Tag Archives: movement

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


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

Introducing Amankaar Tehrik (peace movement) in Pakistan

Courtesy Fouzia Saeed


Myth: The root cause of Terrorism is extreme poverty and lack of education
Reality: This is not true. There are many countries in the world that suffer from extreme poverty but do not have terrorist groups.  Within Pakistan many areas are more poor than Swat, but have not become violent. On the other hand people who have become terrorists are not doing anything to eradicate poverty or provide education. Terrorists merely use the resentment of the marginalized and those resentful of other state actions in the initial phase of their ideological campaign. Once in control, they tax the poor, destroy school buildings and stop girls from going to schools. Most of those who have been killed due to militant attacks are women, peasants and the poor. Continue reading


Filed under Activism, Citizens, movements, Pakistan, Taliban, Terrorism

This night-bitten dawn

By Raza Rumi

The triumph of a popular movement on March 16 has marked a new beginning. The retreat of an intransigent government and the wise response by the PML-N and the lawyers averted a major crisis that could have been violent, and also a potential recipe for harming the parliamentary system in its infancy. There was a sigh of relief among the public for a long-standing issue appeared to have been resolved. This has been a monumental achievement by all standards.

However, the inherent imbalances within Pakistan’s power structure and the state of its polity are yet to be addressed and the contradictions of how our power is exercised stared us as the good news rolled out through the ubiquitous TV channels and their zealous presenters. The way quintessentially political issues and turf-wars between the PPP and PML-N were battled and resolved through a stage-managed process only concealed the bitter power-realities of Pakistan. Continue reading


Filed under Politics

A Solution to Pakistan’s Judicial Crises

We have heard of too many problems, challenges and crises. Here are a set of credible and do-able solutions by Shaheryar Azhar.  Only if someone is listening. Raza Rumi

In an eternal echo reminiscent of Pakistan’s genesis, we have repeatedly abandoned our personal responsibility in addressing our fundamental issues of nationhood and governance at critical junctures of our history. Do we always need a foreign power to yank us out of our fantasies into reality and thus come to our so-called rescue?

Long before America mid-wived the famous or infamous (depending on your point of view) deal between General Musharraf and PPP Chairperson Benazir Bhuto, this moderator and some others had argued repeatedly on the following lines: “It does not take a rocket scientist to figure it out that if the largest political party (PPP) and the most powerful national institution (Army) can not see eye-to-eye on the most pressing issues, Pakistan can never be stable”. And yet, it took two years of painful negotiation with a lot of hand holding by America, Britain, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi for what? For Pakistan to resolve its domestic issue of internal transfer of power with the help of foreign friends. Can anything be more embarrassing than that? Once is fine, twice is too many and thrice must be curtains for any self-respecting nation! Continue reading


Filed under Justice, lawyers movement, Politics, public policy

How General Zia has sabotaged lawyers’ movement from grave

Another excellent piece by our eminent guest contributor (ed. Raza Rumi)

By  Abbas Zaidi

When General Musharraf deposed Ifitikhar Chaudhry, the Chief Justice of Pakistan, on 9 March 2007, he did not realize there would be such an endless and widespread chain of protests all over the country. It was for the first time in Pakistan’s history that a judge had defied a general’s orders by deciding a few cases on merit, i.e., against a dictator’s wish and in the common man’s interest. It was the unprecedented power of the popular protest that led to the restoration of Justice Chaudhry four months later in July 2007. But General Musharraf did not accept the return of the Chief Justice, and on 3 November 2007 he imposed martial law in Pakistan and deposed Justice Chaudhry. It was a unique martial law in the political history of the world because it was directed only against the person of Justice Chaudhry. All the other institutions of Pakistan-e.g., the cabinet and the parliament-remained untouched. . . .

Although General Musharraf has been consigned to the gutter where his predecessors-General Zia being the wickedest and most notorious of the pack-Justice Chaudhry still has not been restored to his rightful office. The present democratically government is reluctant to restore him because it claims that he has become controversial by aligning himself with politicians, and hence his impartiality is suspect. Like millions of Pakistanis, I believe that the restoration of Justice Chaudhry is an act of faith to me. He, I believe, stands for freedom in Pakistan-freedom in the widest sense of the word. If he is not restored, judiciary in Pakistan will continue to remain subservient to generals, bureaucrats, and politicians. So when the leaders of the Pakistan Supreme Court Bar Association announced that Justice Chaudhry would deliver a speech at a lawyers’ meeting in Rawalpindi on 3 November to mark the first anniversary of his sacking, I could not wait to hear the man who has been a hero, a savior indeed, to the people of Pakistan.

I cancelled all my engagements in order to sit in front of TV and watch the man who is no less than a prophet in these times. He began his speech by telling people how his refusal to kowtow to General Musharraf led to his sacking. Around fifteen minutes into his speech, there was a little disturbance behind him. He stopped briefly and looked behind. The disturbance continued for a couple of minutes and then two faces emerged and I heard myself say: “O, shit!” At that very moment I found myself agreeing to the government’s claim that the movement for the restoration of Ifitikhar Chaudhry was actually a front for the agenda of some time-serving politicians. Why? Continue reading


Filed under Citizens, Democracy, lawyers movement, movements, Politics, Society

Chador aur Char Divari: Subverting the discourse of exclusion 6

In this article, our prolific contributor Shaheryar Ali looks at the invisibility of women in extreme interpretations of Islam that were adopted by the General Zia-ul-Haq and that refuse to go away despite decades of struggle. He cites a powerful poem by the Urdu poet Fahmida Riaz that sums up the perversity of this peculiar mindset and is a bitter song of liberation too. (Ed: RR)

Of the three great systems of exclusion governing discourse — prohibited words, the division of madness and the will to truth ———” Foucault

The non-existence of women is the most important problem that has plagued the discourse in the Muslim countries. “Representational discourse” is in itself a discourse of exclusion, the “woman” and “woman hood” are representational entities, the Woman has always been be represented in the discourse , she never had her own voice. The famous existential philosopher Simone de Beauvior whilst writing her seminal feminist work “The second Sex” reached the conclusion : “No Human is born a Woman”.

