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Pakistan

Pakistan: No run-of-the-mill election campaign for political prisoner Baba Jan

Political prisoner Baba Jan.

By Farooq Tariq, general secretary Awami Workers Party, Pakistan

June 11, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- It was one of best votes for any left candidate during an general election held in Pakistan, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan for decades.

Imprisoned Baba Jan, candidate of Awami Workers Party (AWP), won 4641 votes and came second during the Gilgit Baltistan legislative assembly election held on June 8, 2015.

The ruling Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN) candidate got 8245 votes and won the seat. The winning candidate is the former ruler of the Hunza estate who had with billions of rupees at his disposal.

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), which won the seat in the 2009 election, trailed behind Baba Jan with 3201 votes, while the newly established bourgeois party of cricketer Imran Khan, Tehreek Insaaf (Justice Movement), was in fourth position with 2291 votes. The religious Shia party Majlis Wahadat Muslimeen (MWM) came fifth with 1041 votes, and the candidate of the party of former dictator General Musharaf, the All Pakistan Muslim League, was last on 254.

Political prisoner

Pakistan: Baba Jan contests election from jail

Click HERE for more on Pakistan.

By Farooq Tariq, Lahore

May 25, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Baba Jan, a federal committee member of the Awami Workers Party (AWP), is contesting the election for the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly seat (Hunza-6) from behind bars. He is in jail serving a life sentence handed down by an anti-terrorism court last year for raising his voice against police brutality and for the rights of Atabad disaster hit people.

This is the first time in the history of Gilgit-Baltistan, a disputed territory administered by Pakistan, that an election campaign has been run from prison..

Elections for the 34-seat rubber-stamp assembly is going to be held on June 8, 2015. The provincial election commission’s decision to allow him to contest the poll has surprised many and triggered an enthusiasm among the youth, who consider Baba Jan a symbol of resistance.

Baba Jan and his group had boycotted the last general elections in 2009. The Pakistan People’s Party won the seat but has lost most of its credibility during its five years in power, because of corruption.

Farooq Tariq: 'Fue un ataque de fanáticos musulmanes contra los niños musulmanes'

[English at http://links.org.au/node/4210.]

Por Farooq Tariq

Sábado, 20 de diciembre de 2014 -- Viento Sur -- Ha sido el ataque más mortífero realizado contra una escuela por los fanáticos religiosos. En la Escuela Pública del Ejército [una de las cerca de 150 creadas y gestionadas por el ejército. ndr] hubo 146 víctimas. Entre ellas, 136 niños con edades comprendidas entre 10 y 17 años. A los niños se les pidió que recitaran el Kalma [ver: http://ismaili.net/heritage/node/10521] y luego les dispararon. Fue un ataque de fánaticos musulmames contra niños musulmanes.

El Tehrik e Taliban Pakistan se atribuyó la responsabilidad y envió una foto de los siete militantes que participaron en la "operación" portando armas y bombas. Lo hicieron depués de que se publicaran en la web los rostros de los siete militantes muertos, asesinados por el ejército en el contraataque, no antes de que ellos causaron el daño máximo.

Los fanáticos afirmaron que no mataron niños pequeños, que su "islam" no les permite asesina a niños del "enemigo" menores de 12 años. Casi el 11% de los niños matriculados en la escuela murieron en los primeros 15 minutos que tuvieron ocupada la escuela.

Farooq Tariq and Tariq Ali on the 'Talibanisation' of Pakistan and the Afghan war blowback

Tariq Ali appeared on the December 18, 2014, episode of Democracy Now! (text below).

Click HERE for more on Pakistan.

By Farooq Tariq

December 19, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- It was the most deadly attack on any school by religious fanatics: 146 were killed in a Peshawar Army Public School, including 136 children, ages ranging from 10 to 17 years. The attackers asked the children to recite the Kalma and then fired at them. It was an attack on Muslim children by Muslim fanatics.

Tehreek Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility and sent a group photo of the seven militants who took part in the “operation” holding guns and bombs. This was in response to the posting online of the dead faces of the seven who were killed by the army in the counter attack, not before they caused maximum damage.

Pakistan: A ‘soft’ military coup?

"The issue of election rigging is just a cover for Imran Khan. His real motives include covert opposition to the military operation against Tehreek-e-Taliban, opposition to the PMLN’s attempt to put Musharraf on trial and to cover-up the performance of the Khayber Pukhtoon Khawa provincial government."

By Farooq Tariq

August 30, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Claims and counter claims by Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek Insaaf (PTI), Mullah Tahir Qadri’s Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) and the governing party of Pakistan, the Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN), of who contacted the army chief first for “mediation” or “facilitation” have puzzled the vast majority of people in Pakistan.

