On the History of the Communist Movement in Pakistan (Part I)

Magnus Bernhardsen magnus.bernhardsen at nm.no
Fri Sep 28 08:35:38 MDT 2001

This is written as an answer to the LPP version of history. I've slightly
edited it.

Magnus B

Dearest friends, this is a must read for all those people who are
interested in bringing about a genuine change in Pakistan. This article
will inform you about the history of the left in Pakistan and also show
you what the LPP is all about. It gets really funny in the end. It took
me two days to write this article, so I hope all of you will read it. 

In solidarity

On the History of the Communist Movement in Pakistan

We always knew that the Trotskyites acted as lieutenants and agents of
the bourgeoisie against the revolutionary workers movement during the
period of the cold war.  In the international arena, we had seen this
for years.  But it is really surprising to see the Trotskyites in
Pakistan fall to such an abysmally level and hurl the most ridiculous,
self contradictory, slanders, and outright lies against the communist
movement in Pakistan.  The author, who does not even have his facts
straight, writes in the most despicable manner towards the sacrifices of
the entire communist movement in the sub-continent.  His utter disdain
for the great revolutionary leaders of the sub-continent can only be
treated with equal disdain for his writing.  However,  it is better to
light a candle than to curse the darkness.  Only science can dispel
prejudice.  And Trotskyism, which is internationally nothing but
bourgeois anti-Stalin prejudice, is also quite simply anti-communist
bourgeois prejudice in Pakistan.

Owing to the disjointed nature of the article, it is better if I state
briefly the different periods of development through which Pakistan has
undergone.  I will then proceed to a brief description of the history of
the communist movement in Pakistan.  Last, I will show how Farooq
Suleria has monstrously distorted historical facts and slandered the
history of the communist movement in Pakistan. 

The Six Stages in the History of Pakistan

Pakistan's history can be divided into six stages that correspond to
different political eras in the history of development of the country.
As you can see, each period has roughly coincided with each decade in
the history of Pakistan.

1)1947 -- 1958 :Government of the Secretaries 
2)1958 -- 1971 :Military Dictatorship
3)1971 -- 1977 :Young Bourgeois Democracy
4)1977 -- 1988 :Theocratic Dictatorship
5)1988 -- 1999 :Degenerated Bourgeois Democracy
6)1999 --      :Military Rule

1)1947 -- 1958 :Government of the Secretaries

When the state called Pakistan was created, it did not have an
indigenous bourgeoisie.  There were only two large scale textile plants
(one in Faislabad and the other in Okarra) in the whole of Pakistan and
a little shipping in Karachi.  Most of the region was agricultural.  Big
feudal lords controlled Punjab and Sindh.  For the most part tribal
lords controlled Baluchistan and NWFP.  I am not here, including the
region that is now East Pakistan for the reason that it has now become
Bangladesh but Bangladesh was also agricultural.  The post-colonial
machinery went into operation.  Its task was to create capitalism from
the top down.  But before it could begin to do that, it had a bigger
problem on its hands.  The regional ruling classes of Pakistan could not
agree to a central constitution.  The reason was that the ruling classes
of Bengal, Baluchistan, Punjab, NWFP, and Sindh fell on the carcass of
Pakistan like wolves and each wanted a larger share of the meat.  That
is why, they could not come to an agreement on a central constitution,
or the holding of elections, or anything of that sort. 

2)1958 -- 1971 :Military Dictorship

All this was solved, it seemed, by the stick when Marshall Law was
imposed in 1958 and Ayub Khan created the Basic Democracies system. 
Each Basic Democrat was elected from a body of 80,000 voters.  Quite
simply it was army rule sanctioned by a system of local councils that
broke the back of regional / provincial politics (exactly what Musharraf
is trying to do right now).  He courted the U.S. Samuel Huntington and
Gustav Papanek became his closest advisors.  They openly proclaimed the
doctrine of functional inequality and concentrated industrial power in
the hands of 22 handpicked families.  Between them they came to control
60 to 80 percent of industrial output.  Meanwhile, the real wages of
workers plummeted by as much as 12% and streets began to flow with
unemployed workers. 

The newly created proletariat found its first political expression in
the strikes of 1968.  Those strikes lasted for 8 months continuously. 
It was an unprecedented political expression of power.  Not only did the
country come to a stop but the government of Ayub Khan fell from power. 
The industrial workers rapidly gravitated towards socialism.  Peasants
joined them and demanded land reform.  (more on the role of communists
in this movement later). 

