ISLAMABAD: A political ‘school’ was organised over the weekend by the Awami Workers Party to deepen the understanding of economic, social and political structures of oppression and inequality, as well as methods of organising progressive political resistance in Pakistan.
The event was attended by students, workers, activists and young people from across the twin cities. Speakers at various sessions called for advancing the political discourse in Pakistan beyond empty rhetoric and drawing room discussions, and moving towards evidence-based discussions on socioeconomic structures and organised practice aimed at transforming those structures.
The event began with a session on power, organised by Tooba Syed and Jaqueline Berumen. It included a reflective exercise in which participants considered incidents in their own lives when they felt powerless and shared stories of personal pain.
This was followed by a lecture titled ‘Beyond Corruption and Development – Interrogating the Power Structure’ delivered by AWP Punjab President Dr Aasim Sajjad Akhtar, who is a faculty member at Quaid-i-Azam University.
Dr Akhtar deconstructed the idea that the discourse that underwrites PTI’s politics – that centred around corruption – is new. He went back as far as Gen Ayub Kha’s coup d’etat in 1958 to illustrate a widespread middle class obsession with this theme and its repeated occurrences throughout Pakistan’s history since partition in 1947.
On the second day the organisers held a lecture delivered by Ammar Rashid on ‘Capitalisn: On the Roots of our Economic Crisis’. Mr Rashid gave a detailed examination of world economic history and examined the developments and changes that led to the decline of the feudal mode of production through merchant capitalism, to industrial capitalism and colonialism.
Then came another lecture by Dr Akhtar, this one on the history of Pakistan that is not accounted for in official accounts and manufactured state ideology.
He deconstructed state ideology and the false history that this ideology is premised on, and emphasised the fundamentality to progressive politics of theory built on a thorough study of society and politics.
Published in Dawn, September 3rd, 2018