(Updated April 25) Mass protests sweep Pakistan-occupied Gilgit Baltistan

Baba Jan, a popular leader of the struggle who was jailed and tortured by Pakistani authorities until 2013, leads a April 19 protest rally in Aliabad, Hunza Valley, in support of the charter of demands of the Awami Action Committee. This photo and those below from PYF Gilgit Baltistan Facebook page.

UPDATE (April 24): Syed Asad Hasan, Green Left Weekly's on-the-spot informant in Gilgit shares a strong frustration felt by the thousands still occupying the city's Gadi Bagh square:

“Throughout today some 10,000 people would have taken part in the sit-in. The sit-in has been going since April 15 and there is another big occupation going on in the city of Skardu. Yet there has been no Pakistani TV coverage of this protest. And very little other media coverage.

“The chief secretary Mohammad Younus Dagha, the head of the local government bureaucracy, has been fired as he was the person who signed the order to end the wheat subsidy. But this part of a pass-the-blame game that the Pakistani federal government and the local puppet government of Gilgit Baltistan are continuing to play.

“The people are shaking the authorities but they are trying to keep this quiet. But the protesters spirit is very strong and the occupation is continuing.”

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Farooq Tariq, Awami Workers Party: 'Left unity a precious gain amid right-wing advances in Pakistan'

Farooq Tariq

April 10, 2014 -- Socialist Alliance/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- One of the international guests at the 10th national conference of the Socialist Alliance, to be held in Sydney June 7-9, 2014, will be Farooq Tariq, general secretary of the Awami Workers Party (AWP) in Pakistan. Conference organiser and Green Left Weekly correspondent Peter Boyle interviewed Tariq on April 10. He will speak on "The struggle for democracy and justice in Pakistan" on June 7 at the Addison Road Community Centre, Marrickville, Sydney.

Get your ticket here.

* * *

It has been nearly a year and a half since the Awami Workers Party was formed out of a merger of the Awami Party Pakistan, the Labour Party Pakistan and the Worker’s Party Pakistan. How is this united party going today?

Photo story: Awami Workers Party leads demonstration against land grabs and evictions

By Farooq Tariq

October 3, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The Awami Workers Party (AWP) organised a rally in Islamabad for land rights and against the eviction of Katchi Abadies dwellers. More than 2000 marched from Aab Para Chouck to national parliament in Islamabad, a distance of 4 kilometres.

There was great enthusiasm and a lot of revolutionary slogans were raised. More than 400 women were part of the rally and they were mostly carrying the red flags of the AWP.

The rally was led by the leadership of the AWP including Abid Hasan Minto, president; Fanoos Gujjar, chairperson; Asim Sajad Akhta, general secretary of the AWP Punjab; Dr Farzana Bari, women's secretary AWP; Alia Anir Ali, general secretary of the National Students Federation; and Farooq Tariq.

The All Pakistan Karchi Abadies Alliance was part of the rally and women, children and men came from all parts of the poor areas of Islamabad.

The rally condemned the PMLN government and demanded an end to evictions. It demanded effective land reforms and declared that they are not unIslamic. Participants demanded land rights for tenants and for the landless peasantry and raised slogans against land grabs.

It was one of the largest mobilisations of the AWP this year in Islamabad. Those in power must be very upset to see a wave of red flags in the hands of the working class.

Pakistan 'anti-terrorism' court jails left-wing activists for 10 years for protesting

Baba Jan addressing displaced villagers in Hunza Valley in 2010.

By Haseeb ur Rahman

September 21, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In January 2010, a terrible disaster unfolded in the Hunza Valley in Gilgit Baltistan (a formerly self-governing territory occupied by Pakistan since 1948) when a massive landslide blocked the Hunza River and formed a gigantic 19 kilometre-wide lake that submerged four villages. Some 25 people lost their lives and 6000 people were displaced.

These internally displaced people (IDPs) were moved to the towns of Gilgit and Hunza. Pakistan's PM and other officials visited the IDPs in Hunza and promised compensation. When, more than a year later, people took to the streets in protest for not getting the promised compensation, the police killed a man and his son in broad daylight by opening fire on the peaceful protest. A riot followed.

In that riot, 25 demonstrators were injured. When Progressive Youth Front leader Baba Jan and his comrades protested against this brutality, they were also arrested. Most of those arrested were released soon after but Baba Jan along with four of his companions were kept. They were tortured and beaten up brutally.

Following an international solidarity campaign, Baba Jan was released after a year in detention but his companions were kept in jail.

Pakistán: La derecha barre en las elecciones

Farooq Tariq.

[English at http://links.org.au/node/3352.]

Por Farooq Tariq

26/05/13 -- Sinpermiso.info -- La derecha barrió como una ola en las elecciones generales del 11 de mayo en Pakistán. A nivel federal, la conservadora Liga Musulmana de Pakistán-Nawaz (PML-N) formará gobierno después de haber ganado el 35% de los votos.

