Tag Archives: Left

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 Rise and Fall of the Maoist Movement in Pakistan

We are publishing this insightful paper authored by Ishtiaq Ahmed. This paper was written as part of a theme ‘More than Maoism: Rural Dislocation in South Asia’ under the aegis of ISAS, National University of Singapore. In many ways, documentation of the Left movements is an important area that has not been researched and documented. This is why Dr Ahmed’s contribution is so important. Raza Rumi

Abstract

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Maoist ideas gained considerable popularity and influence in left politics and the labour movement, and made an impact on Pakistani mainstream politics, which was out of proportion to the Maoists’  political strength in the overall balance of power. Neither class structure nor the ideological and political composition of the state apparatus warranted any such advantage to Maoism. Clues to it are to be found in the peculiar power game over security and influence going on at that time between several states in that region and, perhaps, more crucially in the internal political situation surrounding the rise to power of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (1971-77).  His fall from power, the coming into power of an Islamist regime under General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq (1977-88), and the Afghan jihad spelled disaster for leftist politics. In the 1980s, Maoism faded into oblivion.

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Filed under Imperialism, movements, Pakistan, Politics, poverty, south asia, violence

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

Remembering Howard Zinn

Howard Zinn was a towering figure of our times.   For society to remain balanced,  there has to be a Howard Zinn blowing the whistle, calling spade a spade and keeping the mainstream discourse honest.   The geniuses of our times – the Zinns,  Eqbal Ahmeds, Saids, Chomskys and Barsamians have made a contribution and filled a gap at a crucial time in global history. – YLH

From Dawn

Americans have been taught that their nation is civilised and humane. But, too often, US actions have been uncivilised and inhumane.” That was the American historian Howard Zinn who taught a whole generation of Americans to view the history of their country through a lens quite different from the rose-tinted lenses of most of his fellow historians whose work takes care to do nothing to besmirch America’s reputation as “the land of the free and the home of the brave”. Zinn stands out since much of modern historiography is crawling with feckless nationalism. Yes, the infusion of commonplace loyalties in a tract about the past is not always deliberately arrived at for it often flows from subtle conditioning. Just as you wouldn’t read Abul Fazal for a critical account of Emperor Akbar’s exploits, it would be a rare Indian or a Pakistani who questions tired axioms rooted in nationalist loyalties, and which pass for a glimpse of our past. Continue reading

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LAL Theater Performs “Machine” In Lahore

(As a tribute to Late Jyoti Basu we are posting this brilliant performance by Lal Theater in Lahore- YLH)

‘Machine’ of Jana Natya Manch (Janam – Safdar Hashmi’s group).

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Filed under Left, Marxism, People's Pakistan

Tender Tea House

From Partition onward, Nasir Khan writes, a dusty cafe was the centre of Lahore’s literary life.


Pak Tea House sits on Mall Road in Old Anarkali, nestled between tyre suppliers and motorcycle workshops.

Before Partition it was the India Tea House, but 1947 and a quick paint job changed that. No one knows why it became – along with several similar shops on the same street – a favourite haunt of so many intellectuals. Maybe it was the cheap but good milky tea, or the extra-sweet biscuits. Perhaps it was the literary sensibility of the first post-Partition owners, two brothers from India. It might have been the radio on the counter that was constantly tuned to Lahore’s call-in request programme. And, for scores of struggling writers and poets, the availability of food on credit certainly had something to do with it. Continue reading

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Filed under culture, Heritage, History, Lahore, Pak Tea House, Pakistan