left movement in Pakistan traces its origins in the Indian communist
movement, which, in turn draws its inspiration from the Russian
revolutions of 1905 and particularly that of October 1917. Lenin
himself developed a great interest in India. And long before Lenin,
Karl Marx had also shown a great interest in what he called 'an
interesting country' and a 'good future ally'. He wrote quite a
few articles on the Indian subcontinent especially during the 1857
war of independence, which ended in defeat.
strengthened and consolidated the imperialist basis for a century
to follow. An era of imperialist exploitation, plunder and repression
had begun. However, the exploitation and plunder requiring an
industrial base and an infrastructure also gave birth to a vast
proletariat. Intensified exploitation also generated resistance
by the peasantry. Early in the 20th century, trade unions and
strikes started appearing while the biggest provinces of Punjab
and Bengal were in total revolt as the peasantry had rose up against
imperialist Britain's exploitation.
who went in exile had also established contacts with their European
comrades. It was through these contacts that Russian revolution
of 1905 had shown a new way forward to Indian revolutionaries.
In 1911 these
exiled revolutionaries formed Kairti Kissan Party in the USA.
Soon it had established itself in the USA, Canada and Europe.The
Russian revolution of October 1917 also shook India. In 1920,
the Communist Party of India (CPI) was formed, it's leader M..N.
Roy participated in the meetings of Third International and played
a revolutionary role. In 1934, the CPI was banned because of its
rapidly spreading influence. Its popularity had scared the imperialism.
The ban did not prove any hurdle in spreading the communist ideas.
Communists still worked tirelessly under different umbrella organisations.
the Third International under the leadership of Stalin had gone
through a whole period of degeneration. From the 'Third Period'
to 'Popular Fronts' and from a non-aggression accord with Hitler
to an alliance with the Allies, the Comintern had taken many somersaults.
A total degeneration of Soviet Russian bureaucratic clique manifested
itself in its bankrupt theory of 'socialism in one country' and
the 'two-stage theory of revolution'.
The CPI blindly
followed the Stalinist line betraying both the Indian proletariat
and the revolution. When World War-II began, the CPI opposed it
until Stalin signed an accord with the Allies.
The CPI refused
to lead the fight against British imperialism, firstly because
Stalin had become an ally of the Allies; and secondly, according
to the 'two-stage theory'; India had yet to undergo the Bourgeois
Democratic Revolution under the leadership of the Indian bourgeoisie.
On the other
hand, teeming millions of youth, revolutionaries and freedom fighters
were offering heroic sacrifice to rid their homeland of British
imperialism. From 1940 to 1945, ten thousand freedom fighters
were martyred; tens of thousands were sent behind bars while tens
of thousands were flogged.But for the CPI these freedom fighters
were 'fifth columnists'.
the year of revolution. The Indian subcontinent was in total revolt.
Mass uprisings, strikes and a mood of revolt across the Indian
subcontinent marked the beginning of 1946. The proletariat was
leading the revolt. On February 10, navy sailors went on strike.
To show their solidarity with the sailors, the workers of Royal
Air Force went on strike.
On March 1,
Sepoys revolted in Jaipur. On March 18, in Dera Doon, Gorka Sepoys
Karachi, Bombay, Madras and many other cities were in the grip
of general strike. On April 3, the Delhi Police, the police in
the entire province of Bihar, also revolted. The month of May
witnessed the strike observed by 100 thousand rail and postal
workers. On 23rd May, 400, 000 industrial workers joined this
strike as well. During this wave of strikes, the CPI was playing
the role of strike-breaker.
any lesson from the defeated revolutions of China (1925-27) and
Spain (1934 - 37), the CPI remained blindly committed to the Stalinist
'two-stage theory' in the hope of a Bourgeois Democratic Revolution
which never came.
blunder coupled with a shameful alliance with British imperialism
alienated the CPI form the working class. Both were going in opposite
directions. This state of affairs benefited Congress and the muslim
League. They led the revolt and a movement that could end the
imperialism as well as the capitalism and feudalism, but it proved
only to be a movement of national liberation.
millions paid a heavy price for CPI's blunders. Not merely the
chance of class liberation had been missed but the Indian subcontinent
was plunged into bloodshed. History witnessed the biggest riots
and even biggest migrations leaving behind indelible stains of
blood. In 1947, the British left India. The CPI supported the
partition and ordered its Muslim cadres to migrate to Pakistan.
