Haqooq-e-Khalq Party PP-159 election campaign: ‘We stand up to the injustice and inequality of dynastic politics and business as usual’

First published at Haqooq-e-Khalq.

Foreward by Dr Ammar Ali Jan

Dear friends,

It is with great pride and a sense of urgency that I write this letter to you today. The future of our country and our world depends on the actions we take right now, and it is vital that we come together as a movement to effect real change.

In these uncertain times, it can be easy to feel disheartened and powerless. But I am here to tell you that we are not helpless; we have the power to shape our future and create a better world for ourselves and generations to come. One important step in this journey is participating in local politics, specifically through the platform of a Member of the Provincial Assembly (MPA).

You may be wondering what impact a single MPA can make. But I assure you, this is only the first step. Being an MPA gives progressive voices a platform to make their voices heard, to hone their skills and gain experience in electoral politics, and to launch larger campaigns for change. From there, we can build momentum and contest local government and mayoral elections, and eventually make our way to contesting national assembly seats across Pakistan.

But it is not enough for us to simply win elections. We must work together as a movement to address the pressing issues of our time, from economic inequality to climate change to human rights. We must stand up for what is right and fight for a future that is fair, just, and sustainable for all.

So let us come together and let us share in the work that must be done. The future is in our hands, and together, we can create a better world for ourselves and those yet to come.

Yours in solidarity, 

Dr Ammar Ali Jan

Who are we?

We are you. We are researchers, lawyers, doctors, journalists, teachers, social workers, womens’ rights activists, trade union leaders, day-laborers and student activists, coming together to fight against the forces that cause hopelessness in Pakistan. And when we are together, we are powerful. 

And why have we come together? Why do we feel the urgent need to grasp, and express our collective power? It is because the experience of everyday life in Pakistan for the common, hard-working citizen has become unbearable. From catastrophic floods to an economy in shambles, to the resurgence of militancy and extremism; it is as if our country and its people have been left adrift by all those who wield power and claim to be our superiors. 

Enough! The challenges we face are many, but now, together, we resolve to take our fate, to take the call of history, into our own hands. We have all the tools and skills we need, in each other. Today, we are using data-driven campaigns, grassroots organizing, and social support programs to build a movement of the people, working together towards progress. Our vision is clear and unwavering: we demand equitable cities and a state that serves the needs of the vulnerable majority, not just the privileged few. Our aims are high and humble, and we will not stand down.

While we may not be as big as other parties, our voice is strong, and growing stronger. Our team of dedicated, young activists numbers over 200. Each activist not only brings with them a resolve to grasp the reins of our shared future—they also share innovative ideas, abilities, knowledge, and skill sets, with each other, for each other.

On January 29th, 2023, we marched shoulder to shoulder with more than 5,000 women, children, minorities and workers in Lahore’s working-class industrial district of Chungi Amar Sidhu. We marched together calling for clean water, equal education, public infrastructure and inflation-support programs for the most vulnerable among us. We sent a loud and clear message: the burden of the economic crisis should not fall on the urban poor who have already suffered enough, but on the corrupt elite who receive billions of dollars in subsidies. Ours is decidedly not a party of the corrupt elite, we are from Pakistan’s khalqat, we stand for just rights. We stand for Haq.

We began in 2017 as the Haqooq-e-Khalq Movement. And now we are the Haqooq-e-Khalq Party (HKP).  During the Covid-19 crisis when the toiling masses of our fellow citizens were experiencing ever-intensifying levels of abandonment, we rose to the challenge, organizing food drives, health camps, and vaccine awareness campaigns. We stood arm in arm with doctors, medical students, vaccinators and hospital workers being denied basic equipment and resources they needed to work. In our constituency, Chungi Amar Sidhu, schools reported a 15% drop in enrollment, as the pandemic and economic crisis hit the working families hard. We took action. For many among us are teachers, educators, professors and students. We organized country-wide book drives, mobilized international donations, arranged for scholarships, assembled summer camps, and ran a free evening school for children in need. When access to gas was cut off, especially in the poorer neighborhoods of our cities, we agitated, we started a petition, we raised our voices. When workers were mercilessly laid-off without compensation, we took to the streets. Our people were getting sick, and we arranged for medical camps, free clinics. We traced many of the ailments to water-contamination through tests that our party members organized. Our water-testing program found sewerage contamination of drinking water in 40% of the collected samples in the poorer sectors of Lahore. We have prepared a 500 meticulously collected sample and tests-backed legal case on behalf of residents. 

These achievements were not easy, but we accomplished them. Together. But the road ahead is difficult, and we have a long way to go. While mutual-aid, protests, and public-action litigation are crucial, they can't provide sustainable solutions to issues like crumbling urban infrastructure, unequal access to resources, and shrinking spending power. 

That is why we at HKP are running in the upcoming Punjab Assembly elections from PP-159 Chungi Amar Sidhu. Larger parties may be consumed by their quest for power, but we promise to prioritize basic issues like urban infrastructure, health, education, and fair-wage income opportunities for all, not just the privileged few. 

And dare we say it, with hope, and hope for change in our hearts, that now we have you to count on. Who are we? We are the Haqooq-e-Khalq Party, and we stand up to the injustice and inequality of dynastic politics and business as usual. We stand strong, because you stand with us.  

Why Chungi? 

The dynastic politicians of Pakistan's assemblies hold a disproportionate amount of power and wealth, and their deep pockets allow them to dominate the electoral process. Breaking through this elite stronghold is a daunting challenge, but we have a plan that is reviving hope. With a focus on just one constituency, we are starting small and strengthening support in the working-class neighborhood of Chungi.

