Day Two of Underground Life
Today is my second day in underground life.
On 3rd November 2007, when General Musharaf declared an emergency and
suspended the constitution, I was in Toba Tek Singh, a city around four
hours from Lahore. This was to attend a meeting for the preparations of
the Labour Party Pakistan fourth national conference. The conference was
scheduled to be held on 9/10/11th November in the city. Poster for the
welcome of the delegates was printed and an invitation card to invite
supporters for the open session of the conference was ready as well.
The meeting was nearly ending when I heard the news that emergency is
been declared. I decided immediately to travel to Lahore. I was in
contact with other party comrades on telephone and every one advised me
not to go to my home. This was in the background of my three arrests in
three months where I spent 23 days in jails and police stations. Labour
Party Pakistan has become a target for the military regime because of
active participation in the advocate movement. Several comrades had been
arrested during the movement.
As I arrived in Lahore, I heard that police has raided my house and are
looking for me. My partner Shahnaz Iqbal told them that I am not home
and will not be at home because I know that I will be arrested. This was
around 11.30pm when police came to my home. It was good decision not to
I was immediately given few SIMs of mobile phone from different private
telephone companies and was advised not to use my regular mobile number
in any case. “I must use a new number to contact comrades every day to
avoid been traced” was the advice. The telecommunication system is so
advance that when I will on my regular mobile, they can know where I am
and can be immediately arrested.
All the private television channels were off the air. It was only the
official television that was broadcasting the official propaganda. Even
BBC and CNN were off the line as well. We were in dark and did not know
what is coming up. The government was using its dictatorial measures to
silence any oppositional voice being heard by people of Pakistan on the
news media. It was an unprecedented act of censorship.
After midnight, General Musharaf came up on the official television to
tell the reasons why he has imposed the emergency and that usual
demagogy of national interest and Pakistan First. He was trying to tell
that he has removed the chief justice of Supreme Court of Pakistan
because his decisions have promoted terrorism and suicidal attacks in
Pakistan. This was all none since. He had imposed the emergency rules to
prolong his power period and was to avoid the Supreme Court decision
that might be against him. It was a dictatorial act by a dictator who
had tried to convince the world that he is not a dictator. That, he is
in a transition period from dictatorship to democracy.
I was awake till 3am trying to listen some international news from the
Next day was Sunday and I went out to buy the newspapers. The area I was
staying was where I never had been earlier and no one knew who I am and
so on. But the newspapers were not there yet even at 8am. I went back
home and in the meantime, I put on my regular mobile telephone
forgetting that I am in underground. There was immediately call from a
friend and I replied to him. This was a mistake.
I was told by my friend to change the venue immediately that is what I
did. This was my second place in hiding during the last 12 hours. Here I
read all the papers. Then I went to a park, three kilometres away from
my place of stay and spoke to some party comrades from my new telephone
numbers and discussed the political situation. I called my family as
well to check the moral. It was high as ever. My daughter and son asked
me not to come home and that they are ok.
A meeting by Joint Action Committee for Peoples Rights was called at the
office of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan to discuss and chart out
the strategy to oppose the dictatorial measure. The chairperson of Human
Rights Commission of Pakistan Asma Jahanghir was already detained at her
house. And her office called me to tell the comrades to come for the
meeting. I told them I will not be there and if police see me they will
immediately arrest me.
Khalid Malik, director Labour Education Foundation and Azra Shad
chairperson Women Workers Help Line were among those who arrived in time
for this meeting. So were around 70 others. Comrade Maqsood Mojahid,
Khaliq Shah and Bushra Khaliq were little late for the meeting. As they
arrived, they saw police everywhere around the HRCP office. They stopped
and contacted inside via phones to tell them be ready for the arrests.
This was may be the only time when being late has paid off. This
laziness of three comrades saved them being arrested.
Police went inside and broke the doors. They asked women to leave and
men to stay for arrests. The women refused. The women included Hina
Jilani, Rubina Sahgal, Neelum Hussain, Syeda Deep and Azra Shad. They
were all bundled to the nearest police station. This incident showed the
intensity of the police brutality and the military regime to silence any
opposition voice. It was first time since the establishment of Human
Rights Commission of Pakistan office in 1986, that police entered the
building. It was considered to be a safe place and that police will not
dare to enter.
I heard within few minutes from Bushra, secretary Women Workers Help
Line of the arrests. She told me to be more careful.
In the evening, I made another mistake to on my regular telephone. Bad
habits die hard. So there was a call, I spoke to a journalist from a
private television channel against the arrests. I immediately realized
the mistake and left that place to stay another one for the evening. As
I arrived at the new place, a received a call around 11.30 pm that
police has entered my home and checked me everywhere. My partner told me
next morning that police came with some intelligence officers in plain
cloths. They ordered her to open the door otherwise they will break in.
When police entered my home, it was only my daughter Mashal Farooq(14)
son Abdullah Farooq (7) and my partner Shahnaz at home. The police
opened every room, cupboards, bathroom, and went to the rooftop. They
were desperate to arrest me.
I was upset after hearing the news but did not call home for security
reasons. It was hard but I had to be patient, I was told by my friends.
Today is Monday. We had decided to bring the weekly paper Workers
Struggle in time and today was the last day of the paper production. It
was decided that we would not work at the usual office of the paper;
police might even come there. So decided to bring the equipments,
computer, and printer and so on to a new place for working together. I
also told the comrades, I would come and write the main article for the
We were five together to work on the paper. I wrote the article and was
on new telephone line to hear about the wholesale arrests of the
advocates all over the country. Over seven hundreds have been arrested.
Police entered the Lahore High Court building for the first time in the
history and arrested the advocates after they were severely beaten up.
It was writing a new history of police atrocities under a military
Khalid Malik and Azra Shad along other were charged and sent to the same
jail, Kot Lakhpat, where I had spent around ten days in June this year.
Lucky they are, the weather is ok and not hot. We discussed some more
measures for tomorrow.
We decided to fight back the military regime and to organize the
movement. It was agreed that I will not come up open but will be active
in organizing the movement until my arrest on job. It was agreed that we
will not accept the dictatorial measures and will organize the
demonstrations and will ask comrades be ready for more arrests.
Here I am sitting in a net café at 6pm to write this and sent it from
there. I had to travel over 20 kilometers to reach my place for this
Escaped by Seconds
The fourth day of underground life
On the third day of my underground period, I escaped an arrest by
seconds. It was all because of inexperience to live in a society that is
full of high tech techniques to find a person.
I called my partner on 6th November morning from a new SIM to send me
clothes at the place where I was staying. My family has gifted me a new
car recently to travel in little more comfort. I had been driving a
Suzuki car 800cc for long time. I am one of the five brothers and we
have three sisters. All the other decided to acknowledge my political
activities by gifting me a new Toyota Corolla. The car has a tracker as
well. This was a security measure by the car insurance company.We have a
car driver Allah Ditta who brings our two children to school and drop
Shahnaz to her office. He came to bring my clothes.
I had to go to a new place in Lahore to work with some other comrades. I
did not realize that car had the tracker and asked the driver to drop me
at a certain place from where I could take a public transport.
As Allah Ditta was driving, he told me that he has been stopped two
times yesterday by police who asked the whereabouts of mine. I got angry
with him that why he did not tell me earlier. So I asked him to drive
fast and drop me at the first available safe place. In the mean time, a
police jeep was in front of us. He slowed down so we could come next to
him. We also slowed down putting the traffic in problem at a busy road.
While this went on for few seconds, The police jeep tried to come next
to us. I asked Allah Ditta drive fast and turn the next road. He did
that. The police jeep could not follow us.
I asked him that I must be dropped now. He stopped the car around a
kilometer of the place we had this encounter. As he stopped the car, a
police van stopped coming from opposite side very next to us. Because we
had already stopped the car, I jumped out of the car and while the
police were still stopping their van. I rushed myself into a running
three wheeler and asked the driver to drive fast. He was surprised but
acted accordingly. There was a lot of rush and there was a lot of three
wheelers around the place. So the police could not follow me.
The driver told me later that the police van followed him for another
three kilometers and then let him go while could not find me.
In the afternoon, two plain clothes police officers came to the place I
was staying for the night and enquired about me. I was not there. They
had to leave in disbelief.
Five of us were together to work on the movement. We issued the press
releases from there about our participations in the movement and that I
will not offer arrest but will organize the movement in underground. We
faxed the press releases to all the news media after checking the
telephone number that would appear on the fax. It was LPP number but we
were not at LPP office.
We bought some more SIMs on anonymous names. I had to arrange a new
place to stay. My friends are fantastic. They are all waiting when I
call them to stay the night. I am not staying at LPP comrade’s houses as
they are already under surveillance. I had a good night and good sleep
after I arrived the place of my friend traveling over one hour in a
Yesterday, the picture of one of the LPP comrade Rabia Shahzadi was on
the front page of some papers in Lahore. She is an advocate and was
pictured while throwing stones on the police.
She told me later on the telephone that, at one time, she was the only
one fighting with police. She saved herself afterwards in a library when
police entered to arrest over 700 advocates from the premises of the
Lahore High Court. She was full time for a short while then later went
to practice as an advocate.
She went yesterday to different police stations to help the advocates
who were in custody despite, being printed on front page.
Yesterday, In Islamabad, the advocate’s movement was also led by Nisar
Shah Advocate who is chairperson of LPP. He was in forefront of the
demonstration of advocates in Islamabad alongside with LPP comrades. He
is not arrested yet. Although, on 5th November, he just escaped an
arrest from a demonstration in Rawalpindi.
At Karachi, LPP comrade Shakeel was dragged by police during a
demonstration in front of Karachi Press Club on 5th November. This led
some press photographers to intervene to save Shakeel. A fight started
and that led to the arrest of several press photographers and political
activists. It was mainly LPP comrades who had started the sloganeering
in front of police while others were inside the press club building.
