(Updated Oct. 23) Occupy wave reaches Pakistan

Occupy Karachi march, October 22, 2011. Photo by Comrade Sherbaz.

Occupy Lahore!

By Farooq Tariq

October 19, 2011 -- Left-wing political parties, trade unions, social activists and student groups at a press conference in the Labour Party office invited people to join them in an Occupy Lahore anti-capitalist camp at 1 pm, Nasir Bagh, on October 22. The camp shall continue for at least two days. A program for the camp will be announced soon.

The camp is being set up in solidarity with the worldwide Occupy Movement and the growing unrest among peoples caused by the global economic recession.

Addressing the press conference, Progressive Youth Front representative Ammar Ali Jaan honoured October 15, when the world stood against the capitalist financial system. This unrest has been developing since 2008, as people believed governments would take to task those responsible for causing the global financial crisis.

However, governments gave billions of dollars to bail out financial institutions and corporations at the cost of the masses. In the context of Pakistan, which is facing numerous ordeals like price hikes, electricity and gas shortages, and at a structural level feudalism and capitalism, the security state and there is a global realisation that the system that was preserved by governments has failed us in Pakistan as well and must be overturned.

Lawyer Misha Rehman said, “Very rarely do moments arise when we can get together as a community for dialogue. The purpose of the camp is to provide that space where people can discuss everyday issues, criticise existing systems and find solutions through sustainable engagements.”
“One of the slogans the Occupy movements has taken up is, 'We, the 99% of the world, stand up against the 1%.' We understand that the 99% needs to formulate its political voice and this will be an opportunity for the people to formulate a political voice”, she said.

Workers’ Party Pakistan vice-president Naeem Shakir stated that almost 50 per cent of the general population has been swallowed by impoverishment. “Our view is that this space will give the silenced a voice and the hope is to find a long-term plan and vision for Pakistanis who are suffering at the hands of status quo mainstream parties,” he said. He said, “the camp hopes to encourage people to leave their house and discuss the issues in a progressive environment.”

Part of the Lahore by Anti Capitalist Camp. More than 500 activists participated in the rally, which marched through Mall Road and Anarkali, despite heavy police presence. Police tried to persuade the organisers not to march. The camp continued for a second today on Sunday, October 23. -- Farooq Tariq

Labour Party spokesperson Farooq Tariq appealed to the residents of Lahore and its neighbouring localities to join the camp at Nasir Bagh. He said the National Trade Union Federation, Pakistan Trade Union Federation, railway workers, PTCL, Katchi Abadi alliances, the National Student Federation, Muttahida Labour Federation, the Progressive Youth Forum and other progressive groups have confirmed participation.

The speakers announced discussions were already underway in Islamabad, Karachi, Faisalabad, Mianwali and Okara to hold similar events.

Occupy Karachi

By Nasir Mansoor

October 22, 2011 -- "Humanity can progress and survive only if capitalism and feudalism are abolished."  That was the main theme of today's rally organised by the Anti Capitalist Front (ACF) in Karachi, formed by Labour Party Pakistan, the Communist Party, Awami Party, National Party, Jeay Sindh Mahaz, the Workers Party, Watan Dost Inqalabi Party, National Trade Union Federation, Pakistan Trade Union Federation, Progressive Youth Front, Small Traders Association and many other workers, women, professional and human rights organisations on the initiative of Sindh Progressive Committee.

Hundreds of participants including women, workers, political activists rallied, carrying red flags, banners and portraits of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Che and Comrade Nazir Abbasi, the icons of socialist revolution, chanting slogans against capitalism and feudalism.

The rally was organised in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street campaign and the global anti-capitalist movement that started from the USA and European countries.

The rally started from Regal Chowk and culminated at the Karachi Press Club. Many organisations distributed pamphlets and leaflets on the exploitative nature of capitalism and its worst effects on the lives of millions of working people all over globe, in shape of growing, poverty, unemployment, wars, bloodshed and occupation of countries by imperialist powers.

Speakers said that historically, the capitalist economic system only survived on the sucking of fresh blood of poor nations through exploiting their natural resources and grabbing the surplus value in shape of accumulated capital generated by the working class under the yoke of privately owned means of production.

