Category Archives: Left

WikiLeaks and Pakistan’s dysfunctional state

Raza Rumi

The WikiLeaks saga has reconfirmed the status of Pakistan as a client state. Its leadership — civilian and military — as a matter of routine, involves external actors in matters of domestic policy and power plays. We knew this all along but the semblance of documentary evidence confirms the unfortunate trends embedded in Pakistan governance systems. However, the orthodoxy that it is the West which interferes is not the full story. The inordinate influence exercised by ‘friendly’ Arab states, especially Saudi Arabia, is also a sad reminder of how warped Pakistan’s way of living is.

India is the principal enemy; and our Saudi and Gulf friends wish the other neighbour, Iran, to be bombed. We are obsessed with “legitimate” security interests in Afghanistan. This is a dysfunctional state of being and has made us addicted to western aid, leveraging global great games and denying that regional cooperation is in our ultimate self-interest. Such delusional ways of looking at the world has made the state splinter and devolve authority to non-state actors, which can advance its security policies.

What is the picture that emerges from the cable-mess: A president lives in fear of being assassinated; the army chief ‘considers’ options to dismiss the elected president and then changes his mind because he “distrusts” the alternative — Nawaz Sharif — even more! The state benefits from American largesse and hates it at the same time. Civilian leaders regularly reiterate their support to the US — the second A in the power trinity of ‘Allah, America and the Army’. Sadly, nothing new. Yet, deeply disturbing. Continue reading

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Filed under lawyers movement, Left, Liberal Democratic Pakistan, movements, Pakistan, Pakistan-India Peace Process, public policy, secularism, south asia, Zardari

Hashtnagar – a land, forgotten

Ammar Aziz, is a Lahore based film-maker, writer and a left-Wing activist. His article raises extremely important issues in this narrative. We wih to revive the debates on peasantry struggles and Ammar’s exclusive post for PTH is more than welcome. We hope that there will be a robust discussion on the issues raised here. Raza Rumi

My film thesis research has recently made me visit a piece of land that, despite its significant historical importance , has been brutally ignored in the pages of history. Surrounded by Afghan border, conservative feudal culture and tribal areas that have been in media attention in the recent past due to Taliban, that area is none other then Hashtnagar which stands as its own example in the history of class struggle in Pakistan . Consisting of a cluster of eight villages, Hashtnagar is  one of the two divisions of Charsadah district in Pakhtoon Khawah (NWFP) and is one of the province’s most fertile lands known for its sugar cane production. The element of militant armed Socialist struggle differentiates Hashtnagar from the rest of the leftist movements in Pakistan.

Weaving red flags at the roof tops, Socialist symbols painted on the walls, portraits of revolutionary figures, left wing cultural activism and, above all, the daily life of the  peasants and workers reflect the liberation that can be felt in the whole ambiance of the area. This liberation is the outcome of the socialist struggle of many decades that has played an important role in shaping the lives and minds of the native people.

To understand this revolutionary change, it is important to have a brief overview of the history of peasant’s struggle in NWFP Continue reading

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Filed under Left, Marxism, movements, North-West Frontier Province, Pakistan, Politics, poverty, Society

The Fight for Pakistan’s Future: Violently Reflected on Campus

The New York Times, Published April 20, 2010

By SABRINA TAVERNISE; Waqar Gillani contributed reporting.

April 21 (New York Times) — LAHORE, Pakistan – The professor was working in his office here on the campus of Pakistan’s largest university this month when members of an Islamic student group battered open the door, beat him with metal rods and bashed him over the head with a giant flower pot.

Iftikhar Baloch, an environmental science professor, had expelled members of the group for violent behavior. The retribution left him bloodied and nearly unconscious, and it united his fellow professors, who protested with a nearly three-week strike that ended Monday.

The attack and the anger it provoked have drawn attention to the student group, Islami Jamiat Talaba, whose morals police have for years terrorized this graceful, century-old institution by brandishing a chauvinistic form of Islam, teachers here say.

Continue reading

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Filed under human rights, Islam, Left, liberal Pakistan, Politics, psychology, Punjab, youth

New Left or no Left?

Posted by Raza Rumi

Haider Nizamani’s excellent piece published by Dawn on March 18, 2010, deserves spotlight at PTH. We hope that the readers would respond to it and a debate can be initiated on this critical issue. Unlike the rest of mainstream media, DAWN has attempted to give some space to the otherwise neglected debate.

MR Muhammad Ali Siddiqi writing in the March 3 issue of Dawn (Pakistan’s New Left) has commented on the potential success of the Workers Party Pakistan (WPP), a new party formed by the merger of the National Workers Party and the Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party.

The focus of this essay is not the newly formed party. I restrict myself to a general outline for political action suggested by the writer to rejuvenate the Left in Pakistan.

Mr Siddiqi raises the vital question of “how does the new party … create space for itself in the situation now obtaining in Pakistan?” I respectfully disagree with his answers to this question, and submit that recommendations offered to the Left to have a chance at gaining power indicate a poor understanding of the county’s political-economy, regional and international political politics, and the cultural prisms used by ordinary Pakistanis to make sense of the world around them. Continue reading

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Filed under Activism, Left, Liberal Democratic Pakistan, movements, Pakistan

An Article On Tahira Mazhar Ali

I recently came across this brilliant feature by Shehar Bano Khan on Tahira Mazhar Ali – Tariq Ali’s mother and Sir Sikandar Hayat Khan’s daughter.   It is a very interesting account coming from the daughter of one of the most influential politicians of Punjab.  Her association with the Communist Party, her meetings with Nehru and Jinnah and her recollection of partition makes her part of our collective heritage.  Published 5 years ago in Dawn, we are reproducing it here for the benefit of our readers. -YLH

She is blunt to a fault. Her brusqueness has not lost its sharp edge with time, neither has her witticism surrendered to old age. At 80, Tahira Mazhar Ali’s vivacity, her political ripostes, and her tirades against capitalism define her originality.
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Filed under Left, Pakistan

Zardari signs 2 laws aimed at protecting working class

“The government’s job is not only to maintain a good balance sheet but also work for the welfare of the people,” Zardari
Staff Reporter Daily Times March 06, 2010
President says govt has handed over 10% shares of state-owned entities to employees for free
KARACHI: President Asif Ali Zardari on Friday signed two laws passed by parliament to repeal the Removal from Services (Special Powers) Ordinance, 2000 and amend the Services Tribunal Act.
The president signed the bills at a ceremony held at the Sindh chief minister’s house.
According to an official statement, Zardari said the government would preserve the rights of the working class while ensuring a conducive environment for business, setting the stage for another phase of prosperity and development in Pakistan. Continue reading

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Filed under Democracy, Economy, Egalitarian Pakistan, Labour, Law, Left, Marxism, Pakistan, Rights, Zardari

Ajmal Khattak – The End Of An Era

 

Pakistan and Pakhtunkhwa lost one of its most illustrious sons last week. One may not agree with his politics always but no one can deny that he cast a very long shadow on Pakistani politics. Here we explore his legacy.  – YLH

Dawn wrote:

With the death on Sunday of veteran politician and renowned Pushto writer Ajmal Khattak, the country has lost one of its most committed political workers and prolific Pushto writers. A vocal advocate of the rights of the Pakhtun people, Khattak told this newspaper last year: “I am deeply concerned about the political situation in South Asia; what is being done against the Pakhtuns troubles me more than my illness.”

  Continue reading

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Filed under Afghanistan, Left, Pakistan