RAWALPINDI: Bhagat Singh and Dada Amir Haider tried to loosen the chains of society and loudly and clearly called for the working class and young people to stand up for the rights of the underprivileged, said speakers at an event on Sunday.

The event, organised by Awami Workers Party (AWP), was held at the Rawalpindi Press Club to commemorate the work of the two revolutionaries not just for their native Punjab but for humanity across the globe.

Political workers, trade unionists and students attended the event, which also featured a talk by AWP founder and former Supreme Court Bar Association president Abid Hassan Minto, who was a friend and comrade of Dada Amir Haider Khan.

Other speakers included AWP Punjab president Dr Aasim Sajjad Akhtar, AWP deputy secretary general Ismat Shahjehan, AWP Islamabad-Rawalpindi president Chaudhry Masudul Hassan, Akram Bunda from the Pakistan Workers Federation and Imran Shan from the Jammu Kashmir People’s National Party.


They called on society to stand up for the rights of the underprivileged


Dada Amir Haider was born at the beginning of the 20th century in the small village of Sihalian, around 50 kilometres southeast of Rawalpindi city. His work took him across the Indian subcontinent, to the Soviet Union and to the United States. His commitment to the ideas of international revolutionary socialism helped him build the first trade union in India in the 1920s.

Bhagat Singh was born in 1907 in a village near Faisalabad, and in his youth rose quickly to prominence because of his revolutionary activities against British imperialism under the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association. He was arrested in 1929 and executed in Lahore in 1931 at the age of 23.

Speaking at the event, Mr Minto recounted his memories of Dada Amir Haider and highlighted the impact that he and Bhagat Singh made at a young age in their struggle against British imperialism.

“Whereas today’s society teachers our youth to focus only on advancing their individual careers and their personal wellbeing, the examples of Bhagat Singh and Dada Amir Haider showed that just a few generations ago, the villages and towns of Punjab produced young people with a desire to bring about revolutionary improvement to not just the lives of their own family, caste, tribe or nation, but the entire working class of the world,” he said.

“Donald Trump’s rise to power in America means [there is a need] for all anti-imperialists in Pakistan and around the world to close ranks,” he added.

Dr Akhtar said today’s leftwing political movements must take the revolutionary optimism of the great leaders and apply it to the unique conditions of today’s economy and society.

“While Bhagat Singh and Dada Amir Haider lived in an era where the enemy was visible and obvious in the shape of British colonialism, today’s circumstances require us to challenge capitalist exploitation carried out by a ruling class that lives among us and claims to work for us under the guise of ‘anti-terrorism’ and ‘rule of law’. Indeed, even securing basic democratic freedoms in an era of surveillance, militarisation of the state and rightwing populism is a revolutionary task,” he said.

Ms Shahjehan recounted Bhagat Singh’s warnings of the futility of nationalistic idealism devoid of a revolutionary social basis, saying this was just as applicable today when the jingoistic nationalism of Pakistan’s ruling class works only to protect its economic interests.

She also noted the need to add to Dada Amir Haider and Bhagat Singh’s revolutionary praxis by recognising the revolutionary potential of women, the mobilisation of whom will distinguish leftist parties such as the AWP from mainstream political parties.

A musical theatre performance was also held by AWP workers, and resolutions were passed against ongoing national security policies that have not arrested violence in the country – as evidenced by the recent blast in Parachinar, the continued incarceration of AWP leaders Baba Jan and Ghulam Dastgir and Sunday’s arrest of Karachi University professor Dr Riaz Ahmed, and the erosion and privatisation of public services.

It was also demanded that the state guarantee education, health, employment and peace to all citizens.

Published in Dawn, April 3rd, 2017

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