In fundamentalist ‘Islamic’ context this representational discourse acquired a legal status where woman was judged to be unworthy of testimony. De-humanization of woman reached its peak under the USA sponsored Islamization of the Muslim world. General Muhammed Zia ul Haq and the theologians brought the “Law of Evidence” according to which the testimony of the woman was to be considered half of that of man. The traditional reading of Islam brought about the concept of “Naqis ul Aqal” “semi compos mentis” for the Woman. An animal which is not capable of making independent decisions, is source of Sin and lust and hence must be covered in a black veil, to protect the piety of Men, whose place is within the 4 walls of the house and who cant leave it without a male relative escorting her.

“Zina” (or fornication) became the ultimate focus of the project that aimed to suppress women’s sexuality with the fear of stones and lashes. “Chador or Char divari” became the official state doctrine for “woman” with approval from Mansoora! [Pakistan’s self-styled Vatican, headquarter of the Jamate Islami]

The Progressive left led a heroic struggle against the Neo Fascist Zia ul Haq, resulting in one of the most brutal crackdown against them, hangings, torture,murders,exiles, lashes—. Fahmida Riaz , Kishwar Naheed stood up against this tyranny , the result was the emergence of a radical feminist discourse that was modernist and progressive and which challenged the Islamist discourse on woman.

Fehmida Riaz is a true artist who never compromised , she was victimized by Zia ul Haq and his political Son Nawaz Sharif but she stood firm. Chador aur Char Divari is one of the most important poems ever written in Urdu. It traces the origins of Islamist exclusionist discourse and de constructs it. It asserts the “humanity” of woman , her independent will and voice and her challenge to the tyrants. Continue reading


Filed under Citizens, Literature, poetry, Politics, Women

Remembering Bhutto: History,Clergy and Pakistan

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

The oddest point in Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s career as a politician and a statesman was when his National Assembly voted to constitutionally
ex-communicate the Ahmaddiya community from the circle of Islam. Odd because, barring Jinnah and some ethnic leaders from small sub-nationalities, Bhutto was till then the most secular politician in
Pakistan. His support base was mostly left and no where during the election campaign had the PPP given voice to the demand for Ahmadis to
be ex-communicated. There are many theories as to why Bhutto would do it, but an investigation into the history of Ahmadi conflict in Pakistan leads to some astonishing conclusions about the role of
Pakistan’s military and civil establishment and their blatant use of
religious clergy in creating the conditions which might have forced a
popular national politician like Bhutto to opt for such a drastic and
draconian measure.

Pakistan was created as a result of the inability of the Congress
Party to recognize the legitimate secular concerns (such economic and
political safeguards) of the Muslim bourgeoisie represented by the
Muslim League. Instead of relying on secular and liberal Muslim
leaders like Jinnah, who had for much of his career been described as
the Ambassador of Hindu Muslim Unity by the Hindu leadership, the
Congress co-opted the Muslim religious clergy to prove its secular
credentials. Soon the Congress found itself out of sync with the
mass of Muslims. Since Muslims themselves were fragmented into
several sects and schools of thought, Jinnah and the Muslim League
kept theological and purely religious issues out of the main political
discourse. This allowed Jinnah to bring Sunnis, Shias, Ismailis,
Khojas and Ahmadis on one table despite major doctrinal differences
between these groups. It was for this reason that after Pakistan was
created, Jinnah extended his policy of keeping religious doctrine out
to state governance. To drive the point home, he included in his
cabinet a Hindu (Jogindranath Mandal) as a law minister and an Ahmadi
Muslim (Ch. Zafrullah Khan) as his foreign minister.
After 1947, the religious clergy that had opposed Jinnah and the
creation of Pakistan found itself like a fish out of a pond. They
would have all but lost political significance had it not been for the
political weakness of the ruling Muslim League. By 1951 the Muslim
League was without both Jinnah and Liaqat Ali Khan, the two leaders
who had recognition and mass appeal. Khawaja Nazimuddin who took
over after Liaqat Ali Khan was known as a good honest man but was not
known as a decisive leader. That he was from East Pakistan was an
additional factor which made him undesirable for the West Pakistani
establishment. By January 1953, the religious parties including
Maulana Maududi’s Jamaat-e-Islami had formed the “Majlis-e-Amal” whose
demands were the removal of Ch. Zafrullah Khan as the foreign minister
and declaration of the Ahmadi community as “Non-muslim”. Khawaja
Nazimuddin refused to entertain this demand and when informed of the
chance of 100 000 crazed Mullahs marching onto the Prime Minister
House, merely ordered the doubling of his guard. Violence broke out
in Lahore and Karachi.
Iskandar Mirza, the then Secretary of Defense, took note and wrote to
the Prime Minister:

“The problems created by your personal enemies including Mullahs, if
not dealt with firmly, will destroy the administration of the country…
is religion to destroy the very foundation of the administration of
the premier Muslim state? In Cairo, Sir Zafrullah Khan is being
received with the utmost honour and respect… while in Karachi he is
being abused in public meetings and his photographs are being spat
upon… what then is the position of Pakistan today internationally… for
god’s sake become a courageous leader and take decisive action. Once
you do this, the whole country, with the exception of the rascals,
will really round you…” Continue reading


Filed under Democracy, History, Islam, Islamism, Politics, public policy, Religion