We have just received this extremely important report from the comrades in Pakistan. It indicates that the assassination of Benazir Bhutto has had the effect of a catalyst that is impelling the masses onto the revolutionary road. The situation is now beginning to resemble that of tsarist Russia after Bloody Sunday in 1905. The Pakistan Marxists of The Struggle are playing a leading role in the mass movement, as this report clearly shows. By combining transitional democratic demands with the idea of socialist revolution, they are gaining the ear of the masses and preparing the ground for major revolutionary developments in this huge Asian country of 160 million inhabitants.
Big protest on January 3rd in Rawalakot (Kashmir) organized by the Pakistani Marxists of The Struggle against Benazir Bhutto's assassination
There was an immense outpouring of anger and sorrow as the masses in Pakistan heard the news of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. The Marxists intervened massively all over the country in the protests leading the movement, in many areas. Where they intervened the mood changed from one of mourning to one of determination to put an end to the rotten feudal/capitalist system through socialist revolution.
The brutal assassination of Benazir at the hands of the Pakistani state is not the first incident of deliberate targeting of the leaders of the masses in this country. Her father Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was hanged and her two brothers were cruelly assassinated. However, the mammoth reaction of the downtrodden masses after this cold-blooded murder has never been seen before on such a scale in this part of the world.
For the poverty-stricken and impoverished people of this country Benazir personified a dream, a dream of a prosperous and bright future that would lift them out of their filthy and miserable lives. When the reactionary elements of the State took away what seemed their only hope, the masses came out in huge numbers to show their grief and anger against the State. Most of the state apparatus was reduced to ashes throughout the country, especially in Sindh. The banks, which are a symbol of capitalist exploitation, were also the main target of the anger of the masses.
On 28th, 29thand 30th of December there was effectively no government in the country. All the state functionaries were hiding away from the wrath of the masses and whole country had come to a standstill. During these days the focus of attention was on Naudero, the ancestral village of the Bhutto family, where Benazir was laid to rest on 28th December 2007. All the power had been shifted towards the leadership of the PPP, which held its Executive Committee meeting in Naudero on 30th December.
Our comrades had arrived in Naudero before the meeting in big numbers and had joined the thousands of people in mourning. The prevailing mood was one of grief. But the arrival of our comrades changed the mood from one of mourning to one of revolutionary ferment when the comrades started shouting revolutionary slogans. Comrades led by Rauf Lund raised slogans like "Benazir tere khoon se, Inqilaab aye ga" [Benazir from your blood, revolution will come] and "Zinda hai Bhutto Zinda hai" [Bhutto is alive, is alive] the whole atmosphere was charged once again and people instead of crying vowed to take revenge for their murdered leader.
These slogans instantly spread like wildfire and the whole of Naudero and Garhi Khuda Bux were resounding with these chants. The same slogans were also raised during the press conference of Asif Ali Zardari and from there through the TV cameras reached the whole world.
Simultaneously with these mass public activities, the Pakistan Marxists were intervening energetically in internal Party meetings at a leading level. A meeting of the Sindh council was held in Larkana on 6th January in which Comrade Riaz Lund, who is contesting for a seat as Member of National Assembly, presented a revolutionary programme for the PPP in this hour of crisis, which was supported by most of the people present. At a meeting of the Punjab Executive of the PPP on 7th January 2008 in Lahore, Comrade Manzoor presented a revolutionary alternative to take revenge for this assassination and stressed that this incident clearly shows that now no compromise is possible between the classes.
The mood of radicalisation after the assassination has also affected the youth. A big shift in the leadership of the Punjab Peoples Students Federation (PSF) took place on 8th January. Comrade Zohaib Butt was appointed the Secretary General of Punjab PSF in a meeting in which student leaders and office bearers form the whole province were present. In this meeting students vowed to take revenge for this killing by working towards a socialist revolution and they will hold "Intiqam-e-Benazir" (Revenge for Benazir) conventions in all the districts of the Punjab. It was also decided that a new revolutionary manifesto of the PSF will be published in a few weeks.
Leaflet on the assassination
A leaflet on the assassination of Benazir was published by comrades of The Struggle and the PTUDC together with the Punjab PSF in big numbers. People eagerly snatched the leaflet from our hands and the quarter of a million copies of the leaflet we had printed were exhausted immediately. This leaflet of the Pakistan Marxist tendency was the only literature in the country that was produced by anyone. It put forward a revolutionary alternative and stated that the revenge for this killing could only be a socialist revolution.