Chungi represents the struggles of urban centers across the country. Despite being just a stone's throw away from a wealthy neighborhood, the residents of Chungi are denied the basic infrastructure and resources needed to live with dignity and prosperity. But our fight is not just for Chungi, it's for all urban communities that face similar injustices.

Our decision to contest from Chungi is also strategic. The upcoming elections will be the first time the provincial assembly will be contested on the current map, and this realignment has left larger parties juggling between different political elites vying for candidacy. The incumbent MPA, who lives mostly in Dubai and has changed party affiliation twice over the previous elections, is nowhere on the ground. With our non-stop grassroot organizing, advocacy, and social assistance our campaign here has a real head start.

Chungi has a large working-class population with a long history of union organizing and mobilization, supplying labor to two of Lahore's largest industrial sites. In addition, the neighborhood has a higher-than-average percentage of women in the workforce and educated youth desperate for career opportunities. These groups have become our core supporters, as we believe that our message for equitable cities and support for the vulnerable classes resonate the strongest with them. The everyday struggles faced by residents of Chungi, such as sewage overflow, trash-filled parks and broken roads, only strengthen our resolve to bring change within Chungi that can inspire hope across Pakistan. 

What will the campaign look like?

In a country where big money and dynastics political elites dominate elections, our campaign in Chungi will stand out as a beacon of hope for people far beyond. With a focus on the issues that matter to working families, our campaign will be powered by the energy and passion of volunteers, not wealthy donors.

Our team has been out in the community listening to the concerns of the people of Chungi. We've heard about the challenges of accessing affordable and quality schools, the dangers of sewage-contaminated water, and the lack of good-paying jobs. We've also heard about the unacceptable reality that many families struggle to find proper burial grounds for their loved ones.

These problems are symptoms of a broken system that prioritizes the wealthy over the needs of the working class. That's why we're taking a new approach to politics, one that's driven by the needs of the people, not the desires of the powerful.

This political campaign is a unique combination of seasoned political organizers, data sciences, and strong grassroot movement. Our central constituency office, located in Lahore, will be staffed by experienced political organisers working in coordination with 30 community offices spread across the different wards of Chungi. Each office will be staffed by a team of ten volunteers from both within the community and from Lahore at large. Armed with smartphones, these volunteers will reach out to voters, identify them within their ward, and record important data after each interaction. This data and community driven approach sets us apart from other political parties in Pakistan and will be a critical component in our effort to bring about real change.

With our sights set on bringing about real change, we're harnessing cutting-edge technology to get our message out there and connect with voters. Through targeted social media ads, phone banking, and ad campaigns on local cable networks, we're reaching people where they are and spreading the word about our vision for a better future. And we're not just relying on technology, we're also bringing people together through events and rallies that celebrate the power of community and the promise of a better society. Whether it's jalsas for each ward, women and youth fronts, iftaris during Ramadan, cultural and science melas, or movie screenings for families, our campaign is a celebration of the people and their fight for a more just and equitable society.

How can you help?

Elections in Pakistan are an expensive game, and the wealthy and powerful often control the outcome through their financial might. While we may not have the same amount of money, we’re confident that our People-Driven Political Campaign can outmatch them in spirit, coordination, and dedication. However, to sustain this energy and make our campaign a reality, we still need to raise significant funds and we can't  do this alone. We need the support of those within Pakistan, the diaspora and beyond. 

The diaspora in particular plays an essential role in this endeavor as they not only provide critical financial support, but also a unique perspective and connection to both cultural roots and adopted communities. Their support will not only aid us in reaching our fundraising goal, but also serve as a symbol of unity and solidarity in our mission to bring change to Pakistan’s political landscape.

Here are a few ways you can help:

  1. Donate – Every penny counts. Your contributions will go directly towards funding our campaign and making a difference. It provides us with hope that we are not alone. 

    Contact Shan Ali Khan (Treasurer, HKP USA; Pakistan Solidarity Forum, Coordinator, DMV chapter)
    +1 817-714-3746
    shankhan15@gmail.com
    GoFundMe:  https://www.gofundme.com/f/hkp-campaign-for-pp159
    Venmo:  @shankhan15
    Zelle:  817-714-3746

  1. Support a fundraiser event – We are planning on organizing fundraising concerts and events in various cities across the United States in the first half of March. If you want to be involved with the planning, execution, and promotion of these events please get in touch with Shan Khan (details provided above).

  1. Reach out to your network – If you have contacts who may be interested in supporting our campaign, we can work together to reach out to them. Personal outreach goes a long way in securing support. If you can help us with introduction and share contact information, we would be more than happy to have someone from the team in Lahore call your contacts directly to explain our mission and objectives. 

  1. Call-A-Thon – Join us for a call-a-thon on Zoom where we can all come together and call down our personal contact list to ask for donations. Working together will make this uncomfortable job feel a little better, and we can be a source of motivation for each other. We are fixing dates for call-a-thons that work for everyone. If you want to join please contact: haqooqkhalq@gmail.com

  1. Campus or community events – You can help us raise awareness about our campaign by hosting a conversation or lecture at a college campus, mosque, or community event. We can even coordinate on getting a speaker from the organization to the event, or even have Dr. Ammar Jan join remotely. To organize an event contact: haqooqkhalq@gmail.com

  1. Social media – Help spread the word about our campaign by sharing our posts and updates on social media. We are active on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok 

  1. Volunteer – If you’re passionate about the cause and want to help in other ways, we would love to have you on our team. Fill out the JOIN US form on our website to learn more.