The Left Movement
Party of Pakistan (CPP) not only inherited cadre from CPI but
the ideological legacy as well, i.e. the 'two-stage theory' of
revolution. Following their theory, they joined the Muslim League.
In the Muslim League,they supported the bourgeoisie against the
feudal lords. But the Muslim League was and had always been a
party of the Muslim feudalists. These feudals soon managed to
rid their party of these 'infiltrators'. Their purges drove the
CPP to another extreme. Instead of organizing the working class
for a revolution, it sought a shortcut - a coup. Here too the
CPP depended on a liberal section of the bourgeoisie in the persons
of Gen. Akbar and his mother-in-law, Begum Shahnawaz. They discussed
a coup plan with the General.
attempt, known as the Rawalpindi conspiracy case, was only a discussion
and it was unearthed in 1951 before it was executed. The government
banned the CPP along with its student and trade union wings. At
the time of the ban, it had a membership of 200. Following this
ban; the CPP members formed the Azad Pakistan Party. A radical
nationalist, Mian Iftikhar-ud-Din, led this party. In 1957, Azad
Pakistan Party merged with some other so-called liberal progressive
groups to form the National Awami Party (NAP). The NAP had a reformist
program instead of a revolutionary one.
secularism, regional autonomy and industrialization, were the
key features of its program. After merger, the communists dissolved
their independent identity and did not organize any class movement
In 1958, as
the capitalist crisis worsened, the workers took to the streets.
A working class movement had begun across Pakistan. It also affected
the peasantry. In the same year the NAP leader Maulana Bhashani
(who then belonged to East Pakistan, now Bangla Desh) formed an
All Pakistan Peasants Association (Kull Pakistan Kissan Association).
A working class movement began in Lahore that gripped the whole
country. To crush this movement, Gen.Ayub imposed a martial law
on October 26, 1958.
Conflict and its impact on the Pakistan left.The avoidance of
class struggle and Marxism was the reason behind Sino-Russian
bureaucratic conflict. From 1956 onwards, the Sino-Russian conflict
became grave. This conflict was a set back to the international
working-class movement, disillusioning a mass of conscious working-class
fighters. But it also divided the working class as a whole.
bureaucratic deformations, the Chinese revolution of 1949, because
of its success to end feudalism and capitalism, had a great attraction
for the colonial world. The Chinese revolution proved contagious
for Pakistan. How could it be otherwise for Pakistan had common
frontiers? Maoism attracted a big chunk of workers, youth, intelligentsia
One big reason
for the tilt towards Maoism was an aversion against Stalinism's
impotent 'two-stage theory' that was stopping the Pakistani left
from striking for revolution at a time when revolution was a battle
cry.However, the Chinese bureaucracy was no different from the
Russian one. It also had its own priorities and ideological deformations.
The preceding years exposed the real character of the Chinese
bureaucracy. It gave a big support to military dictator General
(later on a self-appointed Field Marshal) Ayub Khan. In 1965,
Chau En-lai congratulated Ayub Khan on his success in the sham
election was not even based on adult franchise but on `Basic Democracy'.
A few thousand so-called elected representations of local bodies
had to elect the president. Ne Chu, head of a visiting trade delegation,
also termed the military dictator Ayub Khan as the people's representative.When
a war broke out between India and Pakistan, the same year i.e.
1965, it was termed a people's war by the Chinese bureaucracy,
which gave full support to Ayub Khan's dictatorship and Pakistani
of the Peoples Army, Chun Lee, visited Pakistan after the war,
he made a mockery of communist democracy, terming Ayub Khan's
system of Basic Democracy akin to the commune system.
Maoists started supporting the military dictator Ayub Khan. They
also declared Ayub Khan's foreign policy as progressive utterly
forgetting the Marxist point of view on foreign policy that foreign
policy is mere a continuation of a government's internal policy.
The ruling classes adopt certain foreign policies, and for that
matter internal policies, in order to safeguard and prolong their
Marshall Lee also termed India as an 'aggressor', not bothering
to elaborate if he was referring to the Indian ruling class or
the Indian working class.