Along with the riots in West Pakistan, East Pakistan justifiably
demanded more autonomy.  West Pakistan had been utilizing as much as 70%
of the export earnings from Jute grown in East Pakistan for
industrialization in West Pakistan.  The West Pakistani administration,
which dominated all the institutions, responded with brute force.  India
took this opportunity to strike back at Pakistan.  There was a short war
and Bangladesh was created at the end of this period. 

3)1971 -- 1977 :Young Bourgeois Democracy

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who was from a wealthy Sindhi feudal family and
the foreign minister of Ayub Khan (he was considered Ayub's protégé),
saw that the tide was turning all over the world.  By the skilful
manipulation of the media, in particular television and radio (which had
recently become popular in Pakistan) he sky rocketed into the limelight
with the slogan Rotti, Kapra, Makan (Bread, Clothing, Shelter).  This
stolen slogan from the leftists had great appeal and Bhutto won the
first democratically held elections in the history of Pakistan.  He
promised and delivered four things. 

1) Constitutional Electoral Bourgeois Democracy
2) Land Reform
3) Welfare State
4) Basic Democratic Freedoms (freedom of speech, assembly, trade unions,

As you can clearly see, this was a program of bourgeois democratic
reform.  Socialist slogans were used only to attract popular support. 
But by 1973-74, he, along with the class he represented (national
bourgeoisie), became scared of the workers movement.  On the other hand
they were besieged by fundamentalists.  They were stuck in the middle. 
They refused to go forward and change the structure of the state which
would have led to a true socialist revolution.  Eventually, the counter
revolutionary forces took this opportunity to strike at the PPP.  They
declared Marshall Law and hung Bhutto on trumped up charges two years
later.  His fate was much the same as Salvador Allende or most other
reformist leaders bourgeois democratic leaders.

4)1977 -- 1988 :Theocratic Dictatorship

Zia ul Haq, declared Pakistan as an Islamic republic and the blackest
days of Pakistan's history followed.  Journalists, activists, leftists,
revolutionaries were flogged and hung in the streets.  The US used
Pakistan as a military base to launch operations against the Peoples
Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA).  This was the period of the
grotesque flowering of the fundamentalist movement in Pakistan. Most of
the communist and democratic leaders were in jail during this period. 
They struggled for the restoration of democracy.  The PPP formed the MRD
(movement for the restoration of democracy).  Our party also struggled
hard alongside the MRD without ever joining it formally.  In 1988, owing
to the new geo-political interests of the US government, Zia was knocked
off in an air crash engendered by the CIA.  The remaining military
rulers decided to restore democracy. 

5)1988 -- 1999 :Degenerated Bourgeois Democracy

The PPP returned to power in 1988.  It was led by Benazir Bhutto, the
daughter of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.  But it was soon mired in corruption
and confusion.  It allied itself with the IMF and WB against the workers
of Pakistan.  Privatisation and Structural Adjustment followed.  The
government changed four times during this period.  The PPP ruled twice
and the Muslim League ruled twice.  No government could fulfil its term
because every time a new deal had to be negotiated with the IMF, the
government was removed and a caretaker governement of technocrats from
the World Bank would negotiate the deal.  Then the democratic government
would have to carry it out.  This puppet festival was all orchestrated
by the army.  The army remained the real power in the country.

By 1998, the crises of government had reached such a drastic level that
the ruling capitalist and feudal coalition decided on a different
strategy.  They wanted to make peace with India.  Trade with India and
scale down the military budget.  This coincided with US imperialism's
interests.  They wanted to see a stable sub-continent given the fact
that both India and Pakistan were now nuclear powers.  The conflict
between the civil government and the military led to a coup on October
12 1999.  

6)1999 --          :Military Rule

The military government of Pervaiz Musharraf has not only not scaled
down the army, he has implemented the IMF program in a brutal fashion. 
But having done so, he has exposed the real role of the army to millions
of Pakistani people as an oppressive force that is a loyal servant of
international imperialism.  The rulers have come full circle to the
policies of Ayub Khan.  But they will find a very different Pakistan
this time. 

What this means is that during the history of Pakistan, the people have
tried all the different shades of opinion in Pakistani politics in
government except one.  They have tried technocrats in the first
period.  Military rule in the second period.  Social democracy in the
third period. Fundamentalism in the fourth period.  Elections in the
next period.  And military rule again.  All these governments have
failed to deliver the goods (naturally).  

