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Report of the National Conference of the Pakistani Left Opposition of the IMT

posted 6 Apr 2010, 03:37 by aatif khaan   [ updated 6 Apr 2010, 14:58 by Admin uk ]

Report of the ‘Leon Trotsky Confrence’ of the Left Opposition of the Pakistani section of the IMT


The Marxists of the Left Opposition of the Pakistani section of the IMT held their second national conference on 20th and 21st of March 2010. This marvellous conference was the result of the brilliant work comrades have done in the last one and a half years. It would be pertinent to point out that after the split in the summer of 2008, the Left Opposition of the Pakistani Marxists had to face extreme difficulties on different fronts. They were left with no resources, no full timers and no organization. They also had to face an avalanche of propaganda and false allegations from their former comrades. But despite these difficulties and continuous attacks from right and "left" alike, comrades have quickly overcome these problems, proving that with clear ideology, perspective and determination, impossible tasks can be made possible.

This year’s conference was named ‘Leon Trotsky’ in memory of Trotsky’s marvellous revolutionary struggle conducted under extremely difficult conditions. In a similar way to our group of Pakistani Marxists, Trotsky was backstabbed, defamed and viciously slandered by his former comrades. Like Trotsky, the Marxists of Pakistan have tenaciously fought back against all attacks from their enemies and ex-friends. And like Trotsky nothing can break our determination to fight for the socialist transformation of society.

Our Conference took place in the biggest hall in Rawalpindi, the Liaquat auditorium. This is located exactly at the place where Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan’s ex-prime minister and chairperson of the Peoples Party, was murdered. Participation in the Conference was seriously affected because for three consecutive days there were riots on the same road where the conference hall was located. Even until the previous day we were unsure whether we would be able to hold the gathering because the roads were blocked and everywhere there was tear gas, looting and burning. The Pakistani media showed that the entire country had come to a standstill. In particular, the comrades from southern Punjab and the interior of Sindh could not come to the conference because of the uncertainty going on in Islamabad and Pakistan generally.

In spite of all this, 894 comrades registered for both days. The comrades came from all over the country, from Karachi to Kashmir, Pakhtoonkhwa to Baluchistan and for the first time an important group of comrades came from the Gilgit and Baltistan (newly formed province by the present government of the PPP). A particularly significant delegation came from the war-torn areas of Waziristan, Malakand, Dheer and Swat. The most important fact which distinguished this from last year’s conference and all previous conferences of STRUUGLE was that the majority of the comrades came from the organized working class which vindicates the correctness of the ideas and the methods we have adopted, and also demonstrates the success of our intervention in the working class movement.

The workers who participated in this year’s conference came from a wide range of sectors including: Steel Mills, Port Qasim, PIA, paramedical, railways, the Civil Aviation Authority, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, the postal services, the Capital Development Authority, banking and various other private sector areas.

Also attending in good numbers were comrades who belong to: the students and lawyers organizations, the Peoples Students’ Federation, the Pakhtoonkhwa Students’ Federation, JKNSF, JKPSF, the Peoples Lawyers’ Forum and the Peoples Youth Organization. 43 female comrades also participated in the conference which is a significant step forward in a backward society like Pakistan.

A large revolutionary banner was hanging behind the stage calling all the workers of the world to unite.

 

INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVES

 

The First Session was started with a revolutionary poem sung by comrades from the railways. Then comrade Manzoor introduced the international guests. After that the first session on International Perspectives started formally. Comrade Kabir Khan, central coordination secretary of the PTCL (Pakistan Telecommunications Limited) union, introduced the debate on the international economic and political situation. Kabir started with an elaboration of the present crisis and the contradictions of capitalism. He explained that the development of the productive forces and the productive capacity have reached a peak where they are constantly in conflict with the limitations of market and this is causing economic turbulence everywhere. He explained that the real brunt of this crisis had to be faced by the working class and common people of the world rather than the bosses of the banks and big financial institutions which madly gambled with the people’s money. He pointed out that the fiscal stimulus has a very contradictory character. Instead of solving any problems, it is taking entire nations to the brink of collapse. The limitations of the European single currency under a capitalist system have been exposed by the crises in Greece.

