie—i.e. as a bourgeois democratic movement. He further explains the tasks of the Communist Party in a movement for constitutionalism. He says:

“The proletariat must take advantage of the political situation, which is greatly in its favor. The proletariat must support the constitutional movement of the bourgeoisie; it must rouse and rally to its side the broadest possible sections of the exploited masses,
muster all its forces, and start an uprising at the moment when the government is in the most desperate straits and popular unrest is at its highest.”

Thus, we see that Comrade Lenin argues for an active participation in the bourgeoisies’ constitutional movement. Thus, the general theme to be drawn from this is: The Communist Party must and indeed should participate in a bourgeois democratic movement with all its might.

Let us now analyze the concrete case of Pakistan. Pakistan has a history of military dictators overturning, amending or suspending the constitution as and when they pleased. Since 1999, Pakistan’s constitution has been severely amended, held in abeyance and suspended twice.

The current movement for constitutionalism begins on the 9th of March, 2007 and is still an active force in the country. Let us first ask the question, “Who is leading the movement, what are their demands and who is this movement against?”

Who is leading the movement?

It is abundantly clear that the movement is being led by the lawyers of Pakistan. Russia in 1905 experiences a similar constitutionalist movement, in which the lawyers played an important role. Comrade Lenin says:

“All varieties of meetings of Zemstvo officials, doctors, lawyers, engineers, farmers, municipal councilors, etc., etc., are adopting resolutions more or less definitely demanding a constitution. Passionate appeals for liberty and political accusations of a boldness to which the Russian man in the street is unaccustomed can be heard at every turn. Under pressure of the workers and the radical youth, liberal gatherings are converted into open public meetings and street demonstrations. Undercurrents of discontent are manifestly stirring among wide sections of the proletariat, among the poor of town and country”

Furthermore, Comrade Lenin held the opinion that within the scope of the democratic movement, the most radical liberal and constitutionalist positions were taken by the “Union of Unions”, a political organization of liberal bourgeois intellectuals, founded in May 1905 at the first congress of representatives of 14 unions, including lawyers. He was of the view that the Communist Party must support all its demands, and must ensure active participation in the movement to enhance the sweep of their demands.

Thus: The current movement for the restoration of the judiciary is being LED by the lawyers. This is not to say that representatives of political parties are not participants in the movement. However, as with Engels’ positions on peace, this movement, i.e. the democratic movement must not be left for the bourgeoisie alone. The proletariat is the ONLY consistently democratic class, and its representatives, the Communist Party, must ensure that it not only participates in the movement but seeks to win its leadership.

What are their Demands?

The Supreme Court Bar Association president Aitzaz Ahsan summarized the demands as:

1- Restoration of the constitution to the pre-1999 stage
2- Restoration of the judges unconstitutionally removed by the
military chief, General Musharraf
3- Independence of judiciary as a pillar of the state

These are the three main demands being put forth by the proponents of this movement. All three demands are constitutionalist and bourgeois democratic in nature. However, as Comrade Lenin says “The struggle for a bourgeois republic and constitutionalism is only one of the many struggles that the proletariat must wage”.

Who is this movement against?

The movement is primarily against the military autocracy that has ruled Pakistan for much of its history. Any constitutionalist movement is aimed against groups/classes/individuals which seek their power from UNCONSTITUTIONAL means. In the context of Pakistan, this is the military rulers of Pakistan in general and Musharraf in particular.

To sum up therefore:

The movement for the restoration of the judiciary is a constitutionalist bourgeois democratic movement, led by the lawyers and seeks bourgeois democratic aims.

The Communist Party—the representative of the class interests of the proletariat—is duty bound to participate in this movement, while understanding its class nature and aims.

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