The only thing they have not tried is the program advanced by the
communists.  That is of a peoples democratic anti-imperialist
revolution.  This means, history has set the stage for the Communist
Mazdoor Kissan Party.  It is up to us to do the rest. 

That was a crash course in the history of Pakistan.  Now I would like
to turn the readers attention to a crash course of the history of the
left in Pakistan. 

The History of the Communist Movement in Pakistan

The Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party is the only Marxist-Leninist party
in Pakistan.  It is the continuation of the Communist Party of Pakistan
which was founded after the creation of Pakistan.  The CPP was itself
the continuity of the Communist Party of India.

During the Calcutta Congress in 1948, the CPP was created with Sajjad
Zaheer as its first General Secretary.  The CPI sent many great Muslim
communists to the region that is now Pakistan to create a communist
movement in this politically backward region. 

The Communist Party was very small but very well disciplined and
tightly organized.  It opened many fronts to attract new people to its
ranks.  Among the most prominent was the Progressive Writers Movement
headed by the world famous poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz (who along with Pablo
Neruda won the Lenin peace prize in 1962).  The party controlled the
Railway Workers Union (RWU).  This was a massive organization that had
played an instrumental role in the independence struggle against the
Union Jack.  The party had tremendous influence in the student movement
under the name of the Democratic Students Front (DSF). 

The CPI has documented its own history quite well, therefore, I will
write very briefly about that period (I hope people will read their
books) and write more about the history of the CPP.  I will deal with
the slanders made by Farooq Suleria against the CPSU, the CPI, and the

The Rawalpindi Conspiracy Case

As the government began to move to the right in terms of international
politics, there was a group of young army officers who were very angered
by the growing corruption and inequality.  This group of officers was
led by the charismatic Major Akbar Khan.  Also in this group was Major
Mohammed Ishaq whose subsequent struggle outshone all his peers.  This
young group of army officers contacted Faiz Ahmed Faiz and through him
Sajjad Zaheer.  They were interested in launching a coup against the
government and wanted to know if the Communist Party would back them on
the civilian side.  But the coup never occurred.  The state, however,
cracked down on all those associated with this group of army officers. 
This came to be known as the Rawalpindi Conspiracy Case in 1951.  In
this case, Mj. Akbar Khan, Mj. Ishaq, Sajjad Zaheer and Faiz Ahmed Faiz
were all imprisoned.  In total 12 people both civilian and military were
impeached in this trail.  On the 24th of June 1954, the Communist Party
of Pakistan and its front organizations, including the Democratic
Students Federation and the Progressive Writers Movement were all banned
in Pakistan.  The Communist Party went underground. 

The Period in the NAP

The Communist Party of Pakistan began to work under the cover of the
National Awami Party.  The National Awami Party was formed in 1957 and
included communists and regional nationalists.  The Communist Party
needed time to build up its mass base.  The NAP provided a good cover
for the communists to work in worker and peasant committees to organize
mass urban and rural support. 

This period gave the communists time to test their organizational
skills in practice.  I must add that the Communist Party did not become
a part of NAP.  It worked as an independent party under the cover of the
National Awami Party. 

The Split between Opportunism and Leninism in the International Movement

By the mid 1960's, the communists had gained substantial support.  When
the split occurred between the now Revisionist CPSU and the Leninist
Communist Party of China, it had its repercussions in Pakistan.  In
Pakistan this produced a three way split. 

NAP (Wali Khan)NAP (Bhashani)NAP (Mazdoor Kissan)
West Pakistan pro-soviet CPPEast Pakistan pro-ChinaWest Pakistan

NAP (Mazdoor Kissan) understood the implications of Soviet
revisionism.  The Mazdoor Kissan Party was created in May 1970. 
Inspired by Mao Tse Tung, it launched a peoples war in Hashtnagar.  This
guerrilla war had an enormous effect upon the left in Pakistan. 
Inspired by the events in Hashtnagar where the MKP had taken over an
area of approximately 200 square miles, struggle erupted in Peshawar,
Swat, Noshera, Deer, Mansera in the NWFP, and Mianwali, Rahim yar Khan,
Lodhra Bahawalnagar, Dera Ghazi Khan in the Punjab. In the immediate
conflict 150 peasants were killed.  MKP rallies at the time numbered
anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 peasants.  This extensive area is still
under the control of the party.  Throughout there have been attempts by
the government to take control of this area, but these attempts have
been unsuccessful because of the power of armed peasant fighters with
the party. Peasants in this area are prosperous and happy and they are
ready to defend the party with their lives.  The Communist Party
organized a peasant struggle in Patfeeder region of Baluchistan and they
controlled huge and militant workers unions.

