Observations on Pakistan- Gökçe Şentürk
We, SEP, attended the 38th Congress of the Struggle in Lahore, Pakistan on March 13-14 to gain a new sister organization to our international organization ISL. Pakistan is a country divided into 4 provinces with a population of over 200 million. Pakistan is a country that we can call the paradise of ethnic and religious separations. Although it has been identified with Kashmir, Baluchistan, Pashtunia, national question is not only limited by these regions but spread to almost the entire country.
Lahore, where also the center of The Struggle, is one of the important centers in the capital of Penjab province which constitutes a significant part of the country’s population, we can say that it takes its importance from that point. Islamabad, the center of the official government and the capital city, stands out as the most planned and well-structured city. Karachi is one of the important cities of Sindh province where the industry and the working class are concentrated.
We have had realistic observations on the socio-economic situation in Pakistan, since we stayed in Lahore for about 10 days, and from our conversations with comrades. Trotsky’s theory of uneven and combined development shows itself as if it was written on that streets. We learn that many young people have lost their lives in traffic accidents under the chaos of motorcycles which widely preferred due to the insufficient public transportation. In addition, there is a very serious waste problem. The streets are full of young, old, women and children beggars. And the situation is much worse in Karachi, the streets are almost trashed and there are millions of people who have trouble finding clean water. On the other hand, when this obliqueness is integrated with the class distinction, the picture becomes clearer, the suburbs away from the city centers where the rich live, are planned, less populated and clean. Private colleges from Britain distinguish themselves from the reality of the streets with their high walls and buildings surrounded by them. As a standard indicator in terms of international capitalism, the image of the airport and its region manifests realities of class divisions and how the working class is suffering although they shoulder all the burden of the cities..
When we see the special motor police services copied from Turkey, new subway construction supported by Turkey and Turkey Yunus Emre Cultural Center, it is not that hard to understand Erdoğan’s concept of Pakistani Brotherhood(!) and his plans.
38th Congress after the Death of the Historical Leader Lal Khan:
The Struggle is the leader of the Pakistani socialist left with its deep-rooted tradition. After the country declared independence in 1947, it has had complicated periods in terms of class struggle. Among them, the most important one is the coup against Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the leader of the national developmentalist, reformist Pakistani People’s Party, in 1978, and the bloody Ziya ul Hak dictatorship, which lasted for the next 10 years. The story of The Struggle and Trotskyism in Pakistan begins with the activities of exiled socialists in the Netherlands during the dictatorship period. Thanks to Lal Khan and his comrades, who returned to the country with the death of the dictator in 1988, the tradition has been strongly conveyed until today.
Lal Khan’s struggle, tenacity and revolutionary legacy he left behind, after his death from cancer on February 21 was clearly one of the main highlights of the Congress. In the absence of Lal Khan what we witnessed was a very enthusiastic congress that was held with intense devotion at a time when public activities were stopped due to government pressure and coronavirus outbreak.
During the 2-day congress, the program detailed sessions were held on Pakistan’s perspectives, international perspective, organizational issues and the building of the revolutionary party with the speeches and contributions of many comrades from the different provinces of Pakistan.
We, on behalf of our Party SEP, together with the leader of our sister organization MST from Argentina, Alejandro Bodart, as ISL representatives, conveyed our perspectives at the international session and reiterated our call to fight together before the comrades participating in the congress.
The failure of capitalism to overcome the devastation and crises it has created throughout the world has exposed the material conditions of labor riots throughout 2019. Now, while the coronavirus epidemic has threatened all over the world, the destruction created by the neoliberal model and the collapse of the privatized health system puts forward the necessity of an international revolutionary Marxist organization, that is our historical mission. In this context, our comrades from The Struggle also stated that they will attend ISL’s First World Congress which will be held in September.
Means of Struggle
The Struggle has acquired important political means that can appeal to workers and youth over the years. The working class population of about 50 million people has a serious revolutionary potential in terms of its conditions. There is a situation where 90% of the laborers receive salaries below the minimum wage and the conditions are getting worse due to the inflation and crisis. Pakistan received credit from IMF 22 times, the last one taken by the current government in 2019. Under these conditions unemployment, poses a serious problem as we know very well from Turkey. According to the comrades, there will be millions of new unemployed at the end of this year.
Pakistan Trade Union Defense Campaign (PTUDC) is the worker organization of The Struggle. It was established in the 1990s with the unity of trade unions and labor organizations from different sectors. Unfortunately, due to the preparations for the congress, we could not have the chance to participate and observe the works one-to-one, but as far as we observe from the speeches of the comrades from the different regions on behalf of PTUDC have organizations in important worker centers, mostly from the public sector. Revolutionary Student Front (RSF) countrywide and Jammu Kashmir National Students Federation (JKNSF) in Kashmir are the student organizations of The Struggle and they work together with PTUDC in the context of youth unemployment and futurelessness. The huge protests and mobilizations of students on November 2019 were also organized by our comrades.
Perspective of Socialist World and Prospects
An important point we mentioned in meetings was ethnic-religious polarizations in South Asia as Middle Eastern socialists. In the class struggle, there are material conditions under which the workers can come to the forefront as the subject of history yet again. But the thesis of “clash of civilizations”, which has been the slogan of the ruling class since the 90s, constitutes the biggest weakness in the development of class consciousness against the main enemy of the working people. At this point, building of independent Leninist parties with an internationalist perspective and participating in concrete struggles are critical for the future of the world. Moreover, we observed that this point was also highlighted in the Congress. In 2016, the Struggle had declared a clear break from its long term entrism tactic.
As the Socialist Laborers Party, we demonstrate intense effort and hard work for a revolutionary breakthrough against ethnic-sectarian conflicts. Those artificial polarizations create hell for working class and destroy opportunities which can turn the crisis of capitalism into revolutionary possibilities. In this context, we develop strong relations with comrades from Iran, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Kurdistan region to make the Socialist Middle East perspective tangible.
Pakistan is a realistic candidate for a revolutionary subject to be created in South Asia in a line that extends to Iran, Afghanistan, India and Bangladesh with its advantageous position in terms of its location and history. In the meetings we held, we expressed that we want to develop coordination and solidarity in practice and in theory in order to step forward. In the words of Trotsky, “the historical crisis of humanity is reduced to the crisis of the revolutionary leadership.”.
After the visit to Pakistan, where we returned with good memories and strong comradeship, which we gained the inspiration of our struggle. The red winds that will spread from Latin America to the Middle East and Asia are not far away at all.
Greetings to Bhagat Singh’s Comrades, those who struggle for the spread of Revolutionary Marxism Worldwide!
One solution PERMENANT REVOLUTION!