We are seeing the biggest attacks on the working class all over the world and all the achievements of the workers of the last 60 years are being snatched away very rapidly. On the one side, the economic crisis is causing havoc in the lives of the people. On the other side, political problems, civil wars and proxy wars are further destabilizing the world. The imminent debacle of American imperialism in Afghanistan will further destabilize South Asia. The balance of power is gradually shifting from the Atlantic to the Pacific and in the coming period China will be a dominant power in world politics and economy.

A vibrant debate ensued where more than fifty questions were asked and three comrades contributed in the debate starting with Heiko Khoo who was attending as an international observer. Heiko outlined how China has lifted 300 million of its citizens out of poverty in the last 30 years. He explained that China is not a capitalist state and remains a transitional society. He informed us that the Chinese communist party has an official membership of more than 76 million and the vast majority of workers look positively on its achievements.

To sum up the debate, comrade Kabir was called onto the stage again. He explained how capitalism is engulfed in a circle of crises. Despite the massive financial stimulus, unemployment is continuously increasing and living standards are falling sharply. In reply to the question on India, he pointed out the extreme disparity not only among the rich and poor in general but also between the states and regions inside India. The war hysteria campaign of both India and Pakistan is a clear example of the brutal hegemony of the military bureaucracy in both countries and is a clear expression of their inability to solve the fundamental problems of society and to live in peace.

On replying to a question on the Iranian movement, Kabir explained that although there is a deep ferment in society in Iran, because of the lack of leadership in the movement so far it is directionless and unable to link up with the Iranian working class.

Kabir pointed to how the big powers have gone mad in their struggle to control natural resources, pushing entire countries and societies into barbarism as is evident from the examples of Iraq, Afghanistan and to some extent Pakistan. He concluded that it has become more imperative than ever to change this system and to establish a world socialist federation where people could live in peace and prosperity and enjoy the real meaning of life.

 

PAKISTAN PERSPECTIVES

 

After an hour’s break, the Conference’s second session on the subject of Pakistan Perspectives was opened by comrade Yasir Khaliq. Yasir brilliantly juxtaposed the contradictions building up inside the Pakistani society. His lead off which lasted for more than two hours was a combination of brilliant oratory and solid content.

Yasir started with the assertion that present day perspectives for Pakistan can only be developed if we try to analyze them in a regional context. He elaborated how the regional powers and the US are involved in vicious proxy wars in Pakistan and Afghanistan which are destabilizing the entire region. Whether America leaves this region or stays here, both scenarios will create a further mess in the region.

The economy of Pakistan is in tatters. He gave some startling figures about the economy: that 49.1% of the total budget goes towards the repayment of loans, 35% goes towards defense and only 15% is left for the rest of government spending. He pointed out that by 2013-14, the proportion of total government revenues for loan repayment is likely to increase to 60%, while the way that defense spending is going on it will be increase by more than 45%. In this scenario Pakistan’s national budget will start with a deficit. Under these conditions Government has no money and is begging for loans and aid from international financial institutions. But the conditions they attach with their loans are causing havoc in the lives of the common people.

Unemployment is on a continuous rise while 80% of the Pakistani population is earning only 160 RS ($2) per day. Inflation is continuing to rise - the prices of basic commodities have increased by 200% in the last five years.

Yasir spoke about the cancer of religious fundamentalism and how the monster of Islamic extremism is killing the already impoverished people. It is destroying the fragile structure of society. Islamic fundamentalism has created a toxic mixture of criminals, gangsters, opium traders and terrorists. Some sections of the army still seem to be supporting the Taliban and think that by using the Taliban they can control Afghanistan. But this is a policy of complete destruction. This madness can only be fought with a clear revolutionary policy which uproots this rotten state, a policy that cannot be limited only to Pakistan.

