A discussion with Pakistani socialistsAWLWed, 18/01/2017 - 12:36

In December, Farooq Tariq, a leader of the Awami Workers’ Party in Pakistan, visited London, and during his visit talked with activists from Workers’ Liberty. Martin Thomas reports.

We started by saying we appreciated the strong socialist line he had taken against Islamic-fundamentalist politics in his speeches during his visit, but questioning the uncritical praise for Fidel Castro in AWP statements after Castro’s death on 25 November. Farooq replied straightforwardly that it was an AWP decision to be uncritical of Castro and Cuba. For that decision, he gave two reasons.

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Kashmir repression boosts sectarianismMatthewWed, 12/10/2016 - 10:56

On 8 July 2016, a young Kashmiri commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) was killed by the Indian Army. The killing of Burhan Wani has become a symbol of Indian repression in Kashmir, the major Muslim-majority area kept by India in the 1947 India-Pakistan partition.

The HM receives much of its support from the Pakistan government and has strong links to the Pakistani secret service ISI and the Islamist group Jamaat-e-Islami. Unlike the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, HM is for Kashmiri secession to Pakistan and promotes the further Islamisation of Kashmir.

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Abolish the death penalty!MatthewWed, 27/07/2016 - 11:09

Saudi Arabia has executed 99 people during 2016, more than at the same point last year.

Crimes punishable by beheading, stoning or firing squad in Saudi include blasphemy, drug offences, adultery, murder, and “false prophecy.”

Excluding China – whose regime keeps the number of state killings a close secret – 90% of known executions during 2015 were carried out by Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

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A fighter for freedomMatthewWed, 06/11/2013 - 13:44

When it was revealed on 11 October that Malala Yousafzai, the teenage girl that captured the world’s imagination after being shot by a Taliban rifleman, was not awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, it came as a relief.

Malala no doubt deserved it more than any other person in the world, but to tarnish her name by giving her the same prize given to such renowned peacemakers as Henry Kissinger and Menachem Begin would have been a disservice to everything she had stood for.

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Capitalism: a murderous systemMatthewWed, 19/09/2012 - 11:41

At least 314 garment workers burned or suffocated to death in two factory fires in Pakistan on 12 September.

Twenty-five people died in a shoe factory in the city of Lahore, when chemicals caught alight; 289 died in a garment factory in Karachi.

In the Karachi fire, workers were trapped inside the burning building because exits had been locked and they could not open security grilles at the windows.

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Pakistan: abolish the blasphemy law!MatthewWed, 22/08/2012 - 07:58

A young Christian girl, Rimsha Masih, has been arrested and her family placed under protective custody after a Muslim mob in a poor part of Islamabad threatened to set her alight for allegedly burning pages of the Koran.

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International news in briefMatthewWed, 18/04/2012 - 10:25

Islamist parties have taken to the streets to oppose the ratification of a law which would penalise domestic violence in Pakistan.

Women’s rights campaigners confronted the bigots outside parliament last week.

The Islamists’ arguments against the legislation include: preventing domestic violence is “Western”; and that the Bill is a copy of Indian legislation.

A spokesperson for Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl said, “We will not let these senseless women, who depend on American dollars, to work against the Constitution and Islamic Shariah,”

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A long way to go on gay rightsMatthewWed, 08/02/2012 - 10:38

According to the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) seven majority Muslim countries still maintain the death penalty for homosexual activity.

They are Afghanistan, Iran, Mauritania, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Yemen.

In northern Nigeria, where some states use Sharia law, homosexuality is also punishable by death.

In Iran gay men are normally arrested under other trumped up charges. But in September 2011 three men were executed for homosexuality.

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No to political Islam! Solidarity with Pakistani secularists, socialists, workers and women

Submitted by AWL on 10 January, 2011 - 5:27

On Monday 5 January Salman Taseer, governor of Punjab (Pakistan's largest province) and a former Pakistani People's Party MP was shot 27 times by his bodyguard Mumtaz Qadri in Islamabad. Taseer was killed by Qadri because of his support for the reform of the long established blasphemy law which has led to people being incarcerated for insulting the prophet Muhammed.


Submitted by Dr Paul on Tue, 11/01/2011 - 15:27

Perhaps this piece was written in a hurry, but a couple of small words seem a little odd.

'The growing support for Islamism within Pakistan can and will only be curbed by a working-class alternative. But in order for this to be realised foundations of secularism and democratic rights must be maintained and extended. This means defending secularist politicians like Taseer while simultaneously fighting for socialist solutions to the chronic poverty and exploitation so ably exploited by Islamism.'

It is true that the Islamicist extremism that underlies the assassination of Tazeer and the use of blasphemy acts can only be undercut by the development of socialist politics. However, the word 'but' implies that the fight for secularism and democratic rights is not part of those politics, but something separate. Similarly, the word 'while' can mean 'at the same time as', or suggesting a contrast between one half of a sentence and the other, the latter of which implies the same separation.

This is not an argument over grammatical precision. One of the main problems with politics in such countries as Pakistan is that things that are part of a programme of liberal reforms, such as freedom of speech, religious freedom, and so on, are often see by many poor people as part of a middle-class or upper-class racket, because those promoting them are also often proponents of neo-liberal economic policies that hit hard upon workers and poor farmers.

I am not familiar with Tazeer's politics (these, strangely, have not been discussed in the press reports I have read), but he was associated with a party that is infamous for its close relations with large-scale landowners and widespread corruption, and for promoting big-business policies. Mainstream politics in Pakistan are synonymous with corruption and big-business interests. Even if Tazeer was clean, his party colleagues often are not. It is easy, therefore, for religious obscurantists and their right-wing political allies to promote an identification between calls for secular reforms and corrupt political practices and neo-liberal economic policies, in order to discredit secular reforms and to popularise the ideas that they are part of an attack upon poorer people in Pakistan.

Surely it is essential to point out that unless the call for secular reforms are part of a programme that attacks corruption, defends workers and poor farmers, defends and extends civil rights, proposes not only religious and national but social equality -- in short, is an integral part of a socialist programme, and not some sort of bolt-on extra -- right-wing and religious demagogues will be able to write off secular reforms as an alien implantation. Socialists should not only reject neo-liberal policies as an attack upon the poorer parts of society, but also explain that they actually undermine the quest for secular reforms.

Religious obscurantism cannot be fought by any sort of alliance with politicians who are corrupt or who favour policies that operate only in the interests of big business and large landowners, any more than the latter can be defeated by an alliance with the former. Working-class independence is essential here; and the call for secular reforms are part of that independence.

Submitted by AWL on Tue, 11/01/2011 - 16:42

"Pakistani workers cannot rely on their own government to defend and increase democratic rights - they are far too willing to acquiesce to the demands of the mullahs and the continuing 'talibanisation' of the country in order to preserve their rule. But nor should they put their faith in those politicians like Taseer who do the decent thing and stand up for secularism – the man was a wealthy businessman who made a lot of money out of the exploitation of Pakistani workers.

I think it's clear that the author of the article is not in favour of a popular front.

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Pakistan disaster - support the Labour Relief Campaign!

Submitted by AWL on 18 August, 2010 - 12:02

The number of people affected by the floods in Pakistan has now reached 20 million. More than 650,000 houses have collapsed, mainly in villages. Thousands of hectares of crops have been destroyed, along with people's livestock, household goods, clothes, shoes and other essential items. Millions are without drinkable water, food, shelter and clothing. Diseases like flu, fever, diarrhea and cholera are spreading fast.


Submitted by Bruce on Mon, 23/08/2010 - 22:51

You can also donate more easily via the Scottish Socialist Party:

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