Police has raided the house of the secretary of LPP Punjab Afzal Soraya
three times during the last two days but he is safe.
The plain clothes police came to the LPP office in Lahore and checked if
I am there. They went to Good Books shop and remained there for some
time on the pretext of buying books. They tried to ask about the
whereabouts of the different comrades pretending that they are LPP
supporters and want to join the party. The comrade in charge of the Good
Books is an experienced comrade: he immediately realized who they are.
He cleverly convinced them to buy Tariq Ali’s book “Clash of
fundamentalism” while offering all the comradely hospitality of tea and
good political talk. Comrades told me the story after they left the
office proudly telling that that they came to look for you but instead
took a book that may change their minds.
Today is the morning of the fourth day and I am again writing this from
a public net café and will open the mail for few minutes to send this
story and leave the place.
Thanks for some comrades telling me more about the information
technology and how to avoid the arrest.
I will try to write every two days all the main happenings of the
underground life to share with the comrades in Pakistan and
Musharraf’s Days Are Up
Embassy pickets a most effective way of opposition
General Musharaf would have not thought of the political scenario that
has emerged after five days of the martial law he imposed on 3rd
November. His hopes for a normality of the situation have been dashed
even after he has used the most vicious repression against the advocates
and political activists. More unpleasant surprises will come in future
for the military regime who was used to a rather stable political
control until now.
After advocates, now students are emerging on the political opposition
to the military regime. Demonstrations took place on 7th November 2007
in most of the public and private universities mainly in the main cities
of Pakistan . “Student power rises from slumber” was the headline of
News International on 8th November.
All the courts across Pakistan are on stand still and Pakistan Bar
Council has announced an indefinite strike till the new Provisional
Constitutional Order (PCO) is withdrawn. There have been daily
demonstrations by the advocates across Pakistan. This is an extra
ordinary militancy shown by the middle classes during this period.
Most of the newspapers in Pakistan are full of stories of the arrests,
demonstrations and strikes of different actors of the society. But it is
the fifth day; no private television channel has been allowed to
telecast their broadcasting in Pakistan. You can only watch songs,
dances, sports and religious readings on different channels but no news
bulletin is allowed apart from the official Pakistan Television.
The most surprising opposition to the military regime has come from
Benazir Bhutto. She was in negotiation with Musharraf regime for a
power-sharing formula. But the advocate movements intervened in this
unholy alliance forcing Benazir Bhutto to come up openly against the
military regime. Almost half of the arrested advocates belong to
Pakistan Peoples Party.
It left very little room for Benazir maneuvering, playing games with the
regime. She asked the Pakistani masses to rise up against the martial
law of General Musharraf. “Restore the constitution or we will have long
march from Lahore to Islamabad on 13th November” she warned the regime.
This resulted in the arrests of Pakistan Peoples Party activists across
the country. They were spared by the regime in the first phase of
repression started from 3rd November.
The media organizations of the bosses and employers are also joining the
mass movement after unprecedented repression against the electronic and
print media by the regime.
It was a black Monday on 5th November for the stock exchanges in
Pakistan. The stock exchange crash resulted a net loss of four billion
dollars in one day, unprecedented in the history of last 17 years of the
His close imperialist friends from US, UK and European Union have been
forced to condemn this imposition of emergency, at least in word, for
the first time since 9/11. Any gross violation of human rights in
Pakistan since 9/11 was always an internal matter for the US
imperialism. Even Australian imperialism is also condemning the sorry
state of affairs of Pakistan and terming Musharraf “a dictator” for the
first time, a fact Pakistani people knew for eight years.
But it seems General Musharraf is trying to show his angry eyes even to
his bosses, the same way the religious fundamentalists are going out of
the control of the military regime in Pakistan . “You can never control
a monster for long time” it seems from the action of General Musharraf.
The Netherlands has suspended the aid to Pakistan and the US is
reviewing its relationship with the military regime, according to
reports printed here.
The movement is still growing in all sphere of life. This is despite an
unprecedented level of repression during the first five days of the
emergency; the real name is martial law. The police entered the office
of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan arrested over 80 social and
political activists who were discussion their strategy to oppose the
This was unheard in past, that police will enter in this most
prestigious independent building in Lahore. Police went in the buildings
of Lahore High Court and arrested over 700 advocates from the chambers
of the judges, libraries, bar rooms and canteen. This was not done even
under the most brutal martial law of General Zia Ul Haque in the
According to the home ministry in Punjab province, 1734 political
activists, journalists and advocates have been arrested during the first
four days of the martial law. Similar figures are stated by the
administrations of the other three provinces. This is the most brutal
repression of the opponents of the Musharraf regime during the last
eight years. The arrested advocates and political activists have been
charged with Anti Terrorist Act and they have been sent to far off
places from their home towns. No one can meet them.
Similarly repressive treatment has been the case of those judges of the
Supreme Court and High Courts of Pakistan who have courageously refused
to take oath under the new Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO). They
are put under house arrest and their children are not allowed to go to
school. Doctors have been refused entry to their houses where they were
called for emergency treatments.
Police are raiding the houses of the advocates and political opponents
of the military regime on a regular basis. Pakistan has become a police
and military state in the real sense of the term. Police is seen
everywhere in the main cities. There has been an increase of thefts and
robberies during the last four days because police is only deployed to
curb the opposition of the regime.
General Musharraf is now having more opposition than ever among the
general public in Pakistan.
Musharraf is losing his internal and external support at a fast speed.
He has almost lost the support of his most recent friend, Benazir
Bhutto. The religious parties have been forced to de-link their long
lasting relationship with the regime. The old alliances and formations
are in crisis. This is a real crisis of the Pakistan state. The regime
is becoming more isolated day by day. Now, it is only two political
parties supporting the regime, it is Muslim League Q and Muhajir Qaumi
Movement, both are partners of the military government. But both are
hated more and more by ordinary citizens of Pakistan.
The path of repression to control the opposition is losing its weight
day by day. The state can not repress all the growing voices against the
regime. The implementation of a neoliberal agenda on a faster speed has
been marked by daily price hikes and growing unemployment. It is brutal
rule of the free market resulting the monopolizing the economy. The
growth of capitalist economy has not touched to the bottom line and the
bottom line is over 70 percent of the 160 million population.
Several activists of Awami Jamhoori Tehreek, the left alliance of seven
political parties and groups are under arrest including Nisar Shah,the
chairperson of Labour Party Pakistan. Abid Hassan Minto, the convener of
AJT and president of National Workers Party has asked all the left
forces to join the movement and fight the military regime. The Left is
not any more an insignificant force in Pakistan . The student uprising
against the regime is mainly the work of the left wing forces and
radical social activists.
The regime can not last long. The movement is on and is growing. The
advocates unprecedented courage has influenced many and they are taking
the road of active opposition.
The opposition to military regime will be strengthening by the active
solidarity of our friends and comrades outside Pakistan. The pickets of
the Pakistani embassies all over the world will be one the most
effective way of opposition. We are not alone, we know, Not arrested yet
but facing dangerous situation
Day Seven of Underground Life
The day seventh passed without my arrest despite several attempt by the
police. During the last three days, we were able to hold a meeting of
the leading members of Labour Party Pakistan, gave interviews to private
television channels and to a private team working for CNN. We were able
to fax daily press statements and activity reports of LPP to most of the
news papers in Pakistan.
Unfortunately, Labour Party Pakistan chairperson Nisar Shah, also a
lawyer, was arrested in Islamabad on 7 November along with some party
activists after he led a demonstration of lawyers despite all the police
Nisar Shah is an advocate in the High Court. He has had practices for 10
years in Karachi. After the devastating earthquake in October 2005, he
moved for two years to Kashmir. He originally comes from Kashmir and his
village was also hard hit by the earthquake: some of his close relatives
were among the dead.
He was asked by Labour Relief Campaign to move back to Kashmir to look
after the work of relief and reconstruction. He helped successfully
build 100 homes within three months of the earthquake, the first to be
completed with the help of Action Aid International and Shirkat Ghah, a
radical women’s NGO in Pakistan. He is in the process of building the
first Kashmir Labour Center at Paniola where a good piece of land is
donated by locals for the construction of the first ever to be
constructed labour center in Kashmir.
Jemima Khan led London protests over clampdown, London Nov.10
He was recently asked by LPP to be in Rawalpindi and Islamabad to help
build the social and political movement. He had started working as an
advocate in Islamabad to be more close to the advocates in movement.
Here he is arrested after few days of public rebellion.
During the last three days of my underground life from 7-10 November to
10th today till this morning, I was able to stay three nights at
friend’s house with utmost security measures. I was not on line from the
house and did not made a single telephone contact from any number and
sim from the house. I was walking to a marker around a kilometer to make
telephone contacts and to open the mail for few minutes.
I would on my Blackberry and download all the emails at this place
within minutes and then off the air.
Immediately after the first encounter on the police on 6th November,
When I was just saved, I changed my name on the telephone line. I would
call only very close comrades and friends from different sims within
these days. This has helped to secure me for the time being. On 8th
November, while I was walking back to my place while I had covered my
head with cap and to some extent my face with growing beard, suddenly
one police van stopped next to me and it was red traffic signal.
The police officer looked at my face with a full glimpse for few
seconds. I thought he is trying to recognize my face that he might have
seen some where. I was afraid that he will now come out. I had planned
to run in case he comes out. In the mean time my face was just blank and
I did not give him any impression of being afraid or saying him hello
that I know him. I tread him with a full confidence of not knowing him
at all. The drama was over in 20 seconds and I walked normally as I
nothing has happened. As he moved away, I changed the rout immediately
and started running in the next street to move away to another street.