This leaflet was also reproduced in the Sindhi language and was distributed throughout the whole province massively. It was also reproduced in many cities by contesting candidates of the PPP and was distributed in huge numbers. In Karachi people asking for copies of the leaflet besieged our electoral offices.
One of the demands in the leaflet was to form resistance and protest committees to organize the wrath of masses. Many such committees were formed around the country independently and then linked up with our comrades, who are giving them the necessary aims and leadership. Most of these committees are active and are effectively working in their areas.
Protest rallies all over the country
Comrades led a number of rallies in all the major cities and towns in which thousands of people participated.
Just after the news of the assassination of Benazir reached Kasur Comrade Manzoor came out with his comrades on the streets where thousands of people joined him. He then led a rally of nearly 5,000 people through the streets of Kasur. All the markets were shut down and the whole city was paralysed by a general strike as the rally marched round the city.
The next day, after the burial of Benazir, another gathering was arranged to offer funeral prayers in absence in Kasur, after which a huge rally of nearly 10,000 people marched round the city. At the end of the rally comrade Manzoor vowed to take revenge for this brutal killing through a socialist revolution. He said that the dark forces of fundamentalism created by the Americans and the Pakistani State want to hijack the future of the masses. But they do not realise that the masses will not sit back now. They will come out to take the revenge for their misery and wretchedness.
In Lahore the comrades of the PTUDC distributed thousands of leaflets in the factories and among workers of various departments. A huge number of leaflets were distributed at Railways Workshops in Lahore where thousands of employees were present and were mourning this murder. After reading the leaflet they began to organize without their traditional leadership and decided to organise a demonstration. After this decision a big protest rally was held after the funeral prayers, which was led by Comrade Siddiq Beig, Secretary General Mehnat Kush Union on the Pakistan Railways and comrade Ilyas Amin.
In Sialkot a leaflet was reproduced in big numbers and was distributed among the people. Big rallies were held after the assassination in which comrades actively participated. Several Protest Committees have been formed in Sialkot and Daska in which revolutionary alternatives are being discussed along with planning agitational activities.
Rawalpindi is the city where Benazir was assassinated. Her father Z.A. Bhutto was also hanged in this city. This city was one of the most ravaged by the angry workers. Comrades participated in all the agitational activities and distributed leaflets in big numbers.
In Attock comrade Perveiz Malik was one of the main leaders of the agitation activities throughout the whole district. Various commemorations were being held in which revolutionary slogans were raised.
In Faisalabad our comrades participated in the various rallies and distributed leaflets. Workers from textile industry participated in big numbers.
One of the largest rallies in the Punjab was held in Jhang, which was led by comrades of The Struggle. The comrades raised revolutionary slogans and said that the only way forward is through revolution. Huge banners of the PTUDC with revolutionary slogans were also present at the rally.
Multan is a stronghold of the PPP. After the news of assassination came through various protest rallies and demonstrations were held. Also many memorial meetings and seminars were held following the assassination of Benazir. All these activities were centred around our comrades who presented a revolutionary programme to the workers.
Comrades in the BZU University Multan led a rally of hundreds of students from the university and marched round the main areas of the city. Comrades channelled the wrath of the students and led them towards organizing themselves in resistance committees.
A big rally was organised at Nawa Shehar on 3rd January in which nearly 4,000 people took part. The rally was led by Comrade Ilyas Khan, a veteran leader of the PPP and leading comrade of The Struggle who addressed the workers and told them that revenge is only possible through a socialist revolution.
In Kot Addu, a town with a large number of industrial workers, big rallies were organized. Comrade Ali Akbar from the PTCL and Comrade Shehryar of the KAPCO led the workers in various rallies and demonstrations. Rallies were also organized in the adjoining cities of Layyah, Alipur and Kloorkot.
In D.G. Khan our comrades led the students of various colleges and blocked all the main roads to protest this brutal killing. All markets were shut down when the comrades led the rally onto the streets of the city. Memorial meetings are being held in all the colleges in which the revolutionary programme is being discussed.
In Jampur our comrades blocked the main roads in protest against this brutal killing. Rauf Lund, a leader of The Struggle, led thousands of people in a rally after he came back from Naudero. Memorial meetings are now being held in all the adjoining cities and villages to condemn the assassination.
In Rahimyar Khan our comrades led huge rallies in the city and presented a revolutionary programme to take revenge. A heavy crackdown against PPP workers was launched after the rallies in which nearly 300 workers were arrested. Around 25 comrades have been falsely accused of "terrorist activities" and are now underground at various places in the city. Comrade Haider Chughtai is wanted by the Police who have been searching for him all over the city but so far he has not been arrested.