In 1967, a
trade delegation from China visited Pakistan. The statement given
by the head of the delegation is interesting reading. He said:
"Led by General Ayub Khan, Pakistan has made a great development
in the fields of
agriculture as well as industry. The day is not far when Pakistan
will achieve total economic independence" (Pakistan Times
29-10-2020). The policies of class collaboration that the Chinese
bureaucracy had adopted were nakedly manifest in Pakistan during
this period. The Russian bureaucracy meantime was not playing
any radical role either. It was supporting the Indian bourgeois.
line for a Pro-Moscow left during this period could be gauged
from an extract from a party-organ monthly Outlook. In its issue
of April 1964 is: "Our newly emerging bourgeois will come
in conflict with the international bourgeois. Driven by economic
compulsions, Habib Ullahs, Sehgals and Walikas will have to turn
to socialist block for trade. This process will end western monopoly
on our economics. This is where we are heading for. And I will
be the biggest idiot if I oppose General Ayub for this door opening
towards left". (Outlook 25-4-2020).
question, the same issue suggests that had masses been conscious,the
basic democracies could become training institutions for soviets.
The pro-Moscow left dissolved itself in so-called liberal, progressive
bourgeois parties. The left itself remained divided into Pro-Moscow
and Pro-Beijing wings. The former would support one section of
the bourgeoisie, terming it progressive while latter would support
the other section of the bourgeois terming that as progressive.
The left during
this period failed to see the unprecedented economic growth internationally.
The post -World War II boom also affected Pakistan. A process
of significant industrialization had begun in a big way for the
first time, giving birth to its gravedigger - the proletariat.
The left during
this period, instead of organizing and associating itself with
the new layer of the proletariat was hunting progressives to support
among the bourgeoisie. Its flirtation with the working class was
confided only to sloganeering. That was why when a revolutionary
movement, the first of its kind, began in 1968-69 in Pakistan
- and many explosive revolutionary events swept away the military
dictatorship which had made dictator Ayub the richest president
of the poorest country - the left was taken aback.
movement of 1968-69 and the Left: During this movement that went
on for few months, two parallel powers were in operation. On the
one hand, workers and peasants were controlling the country. On
the other hand, due to the absence of proletariat leadership,
the bourgeoisie was in control of the state apparatus.
had begun as a protest against a hike in the price of sugar. The
students joined this protest. A student of Rawalpindi Polytechnic
College,Abdul Hameed, was shot dead in a protest demonstration.
This spark ignited the whole society. Now the proletariat joined
the movement. The workers were taking over the mills and factories,
the peasantry had risen up, and strike committees had appeared
controlling the cities.
In the industrial district of Faisalabad, the district administration
had to seek the permission of local Labour leader Mukhtar Rana
for the supply of goods through trucks. All censorship had failed.
Trains were carrying the revolutionary messages across the country.
Workers had invented new methods of communication. It was all
a new phenomenon. But it had not come from the heavens. It was
the industrialization, exploitation and oppression widening the
gulf between rich and poor which brought this change. In the 1960s,
the ruling classes had intensified their plunder. For example
in 1965, according to Delhi-based weekly Links, Ayub family's
assets were estimated at Rs. 250 million. It did not include the
wealth transferred abroad in foreign banks (Links 19-5-2020).
the 22 families owned 66 per cent of industrial capital, 80 per
cent of banking, and 97 per cent of insurance business. In contrast,
the average monthly income of a working-class family was Rs. 780.
In 1967, Railway
workers were the first to take action, going on strike. This was
an important strike, for three reasons:
1) The official union had opposed the industrial action.
2) The un-official union controlled by communists had also opposed
it since they were supporting 'anti-imperialist' Ayub Khan.
3) Railway workers formed workers committees and started their
resorted to all kinds of repression but it had to grant some of
the demands before the strike was called off.
class, peasantry and students all were in total revolt. But the
left still caught up in its 'Two-stage theory', was dreaming of
Bourgeois Democratic Revolution led by progressive bourgeois.