The area I was staying was full police petrol all the time for many
reasons. But It was only two times That I will come out of my place and
walk to different net cafes for the email checking and writings.
Although, my friend house had all the modern multi media facilities, but
we had agreed that I will not be on line from the house.
We had also chalked out an escape plan in case of police at the house.
He has told me several ways to leave the house from back doors. But I
suggested that if police comes from the back sides as well, I will court
arrest without resistance. We also discussed that while escaping from
the back doors, I will try to do the room as no one was living here. I
must tell you that I carry no bag, no cloths, wherever I go, I borrow
cloths for the night from my friends and in the meantime, I get my cloth
washed to wear it again next morning.
My friend knew that in many normal cases, when ever police come to house
and do not find the person, they want to arrest, they take the house
boss, the house made or any house adult apart from the women. My friend
still took the risk and did not for a single moment tried to make me
aware that he is doing something extra ordinary in my case.
The good news within three days was the changing attitude of Benazir
Bhutto about the present with the present military regime. She has tried
in exile to deal for a power sharing formula with military regime. But
while in Pakistan, there was suicidal attack on her rally leaving over
200 dead. There was a massive negative campaign by the chief minister of
Punjab against Benazir Bhutto during the time. Then Musharraf announced
the emergency on 3rd November without her consent apparently. Most of
the arrested advocates were from her party. It was all two much. While
the first three days, arrests were made of any PPP activists but it all
changed with Benazir coming openly against the military regime on
Her changing attitude was welcome by us in press releases and I
announced in the media that LPP will participate with the long March
planned for 13th November by PPP from Lahore to Islamabad. Although we
had a severe criticism of her polices during the last months, because of
soft corner about the regime, but we did go for the so-called
conspiracies theories about Benazir and Musharraf being friends but
hypocritically opposing each other to restore the respect of Benazir as
a popular leader and the one who fight for democracy in any case.
Benazir oppositional statements against the regime have meant arrests of
hundreds of PPP activists and their houses raided all over. It meant
that Musharraf loosing friends and the opposition is growing.
On 9th November, when we would have been holding our fourth national
conference, seven of us traveled hours to meet each other for a meeting
at safe place to chart out our future strategies. We faxed press
releases, invited a team of television team working for several channels
including CNN to interview us and film how we are working in
underground. They had made a contact with a friend to make a film of the
activist working in under ground. They filmed our deserted but
functioning office in the center of Lahore and they came to us. We have
to take extra ordinary safety measures to bring them safely to the place
we were working. After the filming of our activities within a room and a
chat with us and not of the area or the house, we decided to leave the
place immediately to avoid any unpleasant incident. But these two were
our trusted friends for long time.
Earlier on day, I went to my home for 15 minutes after my partner
Shahnaz told me that my son Abdullah is missing me very much. This was
done after making sure that no one from the police in uniform or in
plain cloths are around the place. I was here after seven days even I
was in the same city Lahore. They were all happy and in absolute high
spirit. No complaints and no hard talk. My son (7) asked me to stay home
but When I explained what would happened, he still did not agree and
told me that I will speak to you. But my daughter Mashal told me it will
be ok and you can leave. In all seven days, I spoke once a day with my
partner on telephone briefly. I changed my cloths and left happily.
I have changed my outlook after I was to a hairdressing person on 8th
November after the chance meeting with a police officer. Although I had
not many hairs anyhow but now it is totally different. It had not make
much difference to my outlook but I had to do something, may be to
satisfy myself alone.
There were some pleasant moments on 8th November afternoon when BBC and
CNN were back to the air in Pakistan for the time being. I say Lucy
Dousset of BBC broadcasting live programme from Islamabad. She only
comes to a country with a grave situation and her arrival is an
indication of the seriousness of the situation. I was happy to see LPP
chairperson chanting slogans in Islamabad before his arrest. They tried
to interview Asma Jahanghir at her place where is detained but only
could speak for a few moment before they were whisked away by police. I
got a message from Asma yesterday that I be in underground in any case
and organize the movement.
Happy to see today’s papers with LPP news items welcoming the long march
of PPP, condemning all the arrests, demanding an immediate release and
solidarity with the striking media people. The LPP news printed in daily
Waqat today is an appeal to all the trade unions, working class and
peasantry to join the advocate movement. First of such appeal appearing
the main news media after the emergency is imposed. We have to rely on
the print media for promoting our ideas rather than on electronic media
which is off the air.
I also contacted some of the main trade union leaders to be involved in
the campaign. Maybe some positive response will come. Some of the trade
union leaders in Karachi have already been arrested. A trade unions,
left parties and radical social movement in Karachi on 7th November has
condemned the imposition of emergency and decided to participate in the
On 9th November, our left alliance Awami Jamhoori Thereek meeting in
Lahore could not agree on a day of action but agree to mobilize the
masses. One of our leading comrades attended the meeting and put forward
an idea of a day of united action across Pakistan. Two of the main
leaders and members central committee of AJT, Yousaf Masti Khan
(National Workers Party) and Nisar Shah (Laour Party Pakistan) are
already in jail. Police is raiding the houses of many AJT leaders. Bilal
Minto, son of Abid Hassan Minto the president of National Workers Party
and convener of AJT has spent three days in jail before he was released
alongside with other 70 social activists. He is teacher at elite
university Lahore University of Management and Sciences (LUMS). The
arrest of the three radical teachers alongside with him sparked a
movement of students at the university.
According to one press report, over 5000 have been arrested so far in
the movement. There are not enough places in the jails to accommodate
all the political prisoners. Temporary camps have been set up in
different jails. Many private houses have been declared as sub jails to
put the prisoners. The prisoners are not been allowed visits by their
relatives. No private food allowed for these prisoners. While I had been
a recent guest at different jails during the last three months, I could
imagine very well the plight of these arrested ones. Our hearts are with
them. Sacrifices for democracy and socialism will not go in vain. We
will get rid of the military dictatorship soon; I am convinced by the
recent developments. How? We do not know but we will do it through our
mass movement and sacrifices.
But we need to know more of it.
More raids on Labour Party Pakistan activists, Left wing leaders
still in jail
Day ten of underground life
BY: Farooq Tariq
During the last three days, the Lahore police have been very busy
raiding the homes of several LPP activists. The home of Afzal Soaraya,
secretary of the Labour Party Punjab has been raided several times and
the home of Maqsood Mujahid, a member of the LPP’s national committee
has also been the target of regular police visits. They have also
stopped my vehicle several times while my children are being dropped at
Nisar Shah Advocate, LPP chairperson, has been charged with the
Anti-Terrorist Act and several others charges. He is at present in
Adiala Jail Rawalpindi, along with other political prisoners.
Yousaf Masti Khan, senior vice president of the National Workers Party
and central committee member of the AJT, a left-wing alliance, along
with Hasil Bazinjo secretary of the National Party and several other
trade union leaders are kept in th Karachi jail. They are facing treason
charges and were arrested at the Karachi Press Club after a
demonstration of left-wing and trade union activists.
Asma Jahnghir, chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan,
remains under house detention at her Lahore residence. I got a message
from her “ok will pass this on. Keep underground. No bail this time.” I
had informed her about the arrest of Nisar Shah. She represented me as
at the Lahore Anti-Terrorist Court on 28th September 2007 and
got me released on bail. Now releasing a person on bail has become more
It is estimated that over 5000 political activists are behind bars on 13th
November, 10 days after the emergency was imposed. Lahore seems a
deserted city; many ordinary people are totally against the actions of
the military regime. I was told by some friends who were in the markets
that there is weak thin business activity. Many shopkeepers were saying
that it is time Musharraf must die, “There is no other alternative way
to get rid of him” most were saying with utmost seriousness.
Yesterday I visited my home town, Toba Tek Singh. I was told there was
no one left in sympathy with the military regime. Many told me that they
respect the judges who refused to take the oath. I could not walk freely
but I met some friends and family members.
The LPP is planning that I contest elections for the national parliament
from this town. I feel that it is useless activity to take part in the
election under an emergency, which is really martial law. The election
was announced by General Musharraf on 11th November to pacify
the international criticism. It is joke that the election will take
place while all the opposition parties are underground or their
activists in jail. It is joke to hold elections in the presence of
judges who have taken an oath of faithfulness to the military regime.
General Musharraf has asked his crony Election Commission to prepare for
election before 8th of January 2008. They want to hold a
general election at a time when utmost repression is going on. The plan
is very simple, “Opposition behind bars and government candidates with
full freedom for election campaign.” This is mockery of the whole
Labour Party Pakistan has not yet taken a formal decision to boycott the
proposed general elections but we are in consultation with other Left
groups and parties to develop a common position. We are holding an
emergency meeting of leading comrades in Lahore today, 13th
November, and in consultation with others on the telephone before we
take a formal decision.
General Musharraf seems more isolated after an all- out attack by
Benazir Bhutto while in Lahore yesterday. She was put under house arrest
as well. She went around the city to mobilize the party activists,
determined to hold a rally today. But hundreds of police have been
deployed around her residence and her phone lines cut. She refused to
accept an eight-day detention order. The order has been pasted at on the
wall of her house. They want to show the world that they act according
to procedures but what about thousands who have been arrested without
any warrant or detention order? There are still hundreds behind bars who
have not yet been formally charged.
Benazir changing her political position in favor of democratic forces is
a welcome sign. I do not agree with Imran Khan President of Tehreek
Insaaf (justice movement) who is still doubtful of Benazir intention of
opposing the military regime. He will ultimately come to the conclusion
that the democratic forces have to unite on one platform to launch a
more effective struggle against the military dictator.