El partido del ex capitán del equipo de cricket de Pakistán, Imran Khan, Pakistán Tehreek Insaaf, ocupó el segundo lugar con el 19% de los votos y sorprendió a muchos. El Partido del Pueblo de Pakistán (PPP), que ha estado en el poder durante los últimos cinco años, quedó en tercer lugar con sólo el 15%, pero gracias a la provincia de Sindh, donde fue capaz de recuperar la mayor parte de sus votos.

Farooq Tariq: Pakistan's right-wing and religious parties sweep election

The Awami Workers Party's Farooq Tariq on the campaign trail.

By Farooq Tariq

May 20, 2013 -- Green Left Weekly -- A right-wing wave swept Pakistan in the May 11 general elections. At the federal level, the conservative Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) will form the government having won 35% of the vote.

Former Pakistan cricket captain Imran Khan's party, Pakistan Tehreek Insaaf, came second with 19% of the vote and surprised many. The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), the ruling party for the past five years, came third with only 15% ― thanks to Sindh where it was able to fetch most of its votes.

Almost 62% of total votes went to right-wing and religious parties, for the first time in the history of Pakistan. Although the religious parties were not united in a single platform, the pro-Taliban Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUIF) still won 10 seats nationally. It also won 22% of the votes in Baluchistan and 1% in Khaiber Pukhtoon Khawa province, the two provinces bordering Afghanistan.

The right

¿Socialismo del Siglo 21 en Pakistán?

[English at http://links.org.au/node/3089.]

El 11 de Noviembre nacerá un nuevo partido de la izquierda marxista en Pakistán. Un proceso novedoso de fusión de tres partidos de carácter marxista. Hace mucho que no se produce una experiencia así, sino lo contrario, divisiones y sectarismos.

Por Aasim Sajjad Akhtar

9 de Noviembre de 2012 -- La Aurora -- El artículo que presentamos invita a reflexionar sobre el proceso de fusión de los 3 partidos, sobre el papel que están jugando las jóvenes generaciones en esta lucha por la unidad, sobre el papel de las mujeres, sobre los retos de la izquierda revolucionaria ante la globalización económica, los nuevos auges de las religiones y sectas y muchas otras cuestiones. Sin duda hay aspectos específicamente asiática y pakistaní. Pero también hay en esas reflexiones la parte global, mundial, útil para toda la izquierda en cualquier parte del mundo, particularmente la marxista.

Tres partidos de la izquierda se unen para formar el Partido de los Trabajadores Awami.

Pakistan: Left parties unite to form Awami Workers Party; 21st century socialism in Pakistan?

By the Awami Workers Party

Islamabad, November 2, 2012 – Three leftist parties, Awami Party Pakistan, Labour Party Pakistan and Worker’s Party Pakistan, will formally merge into a new party called the Awami Workers Party on November 11 as a first step towards building an alternative to the status quo which has brought Pakistani state and society to the brink of collapse. This was stated by leaders of the three parties at a press conference held on Friday at the Islamabad Hotel.

Speaking to reporters, Workers Party leader Abid Hasan Minto said that the institutions of the state are fragmenting, and often completely at odds with one another. Democratic institutions remain weak and underdeveloped in comparison to the military establishment and civil bureaucracy. The increasingly untenable situation in Balochistan indicates a wider crisis of the federation, thus confirming that our ruling class has learnt little from the secession of east Pakistan in 1971. Finally, the state continues to maintain a confrontational and interventionist posture vis a vis neighbouring countries, which serves only to isolate Pakistan and exacerbate internal divisions.

The revolutionary legacy of Bhagat Singh: the 'Che Guevara' of South Asia

September 28, 2012, marked the 105th anniversary of the birth of South Asian revolutionary Bhagat Singh. Revolutionaries across India and Pakistan marked this occasion with meetings and ceremonies. Below, Chaman Lal introduces readers of Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal to the life and work of Bhagat Singh. This article first appeared in the India-based Economic and Political Weekly to mark Singh's 100th birthday. It is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Chaman Lal's permission.

* * *

By Chaman Lal

Bhagat Singh’s life (September 28, 1907–March 23, 1931), work and thought were marked by an uncompromising struggle against colonialism and imperialism, together with radical opposition to capitalism, communalism and the caste system. This article is a spirited account of his life, his revolutionary activity, his ideals, his opinions and his legacy.

Pakistan: Three left parties to unite

Statement by the Awami Party Pakistan, Labour Party Pakistan and the Workers Party Pakistan

September 19, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Over the past few months, three left political parties have been holding meetings to discuss the possibility of a merger and creation of a new progressive force in Pakistan politics. Many of us have been striving for left unity for years, even decades.

