‘Red revolution’ comes to Islamabad

Published September 29, 2014
A rally of AWP supporters passes through a road in Islamabad. — Photo by Ishaque Chaudhry
A rally of AWP supporters passes through a road in Islamabad. — Photo by Ishaque Chaudhry

ISLAMABAD: Aabpara Chowk came alive with slogans of revolution once again on Sunday. But this time, it wasn’t supporters of the protesting Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) – camped out on Constitution Avenue – that were raising them.

The Awami Worker’s Party (AWP), fresh from the conclusion of their first federal congress in Islamabad, held a car rally from Zero Point to Aabpara.

Sporting the bright red flags of their party, marchers cried “-ism, -ism, socialism” from the roofs of buses.

Participants, including party workers, slum dwellers, trade unionists and students, then marched down Khayaban-i-Suharwardy, culminating at Aabpara Chowk.

Slogans of the old left, which have not been heard on the streets of Islamabad for quite some time, filled the air as AWP leaders and office-bearers took the stage.

According to a statement issued by the AWP, party president and noted jurist Abid Hassan Minto said that the Awami Workers Party represented the culmination of years of struggle to resurrect the Pakistani left, and was now on its way to becoming a strong political force for socialism, equality and justice in the country.

He said that all mainstream parties (including the populist PTI and PAT) had completely neglected the working poor of the country, who were completely detached from the struggles for power that had engulfed the country in recent months.

AWP Chairman Fanoos Gujjar, who led a sizeable contingent of his supporters to the rally, said that, “Those talking about a revolution were the very classes which revolutions sought to oust,” referring to the ongoing protests at D-Chowk.

Nisar Shah, the central information secretary, spoke at length about the indictment of Baba Jan, the party’s vice president who had been booked by an anti-terrorism court on trumped-up charges.

He told Dawn that the 12 people had been illegally sentenced by an anti-terrorism court in Gilgit-Baltistan, since Pakistan’s anti-terror laws were not applicable in GB. He also called on the Supreme Court to take suo motu notice of these injustices.

General Secretary Farooq Tariq said the new politics of the left had to be socialist, feminist and environmentalist. A statement quoted him as saying that, “It (is) imperative for all those interested in progressive politics to work to build an alternative left in the country”.

Aasim Sajjad Akhtar, secretary general of AWP’s Punjab wing, told Dawn that the rally, and indeed the entire movement, was focusing on bringing more young people into the fold.

“We, who were the Cold War generation, were lost because in our youth, socialism was considered dead. Young people bring more vibrancy, more energy and update our ideas. They help us ensure that our Marxism is up to date and relevant,” he said.

Umair Javed, a party worker who came from Lahore to attend the party congress, said that the party sought to offer a single platform for progressives to engage with political issues from a leftist perspective.

Activists Bakhshal Thalho, Farzana Bari and Alia Amirali also spoke at the rally.

Published in Dawn, September 29th , 2014

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