500 protest in Lahore against war on Iraq

By: Luke Fomiatti and Tamara Pearson




Pakistan - The Anti-War Committee-Pakistan, a coalition of 27 NGOs, progressive political parties and activists including Labour Party Pakistan, National Workers Party, People’s Party Shahid Bhutto, Mazdoor Kisan Party and Joint Action Committee for People’s Rights, organized the protest to coincide with an International day of action against war. The intention was to march to the US consulate and present a petition opposing war on Iraq.

However, even after extensive negotiations with police, they were denied the right to march and allowed only a stationary rally. Chanting “Bush Bush Hush Hush” (Go away Bush) and waving placards with slogans such as ‘operation infinite lawlessness’ and ‘WTO – economic terrorists’ the rally managed to march about a block before being blocked by police.

Farooq Tariq, a member of the Anti-War Committee, called the protest a great success. “Pakistan is known for anti-American demonstrations led by fundamentalists, but these fundamentalists are not anti-imperialism and they are not for peace; they want more war with America. It is only the Left wing forces that have consistently fought against American imperialism and today all the left parties are united in an Anti-war committee and we will show the real alternative to the masses in fighting against imperialism.”

A number of messages of solidarity were received from around the world including ASAP (Australia), John Pilger (film maker), Asia Peace Alliance, ANSWER (USA), UIT (Latin America) plus others.

John Pilger message to Pakistan

"I send my greetings to the Anti War Committee Pakistan. I can think of no other country where campaigning against a barbaric attack on Iraq is more important than Pakistan. Pakistan is at the centre of American war planning. It was part of the American attack on Afghanistan, and Washington will expect Islamabad to support when it drops its cluster bombs on Iraq. I admire you people immensely. We in the West don't need the courage that you people of principle must have in your everyday political lives. I admire you and I am honoured to regard myself as one of your comrades. All power to you!"
John Pilger


The Asian Peace Alliance greets the (Pakistan peace coalition) on this day of anti-war protest. We stand side by side with you in extending our solidarity to the people of Iraq as they face another crisis that promises to heighten their already unimaginable suffering For there is already a war on Iraq. The governments of the United States and Britain have consistently been waging a war on its people since the end of the first Gulf war. Over the last 12 years, barbaric economic sanctions have claimed the lives of more than half a million children, according to UNICEF. This means that 5-6000 children are killed in Iraq every month, due to contaminated water, lack of medicines and malnutrition: the direct result of American attacks against water treatment plants, sewage treatment plants, electrical generating plants, and communications centers during the Gulf war, and the subsequent imposition of sanctions. 500,000 children. Every single one of them is a young life snuffed out forever by easily preventable causes. It is a human tragedy on a scale few of us can comprehend.

How can we comprehend that the infant mortality rate in Iraq rose by 100% between 1991 and 1995? That chronic malnutrition in Iraqi children under 5 shot up by 72% in the 6 years following the ‘Gulf war’? That Iraqis are now dying from diseases that were once easily treated in their country? Under the noses of UN inspectors combing Iraq for ‘evidence’ of a weapons programme, very real weapons of mass destruction, economic sanctions, continue to be deployed against the Iraqi people. It is also often forgotten by the media that a military campaign has continued to be waged against Iraq by the US and its allies over the past 12 years. Almost completely hidden from international scrutiny, US and British planes have continued to bomb Iraq an average of 3-4 times per week, killing hundreds in their enforcement of so-called ‘no-fly zones’. These no-fly zones blanket more than 60% of Iraq, 60% of a country over which no plane can fly without prior approval from Washington.

The cost of reconstructing an economic infrastructure in Iraq is estimated to begin at US$50-60 million. And while most Iraqis are forced to subsist upon an average of US$130 a year, the US has continued to spend $1.4 billion annually on further bombing their battered country. There is already a war on Iraq. Any further military action by the US and Britain will only increase the suffering of a people who have known only misery, violence, and tragedy for a decade. Can the world watch, give its tacit consent, as the US and British militaries pummel them even further? How can anyone support this war and still call themselves human?

In the name of humanity and peace, it is time to stop this war on the innocent. There is no justification for a new military campaign, and there must be no new military campaign. We extend our strong solidarity to the efforts of the (Anti-War Coalition in Pakistan) against the planned escalation of US and British violence on the people of Iraq. Similar efforts are being carried out throughout Asia and around the world. The collective strength of peace loving people around the world can and will stop this insanity. It is also time to end the sanctions, time to let the people of Iraq enjoy their right to life and security. Their suffering must end. We demand peace for the people of Iraq, for the people of Asia, for the people of the world.


LPP (For a democratic socialist Pakistan)

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