[Marxism] Pakistan: Defending despotic decisions is problematic

Fred Fuentes fred.fuentes at gmail.com
Fri Mar 6 20:44:34 MST 2009


[Ammar Ali Jan, from the Labour Party of Pakistan, will be one of the key
speakers at the World at a Crossroads conference. See
http://www.worldatacrossroads.org/]

IV Online magazine : IV410 - March 2009

Pakistan

http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article1619

Defending despotic decisions is problematic

Farooq Tariq



The Pakistan People’s Party leadership has a problem on its hands. There are
not many ways to defend the governor of Punjab’s 25 February 2009 ruling,
which imposed a two-month suspension of the Punjab Assembly. While talking
to Kamran Khan on channel Geo, Mian Raza Rabbani most respected and moderate
leader of the PPP and chairman of the Senate—indicated it was necessary to
stop the “prevailing state of anarchy.”

What was the immediate “prevailing” anarchy? A few hundred angry Pakistan
Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN) activists protested in cities throughout the
country. They were opposing the Supreme Court’s decision to bar the Nawaz
brothers from participating in general elections. The three-member bench had
upheld the decision of Lahore High Court. All these judges in these courts
had taken the oath of the Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) on 3
November 2007, when General Musharaf announced the state of emergency. Ever
since, the lawyer’s movement has demanded their removal.

On a small scale the situation was not unlike the upheaval that occurred
following Benazir Bhutto’s murder on 27 December 2007. Yet in this case no
property was burnt; there was no looting of banks or burning of railways as
was the case then. Clearly the situation could have been easily resolved by
the police.

However the PPP leadership was just waiting for an opportunity to remove the
PMLN Punjab government. The governor, a PPP member, had previously made
threatening public statements to that effect.

The removal of Punjab government is a dictatorial measure imposed by the PPP
government. It follows in General Musharaf’s footsteps. It is a despotic
decision difficult for a democratic person to justify. The fact is that the
PPP leadership has implemented many bad decisions during their first year in
power; this is another one. But it represents an end to their deceitful
policy of “reconciliation.” This is a road to more repressive measures.

The decision to remove the Punjab government is the combined effort of the
PCO judges and the PPP leadership and is a dress rehearsal for dealing with
the proposed Long March of Lawyers, set for 12-16 March 2009. They are
preparing to deal with the lawyers’ movement by using an iron first that
will lead to a new round of arrests, detentions, and torture against those
who challenge the remnants of the Musharaf dictatorship.

The current situation is a reminder of what existed following Musharaf’s
imposition of emergency. On 7 November, over 800 lawyers were arrested in
Lahore alone. Then, in a bid to foil the challenge posed by the lawyers’
movement, over 10,000 political activists were sent to jail. Even Benazir
Bhutto was arrested.

The Charges Against Sharif

The Supreme Court judges have now declared Mian Nawaz Sharif ineligible for
contesting elections based on a court sentence imposed under Musharaf’s
dictatorial rule. They also ruled that Mian Shahbaz Shari was likewise
ineligible. Thus he loses his Punjab assembly seat and chief minister ship.
His provincial government had to fall as well.

The judgment of the Supreme Court against Mian Nawaz Sharif is based on an
allegation by General Musharaf, who accused him of hijacking the plane
bringing Musharaf back from Sri Lanka on 12 October 1999. At the time Prime
Minister Nawaz Sharif attempted to remove General Musharaf from his command;
Musharaf opted to take over instead of accepting the order. It is now clear
from all the evidence presented by several eye witnesses that Musharaf had
already planned a military coup in coordination with other generals. But
during the Musharaf period the courts sentenced Mian Nawaz Sharif for this
alleged hijacking.

Then the PPP leadership covered up the Supreme Court unjustified decision by
announcing it is “a court decision that we must respect.” PPP hawkish
leaders like Fozia Wahab and Qasim Zia presented these views on several news
channels and in the newspapers. Several commentators sarcastically reminded
them that the PPP had always opposed the Supreme Court’s split decision
which resulted in Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s hanging. During the Zia military
dictatorship. on 4 April 1979, Benazir Bhutto’s father was hanged on false
murder charges.

What should have been the normal procedure if the chief minister of Punjab
was disqualified? A session of the assembly should have been called to elect
a new leader who enjoys the majority. But despite all their effort, the PPP
leaders were unable to obtain a majority. They tried their best but they
could not succeed; they feared that another PMLN member would become the
leader of the house and eligible to form the next government. Thus, possibly
another unfriendly PMLN government is in the making.

Lurching Toward Dictatorial Methods

The announcement of the Long March and Dharna (sit in) until the demand for
the restoration of the independent judiciary is recognized has baffled,
puzzled and confused the PPP government. Looking for ways to handle this
situation, the PPP finally opted for dictatorial measures. It seems that the
PPP government has removed General Musharaf only to adopt his dictatorial
trends. A dictator is gone but not his policies. Thus the party has thrown
away most of the glorious democratic traditions won through the heroic
struggle of political activists, including the PPP, in fighting against
military dictatorships.

Today the PPP under President Zardari cannot be viewed as party of liberal
democrats. Rather it is party ruled by a feudal and capitalist elite
supported by the most reactionary political trends. Yet like with General
Musharaf, they have earned the hate of the masses.

The Labour Party Pakistan, which will be in the forefront of the lawyers’
Long March as it has in the past, has condemned this dictatorial measure.
Although the LPP does not have much in common with the capitalist politics
of Main Nawaz Sharif’s PMLN, the LPP sees its opposition as taking a
principled democratic stand. Events erupt one after another so taking a
principled position is the only way forward. The LPP had no illusions that
any section of the ruling class can solve the basic problems facing the
working class of Pakistan.

The only way forward is to strengthen an alternative working-class politics
based on socialist ideas, not the politics of the rich. There has to be a
very flexible but firm ideological socialist base to analyze the complex
politics in Pakistan and other under developed countries. This is not a
straight road; there will be many twist and turns.

Farooq Tariq is the general secretary of Labour Party Pakistan.

--
REGISTER NOW AT www.worldatacrossroads.org/register

World at a Crossroads - Fighting for Socialism in the 21st Century

Easter 2009, April 10-13, Sydney Girls High, Sydney, Australia

A conference that brings together socialist and progressive activists and
thinkers from around Australia, Latin America, Asia-Pacific and North
America to discuss the urgent questions of our time.

For more info, email dsp at dsp.org.au or sydney.resistance at gmail.com, or phone
(02) 9690 1230.

Organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective and Resistance. Sponsored
by Green Left Weekly.


-- 
REGISTER NOW AT www.worldatacrossroads.org/register

World at a Crossroads - Fighting for Socialism in the 21st Century

Easter 2009, April 10-13, Sydney Girls High, Sydney, Australia

A conference that brings together socialist and progressive activists and
thinkers from around Australia, Latin America, Asia-Pacific and North
America to discuss the urgent questions of our time.

For more info, email dsp at dsp.org.au or sydney.resistance at gmail.com, or phone
(02) 9690 1230.

Organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective and Resistance. Sponsored
by Green Left Weekly.



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