A large number of
women activists took out a peace rally at Lahore today on 25th
September. They chanted slogan against terrorism and religious
fundamentalism and warned America not to bomb the Afghan cities.
The rally was
organized by Women Workers Help Line in collaboration with Labour
Party Pakistan and Joint Action Committee for Peoples Rights. Many
activists from several civil society organizations also
participated in the rally. Before the rally, over 500 working
class women gathered at Press Club building to participated in a
Women Convention to discuss the problems facing working women.
This was one of the largest mobilizations of working class women
by any organization in recent times.
Speaking at the Women Convention, Asma Jahangir, the former
chairperson of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan termed this
large mobilization of women as the new movement to fight a case in
a country dominated by religious
fundamentalism. She said that women are seen shoes of men, which
he will wear at his will. We are not shoes of the men; we are
equal citizen of this country and will fight for equality. The
women are normally told not to go our, not to work, and to fight
for equal rights. We will challenge all these reactionary phrases
of the Mullahs.
Commenting on the present situation, she said we do not need an
advice from US to fight against terrorism. As victims of terrorism
for long time, we know it very well what does it mean to humanity.
We have all the sympathies with the victims of the September 11th
victims. But we do not want more bloodshed of innocent people. We
do not want Afghan and Pakistan innocent people to be victim of
another war on the name of curbing terrorism. No terrorism against
terrorism. It solves nothing, she declared.
Speaking on the occasion, Farooq Tariq, general secretary Labour
Party Pakistan congratulated the WWHL for organizing such a
massive mobilization of working class women. He said that working
class women are looking for
organization where they could fight for their right. Here is WWHL,
which has become the pole of attraction for many such persons. He
said we are very well aware of the backward cultural traditions on
the name of religion, which prohibit women to go to jobs. The
working women face much harassment at the jobs. They are not paid
equal wages. He gave the example of a factory in his area where
women workers are paid only Rupees 1000 ($15) a month. While the
female teachers at private schools are paid even less than this.
His is a slave labor and we must fight against it.
He told the charged audience that it was Talbaan regime, which has
banned the women to go the jobs. Religious fanaticism is an enemy
and we must fight together as a movement. He said that we have
always opposed the regime
of Talbaan but the military regime, which has been funding this
brutal regime recently, found out that they must oppose it as
well. This was the result of the American pressure on the military
regime. He condemned the Bush statement that either you are with
us or with terrorist. We are opposing the both. They both are
representing terrorism in one way or other. We are against
terrorism any kind. We are building a new movement, A movement of
peace and equality. He told the Women Convention do sit back, join
the LPP alongside with WWHL.
On the occasion, Azra Shad, the convener of WWHL, Romana Shabnam,
a city counselor, Nazli Javed and Balaghat Batool, union
counselors, Shahtaj Qazalbash of Joint Action Committee for
Peoples Rights Asim Akhtar of
Federation of kachi Abadies spoke as well and explained the
different angels of the struggle of working class women.
After the meeting, several more representatives of the civil
societies organization including South Asia Partnership, SEMORG,
Shirkat Ghah, Women Foundation, Lok Rehs, AGHS and several more
joined the meeting to take out the
The peace rally participants were carrying the placards with the
slogan of NO to Terrorism and NO to War. They were raising slogans
against the religious fanatics and against the possible bombing of
Afghanistan. It was predominantly women participating in the
rally. There were all the national and international media to
cover this first rally by the progressive forces against the war
A lot of police was present but did not intervene to stop the
rally. Although the rally was in violation of section 144 which
has banned all rallies by the military regime of Pakistan. At the
end of rally Asma Jahangir and Farooq Tariq spoke again to explain
their views and thanked the participants.
It was announced at the time that there would be a five-day peace
camping at the main Mall Road of Lahore at Charring Cross from
26th September from 5 to 8pm every day.
Report by Rizwan Atta