Pakistan: Socialist Movement receives enthusiastic welcome on Mayday

The newly formed Socialist Movement distributed a four page leaflet and attended Mayday activities in nine different cities right across Pakistan, including Lahore, Rawalpindi, Hyderabad, Quetta, and Karachi.

They received an enthusiastic response from workers and young people in all the demonstrations they participated in. Many workers asked for more information about the Socialist Movement and had discussions with its members during the demonstration.

In Lahore, Socialist Movement members attended the Mayday rally and demonstration organised by the Workers Confederation (an alliance of eight Trade Union federations in Pakistan) which had over two thousand participants from different industrial sectors attending. This was just one of eight activities taking place on Mayday in Lahore. The Socialist Movement formed the largest organised political contingent on the demonstration.

Rukshana Manzoor, a Socialist Movement member and also the National Secretary Education of the one million strong Muttahida Labour Federation, spoke on the Mayday demonstration. The Socialist Movement mobilised over sixty women to take part in the demonstration. These women demonstrators also organised a separate demonstration during the activities, chanting anti-imperialist slogans such as “Those who are friends of the US are traitors of the masses” and “The only way forward for workers is Socialist Revolution”. All the main newspapers in Lahore gave prominent coverage to this activity.

Rukshana was also interviewed by Reuters. This interview was shown a number of times on the main cable news channels in India and Pakistan over the next couple of days.

Women’s seminar

Nearly fifty members and supporters of the Socialist Movement attended a women’s seminar organised by the Paksitan Institue of Labour Education on 6 May in the press club in Lahore. While this seminar was organised by a Non-Governmental Organisation, it was attended by many women activists and for this reason the Socialist Movement decided to participate. Many women MP’s from different parties also attended. Rukshana Manzoor also spoke at this event putting a working class position on the women’s question which was critical of the position of some speakers. For the rest of the seminar, all speakers were forced to respond to or refer to her points because of the appreciation her speech received from the majority of the audience.

In Rawalpindi/Islamabad, Azad Qadri, a Socialist Movement member and also a national leader of the second biggest Telecom trade union (The PakTel Lions Unity Union) spoke at a meeting organised for Mayday putting forward a socialist solution to end capitalist exploitation. A leading national newspaper published an interview with Azad Qadri and another Socialist Movement member, Kabir Khan as part of its Mayday coverage. Sixteen members and supporters of the Socialist Movement participated in the Mayday events in Rawalpindi/Islamabad. Socialist Movement members also distributed leaflets in Rahim Yar Khan and Faisalabad.

Socialist Movement members felt as a result of these activities that there are good prospects for building support for our new organisation in Pakistan. We hope to shortly to bring out the first copy of our newspaper, the Socialist, to build on our successes on Mayday.

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May 2004