LPP: 'A new Pakistan is emerging'

Statement issued by Labour Party Pakistan (LPP) at a press conference in Lahore addressed by LPP spokesperson Farooq Tariq, in the company of Ammar Ali Jan, LPP Lahore youth secretary, secretary LPP Punjab Imtiaz Choudry, Lahore LPP committee member Rana Ashraf, secretary Carpet Workers' Union Niaz Khan and Kashif Aslam of the Progressive Youth Front. Thanks to Action in Solidarity with Asia and the Pacific for this article. Ammar Ali Jan will be one of several international guests at the the World at a Crossroads conference in Sydney, Australia, April 10-12. For more information, or to book tickets, visit http://www.worldatacrossroads.org.

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March 18, 2009 -- The purpose of this press conference is to present and introduce those heroes of GPO Chowk who played a decisive role in pushing the police back. There are many examples of the bravery that these heroes shown on the day. If the demonstrators at GPO Chowk had been defeated the course of events might have been different.

The activists of LPP played a decisive role in this battle. They fought with police, again and again forcing the police to retreat. They faced hundreds of tear-gas shells. Some of them fainted but returned soon after gaining consciousness. These heroes include Ammar Ali Jan, Kashif Aslam, Rans Ashraf, Sajid Naveed, Niaz Khan and others. The LPP women also showed tremendous acts of bravery during the event.

Setting the record straight

Three political parties were in the forefront during this time, Jamat Islami, the Pakistan Muslim League (PMLN) and the Labour Party Pakistan.

During Long March of the lawyers' movement, the LPP emerged as the fourth-largest political party in terms of arrests. Analysing the arrest of the activists, it becomes clear that after PMLN, Jamat Islami and Tehreek Insaaf, LPP activists were in the line. More than 40 activists were arrested during the five days of the Long March. These arrests were mainly in Karachi, Hyderabad, Faisalabad and Charsada. While police raided the houses of LPP activists in Qasur, Toba Tek Singh, Sheikhupura, Layya, Islamabad, Lahore and Faisalabad.

On the instructions of the LPP leadership, no activist was arrested from their homes. All the arrests were made during demonstrations and rallies. LPP activists resisted the arrests everywhere. In Karachi, LPP leadership was brutally beaten up and women arrested. These arrests made headlines across Pakistan.

Against the arrests, LPP demonstrated in Karachi and Lahore on March 13 despite the threat of more arrests. While in Hyderabad, seven LPP activists were arrested from a demonstration. Dozens of LPP activists were able to enter Islamabad despite all the blockades. They would have demonstrated in Islamabad if the Long March had reached Islamabad.

We are bringing all this to the notice of the people of Pakistan through the media because an impression is being given that only three political parties took part in the lawyers' movement. The LPP has proved in action that the LPP has taken part in the lawyers' movement with all its power. The LPP is organising a special celebration in honour of GPO Chowk heroes.

No secret deals!

The LPP believes that PMLN has changed its attitude towards PPP. Until yesterday, it was using very provocative language against the PPP leadership; now an absolute conciliatory tone is being used.

The LPP demands that the secret talks and deals between the two parties be made public. Governor's rule in Punjab must be lifted immediately.

We demand that interior affairs advisor Rehman Malik resign. He is responsible for all the state repression against political activists. He has destroyed the whole economy by imposing blockades for several days. He must be held accountable for all the state atrocities and arrests. Those killed, tortured and arrested during the two years of the lawyers' movement must be recognised by the state and accordingly compensated.

The LPP demands an investigation of the May 12, 2007, incidents in Karachi. Also the state must take notice of Sahiwal burning of lawyers and other such brutalities. Those responsible must be brought to justice.

PPP hypocrisy

We also demand an investigation of all the arrests, blockades, raids and torture of political activists by the PPP government. We fail to understand how the PPP is celebrating the reinstatement of Chief Justice Iftikhar Choudry. They are distributing sweets. Until March 15, the whole PPP leadership was claiming that the chief justice was being politicised, that it was an issue of one person, that Benazir Bhutto had never promised to reinstate the judges [sacked by dictator Pervez Musharraf], that the judges could not be reinstated without constitutional amendments. The PPP leadership was claiming that most of the judges had been reinstated. Now, the PPP leadership is celebrating and wants everyone to forget what it said and did before March 16. This is sheer hypocrisy. The PPP leadership thinks that masses are fools, but they will be proven wrong with the events unfolding in future.

On March 16, it was an expression of a real mass power. A new Pakistan is emerging, where the centre of power will be the people of Pakistan. We demand the removal of all PCO judges. The privatisation process must be cancelled, the land of military farms be given to the tenants. A minimum wage of 6000 rupees must be implemented everywhere. All the restrictions on trade unions must be lifted. The LPP will send appeals of public interest to chief justice of Pakistan. He must start to take sue motto notices of human rights violations. All the missing persons must be produced. No actions must be taken against any person unlawfully.

The working class of Pakistan has played an important role in the reinstatement of the judges. It is time for the restoration of the people of Pakistan. There must be free services of transport, health, education and a decent wage. All the remnants of Musharraf dictatorship must be removed from everywhere. The LPP will continue to struggle for emancipation of the working class.

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