Farooq Tariq, general secretary of the Labour Party of Pakistan, a significant revolutionary left group which opposes Pakistan’s military regime, its US backers and political Islam, was arrested for four days earlier this month.
Tariq was one of a larger number of people arrested in connection with the protests against military dictator Pervez Musharraf’s sacking of the independent minded chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Choudhry. Anti-government strikes have paralysed Karachi and other major cities. A different kind of political threat has also been seen — on 15 May a suicide bomber killed 25 people in Peshawar.
Tariq was told by a police chief that he was subject to a three month detention order and would be sent to one of Pakistan’s most notorious prisons, more than 200 miles away from Lahore. Following a call by the LPP for nationwide demonstrations, numerous letters of protest, and a text-message campaign, his detention order was suspended.
The LPP and the workers’ organisations it leads helped organise major May Day celebrations in towns and cities across Pakistan, including a 1000-strong rally in Karachi, a 1500-strong rally in Lahore and a 600-strong rally in Swat, in the North West Frontier Province, despite the province’s heavy domination by Islamists. It continues to be a key force in the struggle against both the military dictatorship and its reactionary Islamist opponents.
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