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Labour Party Says Socialism Still Practicable

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By Amjad Mahmood

LAHORE, Aug 18: The Labour Party Pakistan thinks that socialism is still practicable and can attract the local masses if left-wing parties raise the slogan of "education , health and employment for all", but the European experiment of bringing about a democratic revolution cannot be practised in the Third World due to the different environment and problems.

The masses have already started paying heed to the leftist message and the depression the Left has been suffering for the last 15 years or so since thedissolution of the USSR is melting away, secretary-general Farooq Tariq claimed in an interview with Dawn.

"More than 5,000 people assembled to hear us on Aug 14 in Lahore. We never got this big an opportunity earlier." Though the Labour Party is comparatively a smaller outfit and only a decade old, it has representation in 38 districts, a mark no other existing socialist group has so far achieved, he adds.

Contradicting assertions of some leftist elements that NGOs are hurting The cause of socialism, he says that these bodies, through their work for Women and minority rights, are rather paving the way for a socialist revolution.

Answering a question about why the European experiment cannot be repeated here, he says Pakistan lacks a working class due to poor industrialization and the state and religion have not been separated. "Ours is a feudal society where tenets are in the firm clutches of landlords, while the foundation of the country is on religion."

Admitting that the leftist movement has never been at mass level in Pakistan, Mr Tariq says its primary reason is state oppression and the ban imposed on communist parties soon after the partition in the garb of Rawalpindi Conspiracy case.

The leftist philosophy was being dictated by Peking (Beijing) and Moscow ignoring the local peculiar environment, he says, adding the classical left also went against popular voice by supporting Gen Ayub Khan and terming the anti-Ayub movement a CIA-funded campaign.

He asserts that the leftist groups lost the golden opportunity of reaching the power corridors by rejecting the late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto as their leader who successfully utilized socialists' slogans and ideas for attracting the masses.

About the political concept his party has for the country, Mr Tariq says that it will be profession and not constituency-based. People related to each profession will be asked to elect their own representatives for National and Provincial Assemblies and local councils. These representatives may be recalled and replaced if they lose confidence of a majority of their respective constituents.

About the economic model practicable in the country, the LPP leader says that "commanding heights of economy" like heavy engineering and utility services will not be kept at the mercy of the private sector. However, the state will also not be allowed to establish its capitalistic monopoly like in the 1970s.

He believes that no revolution can exist for long in an isolated form if it is not exported to other countries. "Marxism is either internationalism or nothing. Though it does not mean losing sight of nationalism."

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