The national question is getting more and more complicated with every passing day and the rulers and planners of this system have no solutions whatsoever to solve the national problem. The government of the Peoples Party have once again disappointed the millions of poor people who voted to bring it into the power. Yasir warned that the inevitable result of their policy of reconciliation is the murder of their top leaders. But once again the leadership of the Peoples Party have decided not to learn from the mistakes their past leadership have made. He explained the rottenness of the system that is unable to solve very minor problems never mind the big ones. This rottenness is evident at every level and can be felt in every aspect of society. Only through a socialist revolution can these problems can be solved.

Again after Yasir’s lead off, a very healthy debate ensued in which comrades from the big trade unions participated and more than 75 questions were asked. Comrade Manzoor summed up the session and explained that serious conflict is brewing up in different sections of the state. How they are trying to rescue each other now that they see their system is in threat.

Manzoor forcefully argued that over the last thirty years we have seen a constant failure of all aspects of Pakistani society, and how impossible it is to solve the country’s fundamental problems in the present period of capitalist decline. He focused on the importance of taking the message of socialist revolution to the general masses, to the workers and the peasants. He emphasized the need for a revolutionary mass-based socialist alternative which could transform the whole of society, the only possible solution to get out of this present impasse.

After the end of the second session of the conference, youth and trade union commissions took place where concrete objectives were agreed to be achieved in the coming year.

 

TRADE UNION COMMISSION

 

This year’s trade union commission was attended by comrades representing all the big trade unions and industrial institutions of Pakistan. The main focus of discussion was on the formation and objectives of the Peoples Labour Federation. Historically, the Peoples Party never had the organized support of the working class, although working people supported them in the elections. In the past, the rightwing leadership of the Workers Federation have caused many defeats of the working class movement. For the first time, we are forming the Peoples Labour Federation. More than 500 trade unions have already pledged to affiliate to it. The formation of the Peoples Labour Federation has provided a platform through which to organize the working class under one banner and a revolutionary left-wing leadership. It was decided to hold a big conference on the First of May in Rawalpindi. In the coming months, provincial and district level bodies will be formed which will hold continuous study circles to revolutionize the working class in Pakistan and embed them with the ideas of revolutionary socialism.

 

YOUTH COMMISSION

 

The Youth Commission was attended by a large number of students and youth belonging to all the progressive youth and students organizations in the country. Concrete debate took place on the specific subject of how to reach the vast majority of youth and students. In the last year significant achievements have been made by comrades especially in Pakistan’s PSF and JKPSF. The following decisions were taken at the Commission to:

1. Organize study circles in educational institutions

2. Increase recruitment through these study circles

3. Organize monthly Marxist schools at regional and provincial level for cadre building

4. Publish the manifesto of the PSF and organize the students on the basis of their basic rights

5. To form a National Youth Bureau to plan and organize the youth work

After the commissions, a musical programme was staged by the comrades of Pakhtoonkhwa where all the comrades participated actively.

The proceedings of the next day started again with revolutionary poems.

 

ENTRYISM

 

The Third Session on entryism was led off by Comrade Manzoor Ahmed. This issue has been the cause of many of the contentions in the Trotskyist movement over the decades. The issue has become more important as we focus on how best to take revolutionary ideology to the broader layers of the working class.

Manzoor started with the history of the formation of the Peoples Party in the context of the betrayal of the Communist Parties of India and Pakistan. He explained how the two stage theory of the communist parties led to the defeat of the brilliant revolutionary upsurge after the Second World War. In fact the emergence of the Peoples Party out of the movement of 1968-69 came as the result of the betrayal of the communist parties of Pakistan which never understood the revolutionary process and created a vacuum. This was then filled by Z.A. Bhutto who introduced a revolutionary rhetorical programme. Manzoor explained how Bhutto understood the real character of the 1968-69 movement and thus became the leader of that movement. As a result the Peoples Party emerged as the single biggest party of the people of Pakistan and became a reflection of hope for the workers and peasants of Pakistan. Although the character of the tradition in Pakistan is very complex, it has been proven time and time again that whenever the workers and poor people of Pakistan move their first focus is the Peoples Party.1981-1983, 1986, 1993 and 2007, each time when workers entered into a movement, they rallied around the Peoples party

Manzoor explained that in the last 38 years loads of people from right and left had tried to break the Peoples Party without success. He cited the example of Murtaza Bhutto, the elder son of Bhutto, who formed his own party and thought to win the majority of the Peoples Party but had no success.