Some trade union leaders have issued press releases opposing General
Musarraf’s emergency. They include Khurshid Ahmad, president of the
Pakistan Workers Confederation; Yousaf Baluch, chairman of the National
Trade Union Federation, Choudry Gulzar Ahmad, secretary of the All
Pakistan Trade Union Federation and so on. While there is great anger
among the working class, workers from different sectors have not yet
demonstrated opposition to the regime.
I have learnt to some extent in underground. I have not made any blunder
that could give the state oppressive machinery a chance to arrest me. I
am not staying more than a night at a friend’s house. I am changing my
positions now and then and I have taken a new name to use when I to
speak to comrades.
On 11th November night, I had a chance meeting with Lal Khan,
the leader of Ted Grant and Alan Woods’s group in Pakistan. We had
worked together in exile (1978-86) and started our Struggle Group
together in The Netherlands. In 1991, we had parted ways over the
question of building a revolutionary party in Pakistan. His supporter
wanted to remain in the Pakistan Peoples Party and do enterism in order
to build the group. I was in minority and argued for a new independent
political party. It was an unpleasant split in what had been a very
committed group. But we had to face the reality. They are still part of
the PPP while we have started building the Labour Party Pakistan.
After 16 years his hairs has grown grey and he no longer had his
youthfulness. We had a good but brief chat on the present political
situation. He was of the view that the regime is very shaky and anything
can happen. He recited one of my favorite poems, which I used to hear
him recite during the exile period: “Peshawar Qatloo Tum Sapahi Naheen”
(“Of you soldiers, you are not professional soldiers but professional
killers”). He seemed happy to see me. And I was also, although I
recognize we have difference opinions on several questions. But we had
no moment to regret that evening. One of my close friends had invited me
to share ideas with some friends in a safe meeting place.
On 12th November, I wrote an article for our Weekly paper,
Mazdoor Jeddojuhd (Workers Struggle), and faxed it to the office. The
paper is still being printed regularly with our ideas and reports. It
has been closed by every successive military regime since it began in
1980, including the present Musharraf regime. Very young activists,
mainly women, have taken the responsibility to prepare the paper right
in the newspape3r office. Very brave actions by these young women
After writing the article in the early morning, I had to travel four
hours from Lahore to go to my home town. It was the second anniversary
of my father’s death and the family was all together. My brothers and
sisters did not ask me to come but I decided to travel and saw all the
family members. They are all supportive and helpful. I traveled back to
Lahore last night to attend an important meeting today and share some
ideas with some comrades. Staying in a small city is quite dangerous and
many know me well so decided to leave the city as soon as possible.
Day 11: Run for your life
By Farooq Tariq
On November 14, at around 4.45pm, I had just got off a public bus and
went to a net cafe. The owner told me that speed is very slow and there
is no use sitting here. I went to another one, not far from the first
place, the same answer. I came back to the main road to fetch a bus or
take a rickshaw; I had not made up my mind where to go from here.
A police van came with several policemen sitting in front and on the
back seats. I saw them and tried to hide myself. The police constable
sitting on the front seat and the driver were the same ones who had
arrested me from my home on June 3, 2007. I immediately recognized them
and had gone two feet behind a rickshaw.
The police constable recognized me as well but maybe it took him few
more seconds to come to conclusion that it was me. I had a Peshawari cap
on my head and Punjabi Parna (a sort of long cotton shawl to cover your
head and body) on my shoulder. I was also wearing new glasses, not my
The hat was just given to me by a comrade where we had meeting in the
morning. As I was leaving the meeting place the comrade told me that the
present arrangement to change my looks was insufficient, ``why do not
you take a Peshawari cap’’. I said yes but I cannot find one. He said
there is one at my place and my father used it. He asked his father for
permission to give it to me and the old man was quite happy to assist me
in this way.
As I went to the back of the rickshaws, I saw the constable asking the
other to get off the police van. Here I had to decide what to do. It
took maybe part of a second in my mind to decide to run for my life. It
was the quickest reaction time. I started running and the police
constables then jumped in their van to follow me.
I turned to one street an then to the next one, while turning inside to
the first street available from the main road, I saw the police van
coming to this side. This was one of my finest fast running, not on my
usual running machine with 12 kilometre an hour, but may be over 20
kilometre an hour. I turned to second on and to the third one. I did not
know the area very well. I had been to the area but not like this. I did
not know where to go forward. People in the street were watching with
surprise what was happening. I was hoping to see an open door and jump
inside, but there was not one in sight. It was like a kilometre run.
I stopped for a second and suddenly, there was a person saying to me,
``Hello Farooq, how are you’’, he recognized me. He was walking in the
street while I stopped for a while. I recognized him but the name did
not come to my mind. I told him please get me inside a home immediately,
police are after me. He did not hesitate for a second and it was like
the third house that he asked me come in. He closed the door immediately
and asked me to sit in a room. The door of the house closed but was not
locked so we just went in for no time.
Aslam (a fake name) was here as teacher for two children. He had just
finished his teaching and was leaving for his place. I knew him from the
early ‘90s. He was an industrial worker and then went to study and
completed his masters degree, a rare thing to happen here for a worker,
and was a regular professor in a college at the present time. He used to
come to our study circles. I had lost contact and did not even remember
him name when we met yesterday. He was happy to save me for a while but
worried what if the home boss came to know who I am. In the meantime, we
heard the police van passing by. I was offered a glass of water.
He started teaching the two young students again and posing that
something was missing from that day of the tuition. We needed that few
decisive minutes to pass by safely. After fifteen minutes, he told me
that there is another comrade living in this area. He has built a house
recently, why do not we go there and you can leave afterwards. Aslam
went out to see if the police were still there. After being satisfied,
we left the house to go the next street. The comrade was there,
fortunately, and he did not recognize me. As soon as I took off my cap,
he was bloody pleased and we had good tea and chat at his place.
Two years earlier, one of my closest friends from childhood, Mohammed
Amjad, told me in Amsterdam that I was going to die soon. He was always
very straight to friends. Amjad was one of the original “gang of four”
who started our group Struggle in 1980 during our exile period. He opted
to stay in the Netherlands and was running a Pizzeria restaurant in
Amsterdam. He had checked my blood pressure, it was 160/110. My weight
was around 89 kilograms and my belly was getting out of control. He said
that I do not take care of my health. “How the revolution will come if
you die early and not because God wanted it but because of your
carelessness”, he warned me.
I always had good respect for him. I told him that I will do my best to
change my shape and body. He gave me a machine to check my blood
pressure. I bought an exercise machine and started running on it
gradually to six kilometres day, sometimes on 12 kilometres an hour
speed. It changed my life. I would get up early. No dizzy days, I was
active like I was in the ‘70s and ‘80sw. I reduced my weight by seven
kilograms and sustained it. Exercise has become part of my life, but
with intervals of going to jail or visits.
It paid off yesterday. I was running like a teenager although I am 52
now. I was confident that they cannot catch me. I was doing my regular
exercise maybe for this day alone. I had run for my life successfully.
I am not afraid of being arrested. I have faced police several times and
was arrested without running. Most of my arrests were calculated risks.
But now, my task is to organize the movement rather than going to jail
as a defiant act by the LPP. Chairperson of the LPP Nisar Shah is
already in jail. His arrest pictures made headlines internationally and
at home. He was arrested while fighting with police and resisting. He
kept the revolutionary traditions and culture of resistance set by the
LPP and other revolutionaries during the last eight years in Pakistan
But I do not want to be arrested at the time set by police and the
state. Our effort is to set the agenda ourselves. Let us see how far
this goes on.
It was around 5pm already. I called some friends from my new mobile.
There was going to be a press conference at 4pm with the LPP main
leadership present at the Lahore Press Club. I had called a comrade at
4.35pm to check if everything had gone alright. She told me that it is
ok and there was good press present and no arrests made while they were
coming to the press conference. The press conference was addressed by
Abid Hasan Minto, convener of the Left Alliance and a very respected
left-wing leader of Pakistan.
Around 2pm, while I was downloading my emails on my blackberry in a bus,
I got a call from Asharaf Chadar, the police officer in charge of the
LPP office area. He asked me what is planning of today’s activity. We
had issued a press release of the press conference and possibility of a
demonstration inside the Press Club building to avoid the arrests.
When I told about the press conference, he told me point blank, I will
arrest everyone coming to the demonstration. I had some good personal
relationship with this police officer. He was the one who had arrested
me from my office on May 3 and kept me well at the police station for
I asked him if he is ok and recovered and has come out of the hospital,
he was injured on November 5 after the advocates retaliated to police
tear-gassing. I also told him that we do not want police to beat us and
we do not want to stone the police. He said ``Yes, I do not want that
either but I am doing my job’’ and not pleasantly. I asked him not to
arrest anyone coming for the press conference and I guarantee that there
will be no demonstration today by us. I wanted to make sure that we are
in the media on the question of the emergency and our strategies.
We agreed on this and I called the comrades to tell that they can have a
safe press conference today, but do not go for the demonstration. The
bus was running and I stopped my regular mobile and went off the next
bus stop. I could not trust any police officer. It was this background
that I wanted to check if everything had gone alright at the press
conference and the police officer had kept his word. He had.
I left the area after an hour in a rickshaw and decided not to travel
anymore on public buses. I have now made alternative arrangements to
travel inside the city that is more secure and safe.
Earlier on in the day, some of the leading members of the LPP met and
had a political discussion on the situation. It was agreed that the
Musharaf dictatorship is becoming more and more isolated. He is been
facing a lot of criticism at home and abroad. We agreed under such a
repressive situation, the LPP will not take part in the coming elections
but will be part of the movement to overthrow the regime. We agreed to
welcome Benazir Bhutto’s pleasant U-turn against the military
dictatorship and decided to contact the PPP for a broader front
alongside with left and progressive forces. We also agreed on some
We congratulated the young female activists who have produced the two
editions of our weekly paper Workers Struggle despite all the threats
I had to be more careful after the arrest of Imran Khan and other
political leaders during the day. The police are haunting all the
political activists like anything.