The challenges that working people and progressive political forces face both within this country and in the form of imperialist intrigue cannot be meaningfully confronted without such unity. In the past, efforts to bring the left together have both succeeded and failed, and it is in the spirit of learning from such experiences that this present attempt is being made.

We do not expect to suddenly emerge as a "third" force in Pakistan politics, because we do not enjoy the kind of patronage of state and non-state powers as the right-wing parties. Yet we do believe that the people of Pakistan want to see new alternatives emerging and we expect that a merger of existing left groups will be a giant step forward in building such an alternative.

Pakistan: Baba Jan released from jail

Bab Jan leaves jail, September 17, 2012.

By Farooq Tariq

September 17, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Good news from Gilgit-Baltistan. We just got the confirmed reports that Baba Jan, federal youth secretary of the Labour Party Pakistan (LPP) and chief organiser for the Progressive Youth Front, Gilgit, has been released after nearly a year in jail. His bail was accepted on September 15 in the last of the charges registered against him.

Baba Jan was warmly welcomed outside the jail gates by the supporters and members of LPP, who raised slogans like "Baba Jan, zinda bad", "Long live the struggle of the people", "Long live international solidarity.

Last week, the Pakistan Senate committee on human rights called the chief secretary of Gilgit-Baltistan to ask for an explanation of why Baba Jan was tortured and kept in jail. The chief secretary was rebuffed by Afrasayab Khatak, chair of the Senate committee, when he termed Baba Jan an "anti-state activist". Afrasayab Khatak told the chief secretary to stop telling bullshit to him. He told the top bureaucrat of Gilgit that he has heard a lot of these allegations and that he was himself at one time had been declared as being anti-state. Afrasayab Khatak asked for documentary proof of the allegations.

Within few days, Baba Jan got the bail.

Pakistan: Urgent action needed to stop torture of activists

STOP PRESS, July 25, 2012 -- Thanks to all who sent protest messages and got the word out quick. Baba Jan and Iftikhar Hussain have now been returned to jail after being interrogated and roughed up by the special interrogation team. But we we still must demand: Free Baba Jan and Free the Hunza Five! -- Peter Boyle

By Peter Boyle, Socialist Alliance (Australia) national co-convener

July 23, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- A leading Pakistan newspaper, Dawn, reports that Labour Party Pakistan comrades Baba Jan and Iftikhar Hussain are being tortured by special "anti-terrorist police" unit in an undisclosed location now: http://dawn.com/2012/07/23/gilgit-rights-activist-being-given-the-third-degree/

Pakistan: Free Baba Jan, political prisoner of the climate crisis (Green Left TV report)

June 23, 2012 -- Green Left TV/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- For nine months, Baba Jan Hunzai and four fellow activists have been languishing in Pakistan jails, charged with terrorism offences, and suffering torture. Their crime? Organising the oppressed local community to struggle for compensation, after their villages were submerged by a climate change-induced landslide. Green Left TV's Peter Boyle interviewed Labour Party of Pakistan national spokesperson Farooq Tariq.

Support Baba Jan: Protest at the Pakistan embassy in your country. Join Noam Chomsky and Tariq Ali in signing the petition to free Baba Jan and the Hunza 5 at www.ipetitions.com/petition/free-baba-jan. Follow the campaign at www.freebabajan.wordpress.com.

For details of where to send letters demanding Baba Jan's release and more background information on the case of Baba Jan and his comrades, click here and here.

Pakistan: International week of action for the release of Baba Jan and his comrades, June 20-27, 2012

Socialist Alliance (Australia) poster demanding the release of Baba Jan and his comrades.

Readers of Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal are urged to send protest letters to Pakistan embassies and consulate in their own countries. See an example at the conclusion of this article.

By Pierre Rousset and Danielle Sabai

Pakistan: Protest torture of Baba Jan, 'prisoner of climate change'

May 3, 2012 -- The following letter to protest the beating and continued detention of Baba Jan (pictured speaking above), Waqar and other activists was sent to Pakistan's High Commissioner (ambassador) to Australia by the Socialist Alliance. Readers of Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal are urged to send similar letters to Pakistan embassies and consulate in their own countries.

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Last year, after devastating floods swept the Atta Abad Lakes region of Pakistan, police opened fire on a demonstration of people demanding compensation. Two people were killed.

Baba Jan. a federal committee member of the Labour Party Pakistan (LPP), was among the first to raise the issue of Atta Abad Lake flood victims. He toured Pakistan in 2011 to organise rallies and demonstrations to highlight the plight of villagers who have lost their homes to this newly formed lake caused by deforestation, soil erosion and climate change. He spoke to the national media in press conferences held in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad.

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