Stop the War

The birth of a new Peace Movement in Pakistan Big Demonstration in Rawalpindi

LPP demo

Thousands of peace activists protested at Rawalpindi today on 6th of November. They demanded an immediate end to American bombing of Afghanistan and demanded, "stop the war!". They also denounced the terror of religious fundamentalism. The Alliance of Peace and Justice organized the rally. This is an aggregate of hundreds of civil society organizations and left wing political parties including the Labour Party of Pakistan.

The protesters gathered at Rawalpindi Press Club and later marched along the main Muree Road. The rally was over a kilometer long with hundreds of banners. Police estimated over 5000 in attendance but according to the organizers of the rally, the number who participated was more than 8000. They came from all over Pakistan including far off places of Baluchistan and Sind. The bulk of the participants came from the North West Frontier Province and Punjab.

The Labour Party Pakistan from Rawalpindi mobilized over 12 coaches with over 500 workers from a working class district where the majority is from the railways.

The demonstration started with slogans of: "US imperialism, stop bombing Afghanistan; Bush, Stop bombing; No to religious terrorism, No to war; Struggle is our path, those with US imperialism are not friends of the people; Stop religious fanaticism; No to military government of Musharaf; We want peace and not war; and War is no solution."

There were many women at the rally who actively participated in this historic peace rally.

Speaking at the end of the rally, the spokesman for the Alliance, Irfan Mufti told that this is the start and we demand an immediate end of US bombing of Afghanistan. He said we have no sympathy with the religious fundamentalists. We are totally opposed to the terror of religious fanatics but we can not side with US imperialism who are bombing indiscriminately Afghan cities. Many innocent citizens have died.

LPP Punjab Council member Bashir Butter from Rawalpindi described the rally as an historic event and the birth of a new peace movement in Pakistan. He called on all the trade unionists to join the Alliance for Peace and Justice to have a broader alliance of progressive forces of Pakistan.

After the rally, speaking to a public meeting at Rawalpindi press Club, LPP general secretary Farooq Tariq said that we have broken the monopoly of the religious fundamentalists who are in the streets against the bombing of US on Afghanistan. "These fundamentalist are a by-product of US imperialism and are not in the street for peace, they are in the streets for more war and terror against innocent citizens. Their rallies are not peace rallies but rallies for more bloodshed. This is the first major peace rally in Pakistan. We condemn them both. We want to defeat US imperialism but we can not do that siding with the religious fundamentalists. We must build an independent peace movement," Farooq Tariq told the rally participants. He said we will organize more rallies across Pakistan. Only a peace movement in Pakistan and internationally can stop the onslaught of US imperialism, he said. Farooq Tariq said that US imperialism is the world’s number one terrorist power and has been promoting the terrorists across the world. We, the working class of Pakistan, will build an international solidarity movement to defeat the religious fanatics and US imperialism, he said.

The rally ended peacefully. It has given a lot of encouragement to all those who participated in the rally that something can be done and we have to get united.

By Amir Suhail

LPP Lahore information secretary

www.labourpakistan.org.

Financial help is very necessary and should be send to:

Education Foundation Donations Foreign currency account (US Dollars) Account number 1161774808090 Standard Grindlays Bank, Gulberg Branch Main Boulevard, Gulberg, Lahore, Pakistan

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