Bhutto meets with Marxists and other civil society leaders.
The 14th day underground
I got a call at 7pm on 16th November from Asma Jehanghir office, “you
must come tonight at 9pm at her place for an important meeting”.
Chairperson of the most prestigious social institution Human Rights
Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), Asma Jehanghir was just released a day
earlier from her house detention.
I had many second thoughts of going their. “Police must be there and so
on”. But, then decided to go in any case. I knew that it is something
very important that is why only two hours earlier I have been contacted.
While at Asma residence, a constable stopped me and asked why you have
come. If I would have come in a car, he might not ask that question. But
I was on a motorbike with my helmet on. I told him to open the gate and
I am invited by Asma to come here. He reluctantly opened the gate.
Inside, there were all the sign of an important meeting. Private guard,
HRCP staff and others were there to check who have come. I was
immediately told by Nadeem Anthony, the public relation officer of Asma,
that Benazir Bhutto is coming for meeting the civil society activists.
Inside the meeting room, there were several of close friends. Dr. Mehdi
Hasan, a radical professor at a private university, he was instrumental
in Farooq Sulehria radical shaping, Rabia Bajwa, the women advocate who
has made headlines with her commitment to the advocate movement, My
colleague and teacher in journalism from the seventies, Hussain Naqi,
Fareda Shaheed, Gulnar and Mumtaz Khawar of Shirkat Ghah, a radical
women NGO, Neelum Hussain from Seemorg, another women NGO, Journalist
Abbas Rashid, Imtiaz Alam of South Asia Freem Medi Association (SAFMA),
Samina Rehman and Rashid Rehman, aunt and father of Timur Reham of
Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party (CMKP) Afrasayb Khatak of Awami National
Party, leaders of Punjab Union of Journalists and several more were
Before Benazir Bhottu arrival, we were seated by Asma choice and I was
among those sitting in the front row of 12.
Asma distributed a letter that was to be handed over to Benazir Bhutto
titled “road map for democratic transition”. There was some discussion
on the letter anf following 9 point agenda was approved
1- A democratic transition and a free and fair election are not possible
under a government headed by General Musharaf in any capacity. He must
resign from all offices forthwith along with the caretaker
administration put in place by him.
2- The country must retune to constitutional rule for which the
immediate lifting of the state of emergency and restoration of
fundamental rights is a prerequisite.
3- The judiciary must be restored.
4- All curbs on media must end.
5- All detainees including judges, lawyers, political activists,
students and human rights defenders must be released and charges
6- Amendments made to the 1952 Army Act by Musharaf must be immediately
7- An independent and credible Election Commission must be constituted.
8- The spread of violence by non-state actors across the country has to
be effectively countered through all possible means within the ambit of
9- An independent commission must be formed to investigate widespread
incidents of Disappearances, Torture and Arbitrary detentions during the
There was some analysis of the present situation as well in the letter.
We had some more suggestion on the conditions of the working class and
polices of the present regime, but it were explained that we are only
focusing the present situation and do not want to present a long letter.
The letter was unanimously accepted as letter from the civil society
organizations and individuals.
Benazir Bhutto arrived and media wanted a talk earlier than the meeting
proceedings could start. She spoke to them briefly. I was meeting her
first time after 1998 when a similar but a brief group of civil society
organization met her in Islamabad before she went into exile on the
question of the Shariat Bill that Nawaz Sharif government wanted to
introduce in the parliament. We asked her to lend her support against
this bill. It was a good meeting and we had a brief chat between two of
us as she recognized me from my days of exile.
Benazir Bhottu was now an aging politician with some white hairs and
looked tired. The meeting started with Asma explaining the reasons for
this meeting. Benazir Bhutto said she has come here to listen rather to
speak and wanted to know the opinion of the civil society. During the
brief speech, she emphasized the formation of a new political alliance
against the military regime. She also spoke the deferent aspects of the
1973 constitution that has to be reviewed.
Benazir Bhutto told us about her contacts with different political
parties’ heads and her difficulties in forming an immediate alliance. “I
have two hours talk with Nawaz Sharif, the former prime minister,
yesterday and agreed on many points” she said. She also spoke her
commitments to democracy and Pakistan. She referred to her talks with
Musharaf and told us that it was for a smooth transition to democracy
but Musharaf did not abide by his promises and now there is no question
of talks with him.
She read the letter and said that she will come up with a detailed reply
to this but she agrees the most of it. She made a categorical statement
in favor of the restoration of judiciary, “they have shown a way forward
and we must be with them. We can not leave it to the advocates but we
must have a political movement as well” she said.
There was nearly hour and half of questions, contributions and her
reactions. It was mainly focused on policies and also on the building of
the united movement.
I welcomed her detour and told her that it is very welcome detour. We
were all unhappy and critical about your talks with the military regime.
But that is over now and we are happy. She smiled on my “detour” word.
I told her about the sheer corruption under the present military
government, plight of the working class and peasantry, the price hike,
the land mafia, the Okara struggle of the peasants, the arrests and
fight back and need for a broader alliance to fight the regime. I said
we do not trust at all the American and we have to build a movement to
overthrow this government. I told her some figures of price hike and
said the issues of poverty, unemployment and labor conditions have not
become your priorities. You have only reached the middle class but
working class has to come in the field. They are not in the movement
because there is not much in your program for them.
She heard me patiently and said yes, I agree with you on the points and
it is a question of bread and butter that has to be the main issue.
There were several others who referred to these points and it was a live
I left at the last moment of Benazir Bhutto sum up to meet Naheed Khan,
her secretary and a former member of parliament, who was outside the
meeting hall to take some telephone calls,. We had a brief chat and she
was happy to see me again. We had some time together in exile during the
early eighties. She invited us for the meeting of political parties on
21st November in Karachi. I told her that over 200 activists from AJT,
the Left alliance, have been arrested and still more to go jail. While I
was still talking to Naheed Khan, someone asked her to rush to Benazir
Bhutto car as she was already in the car.
The road out side was blocked by all the police vans that were there for
security of Benazir Bhutto.
At the meeting, it seemed that most of the participants are reading my
underground life stories. Every one I spoke asked me not to be arrested
and organize the fight. A lot of references were made towards my great
Earlier on the day, I went to attend a meeting of Lahore Social Forum
but I was late for the meeting and meeting was over. They were surprised
to see me there. I met some of them and discussed the present situation.
Several political activists and advocates have been released on bail
yesterday but the campaign goes on. More arrests are made and some
arrested one are being released on bail. The most pleasant surprise came
from the University of Punjab, where for the second day running,
thousands of students are demonstrating against the behaviors of Islami
Jamiat Tulaba (Islamic Association of Students) linked to Jamat-I_Islami.
The IJT leadership kidnapped Imran Khan and then handed over him to
police. There is rebellion at the campus after 30 years of religious
fundamentalist occupation. We discussed some measure to intervene in
The 18th Day Underground - More arrests and repression against
journalists in Pakistan
The best thing that happened during the week was a defiant demonstration
of women belonging to Labour Party Pakistan. On 19th November, 14 brave
women went to the busiest area of Lahore demanding an immediate end of
martial law in Pakistan.
They all were wearing black ribbons of their heads with slogans like no
to Martial law, release political prisoners and solidarity with
advocates and media.
One newspaper Daily Express Lahore reported on 20th November that LPP
women waited for over 30 minutes for police but police did not turn up.
The paper reported a disruption of the traffic on several roads because
of the demonstration.
It was very well planned and every aspect went according to the
planning. A demonstration in Lahore at any road means an immediate
arrest and baton charge.
We had discussed the plan of this demonstration with a title “women
against martial law”. It was decided that only those women should be at
the demonstration that are ready to be arrested. They should not be
arrested peacefully but a resistance will be offered to police. There
will be no escape plan and no one should run away from the scene. The
vehicles will only drop women at the place but will not be there to pick
them up. This was to safe the comrades who were driving them. No male
comrade will accompany them. But we will make sure that the
demonstration is well documented. It will be all women show.
It was also agreed that the demonstration will last for half an hour, if
police arrive then there will be resistance till the arrests. But we
will not wait for the police after half an hour and would disperse
It was discussed and agreed that two comrades will contact the media and
will only disclose the place half an hour before the demonstration. We
will not send any written invitation to the media. In the media, there
is a large infiltration of the intelligence agencies and we did not want
to take a risk that police should be there before our arrival. To our
utmost surprise, no one from the media informed the police and the media
was there in large numbers even before the demonstrators arrived.
There was another demonstration of Tehreek Insaaf of Imran Khan at the
same time not far from this place. The TI had informed the media about
their demonstration. A large number of police was there and as they
arrived at Regal Chouck on main Mall Road, six of them were immediately
arrested. Police did not expect another demonstration on the same time
and they had no clue. The result was that it took time for police to
arrive the place.
I waited eagerly at a safe place with another comrade to hear the
outcome of the demonstration away from the place of demonstration. I was
called by a journalist after 10 minutes of the demonstration telling me
of women bravery and that there are intelligence agencies persons here
taking photographs of the demonstration, but there is no police yet. He
was pleased that many people are stopping and are waving to the
demonstrators in happiness. Another journalist told me later that they
were looking like Palestinian women fighting a repressive regime with
A comrade in guise of a press photographer told me later that another
journalist told him that 30 minutes gone and the women are still
chanting slogans. Are they waiting for police to be arrested? This
comrade immediately realized the timing and pointed to the watch hinting
to one leading comrade at the demonstration.
