Another bounced post from John Percy

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Sun Oct 24 10:44:01 MDT 1999

Labour Party Pakistan protests military coup

Democratic Socialist Party
dsp at

October 24, 1999

Dear friends,

Attached below are articles from the Labour Party Pakistan on the coup
in Pakistan. They are reprinted from the October 27 issue of Green Left
Weekly, which is just about to go to press, and from the October 20

The LPP's opposition to the coup has already prompted a raid on their
newspaper's office by the military. To help forestall any further
harassment or attacks on the democratic rights of the LPP and the people
of Pakistan, supporters are urged to send messages opposing any
curtailment of democratic freedoms to the Pakistan military, and to
Pakistani embassies and consulates in your country. Copies and messages
of support should be sent to the Labour Party Pakistan:
<lpp at>

The Green Left Weekly articles attached below are:

October 27, 1999
LPP newspaper office raided by military By Farooq Sulehria
Pakistan's left and the military dictatorship By Farooq Sulehria

October 20, 1999
Military takes over Pakistan By Farooq Tariq
Martial law imposed

(The current issue and all back issues are available on the GLW World
Wide Web site:

In solidarity,

John Percy
national secretary
Democratic Socialist Party
johnp at
Green Left Weekly 382
October 27, 1999

LPP newspaper office raided by military

By Farooq Sulehria

LAHORE -- The Pakistan military raided the offices of the weekly Mazdoor
Jeddojuhd on October 21. A truck loaded with soldiers came to the office
of the Pakistan Trade Unions Resource Centre at 5.30pm. They asked the
printing workers if the weekly paper of the Labour Party Pakistan was
printed there and who owned it. They took some copies of the paper.

The soldiers also seized copies of a new book, Prepare For Fight,
written by Amjad Ayub, LPP overseas organiser. LPP chairperson Shoaib
Bhatti approached the officer in charge and asked why they had come.

Bhatti informed the officer that he is the editor of Mazdoor Jeddojuhd
and when asked why he was writing against the military, told him that it
is the LPP's point of view. The military squad then left without taking

LPP general secretary Farooq Tariq and Bhatti issued a joint press
statement condemning the raid as harassment and an attack on the freedom
of the press. They said it violated the promise made by coup leader
General Pervaiz Musharraf that freedom of the press would be respected.
Tariq and Bhatti declared it was their democratic right to oppose the
military regime.

The October 19 issue of Mazdoor Jeddojuhd demanded an end to military
rule and appealed to the working masses to fight against the military
dictatorship. It contained detailed articles on the situation and the
LPP's point of view. The LPP is the only political party which has not
welcomed the military takeover.

The LPP leaders appealed to the international workers' movement and
supporters of human rights and democracy to protest against this attack.

Green Left Weekly 382
October 27, 1999

Pakistan's left and the military dictatorship

By Farooq Sulehria

LAHORE -- Following the military coup led by General Pervaiz Musharraf,
it seems most political parties in Pakistan have rendered their support.
Unfortunately, some left parties are among those who have welcomed the

Such was the corruption of the Muslim League government over the past 30
months that the change of government has been generally been welcomed by
the masses. This mood is based more on relief at the fall of Prime
Minister Nawaz Sharif's regime than support for the military.

Most political parties have gone along with this popular sentiment.

On October 18 in Lahore, the central committee of the Pakistan National
Conference (PNC), an alliance of seven left and radical bourgeois
parties, welcomed the military dictatorship and demanded that the
outgoing Muslim League leadership face strict accountability. The
decision was reported by the Daily Dawn.

The left parties that have supported the military dictatorship include
the National Workers Party (NWP) -- established on June 2 with the
merger of the Pakistan Socialist Party, Awami Jamhuri Party and Pakistan
National Party -- and the Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party (CMKP).

These Stalinist parties have tried to find alternatives to the extremely
corrupt bourgeois parties within the framework of the capitalist system.
They have concluded that the military can deal with this corruption
before the masses are ready for democracy.

Anti-corruption moves

The NWP and CMKP have swallowed the charming words of the new military
dictator Musharraf that he has taken control to develop the economy and
to make the civilian politicians accountable for looted state assets and
not repaying loans. Musharraf said this process will start from 1985,
not mentioning the looting and plundering of the General Zia ul-Haq
dictatorship from 1977 to 1985.