He gave the example of Shahida Jabeen, a well-known female member of the PPP who spent most of Dictator Zia's tenure in jail and suffered extreme and brutal torture. Her brother was hanged by Zia because of the family’s revolutionary allegiance with the Peoples Party. Because of her record and fame the present day leadership of the Pakistani section of the IMT thought that she could stand in the 1990 elections on an independent basis against a Peoples Party candidate and would win. They boasted that she would win the election with a clear majority. But she suffered a devastating defeat and only received 157 votes out of the registered 300,000 voters. Manzoor opposed the IMT’s policy that they thought they could win an election. This is enough to make us understand how the working class moves and how they behave. He quoted from Ted Grant who always argued that the working class do not take small groups or organizations seriously. Ted said that in Britain, even if they formed a party of few hundred thousand, they would still need to work inside the Labour Party. Even a party of few hundred thousand is a sect not a party.

Manzoor explained in detail that the Peoples Party is a movement which switches to radicalism when there is a working class movement in society. But when there is no movement of the working class, it moves to the extreme right as is the situation of the present day Peoples Party. He explained that by working inside the Peoples Party we can approach the broader layers of the workers and peasants very easily and attract them towards a revolutionary change.

A lively debate started after Manzoor’s lead off, a debate in which various trade unionists contributed and shared their experience of working inside the working class movement and explained how they behaved in different situations. More than 59 questions were asked about entryism, about sectarianism, about how the working class moves and about how to differentiate ourselves from the right wing leaders of the PPP. Comrade Heiko Khoo contributed and briefly outlined the experience of the working class movement in Britain, Germany and China. He emphasized the need to work inside the Communist Party of China which has an official membership of more than 76 million and whom the majority of Chinese people saw as their representing their interests despite corruption and inequality. He explained the difference between entryism in word and entryism in practice. He explained how the wrong policies of the leadership of IMT have hindered growth in the British Section. Their policy of entryism exists only on paper while in practice their approach is that the Labour Party is empty and thus no real work can be done inside it.

An appeal was made for the Fighting Fund and 30,000 Pak RS were collected for the fund.

In his summing up, Manzoor explained that the inability to understand the dynamics of the working class inevitably leads to mistakes and destruction. In replying to a question about what is the tradition of the working class, he replied that tradition is a party which is seen by the working class in its totality, whether rightly or wrongly, as an alternative to their problems. He explained that working people move in different ways and it is necessary to draw important lessons at each stage of the movement. He explained that the relationship of poor people with the Peoples Party has different dimensions and does not move in a straight up or down lane. He emphasized that our orientation of work in the PPP should be determined by the collective consciousness of the working class towards it.

He emphasized that everyone knows inside the Peoples Party, from the co-chairperson to the ward committee members, who are we and what we stand for. We never hide our ideas from anyone. We have opposed all anti-working class policies and policies of privatization. We have openly said at every forum that we are opposed to any sort of privatization and we will oppose it and fight against it both inside the PPP and outside the PPP.

On replying to the question of whether we should defend the PPP in every instance, he said that we will defend the PPP if the attack comes from the state. We will defend the PPP if the attack comes from the fundamentalists. But if the PPP goes into conflict with the working class we will side with the workers and poor people of this country.

He said that a barrage of propaganda and lies has been spread about us and these are increasing. This fact shows how our enemies - a few pseudo-intellectuals and ex-revolutionaries - are scared of our success. We reply to them: keep spreading these slanders against us. We happily accept them. For us they are not slanders. They are medals which arise from our support for the working class. He said it is not a few drawing room intellectuals who will decide whether we are right or wrong. It is the working class. It is our class as a whole which will decide who is right and who is wrong. He explained that our orientation towards the Peoples Party and working class have been correct. This has borne fruit for us and the result is that we have succeeded in managing to hold such a marvellous conference just one and a half years after we were expelled and had to start everything from the scratch. While the people who abandoned the PPP and started to abuse us are reduced to a handful of people who are forming alliances with NGOs, liberals and all sorts of people, and are filling their halls with the support of the NGO mafias and singers. Only by correct ideology and tactics can we win the broader layers of the working class and masses and that is the key for any change in society.