She then declared to the press and to the people gathered at the place
that we are leaving now, but will be back with more force, we are here
to stay and fight, and we will not tolerate the military regime. We are
working class women fighting a military regime and we have not much to
loose but our chains.
No one was arrested much to our pleasant surprise. It was making a point
without many losses. The demonstration has left a very good moral on all
the comrades. It has given an extraordinary courage to all our male
comrades. They will be on the move and you will hear that too. It was
the first show of defiance by a Left group in Lahore where the level of
repression is much greater than other parts of the country. The women
led the way.
The same evening we had a meeting of leading comrades to discuss the
political developments, the regime tactics and the responses of other
political parties and our future course of action.
Another action of honor is been taken by Awami Thereek, one component of
our Left Alliance the Awami Jamhoori Tehreek AJT (Peoples Democratic
Movement).  Till 21st November, over 300 activists of Awami Tehreek
are been arrested in Sind province. They have a strategy of courting
arrest at five district headquarters of Sind on the name of “fill the
jails”. Every day five activists of AT are presenting arrests against
the imposition of martial law. I had been several times in contact with
the leadership of AT to discuss the outcome of the movement.
AT is mainly a Sind based radical organization and is led by Rasul
Bukhsh Paleejo. Once in 2005, General Musharaf was asked by a journalist
about his favorite politician in Pakistan. He named Rasul Bukhsh Paleejo
as his most favorite politician in Pakistan. Paleejo has spent seen
years in jail under General Zia Ul Had dictatorship in the eighties. At
the age of 79, he is still very active.
On 18th November, we also heard the news of the arrest of Akhtar Hussain
the former president of Sind High Court and secretary general of
National Workers Party, another component of AJT. He was picked up from
his house in Karachi early in the morning. Comrade Nasir Mansoor lives
nearby. He went to the police station where Akhtar Hussain was kept in
custody and enquired about the situation and showed solidarity with him.
During the last four days, since I wrote “meeting Benazir Bhutto", I
have been little more open than I did during the early 10 days of the
martial law. But there is terrible feeling of being watched all the
times. I always look behind, who is coming.
Yesterday morning, I had to fax an article to Daily Waqt (Time), a
rising new bourgeoisie paper in Urdu, who asked me to write about the
movement of students in University of Punjab for its editorial pages, I
went out to a shop to do this. While I was there faxing the seven pages,
a police van came and stopped outside. I was terrified inside. The
police van had not come for me but they went for lunch to the restaurant
next door. But sheer presence of police van made me very sensitive. A
lot of thoughts, why they have come, why they are not coming inside to
arrest me, who have informed them, where is the mistakes, is it the
mobile I am using, is it the motorbike I am traveling and so on. I am
becoming more of a psychological case. I am sometime up to my neck.
Being in underground to hide myself is an easy option but that is what I
am not supposed to do. I am in underground to play a role, to meet the
comrades, contact them, talk to media if possible, motivate the contacts
and party comrades, networking with all the friends inside and outside,
replying to emails. Writing interviews, articles in Urdu and English etc
for our weekly
Mazdoor Jeddojuhd and other papers.
One of my foolish but lovely friends from Netherlands wrote me a mail in
Dutch language and expected me to reply in the same language. I read and
understood but the ability to write Dutch is no more. I had spent eight
years in exile in Netherlands. I do not want to be in exile anymore.
The article on University of Punjab was printed today on 21st November,
analyzing the recent revolt of students against the religious
fundamentalist students who kidnapped Imran Khan and then handed over to
police. I exposed the fascist nature of these religious fundamentalists
and wrote about the future of the movement. The article is already very
well read and the purpose served. Daily Waqat has over 40,000
circulations at present. It was to make contact with the new leadership
of the student uprising and that was done today. I had been a student of
this University in the seventies. It was marvelous to see over few
thousand students demonstrating against the religious fundamentalist
control of the University.
Today, I was invited for an interview with private channel AAJ (today).
This was about the restriction on the media. Voice of America radio did
an interview as well on telephone. I also gave an interview to Geo who
is at present off air under the pressure of the military regime. Its
transmission was aired from Dubai, but under the pressure of the
military regime, the Dubai government asked GEO to close their
transmission. Geo is the most popular private television channel in
Pakistan. People are very angry and are speaking against the military
The Punjab Union of Journalist (PUJ) invited me to a meeting this
afternoon held at Lahore Press Club. This is the area where most of the
demonstrations are taking place. A lot of police and intelligence
agencies are always around the building. A journalist comrade imported
me inside safely. I think no one noticed as I went in. The meeting was
to discuss the yesterday beating and arrest of journalists at Karachi.
On 20th November, the police in Karachi arrested over 180 journalists
who wanted to take out a protest. They were severely beaten up. A
Karachi LPP leading comrade Sher Baz Khan along with several other
comrades was with them. He was beaten up by police with the journalist
and now has a broken hand; a fracture in hand will heal in weeks to
I refused initially to go to Lahore Press Club building for the meeting
but then decided to take the risk. After two hours of meeting inside
with food and tea, I had to climb a wall to leave the building from back
doors. This escape rout from the Press Club was not known to me but
known to most journalist and was known as “thief door”.
While I was still inside the meeting, the news came from Faisalabad that
over 20 journalists are arrested and six of them are seriously injured
while they were inside the Press Club building. Police used tear gas and
baton charge against the protesting journalist. After Karachi, same
repressive tactics were used in Faisalabad. We condemned the act and
spoke to some journalists at Faisalabad to express our solidarity.
While I was at my place of stay for the evening, I got a call to speak
at a press conference with Hafeez Khan, Imran Khan’s cousin, at Imran
Khan home. Imran Khan is on hunger strike for the last three day at Dera
Ghazi Khan Jail, around 14 hours from Lahore. He has not taken any food
since and is on very weak health. We offered our full solidarity and
promised to raise it everywhere, but I told them that I can not come for
security reasons. We also informed the press to attend the press
Public Again after 20 days of underground life
Since 23rd November, I am working normally. Most of the political
prisoners were released and police raids were rare.
According to the Musharaf dictatorship, on 28th November, there were
only 37 political prisoners in different jails and rest are released.
The 37 include most of the main leaders of the advocate’s movement. I
remained underground for 20 days and avoided arrest while still active
in the movement.
This is a temporary interval. The dictatorship has got what they wanted.
They wanted to get rid of the independent judiciary before they could
announce the general elections and before general Musharaf final
decision on his election as president in uniform. To do that, they had
to arrest over 10,000 political, social trade unions activists and
They had a positive decision by the hand picked judges of the Supreme
Court on the issue of the president ship of general Musharaf. The
dictatorship has even allowed
Nawaz Sharif, the former prime minister of Pakistan, to return after
seven years of exile. Saudi Arabian kingdom has played some mediatory
role. The details of the deal have yet to surface.
On 27th November,
Labour Party Pakistan organized two events for the release of the
political prisoners. At Karachi, over 60 activists of LPP were in front
of Karachi Press Club for a vigil to demand release of political
prisoners and solidarity with the journalists. The picture of the
Karachi LPP vigil was printed all over Pakistan in front and back pages
of most of the main newspapers. The majority of the sixty activists of
LPP were women at Karachi vigil.
On the same day in Lahore, over 200 activists took out a rally to
protest the ongoing arrest of the advocate leaders and to express
solidarity with the struggling media. They went to Lahore Press Club and
then to the office of GEO, the private television channel that is still
off air under the direct orders of the military dictatorship.
Surprisingly, there were no arrests at the two events. But in Lahore, a
large contingent of police was accompanying the demonstrators. At Lahore
demonstration, there were over 80 women participants.
I could not participate in Lahore demonstration as I was in
Toba Tek Singh, my home town, for the filing of the nomination
papers to contest election for the national and provincial parliaments.
Although the Awami Jamhoori Tehreek, the left alliance, has decided to
boycott the elections under the present conditions of repression, but
LPP wanted to make the boycott more effective.
The strategy was discussed and approved by the leading bodies of the LPP
to file the nomination paper, get it accepted and then boycott the
procedure after launching a mass campaign to boycott it. The Musharaf
dictatorship has announced general election to be held on 8th January
2008 after the imposition of the emergency and after getting rid of the
The elections are just a farce under the present repressive conditions.
We had done some home work for my elections at Tobe Tek Singh including
opening an office at one of the main area of the city. We had organized
several meetings including one of the women where over 150 women
participated. We had planned the fourth national conference at the city
but had to postpone it for the second time. So it was not a good
strategy to boycott the elections and do nothing.
For the national assembly constituency number 93, 12 candidates
including myself have submitted papers to contest the elections. They
are from Pakistan peoples Party, Muslim League Nawaz and Muslim league
Q, Mutihida Muslis Ammal the religious parties’ alliance, Labour Party
Pakistan and several independents. I went along with some of the senior
leaders of the Left alliance to submit my papers to the returning
officer who is an additional district judge. You had to be a graduate to
contest the general elections. Less than one percent of the total
population of Pakistan is graduates.
I was in Toba Tek Singh for two days and met some of the local party
activists and friends to chart out the strategy. They all agree to
boycott the elections.
Today on 18th November, I went to Lahore High Court to meet some of the
leaders of the advocate movement. I met Sarfraz Cheema, the 32 year old
secretary of Lahore High Court Bar Association who spent 17 days in jail
and was released few days before. He told me about the brutalities of
the police against the advocates. The police entered in their office to
destroy the computer and fax machine on 5th November. Over 700 advocates
were arrested on the day including him.