The Musharraf dictatorship has given politicians four weeks to return
loans to the banks; otherwise they will be dealt with by an “iron hand”.
This is a clever move to win the sympathy of the masses.

The real agenda of the military is to complete the unfinished agenda of
the International Monetary Fund and World Bank: rapid privatisation,
reintroduction of the general sales tax, devaluation of the currency,
increased fuel prices and reduced tariffs.

The Pakistan People's Party, the party of opposition leader Benazir
Bhutto, has also backed the coup. Bhutto said in one interview that she
is willing to give the military dictatorship six months to bring corrupt
politicians and parties to account.

The new dictatorship, unlike that of General Zia, has not used Islam as
one of its main political weapons. It has tried to show a liberal face.
This has been one reason for the left parties' initial support.

The Musharraf dictatorship has not used the term “martial law” to refer
to its rule. General Musharraf is calling himself Pakistan's “chief
executive”. This is to hide its real face and to please the Western
imperialist powers.

Labour Party Pakistan

In contrast to the Stalinist left, the Labour Party Pakistan (LPP) has
taken a firm position against the military dictatorship and has called
for a workers and peasants' commission to investigate the corruption of
the politicians and bureaucracy. It has demanded an interim government
of workers and peasants to hold impartial general elections for a new
constitutional assembly.

On October 17, a meeting was organised at prestigious Karachi Press Club
to pay tribute to a revolutionary worker poet. The LPP was one the
organisers of the event.

LPP general secretary Farooq Tariq was the only speaker from a range of
nationally known intellectuals and poets who openly criticised the
military dictatorship. He explained that what had failed was not
democracy by capitalist democracy.

Tariq said the alternative to capitalist democracy is not a military
dictatorship but a strong workers' movement that can fight and win
socialist democracy. He openly declared that the LPP will fight the
dictatorship and build a broad campaign for the restoration of

The 300 left activists present very warmly welcomed Tariq's comments,
and many asked to join the party. It set the tone for the left movement
in Pakistan's largest city and has exposed the left supporters of the
military regime.

In Lahore, the LPP's weekly Mazdoor Jeddojuhd (Workers' Struggle) main
headline was “No to military dictatorship”. It appealed to the workers
and peasants to prepare for a struggle for the restoration of democracy.

Green Left Weekly 381
October 20, 1999

Martial law imposed

On October 14, Pakistan's army chief, General Pervaiz Musharraf,
declared a state of emergency and suspended the country's constitution.

Musharraf assumed the title of "chief executive of the Islamic Republic
of Pakistan" and suspended not only the constitution, but also the
National Assembly, all provincial assemblies and the Senate. The Senate
chairperson and deputy chairperson and the National Assembly and
provincial assemblies' speakers and deputy speakers were also suspended.

Musharraf sacked the prime minister, all federal and provincial
ministers and governors and the advisers to the prime minister and chief
ministers. He proclaimed, "The whole of Pakistan will come under the
control of the armed forces of Pakistan".

Farooq Tariq, general secretary of the Labour Party Pakistan, told Green
Left Weekly on October 15, "Martial law has been imposed without calling
it martial law".

He said, "All the ingredients of a military dictatorship can be seen.
The assemblies and Senate have been suspended. No courts will be able to
hear any petitions against the military rulers. The army has sealed the
parliament building, and the former prime minister and all the ministers
have been arrested."

As well, said Tariq, public meetings, demonstrations and strikes have
been banned. "The Labour Party Pakistan has decided to fight against the
imposition of martial law and will seek a broad front to fight for the
restoration of democracy in Pakistan", he said.

In addition to demanding that the army return to its barracks and that
elections be held for a new legislative assembly, the LPP is calling for
democratic rights to be restored and all bans on meetings and
demonstrations to be lifted immediately.
Green Left Weekly 381
October 20, 1999

Military takes over Pakistan

By Farooq Tariq

LAHORE - On October 12, the chairperson of Pakistan's Joint Chiefs of
Staff and chief of the army, General Pervaiz Musharraf, dismissed the
government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The former prime minister and
his brother, the chief minister of Punjab province, have been taken into
custody. But in his nationwide address, the army chief did not declare
martial law or announce any interim arrangements.