 

ORGANIZATION

The Conference’s Fourth Session was on organization. It was led off by Comrade Shujjaat Kazmi, ex-president of JKNSF, and presently in charge of the Peoples Labour Bureau. He explained the relationship between the revolutionary party and the working class. Why members of the revolutionary organization should be clear and convinced on the ideology of Marxism, as it is the tool which gives insight for comrades to help them fight against this system and all its institutions.

He reported that we now have a big mass influence but this needs to be translated into organizational form. Like some other groups, we do not have any intention to play ‘party party’. Our paper and our Marxist methodology are our two main weapons against all the obstacles we face. If we use these two weapons correctly we will be able to transform ourselves into a broad-based revolutionary tendency. We are not trying to build a discussion club or a group of intellectuals. It is the duty of every comrade to participate in the working class, youth, women and student movements.

 Financial resources are extremely important in building the organization. We have big financial problems because we are a working class organization. It is the duty of every comrade to generate funds from their working class neighborhoods and during this struggle it is only the working class that can help us financially.

In the light of the perspectives we have built about the international and Pakistani situation, we have to take the message of socialist revolution to each and every corner of the country and build a revolutionary alternative which can be trusted by the millions of the poor people of this country. That is the only key to the success of the revolution.

After that a resolution was presented for voting. The text of the resolution was as follows:

"This conference of the Pakistani Marxists extends fraternal greetings to all the members and former members of IMT, and all fellow Marxists around the world. We invite you to enter into correspondence and collaboration in the spirit in the ideas of the Communist Manifesto in order to achieve the victory of the workers of the world."

The resolution was passed unanimously.

Towards the end of the Conference, an international organisational report was presented by comrade Atif Khan.

He congratulated all the comrades in holding such a successful conference despite the extreme obstacles they have been facing and in the face of the barrage of propaganda against them. He explained how the sheer stupidity of the leadership of the IMT is destroying one section after another as they once tried to destroy the Pakistani section. The crisis in the IMT is unfolding in one section after another, from Greece, Spain and Britain in Europe, from Venezuela to Mexico in Latin America, and from Iran to Pakistan in Asia.

The entire hall was astonished and shocked to know that the leadership of the IMT had blatantly refused the request of hundreds of comrades of the Left Opposition of the Pakistani section to form an International Control Commission to investigate the facts. They gave the excuse that they do not have enough time to do this. Yet they recently found time to set up an International Control Commission against Heiko Khoo on false and slanderous personal charges which they had not the slightest evidence to back up. This Commission then spent four months investigating the matter without result. These charges were an obvious substitute for their inability to answer Heiko’s criticism of their perspectives on China. This simple fact is enough to show the extreme degeneration of the leadership of IMT.

Although the present leadership of the IMT tried its best to hide the real situation of the Pakistani section from everyone in the world, it is impossible to hide something for an indefinite period of time from everyone in the present day modern world because of the advancement in the communication technology. They spread huge amount of lies and propaganda against us and all of our requests to disseminate our requests and our letters to all the members of the IEC and to the members of the other sections were utterly rejected. But we spread the information on our own and unlike last year; we have quite a good support among comrades in different sections who agree with our stand. This fact alone explains why the IMT's leadership is so scared and gets furious about using the internet in building the revolutionary organization

Comrade Heiko in his remarks congratulated the work comrades have done despite extreme obstacles and propaganda, and informed them that their work is a source of inspiration for all the comrades around the world. He said that no left organization in Europe can be compared to the work you are doing both on a quantitative and qualitative level. He could see many similarities between this tendency and the work of the Bolsheviks in Russia in their formative years.

The final remarks of the Conference were given by Comrade Manzoor. He emphasized that if we work patiently and persistently, the future would be ours and no reactionary force on this earth can stop us.

All the comrades sung the International and after that entire hall broke out with the slogans of socialist revolution and clapping which lasted for about 10 minutes.


 

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