Later on the day, I spoke in one of
Action Aid Pakistan seminar on poverty alleviation in association
with Women Workers Help Line. The other speakers included Dr. Mubashar
Hasan the former federal finance minister under Bhutto, Dr. Abdul Hai
Baluch president of National Party, Rabia Bajwa advocate, Hasan Nasir
from Revolutionary democratic Workers Committee, a part of Left Alliance
and Bushra Khaliq secretary Women Workers Help Line. Earlier, Fikre
Zwadie, the country director of Action Aid Pakistan welcomed the
speakers for this political session of the seminar. All the speakers
were against the emergency and for a boycott of the general elections.
Dr. Mubashar Hasan commented in his speech that Farooq has been arrested
all the times because of the repressive nature of the regime.
I must thank all my friends and family in Lahore who has helped me in
the most difficult period of repression. Without their full scale help,
I would have not been out of jail. I also thank LPP members and
supporters for all the help they could lend.
I also must thank all those friends and supporters from overseas for
reading my mails and some time commenting with encouraging words. They
John Pilger (UK), Pierre Rousset (France),
Tariq Ali (UK),
Eric Toussaint (Belgium), John Hunt (UK),
Phil Frampton (UK), Peter Boyle (Australia), Sue Bolton (Australia),
Merrilyn Treasure (Australia), Silla Vriesma Netherlands), Elisabeth van
Hoval (Netherlands), Lidy Nicpal (Philipine), Srilata Sawminathan
(India), Roger Silverman (UK), John Reiman (USA), John Throne (USA),
Richard Miller (USA), Ahmad Shawki (USA), Roland Ekbom (Sweden), Jan
Hodann (Sweden), Toni Usman (Norway), Farooq Sulehria (Sweden), Asim Ali
Shah (UK), Michel Eggermont ()Netherland), Hans Van Heijningen
(Netherlands), Joost Kircz (Netherlands), Sue Bolton (Australia),
Saqlain Imam (UK), Pam Curry (Scotland), Comrade Shahid (USA), Roger
Silverman (UK), Sandeep Chachra (Thailand), John Samuel Thailand),
Rashid Titumir (Bhangladesh), Taimur Rehman (UK), Frank Hazur (India),
Kuldeep Kumar (India), Mohan Kumar (Australia), Tarek Fatah Canada),
Alvin Dizon (Philipine), Chetan Patel (UK), Toqeer Ahmad (Canada),
Dianne Feeley (USA), Qamarulah (UAE), Linda Waldren and Ray (Australia),
Kenji Kunitomi (Japan), Dr. Mark (Russia), Silvana (Italy) and many more
I like to mention but it is getting already a long list.
I also like to thank all those who have spread the news to other email
lists, addresses and website. I have seen dozens of websites that have
pasted these letters written during my underground time.
Good Books intends to publish these entire letters in a booklet with the
only one picture of mine in a change get up that was taken by one of my
close friend when I arrived to spend the night at their place.
I wrote all these stories in a very light manner with personal incidents
and some political points. I have met many friends during the last one
week in Pakistan who have read all these stories and were happy that
they were in picture what was happening.
Lifting Emergency is a farce
Struggle to continue until the end of the Musharaf dictatorship
A Labour Party Pakistan statement
The Labour Party Pakistan rejects the claim of General Musharaf that the
emergency has been lifted on 15th December. It is lifted with
constitution amended with all the repressive measures protected by a
decree. General Musharaf actions within 42 days of “emergency” can not
be challenged by any court and it does have to be ratified by two third
majorities by the future parliament.
This is just a farce. We condemn this dictatorial maneuvering and ask
working class of Pakistan and internationally to continue its struggle
till the overthrow of General Musharaf.
The lifting of emergency is littered with over 10,000 arrests of
lawyers, political activists and students. Many thousands were forced to
stay away from their houses under the threat of being arrested. Many
hundreds were brutally beaten up and hundreds were injured. Top judges
and advocate leaders are still in detentions.
The main aim of the emergency was to get rid of independent judiciary.
That mission is accomplished with new hand picked judges installed at
the Supreme Court and High Courts. All these repressive, dictatorial,
undemocratic, brutal and unjustified action of general Musharaf from 3rd
November is been “legalized”.
The real name of emergency was martial law; a rule imposed by the
military commander in chief can only be described as martial law. No
demonstrations were allowed. All the electronic and print media was put
under watch and several were closed down completely. The private
televisions channels were off the air for a month and GEO, the most
popular private television channel, is still off the air till today.
The emergency was not a bumper on the road to democracy but a wall
erected to stop the path to democracy. The wall is still is there.
The calling of elections under the emergency rule was another political
maneuver to dodge the international growing opposition to military rule.
The general elections on 8th January with all the repressive
measure protected by amended constitution does not give an equal
opportunity to all those interested in elections. The elections under
the new care takers government from the same Musharaf supporters and
hand picked judiciary and Election Commission will not be fair and free.
The boycott of these elections is the only option left for genuine
opposition to General Musharaf. The boycott response of 25 political
parties to the call of Pakistan Bar Council is the right strategy to
further the struggle for restoration of democracy and independence of
judiciary. Without the restoration of the judges who refused to take
oath under PCO, there could be no guarantee for free and fair general
Labour Party Pakistan will fight along other political parties and civil
society organization for an immediate end of general Musharaf rule. Its
candidates for national and provincial assemblies have taken back the
Lifting Emergency is a farce
Struggle to continue till the end of Musharaf dictatorship
A Labour Party Pakistan statement
The Labour Party Pakistan rejects the claim of general Musharaf that
emergency is been lifted on 15th December. It is lifted with
constitution amended and all the repressive measures protected by
decree. General Musharraf’s actions within 42 days of the “emergency”
can not be challenged by any court and would have to be ratified by a
two-third majority in the future parliament.
This is just a farce. We condemn this dictatorial maneuvering and ask
the working class of Pakistan and internationally to continue its
struggle until General Musharraf is overthrown.
The lifting of emergency is littered with the arrests of over 10,000
lawyers, political activists and students. Many thousands were forced to
stay away from their houses under the threat of being arrested. Many
hundreds were brutally beaten up and hundreds injured. Top judges and
lawyer are still in detentions.
The main aim of the emergency was to get rid of an independent
judiciary. That mission is accomplished, with new hand-picked judges
installed at the Supreme Court and High Courts. All these repressive,
dictatorial, undemocratic, brutal and unjustified action of General
Musharraf from 3rd November has been “legalized.”
The real name of emergency was martial law; a rule imposed by the
military commander-in-chief can only be described as martial law. No
demonstrations were allowed. All the electronic and print media was put
under watch and several were closed down completely. The private
televisions channels were off the air for a month and GEO, the most
popular private television channel, is still silent.
The emergency was not a bump on the road to democracy but a wall erected
to stop the path to democracy. The wall is still is there.
Calling elections under emergency rule is another political maneuver to
dodge the growing international opposition to military rule. The general
election on 8th January, with all the repressive measure
protected by the amended constitution, does not provide an equal
opportunity to all. Under the new caretaker government, and with a
hand-picked judiciary and Election Commission, the election will not be
fair and free.
Boycotting these elections is the only option for genuine opposition to
General Musharraf. The boycott response of 25 political parties to the
call of Pakistan Bar Council is the right strategy to further the
struggle for restoration of democracy and the independence of judiciary.
Without the restoration of the judges who refused to take the oath under
the Provisional Constitutional Ordinance there can be no guarantee for
free and fair general elections.
November 10 / 11, 2007
An Interview with Farooq Tariq
A View from the Pakistani Left
By RON JACOBS,
In recent days, the already tenuous political situation in Pakistan has
made a turn toward the worse. Musharraf's government clamped down first
on the judiciary and other opponents in the government in the first days
after his declaration of martial law. More recently, those same forces
have prevented even the liberal bourgeois opposition represented by
Benazir Bhutto from gathering and arrested several thousand members of
the opposition. In addition, Musharraf has gone on record as stating
that many of those arrested face capitol charges. One element of the
secular opposition to Musharraf is the Labour Party of Pakistan, a
democratic socialist organization launched in 1997 from various elements
of the Pakistani Left. What follows is an exchange conducted over the
past couple of days (November 9-10, 2007) between myself and Farooq
Tariq, secretary general of the Party. (Thanks to Tariq Ali for
putting me in contact with Mr. Tariq.-Ron)
Ron: Hello. To begin, can you please identify yourself and generally
describe your politics and the politics of the Pakistan Labour Party?
Also, how many members and supporters do you estimate the Labour Party
Farooq: I am Farooq Tariq, secretary general, Labour Party Pakistan (LPP).
I am an activist since my student days at Punjab University back in mid
1970s. I became active as left activist and left used to be strong on
campuses those days. Our main rivals were religious fundamentalists.
When Zia military dictatorship was imposed, I went in exile. Spent some
eight years in Holland and England. There we built Struggle Group that
got active in Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party. In 1986, I moved
back to Pakistan as situation improved in Pakistan and Struggle Group
had possibility to get active from Pakistani soil itself. After Benazir
first stint in power, Struggle Group with a perspective that PPP would
now on serve only ruling classes, left PPP and began campaigning for an
independent workers party. After building a good trade union base,
Labour Party Pakistan (LPP) was launched in 1997. LPP wants a democratic
socialist Pakistan and is a Marxist organisation that draws inspiration
from, among others, Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky.
We have a membership of over 3,000. One of the eight big trade union
federations (NTUF) in Pakistan is LPP's sympathetic body. The NTUF
(National Trade Union Federation) represents over hundred thousand
industrial workers. We run a Urdu weekly (www.jeddojuhd.com), only left
weekly published in Pakistan. Our woman members set up Women Working
Help Line (WWHL) that has a membership of almost two thousands. Our
youth front has some modest success in last two years while our student
base remains almost non-existent.
Ron: What city are you writing from? Have there been protesters in the
streets in that city?
