report from Farooq Sulehria in Pakistan on the latest attack by the military government of Pakistan on the workers movement. The LPP has called for protests against these attacks. Also included below is a report on the demo planned against Clintons visit.
After few hours, the police started raiding the different places to
arrest Farooq Tariq, Shoaib Bhatti and Zafar Awan, the three main
leaders of LPP. They were fortunate enough to avoid the arrests and have
since gone underground.
During the raid on Comrade Farooq Tariq house, hundreds of military men
and police force encircled the whole area. They entered the house
forcefully to search for Farooq despite protest from Shahnaz Iqbal,
partner of Comrade Farooq Tariq. She was alone with her 6 year old
doughtier. They then took one neighbourer Hamayun Rashid in custody and
forced him to point out the houses of all the Labour party members in
the area. Several houses of LPP comrades were raided in the area but
with no success. Hamanyon Rashid was then arrested for few hours and was
released 2 am early in the morning when several national newspapers made
inquires about the arrest.
Labour Party head quarters and the office of the Weekly Mazdoor
Jeddojuhd have been raided several times during last time and now are
under police surveillance. All the major newspapers have reported the
news of the demonstration and few could report about the raids as they
were carried out late night.
Labour Party leaders have gone underground and are in consultation with
their advocates. They have advised them not to be arrested until they
could move to the courts for bails and other remedies still available.
The strong reaction came after LPP was able to organize a very
successful demonstration despite a ban on political activities. They
defied the ban and had announced it before hand in the national media.
LPP leaders had declared that they would not abide by the law, which is
in contradiction of basic human rights.
The raids have once again exposed the real nature of the regime. The
military rulers have tried to give a clean picture when Clinton arrives
in Pakistan on 25th March by forcing the political activists to accept
the military rule.
LPP organized the demo at the time when every single religious group has
welcomed the visit of American President on the pressure of the military
rulers. LPP will organize another meeting at Karachi Press club on 24th
March in collaboration with other Left parties and Trade Unions against
Clinton visit. Comrade Farooq Tariq was the main speaker but would be
unable to travel to this meeting because of the present conditions. But
the meeting will go ahead.
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan general secretary Hina Jelani have
condemned the raids and have declared to give full legal and other
support to Labour Party Pakistan.
By Farooq Sulehria
The Labour Party Pakistan (LPP) organized a protest demonstration on
March 22 outside US Consulate in Lahore against US President Bill
Clinton visit to South Asia including Pakistan.
The demonstration was held in an atmosphere of repression as only three
days earlier, the government had announced a ban on political parties
and strikes. The military dictator, who calls himself Chief Executive,
had given a press statement that the ban was imposed also because of the
LPP had agreed with another left party, Communist Workers Peasant Party
(CMKP), to hold this demo against Clinton visit. But a day before the
demo, after the ban, the CMKP stayed back and did not participate in the
demo. It was mainly out of fear of arrests and police action.
LPP initially decided to hold a token demo with only five comrades but
in the end it decided to go with at least 50 comrades because there were
lot of comrades who wanted to be at the demo. It was the first and only
demo so far on this issue in whole Pakistan by any Left party. Also it
is only LPP that has opposed Clinton visit. Even the big fundamentalists
welcomed Clinton saying Clinton was a guest and Islam taught respect for
guests. These parties did not want to go in contradiction with Army
In India there were hundreds of demonstrations against Clinton visit.
Even In Bangladesh, there were militant demos by students. But in
Pakistan there seemed no opposition apparently, though there is a great
hatred among the masses against US imperialism.
The fear of repression can be gauged from the fact that the press
photographers had reached the party office before the demonstration had
started. They asked to take photographs of the comrades, as they feared
that police would not let the demo held.
Comrades carrying placards went along with press persons to the venue of
demonstration, which was only five minutes, walk from the party office.
Comrades carrying placards with slogans like Clinton Go Back, Killer
Clinton, Killer of Iraqi children, were chanting slogans against US
imperialism. It was a 50-strong demo. But it attracted the passersby.
Some went by flashing V-signs. Others stayed to hear the speeches by LPP
leaders. There was a truckload of police but it did not intervene. There
was a lot on national and international press. This meeting was also the
first demo after the imposition of political activities and strikes.
Speaking at the occasion, LPP chairman, Comrade Shoaib Bhatti said that
Clinton visit was aimed at pushing imperialist economic policies. He
said if implemented, these policies would add to the poverty and
imperialist exploitation of the region. Addressing the demo, LPP general
secretary Farooq Tariq said that Clinton visit was a conspiracy against
the working class of the region. He appealed to the trade unions and
working class of India, Pakistan, and the region to boycott the Clinton
He criticized Jamaati Islami for welcoming Bill Clinton visit of
Pakistan. While the Jammat Islami, is conducting a national referendum
to oppose the CTBT, it is welcoming the main advocate of this treaty. He
said it exposed the hypocrisy of the religious fundamentalists in
Pakistan that they are anti imperialists. Comrade Farooq Tariq said LPP
will jointly hold a demo in London on 23rd March and a public meeting is
being held at Karachi in collaboration with other Left parties on 24th
March. He demanded the military government to go back to the barracks
and fresh elections are immediately held under the committees of workers