At the same time, workers in cities began to take over factories and
give extensive power to trade unions and strike committees.  For
example, factories along Shekhupura Road, Kot Lakhpat in Lahore, Landi
Korangi in Karachi etc. etc. 

After 1977 when Marshal Law was declared, Mj. Ishaq was arrested and
died in Jail of foliage.  He was 62.  People say that he was given slow
poisoning in jail.  Every year for the last 18 years thousands of
peasants from all over Pakistan gather at his graveyard in his home
village to pay him their respects.  After his death in 1982, the party
was ably headed by Ghulam Nabi Kalu. 

Throughout the 1980's it displayed valour and courage in the fight
against the theocratic dictatorship of Zia ul Haq.  Hundreds of its
activists were arrested but refused to bow their heads or submit to the
authority of the dictators.

In 1986, it was the only party that condemned Perestroika.  It warned
that Perestroika would lead to the restoration of capitalism in the
Soviet Union.  In 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed, and there was
demoralization everywhere, the MKP stood solidly with the banner of

The CPP was badly affected by the break-up of the Soviet Union.  It
split three times after the break-up of the Soviet Union.  Each
successive faction abandoned Marxism.  Imam Ali Nazish was the last
remaining General Secretary of the party.  

In 1995, the Communist Party of Pakistan under the leadership of Imam
Ali Nazish made a self-criticism of their policies and joined the MKP in
a historic union. 

Thus, the CMKP was created in 1995.  It has earned the right over 54
years of struggle to call itself the vanguard party of Pakistan.  It has
stood firmly with the banner of Marxism-Leninism and upheld the banner
of Communism in a difficult period in history.  It is today the only
Marxist-Leninist Party in Pakistan. We have no doubt that it is the only
party that can lead a revolution in Pakistan and create a workers state. 

The Monstrous Distortions by Farooq Suleria

Distortions of CPSU History

"...the Third International under the leadership of Stalin had gone
through a whole period of degeneration. From the "Third Period" to
popular fronts and from the non-aggression pact with Hitler to alliance
with the allies, the Comintern had taken many somersaults. A total
degeneration of the Soviet bureaucratic clique manifested itself in its
bankrupt theory of socialism in one country and two-stage theory of

The entire Trotskyite left sees the Soviet Union under the leadership
of Stalin as a period of "degeneration".  The reason is quite simple and
obvious.  The Trotskites basically derive their main base of support
from bourgeois or petty bourgeois yuppies who claim to be socialists but
in reality never get rid of a single bourgeois prejudice indoctrinated
by the ruling class.  Being a Trotskite is easy.  Say you are a
socialist.  Maintain all bourgeois prejudices against the communist
movement. Make loud and preposterous claims about your achievements. 
And you are an ideal Trotskyite. 

Socialism in one country was not a wish or desire, it was a reality. 
Owing to the uneven development of capitalism, it was self-evident that
some countries would become socialist before others.  This has nothing
to do with Stalinism.  The blind dogmas of the Trotskyites can not
examine their prejudices in the light of historical evidence. (the last
issue of the Awami Parcham as well as my book deals extensively with
this argument, I hope you will read both). 

There is no such thing as the Two-Stage theory.  Lenin and Stalin stood
for uninterrupted revolution.  They organized to push the bourgeois
revolution into a socialist revolution.  Stalin was an ardent follower
of Lenin.  It was his leadership that collectivised farms, repelled Nazi
Germany, created an industrial socialist country, and spread revolution
into the far corners of the world.  No matter how much mud they sling
against Stalin, real revolutionaries will always cherish his
achievements. From Mao Tse Tung to Che Guevara, from Ho Chi Minh to Kim
Il Sung all have paid great respect to Stalin who was the head of the
communist movement and performed great and meritorious deeds for the
workers of the world. (Again, this question is dealt with in great
detail in my book and the Awami Parcham). 

