against Taliban and military operations
This is a formal appeal by the Labor Relief
Campaign to help in the fight against Taliban and military operations.
The purpose is to provide immediate help to some of the more than 1.5
million internally displaced people from the Malakand Division of the
North West Frontier Province (NWFP) in Pakistan. This displacement has
resulted from the fight between the Taliban and the Pakistani
government. We also aim to publish Mazdoor Jeddojuhd in the
Pushto language more frequently. At present it is published weekly in
Urdu and monthly in Pushto. We want to counter the ideas both of
religious fanatics and state repression. We aim to aid the labour and
social movements in the province by publishing their activities and
views, bringing them together to form new networks.
The Taliban have taken over parts of Pakistan.
They have threatened to occupy other parts as well. To pacify them, the
government went into an accord with the Taliban this April, imposing a
so-called Nizam Adl (system of justice) in Malakanad. The Taliban then
imposed medieval laws in the areas under their control, targetingh women
and minorities. This accord also provided the Taliban with the
opportunity to move into other areas.
Then the government went to another the
opposite extreme and launched a military operation. This then resulted
in an unprecedented influx of refugees into different part of the
country. The army says that the operation is meant to wipe out religious
fanatics and it will take time. But the religious fanatics are holding
on and in fact are spreading all over Pakistan.
A military solution cannot eliminate the
fanatics. On the contrary, it will help them to spread their ideas. The
Taliban lost power in Afghanistan after NATO forces occupied in 2001.
However, with a few years they re-emerged in Pakistan and later
re-emerged in Afghanistan. The situation is very complex.
The military operation in Swat covers up the
reality that the Pakistan military considers the Taliban an asset and is
not willing to sacrifice that asset to please the USA. While army is
flushing the Taliban out of Swat, the Jihadi-infrastructure (training
camps, seminaries, newspapers, charities; the fronts for the Taliban)
remain intact in other parts of the country.
The scale of the insurgency is exacerbated by
the 1.5 million people now living and festering in underfunded refugee
camps or inadequate and temporary housing, devoid of gainful employment.
This displacement does not engender confidence in the capacity of the
Pakistani state to solve their problems.
Another major problem is the U.S. drone
attacks. Over 700 people have been killed since 2006, with 164 killed in
14 attacks under Obama's watch. These drone attacks are further fueling
The US/NATO occupation of Afghanistan is
detrimental to the overall stability of the NWFP.
Our Perspective &
The fight against religious extremism can only
be successful when the basic problems of the working class in social,
political and economic fields are solved. In addition to developing a
system of free education with a secular syllabus for all, this means an
end to feudalism, implementation of land reform and an end to the U.S.
occupation of Afghanistan. Our strategy is to fight the fanatics with
local defense committees.
Both the Taliban and the military are
destructive. We must support neither military action nor the Taliban.
Our position is more radical than simply working for humanitarian help
for the internally displaced persons (IDPs), although this work is
absolutely essential. It is more than condemning, on the basis of
sovereignty, the drone attacks and the civilian casualties that result
from them. We are unequivocally opposed to the war because a military
campaign like this will guarantee the violation of human rights for
generations to come.
One of the main aspects of our campaign is to
intensify the ideological campaign against the growing influence of
Taliban. Our strategy is to build and strengthen the labour and social
organization in the areas dominated by the Taliban. Since 2004 we have
been able to build significant forces of labour, women and peasants in
progressive organizations. A proper office, set up in 2004 in Murdan,
has played a pivotal role in organizing progressive activities,
primarily of women, in different parts of NWFP. Several new trade unions
and peasant organizations have been set up and many more were brought
together to help each other and unite around one common platform.
In the beginning the most significant development was the
printing of Mazdoor Jeddojuhd in Pushto, the local language in
the NWFP. The paper began on a voluntary basis with over 200 poets,
writers, trade union, social and women activists lending their support.
This is the first progressive Pushto paper of the trade unions and
progressive writers. Five editions have been printed and are available
on line (www.jeddojuhud.com).
This is one concrete way to counter the
religious fanatics in the language the majority of the Pukhtoon working
class can read. It is imperative
to increase the number of Pushto editions.
The Taliban has become a great danger to our
existence and must be opposed. Although some progressive currents have
called them anti-imperialists, they are like neo-fascists. Now the
general public is turning against the Taliban. The swing in the public's
perception was catalyzed by a video showing the Taliban whipping a girl,
shocking Pakistanis. However Taliban spokesperson Muslim Khan defended
the punishment and asserted that the girl should have been stoned.
What is Labor
Relief Campaign (LRC)?
After the devastating earthquake in Kashmir
and other areas in October 2005, five organizations including Women
Workers Help Line, Labour Education Foundation, Labour Party Pakistan,
National Trade Union Federation and Progressive Youth Front took up an
initiative to deal with the emergency that left over 100,000 dead and
many more injured and displaced. Within two months, the LRC raised over
half a million U.S. dollars from inside and outside Pakistan. This money
provided immediate relief to the affected people.
Immediately after the military operation began
in the first week of May 2009, once again the LRC initiated a campaign
to help the internally displaced. LRC relief camps have been set up and
volunteers raised a significant amount of money. The LRC bought and
distributed goods from 16-18 May 2009 at different refugee camps in the
We believe it is essential to develop a
short-term, as well as a long-term, radical plan to confront religious
fundamentalism. The following are a few points we are promoting through
· The LRC demands separation of the state
· We believe that at least 10 percent of
national budget needs to be allocated to education. We must end state
subsidies to the madrassas and nationalize all the major private
/religious educational institutions, integrating them into a revamped
public education system open to all.
· The LRC demands a radical land reform
program, effective immediately.
· There should be a radical reduction in the
army budget, an end to the nuclear program, and a redistribution of army
· The LRC stands for a comprehensive legal
and constitutional reform package that includes the decolonization of
FATA, protection of minorities/ women, the convening of a committee
(comprised particularly of minorities and women) to draft new
educational curriculum, and the convening of an assembly to write a new,
minority-friendly, secular constitution.
The LRC demands the announcement of a
living wage policy.
· The LRC demands an end to the occupation
of Afghanistan by NATO and American forces and U.S. withdrawal from Iraq
and other areas of the world.
The Labour Relief Campaign requests that
social organizations, individuals, trade unions and political activists
and parties come forward to help this important campaign. Please donate
to the campaign by affiliating with LRC. To affiliate, a minimum
donation of US $300 is recommended.
Below are details of the account for sending
money to the LRC. We will update you with all the relevant information
on the campaign as well as on subsequent political developments.
A/C Title: Labour Education
A/C Number: 01801876
Please advise and pay to
Citi Bank, New York, USA Swift CITI US 33 for onward transfer to BANK
ALFALAH LTD., KARACHI, PAKISTAN A/C No. 36087144 and for final transfer
to BANK ALFALAH LTD., LDA PLAZA, KASHMIR ROAD, LAHORE, PAKISTAN Swift:
ALFHPKKALDA for A/C No. 01801876 OF LABOUR EDUCATION FOUNDATION.
Labour Education Foundation
Women Workers Help Line
Labour Party Pakistan
Labour Education Foundation
National Trade Union Federation Pakistan
Progressive Youth Front