They further said that the capitalist system was crumbling in its centres, the grave of the brutal economic system was being dug and the current anti-capitalist movement has become the final rites for the burial of capitalism.

The speakers emphasised that the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, World Trade Organization (WTO), Asian Development Bank and so-called globalisation had became the lethal in the hands of capitalism and imperialism to impose anti-people profit and greed-based agendas all over world.

They pledged that workers, oppressed nations and downtrodden masses would unite against the onslaught of capitalism and their local lackeys and soon liberate the world from the yoke of capitalism, free from all kind of exploitation.

The rally was addressed by Akhter Hussain (Workers Party), Nasir Mansoor (Labour Party), Khaliq Junejo (Jeay Sindh Mahaz), Hassan Nasir (Awami Party), Dost Muhammed Chana (Watan Dost Party), Comrade Iqbal (Communist Party), Rafiq Baloch (NTUF), Sajad Zaheer (Progressive Youth Front), Kaneez Fatima, Fareed Awan, Sharaft Ali, B.M Kutti, Manzoor Razi, Manzoor Malah, Zehra Khan, Fahim Zaman and many other prominent trade unionists and human right activists.

Occupy Islamabad!

By Ammar Aziz

October 19, 2011 -- Express Tribune blogs -- For decades, we have heard, and chanted, slogans against the evils of capitalism. We have witnessed the monopolisation of multinational corporates and intensifying ratio of starvation, growing side by side. We have seen so many wars, imposed in the name of peace. We have heard enough lies about the people’s struggle and their achievements of the past. We have watched the world transforming into a global village of miseries, poverty, bloodshed, hunger and oppression. Now, the masses, all over the world, seem to realise the root cause of all the miseries: exploitation of human labour by human. Capitalism is failing. The world is changing!

It is a historical moment for us. The advocates of free-market economy are shaken by the series of protests that, starting from the New York City, have captured the hundreds of cities all over the world. These protests represent the awakening class-consciousness   of the masses that has culminated in the Occupy Wall Street movement. These occupy activists have gathered to change the existing economic inequality of the system. They have always been taught that Marx was wrong in his critique of capitalism. They have realised the empirical evidence of the opposite.

Karl Marx, in the 19th century, had explained the inevitable presence of exploitation as an essential ingredient of capitalism. The German social scientist had proved that, in any society, the exploitation takes place when a few people own all the means of production and the majority, who don’t own anything, are bound to sell their labour to that minor class which accumulates private property. While, the state functions to protect that unequal distribution of wealth, assuring the widening class differences.

The NY Post has referred the Occupy movement as the New York’s "Marxist Epicenter".  It has countered the myth, propagated by the media, that the Occupy activists are a breed of bored, hippie-like folks who are doing some adventurism to seek attention. According to its report, the flags depicting revolutionary icons can be seen everywhere, showing their ideological commitment. Moreover, the "occupiers" openly refer to each other as "comrade", a term used by the left wing worldwide, meaning "friend" or "ally". Their literature openly declares socialism as a cure of all the prevailing problems.

At this historical moment, the Pakistan’s left is reorganising like their counterparts of the West. We have a long history of youth struggle against the dark military regimes. From the Democratic Students Federation’s front "Red Guards" to the lawyer’s movement, our young activists have always stood for the people’s cause. Continuing their legacy of internationalism, Pakistan’s left parties have decided to start anti-capitalist camps, initiating from Lahore, not only for the solidarity for the Occupy Wall Street movement, but also as a continuous struggle to change our indigenous problems. We need to realise the importance of this revolutionary wave. We need to be in the flow. For how long the people will continue to suffer and dream for a better society? The time has come to make those dreams an existing reality. The time has come to reject all the confused liberators. The time has come to chant, "Occupy Islamabad!"

But, unfortunately, the state is not the only thing to occupy, in our case. We are aware that Pakistan suffers from multiple complex issues. We don’t only have the corrupt feudal political families and their huge palaces to occupy; we have millions of minds to occupy which are burning in the flames of religious fanaticism. We have to occupy the rising sectarian mindset of the people. We have to occupy the religious rage to assure peaceful coexistence of everyone. We have to occupy the narcissistic prism and replace it with rationality and realism. We have to occupy the filth of the society and the filth within. And we, the people, can do that! We can do that because we are the 99 per cent!