Muzafar Ahmad, a communist leader of National Awami Party (NAP)
explains the left's position in Outlook. He said when he talked
of favorable objective conditions; he in fact did not mean objective
socialism but bourgeois democracy. 'Consciousness in Pakistan
is in no way socialist therefore revolution must pass through
stages', he adds. 'We definitely need a revolutionary party but
in the next stage', he concluded.
of Pakistan Peoples Party and the Left: The Pakistan Peoples Party
(PPP) was formed on September 1, 1967. Its program was radical
socialist and a communist leader, J-A Rahim, had written its basic
manifesto. Meantime, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto appeared in political
arena as a challenge to the Ayub dictatorship. The communists
(both Stalinists and Maoists) were supporting the Ayub dictatorship
while Bhutto was representing the masses' feelings.
a feudal lord from Sindh, had been a foreign minister in the Ayub
Cabinet. Being an intelligent bourgeois politician, he raised
the slogan of socialism and joined hands with some leftists to
form the PPP. When the Ayub dictatorship started targeting Bhutto,
he became a symbol of resistance,
strengthening his popularity and his grip on the party. In fact,
the PPP's popularity was a sequel to 1968-69 revolutionary movements.
to the 1970s first ever-general election on adult franchise-basis,
the masses had joined this party because of its socialist program.
The Labour leaders who became powerful and strong because of the
1968's movement joined this party.
left as usual failed to understand the unfolding events. They
found a radical bourgeois in Bhutto and started supporting Bhutto.
Instead of organizing and launching class struggle, the left developed
working class' illusions in Bhutto and the PPP. They reconciled
with feudals and capitalists in the PPP and even presented them
as leaders. Hence the PPP became a working-class party with feudals
as its leaders who used socialist sloganeering. Instead of organizing
the PPP on a radical socialist program, it was organized on bourgeois
democratic basis, which led to a right wing turn by the party.
It was again their ideology that stopped left organizing the PPP
on revolutionary basis. The left, again, was working in Pakistan
in line with the foreign policy of Moscow and Beijing.
When the PPP
came to power in 1972, many communists joined the government.However,
the PPP did not bring about any fundamental change, save some
radical reforms. This disillusioned the working class. The proletariat
took to the streets during the period of May-Sept 1972. The movement
was especially strong in Karachi. The government decided to crush
the movement. A demonstration of workers was fired on in Landhi,
Karachi leaving dozens dead. This angered the communists who had
joined this government. Some of them resigned in protest. Perhaps
they had forgotten the fact that capitalist governments, no matter
how at times radical they may appear, always repress the proletariat.
by Bhutto and the PPP, the left went looking for other more progressive
bourgeois figures, leaving the working class, having illusions
in PPP, at the mercy of its feudal and capitalist leaders.
The left failed
to offer any alternative during this period. Hence when disillusionment
grew, it was right wing religious fanatics and reactionary forces
that became an alternative to the PPP. In 1977, a movement began
against the government spurred by economic conditions and US intervention.
he left did not understand the nature of the movement nor did
it analyze the nature of the movement's leadership.
The left termed
it a movement for democratic liberties and urged the working class
to join it. In a statement from Hyderabad Jail on April 12, 2020
Miraj Mohammad Khan, Sher Mohammad Marri and Ata Ullah Mengal
said: "We appeal to the workers, peasants, students, intellectuals
and toiling masses to join the ongoing peoples movement which
is a movement of democratic liberties. We believe this movement
will rid our motherland of the dictatorship."
to rid 'our motherland' of 'dictatorship' through religious fundamentalists.
Labelling the Bhutto regime as a dictatorship was incorrect, both
socially and politically. And the hope of democracy from religious
fanatics backed by the USA - was irrational.
analysis and hopes were soon dashed to ground when in 1977 a real
military dictatorship 'rid' the motherland of Bhutto's 'dictatorship'.It
was the left that suffered worst of all during this military regime
General Zia Ul Haq.
The left in
were the years of resistance against dictatorship. The proletariat
offered heroic resistance and an unprecedented fight back. For
the left it was a decade of mergers and alliances. Bhutto was
hanged in 1979 showing that the bourgeoisie wouldn't tolerate
even some reforms and that imperialism will go to any length to
crush the working-class movement. Bhutto's hanging once again
popularized the PPP and it became a symbol of resistance against
dictatorship. A united front - the Movement for Restoration of
Democracy (MRD), was formed. The PPP, right wing, liberal and
left all joined hands on this platform.
