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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Advance the Struggle!: A brief view of the political situation in Pakistan


Published: 06/11/2008 08:54

6-11-08, 8:56 am Although Pakistan has been in continuous state of crisis ever since its creation some 60 years ago, the current stage of the crisis is the deadliest of all. This is not only a political, but also an economic and social crisis. Its intensity was fully revealed on March 9, 2007 when two pillars of the Pakistani state, President Pervez Musharraf and the country’s Chief Justice, Iftihar Muhammad Chaudhry, collided and Chaudry was deposed and detained under house arrest. Following that, when Benazir Bhutto was assassinated on December 27, 2007 the situation virtually went out of control. At that point, the power of the military junta was restricted to its urban strongholds. This was a time when a well-organized revolutionary vanguard could have turned the tide in the country towards revolution. Because of the circumstances in the country, however, this was something that could not transpire. Attention now turned to the elections of February 18, 2008. The Communist Party of Pakistan placed little hope in the mainstream parties which swept to power in these elections, riding a popular wave of discontent and desire for change. We believe that the aspirations of the people will not be honored by the mainstream parties unless the people keep building the pressure on them in the form of sit-ins, marches, demonstrations, etc. But the demonstrations have now almost ground to a halt, and a new establishment is emerging from the ashes of the old.
Additional coverage:
America and its surrogate, Pakistan’s military, along with the European Union, have been working hard to rebuild the establishment once more. Meanwhile, the prices of consumer commodities have sky-rocketed, and the judiciary has not yet been reinstated. To top it all off, power has not been transferred to the representatives of the PML-N (the Pakistan Muslim League), which together with the PPP (Pakistan Peoples Party) won the majority of votes in the election, so the PLM-N has now dropped out of the coalition. At the same time, democratic sections within the PPP have been sidelined, while the PPP and ANP (Awami National Party) are busy forging an alliance with American imperialism and the local political and economic establishment. For its part, the PML-N is preparing the groundwork for the arrival of Middle Eastern capital, while the All-Peoples Democratic Movement (which boycotted the February 18 elections) has been reduced by the mullahs to the status of a "toy" in the hands of the revived establishment. All of this is occurring while the Republican Party of US imperialism is in the final phase of its 8-year rule and is now hurriedly trying to implement its "Greater Middle East" plan. This involves a considerable geographical re-shuffling of regional states, a scenario in which Pakistan, of course, stands to lose. At the current time what should the role be of Pakistan's democratic, leftist, and progressive movement and especially the lawyers' movement? The CPP is convinced that the most urgent thing now needed is to transfer political power to the people’s elected representatives and to restore, by means of legislation, those political and judicial rights which have been repressed. The restoration of the ousted judges, including returning the Chief Justice his November 3, 2007 position, is the litmus test. Food items, especially flour, edible oil, ghee, sugar, beans, rice, and petroleum must be made available at subsidized/reduced prices to the poor. The unemployed must be given honorable employment. To this end, lawyers, professionals, trade unions and peasant unions must rally together under a common banner and begin putting pressure on the military establishment and President’s House. A Long March of the lawyers must target Army General Headquarters (GHQ) and its American mentors. There must be a day-long sit-in at the American Embassy. A prolonged sit-in must also be staged at the President's GHQ Camp Office in Rawalpindi, and it must not disperse until all its demands are endorsed by Parliament. There must also be calls for a nationwide Wheel Jam (transport/truckers strike). The role of the people and democratic forces in countries like ours is not restricted to casting votes and electing a parliament. Our role is also to fight for a parliament that can actually exercise popular sovereignty. Only then can democracy take root in Pakistan.

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