Farooq: I am underground since the imposition of Emergency. Mostly, I
have been in Lahore and certain towns in northern Punjab.
Ron: What is the make up of the protesters in Pakistan right now? The US
newspapers describe the majority of the protesters as being lawyers and
NGO activists. Is this so? What are the demands of the protests?
Farooq: Initially, it was advocates (lawyers), left and human rights
activists. But the situation has changed in last three days as Benazir
Bhutto has declared her opposition. Yesterday, PPP workers fought
pitched battles with police in Rawalpindi. PPP claims that 5000 of its
workers were arrested across Pakistan. Also, government has arrested
members of Justice Party of former cricket-star Imran Khan and Muslim
League of exiled Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. However, Islamists parties
are not either joining the movement or being targeted by the regime.
Their opposition of regime remains restricted to press statement.
Ron: Do you foresee the protests continuing and perhaps growing in size?
Farooq: There is the potential. Big possibility. This past summer, it
took sometime before masses took to roads. Masses hesitate at first but
when they see a leadership fighting, they most likely join it. One
reason is also media black out. TV channels are off air while print
media is censored. Many don't know what's happening. Often, expat
Pakistanis are more informed than us here.
Ron: What security forces are arresting the opposition? Is it the Army,
the ISI, or other police?
Farooq: It is police. But there have been reports where known arrested
activists have been handed over to ISI.
Ron: What role does Benazir Bhutto play in Pakistani politics? Does the
Labour Party consider her role a positive one? Do they support her at
all? What do you make of her arrest?
Farooq: The good news in last three days was the changing attitude of
Benazir Bhutto towards present military regime. While in exile, she made
a deal to share power with military regime. This deal was brokered by
USA. Her return on October 18 was also a US-backed move. But while in
Pakistan, there was suicidal attack on her rally leaving over 200 dead.
There was a mass negative campaign by the chief minister of Punjab
against Benazir Bhutto. Then Musharraf imposed the Emergency on 3rd
November without her consent apparently. Most of the advocates arrested
after Emergency were from her party. It was all two much. This built a
pressure. In first three days, PPP activists were not arrested but it
all changed with Benazir coming openly against the military regime on
Her changing attitude was welcome by LPP in press. I, on LPP's behalf,
announced in the media that LPP would join the Long March planned for
13th November by PPP from Lahore to Islamabad. Although we were very
critical of polices she pursued in last few months that is to say her
power sharing formula with Musharraf regime, her soft corner for the
Her recent dealings have also given currency to conspiracy theories.
Many say that her opposition is just fake and all is done in
collaboration with the regime in order to restore Benazir'' image as
militant leader. LPP don't agree with such so-called conspiracies
theories about Benazir and Musharraf being friends. Benazir opposition
of the regime has meant arrests of thousands of PPP activists and their
houses raided all across Pakistan.
Ron: I understand the situation constantly changes, but do you believe
the elections will be held in February 2008? If they are, do you think
they will be free and fair? Why or why not?
Farooq: In view of the unfolding movement, and international pressure,
yes we can hope for that. But fair and free elections are out of
question. Democracy movement will have to fight a long war before we are
able to have a democracy strong enough that ensures a free election.
Ron: What, in your opinion, is the cause of the unrest in Pakistan? How
much of a role do religious extremists play? How much of a role does the
Army play? How is this martial law similar to previous episodes of
martial law in Pakistani history?
Farooq: In the first place, it is the mass impoverishment of masses
under Musharraf regime. Struggle for bread and butter has become even
hard. Utility bills, price hike and jobless are biggest issues. This is
the root cause of unrest. Also, military has become a
military-industrial complex that is acting like a mafia. There is
resentment against that. Then you have US presence in the region leading
to instability in Pakistan. Musharraf's pro-US policies are universally
Musharraf's military rule is unlike Zia dictatorship in its mask.
Musharraf claims enlightenment and moderation. Zia Islamised Pakistan.
But both these dictatorship, like earlier military regimes have been
On internal front, all have been repressive when faced with opposition.
Every time military takes over, the military increases its industrial
base, thus leading to more corruption.
Ron: What do you think will be the result of the Emergency rule? How
long do you think it will be in place?
Farooq: General Musharaff would not have thought of the political
scenario that has emerged the imposition of Emergency on 3rd November.
His hopes for normalcy have been dashed despite a vicious repression
against the advocates and political activists. More unpleasant surprises
will come in future for the military regime that was used to a rather
stable political control until now.
After advocates, now students are emerging on the political opposition
to the military regime. Demonstrations took place on 7th November 2007
in certain public and private universities in the main cities of
Pakistan. "Student power rises from slumber" was the headline of daily
The News International on 8th November.
The media organization of the bosses and employees are also joining the
mass movement after unprecedented repression against the electronic and
print media by the regime.
It was a black Monday on 5th November for the stock exchanges in
Pakistan. The stock exchange crash resulted in a net loss of four
billion dollars in one day, unprecedented in last 17 years.
His imperialist backers like US, UK and European Union have been forced
to condemn Emergency at least in word for the first time since 9/11. Any
gross violation of human rights in Pakistan since 9/11, was always an
internal matter for the US imperialism. Even Australian imperialism is
condemning the sorry state of affairs of Pakistan and terming Musharraf
"a dictator" for the first time, a fact Pakistani people knew for eight
years. LPP perspective is that such an isolated regime can not last
long. The opposition movement is on and is growing.
Ron: Is there any other information or thoughts you wish to provide the
Farooq: The opposition to military regime will be strengthened by the
active solidarity of our friends and comrades outside Pakistan. The
pickets of the Pakistan embassies all over the world will be one the
most effective way of opposition. It is time to show international
Ron: Thanks you for your time.
Farooq: Thanks a lot for letting LPP express itself on an important left
site like Counterpunch.
Ron Jacobs is author of
The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather Underground, which
is just republished by Verso. Jacobs' essay on Big Bill Broonzy is
featured in CounterPunch's collection on music, art and sex,
Serpents in the Garden. His first novel,
Short Order Frame Up, is published by Mainstay Press. He can be
Labour Party Pakistan will fight along other political parties and civil
society organizations for an immediate end to Musharraf’s rule. Its
candidates for national and provincial assemblies have taken back their
The remaking of the movement
There are daily demonstrations against the military dictatorship all
over Pakistan. Students, lawyers, journalists and others from the civil
society are in the lead this time.
It is yet small in numbers but it is growing every day. The numbers are
increasing and so is the militancy of the demonstrations, picket lines
and rallies. The movement is in the remaking once again.
This is happening just after two weeks of the large scale repression,
arrests and detentions of the over 10,000 activists from different
political parties and advocates. Most of those arrested are released but
the main leadership of the Advocate movement is still under detention.
Most of the judges who refused to take oath under the new constitutional
order are under threat of thrown out of their official residences. But
the 24 hours picket lines by the activists not seen earlier in the
movement at Lahore and Islamabad have made the task of the police more
There are many new faces in the movement; mainly young students,
advocates and social activists. This is a new layer that is remaking the
movement and it is spreading day by day.
Journalists, advocates, students and radical social organizations
representatives are uniting in one or another form to organize the
movement. They are taking new initiatives. SMS, mobile telephone calls
and emails have become the main source of communications of the event
organized by different groups. Resistance is organized on very short
When a judge of Lahore High Court Shahid Siddique was under threat of
evacuation: in half an hour, many dozens activists started a picket line
of the house on 3rd December. Now this has translated into 24 hour
picket line at the front gates of the judge’s house. Hundreds of
activists have visited the house and the judge has mad very radical
Thousands of students, journalists, advocates and social activists are
demonstrating on daily basis in Islamabad. Police is using baton charges
to disperse them on regular basis.
There are daily protests by the journalists all over Pakistan against
the restriction on the media. One of the most popular private television
channel GEO is still not been allowed on air in Pakistan. The Sind High
Court dismissed a petition of this TV channel after hearing six times
saying that they can not hear this case. These are the hand-picked
judges of Musharaf who are denying justice. So are the judges at Supreme
Court who are giving a go-ahead to this military dictatorship.
The boycott campaign against the holding of general elections under the
emergency is growing as well. More and more political parties are
boycotting the elections on the basis that it will be rigged at a level
never seen before. There is no counter-balance or a place to go against
any sort of rigging during the elections.
The Left Alliance of seven political parties and groups has also
announced (a decision) to boycott the general elections. Labour Party
Pakistan candidates who have submitted the nomination papers are taking
back their nomination papers on the instruction of this Left alliance,
At an all-parties conference on 5th December at Lahore Press Club,
almost all except Pakistan Peoples Party were in favor of rejecting the
elections. The representatives of journalists, lawyers, doctors, civil
society organizations and students argued in favor of boycott to further
the movement against the military dictatorship.
The movement is in remaking; so is the level of repression by the
military regime. A new wave of arrests has started already in Islamabad.
This is despite the assurances of the military dictatorship that no more
arrests will be made on political grounds. But the repression is
generating new militancy among different groups to come on the street.
The Musharaf regime is in real crisis. Its entire plan for future
prolongation of its rule is facing serious difficulties. More and more
people are speaking openly against the military regimes. The trade
unions in one district have come forward as well against the military
regime and bad social conditions. The others are in preparations.
Several public opinion surveys have described the growing discontent
among the ordinary citizens of Pakistan against general Musharaf.
The ordinary people have not yet come to the street in bulk. But all the
signs are there. The demonstrations are small but very vocal and growing
day by day. Musharaf’s regime can not last very long despite the fact
that American imperialism is trying to rescue him for the time being. It
is a weak military dictatorship and that is fact becoming known to many
day by day. Youth are in the forefront this time, a guarantee for
success, According to Lenin, “he who has the youth, has the future.