A united front
against dictatorship is not a wrong policy, but the left, instead
of presenting a transitional program and linking it up with socialist
program, reduced it to social democratic demands.
By this time
Communist Party (Stalinist), Workers Peasant Party (MKP a Maoist
party) and Socialist Party (a Stalinist party) had some good mass
bases in different areas. But they never used their bases to launch
an independent and organized struggle.
question during this period became even sharper because of ruthless
oppression of the regime in Sindh, NWFP, and Balochistan. But
the left failed to take a Leninist stand on the national question
because the Leninist stand on national question was not Moscow's
In 1986, the
Pakistan National Party, a faction of the MKP, National Democratic
Party and Awami Tehrik, merged to form the Awami National Party.
It was again an attempt at a class collaborationist alliance with
illusions in the bourgeoisie. Bourgeois nationalist leaders were
the main leaders of the new party. Soon the Pakistan National
Party dissociated itself from the new merger followed by Awami
Tehrik and a section of the MKP.
In 1987 the
Qaumi Inqlabi Party (QIP) was formed, again as a result of mergers
among different left and bourgeois nationalist parties. However,
after one year it disbanded. In 1988, Qaumi Mahaz-e-Azadi and
Workers Party Awami Jomhori Party (AJP) merged. But hardly a few
months had passed, when, on the eve of 1988 general election,
the merger split. The Qaumi Mahaz-e-Azadi led by Meraj Mohammad
Khan left the party. The issue was: should AJP support Benazir
or Nawaz Sharif?
In 1986 a
new element entered the politics of the Pakistani left - it was
the Struggle Group, a group of activists who called themselves
supporters of the monthly publication, Mazdoor Jeddojuhd. The
Struggle Group formed in 1980 in the Netherlands, had an entrist
policy, working inside the PPP, since it was a period of fight
back for democracy and because the working class had many illusions
in the PPP. In 1986, the main leadership ended exile, as there
were limited liberties available now under military dictatorship,
and returned to Pakistan.
of Stalinism in the Soviet Union shattered the Pakistani left.It
almost disappeared. Meantime, the military regime came to an end
following a military leaving Gen. Zia and others on board dead.
Fresh elections were held in 1988. Benazir came to power but she
badly disillusioned the working class. Disillusionment with the
PPP and the break-up of the USSR generated feelings of hopelessness
and desperation. The stalinist left in Pakistan, as elsewhere
in world, turned to social democracy. The early 1990's were a
period of counter-revolutionary consciousness in Pakistan giving
birth to the rise of fundamentalism.
Group, however, did not loose faith in the ideals of socialism.It
ended the entrist policy in view of its correct perspective that
working class would leave the PPP from now on and an alternative
should be built. To build this alternative party, it launched
Jeddojuhd Inqlabi Tehrik (JIT) in 1993. The JIT was a movement
for the formation of a workers party by the trade union movement.
In 1997, after some success, it formed the Labour Party Pakistan.
parties by now had shrunk to small groups. For the sake of survival
the Communist Party and MKP merged in 1997 to form Communist Mazdoor
Kissan Party (CMKP), which again, split recently.
On June 3, 2020 another three parties, the Awami Jamhoori Party,
the Pakistan National Party and the Socialist Party, merged to
form the National Workers Party (NWP).
and NWP still believe in Bourgeois Democratic Program while NWP
has adopted a program far from a revolutionary program. At present
the LPP, CMKP and NWP are the three main parties. Besides these
three, there are some left groups having no influence. However,
none of the left parties has a mass basis. The left as a whole
is hardly recognized as a force at present in Pakistan. However,
the Labour Party of Pakistan, LPP, has achieved some success since
its formation in building a semi-mass base in the interior-Sindh.
a big gap on the left. The LPP is successfully filling the gap.
it has a membership of over 1500 but it is not a very consolidated
membership. Future down sizing, privatization, poverty and ever
increasing joblessness will make workers take to the streets.
The left will get a big
chance to organize these radicalized masses. But at the same time
fundamentalists may appear as a big danger as they are more organized