Distortion of the History of CPI

"The CPI blindly followed the Stalinist line, betraying both the Indian
proletariat and the revolution. When World War II began, the CPI opposed
it [he means opposed British imperialism] until Stalin inked an accord
with the allies. The CPI refused to lead the fight against British
imperialism because (1) Stalin had become its ally"

This monstrous distortion should be put in the museum.  The Trotskyites
shout all day about internationalism but in reality, they betray
internationalism.  The communist parties of the world rallied around the
Soviet Union to defend the socialist motherland.  All communists did
everything in their power to defend the Soviet Union and defeat Nazi
Germany.  During the four years of war, communists lessoned their
attacks on the allies as part of the correct strategy of hte united
front against Facism.  It wouldn't have been very smart to clamour about
British Imperialism while the Soviet Union collapsed.  NO, that is the
way of betrayers and nationalists.  Not internationalists and
communists.  Clearly, it is the Trotskyites who are nationalists not the
comrades in the CPI. They joined the united front against fascism and
performed their internationalist duty to the Soviet Union. 

"(2) according to its two-stage theory, India had yet to undergo the
bourgeois democratic revolution under the leadership of the

It is a fact that India had not undergone the bourgeois democratic
revolution.  It only underwent this revolution in 1947 (after the second
world war) and that too in a very reformist manner.  The task of the
Marxist-Leninists, as Lenin had written many years ago, was to convert
the bourgeois democratic revolution into a socialist proletarian
revolution.  But the fact of the matter is that by that time the
communist party was not in a position to take power.  Congress was much
stronger and not sufficiently alienated from the masses of people.  The
CPI could not play at insurrection.  Again our Trotskyite friends reveal
another classic Trotskyite tendency. Adventurism and playing at
revolution.  For these petty bourgeois individuals revolution is just a
game, not the activity of the organized masses. 

"From 1940 to 1945, 10,000 freedom fighters were martyred; tens of
thousands were sent behind bars and tons of thousands flogged. But for
the CPI, these freedom fighters were "fifth columnists"."

Rubbish.... Which statement has he produced to testify that the
communists called these people "fifth columnists".  This is sheer
slander without any proof.  How dare Suleria put "fifth columnists" in
inverted commas as if he is quoting a communist leader.  Absolute
filth.  Most of the Communist Leadership itself was in jails.  

"1946 proved the year of revolution. The subcontinent was in total
revolt. Mass uprisings, strikes and a mood of revolt marked the
beginning of the year. The proletariat was leading the revolt."

More rubbish... Again, an example of playing with words.  The
proletariat was not leading the revolt.  This is nonsense.  The Congress
party was leading the revolt.  The proletariat was fighting the hardest
but it had not yet managed to ally to itself the mass of the working
people.  This can be demonstrated by the simple fact that the Congress
party was stronger in every election. We would only be too grateful if
the proletariat was leading the revolt. But facts are stubborn things
and we must not get carried away by our desires.  We must look reality
squarely in the face. 

"During this wave of strikes, the CPI played the role of

On the one hand, he says that the proletariat
was leading the revolt.  On the other hand he says that the vanguard of
the proletariat, the party that was tied length and breadth to the trade
unions and factories in Calcutta and Bombay, the party that was wedded
to the proletariat WAS A STRIKE BREAKER.  If the proletariat was leading
the revolt, what proletariat party was there apart from the CPI.  He has
not named a single one because none existed.  Only the CPI represented
the proletariats of India and it was spearheading the strikes, but not
spearheading the entire nationalist movement. 

"This state of affairs benefited Congress and the Muslim League.
Because they led the revolt, a movement that could have ended
imperialism as well as capitalism and feudalism proved only a movement
of national independence. The millions paid a heavy price for the CPI's
blunders. Not only was a chance of class liberation missed, but the
Indian subcontinent was also plunged into bloodshed. Huge riots and
migrations left behind indelible stains of blood. In 1947, the British
left India. The CPI supported the partition and ordered its Muslim
cadres to migrate to Pakistan."

Why doesn't Farooq Suleria just say that everything that went wrong
since Adam and Eve was the fault of the CPI and their Stalinist line. 
This is not a gamble that a "chance of class liberation [was] missed". 
Revolutions don't occur like that.  I think Mr. Suleria needs to read
his Lenin more carefully.  Without support from the mass of the working
people, without support from the army, without support from the mass of
the peasants, without all this support connected to the leadership of
the party, without the weakening of ruling class authority...revolution
is not possible.  No matter what Mr. Suleria desires. 

During the period before Khrushchev took power and destroyed the
ideological unity of the communist movement, the CPI was a truly
revolutionary party and we own every single one of its actions.  The
CPI has a glorious tradition of struggle and if Mr. Suleria wishes to
spit in the sky then he will only get a face full of his own spit.

[ end Part I ]

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