Troops took over the important buildings in the capital, Islamabad, in
the evening, after Musharraf's dismissal of the government was announced
by the state-run electronic media. Sharif's decision that day to remove
Musharraf from his post as army chief apparently prompted the military

In his televised address, Musharraf said that everyone was aware of the
turmoil and uncertainty that the country had gone through under Sharif.
" Not only have all the institutions been played around with, and
systematically destroyed, the economy too is in a state of collapse", he

"Despite all my advice, they tried to interfere with the armed forces,
the last remaining viable institution in which all of you take so much
pride and look up to, at all times, for the stability, unity and
integrity of our beloved country."

Sharif's government had promoted Musharraf only a week before. During
the week, the general purged several senior military officers known to
be supporters of Sharif. In retaliation, the prime minister attempted to
sack the general.

This may have been the immediate excuse for the military takeover. But
the real reasons are deeply rooted in the present economic crisis in
Pakistan and its political effects.

Politics of blame

The military have reacted angrily to attempts by the Sharif government
to blame them for Pakistan's defeat in the dispute with India over
Kashmir. The military and the Islamic fundamentalists have instead
blamed Sharif for the debacle, because he caved in to United States
pressure to withdraw from Kargil.

Further, the Sharif government recently took a foreign policy U-turn on
Afghanistan, blaming the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban government there
for terrorist activities within Pakistan. Pakistan is one of the only
countries in the world which has formally recognised the Taliban
government; the Pakistani military have actively supported the Taliban's
takeover of Kabul and other parts of Afghanistan.

Sharif was hoping that this U-turn would help the renegotiation of loans
with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). But it was not appreciated
by the various religious trends within the army.

There were other political developments which concerned the military.
The government had attempted to introduce a general sales tax. This was
opposed by the small traders' association, which organised a nationwide
strike on September 4. To cool down the traders, the government had to
oppose IMF instructions and withdraw the tax.

Further, cotton growers across the country were demanding an increase in
cotton prices, a commodity which accounts for 70% of the country's
exports. The powerful All Pakistan Textile Manufacturers Association was
opposed to such an increase. On October 10, a nationwide protest of
peasants and cotton growers blocked all of Pakistan's main roads for
hours; there have been many massive demonstrations.


All these developments exposed the extremely unpopular nature of the
government and the remarkable change in the consciousness of the masses.
At the beginning of 1997, Sharif won the general election with 40% of
the vote and secured a two-thirds majority in the national assembly.

He used his majority to introduce amendments to the constitution against
trade unions, minorities, women and oppressed nationalities. He tried to
bring the bureaucracy under his absolute control and humiliated it in

Sharif sought a kind of personal rule reminiscent of the Mughal empire.
He had a telephone help-line installed, on which he took callers'
complaints. After listening for a minute, he would announce what action
he would take. Television would broadcast the story and the impression
would be given that justice had been done in seconds.

But despite his demagogy, the conflicts mounted, not only with the
people, the army and his religious constituency, but also with his
international backers.

Sharif was unable to implement the IMF's agenda of speedy privatisation
of the main public sector institutions, including the railways,
telecommunications and electricity. He even got into a fight with those
power companies contracted by the previous government of Benazir Bhutto,
resulting in IMF intervention. The nuclear tests and the military
incursion into Kashmir also drew (hypocritical) US condemnation.

Sharif's government was weak, isolated and unstable. As a result, the
military's takeover was not met with any resistance from the masses.
There was instead a sense of confusion and, to some extent, a sense of

The military have not yet announced their future strategy. This time
however, unlike in the past, they have not used defence of Islam as the
main cause for their action. Additionally, if they opt for open military
rule under martial law, they might face opposition from the IMF, the
World Bank and the US.

More likely is that they will install a civilian puppet government under
their full control. The main aim of this government would be the speedy
implementation of the IMF agenda.

The military takeover is yet another setback for the left and trade
union movement in Pakistan. The Labour Party Pakistan has issued a
statement opposing the military takeover and has demanded the immediate
announcement of general elections under an interim government of workers
and peasants.

Further, the LPP has demanded that the army should go back to the
barracks immediately and that there be no reinstatement of the Sharif

[Farooq Tariq is the general secretary of the Labour Party Pakistan.]


Please note that the email address and web site location of the
Democratic Socialist Party of Australia have changed. Could all our
friends please adjust their address lists, and change the links on their
web pages.

All mail for the DSP should now be sent to: dsp at Our web site
is now located at:

The addresses and web sites of Green Left Weekly, Resistance, and Links
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