In Sadiqabad comrade Qamar and Abbas Taj led thousands of people through the city along with the local leadership of the PPP. At the rallies after the marches speakers condemned this act of the State and said that this blood will not be forgotten easily and the masses will take revenge for this blood. The main crossing of the city was named after Benazir Bhutto.
In the Sindh region several activities were organised. In the city of Dadu all the state buildings were reduced to ashes. Also the homes of leaders of the right wing Muslim League (Q), which was termed as the Qatil (killer) League by Zardari, were burnt. Comrades here distributed leaflet in Sindhi and Urdu and organised students and workers in committees.
In Mirpur Khas comrades of the Para-medical Union and other associations organized the people in committees and distributed hundreds of leaflets. In Khairpur, a city that was also one of the most ravaged, the comrades organized resistance committees. In Thatta big rallies were organised.
In Hyderabad the comrades reproduced the leaflet in Sindhi in big numbers. Comrade here led students of all universities in protest rallies. A big meeting was held at the Jamshoro Power Station in which the comrades of the PTUDC presented a revolutionary programme.
In Karachi on the day of the assassination the city was a complete inferno. Banks and government buildings were ransacked and there was some tension between the communities along linguistic lines but the PPP supporters cut across these arsonist elements demanding a free and fair investigation of the assassination of Ms. Bhutto. Comrade Riaz Lund, a steelworker and Marxist, who is contesting elections in the NA-257 constituency, organized many memorial meetings along with District President Raja Razaaq, Rafiq Baloch and other party leadership in Karachi.
Leaflets are being distributed in all the homes in the constituency which has 385, 000 voters. Also leaflets are being distributed at memorial meetings being held in other parts of Karachi. A big meeting was held by the union of the PIA workers in which comrades spoke for a revolutionary alternative. Resistance committees are also being rapidly formed in the Malir District.
The first protest committee in the country was formed at Pakistan Steel where comrade Lal Khan, the leader of The Struggle, was present at the time of the incident. This committee is leading the workers of the Steel Mill in all agitation activities. A revenge convention by the BNT is also being planned in Labour Square where thousands of workers from various industries live.
Balochistan, where war has been raging and many lives lost, also saw many protect activities. Despite the difficult conditions, the comrades of The Struggle led huge rallies in the Province's main city of Quetta to protest the killing. Comrade Nazar Mengal, Secretary General of the Peoples Labour Bureau Balochistan, along with Arbab Sardar Ali and Ali Ahmed Parkani led the rally. The workers of the Balochistan National Party also joined this huge rally. This shows how the revolutionary class struggle can cut across all national barriers and unite the working people in common struggle.
Women of the PPP in Balochistan also led a protest rally from the MPA hostel. This rally was led by comrades Nasreen Taj, Rubina Mengal and Shakeela Baloch. The rally turned into a mass meeting at Manan Chowk. Ali Ahmed Parkani, Malik Imtiaz, Nazr Mengal, comrade Afaq, George Gill, Tariq Riaz, Nasreen Taj and others addressed this mass meeting. Hafeez Mengal was the stage secretary at the occasion.
Big rallies were also held in the Khuzdar and Qalat Districts. In the mass meeting in the Qalat district President Arbab Ahmed Ali, comrade Waheed and comrade Ali Ahmed addressed the people.
In Pakhtoonkhwa (formerly the North West Frontier Province) agitation activities were held throughout the whole province. Our comrades led the protests in Malakand, Mardan, Charsadda, Sawabi, Buner, Peshawar, Bannu and D.I.Khan.
In Kashmir comrades led the rallies in Rawlakot, Khaigala, Hajeera, Bagh and Muzzafrabad and they also participated in large numbers in Plandri, Sainsa and Kotli. In Rawlakot a students' action committee formed soon after the incident organized a "Revenge Benazir Revolutionary Caravan". This committee is composed of the JKNSF, JKPSF and JKPSO, the main Student Federations in Kashmir.
Nearly 5,000 students of the area participated in this caravan. At the end of the caravan a public meeting was held in which Chief Guest was Comrade Adil Khan, president of the JKNSF and Tasleem Baghi, Chairman of the PSO. It was chaired by Comrade Zia ul Qamar.
More than 100 vehicles were present on this impressive caravan. Stage Secretary was comrade Babrik, while speakers included the central leader of the PPP Sardar Azeem and Amjad Shaswar, BNT Organizer in Kashmir. All the demands in the leaflet were presented as resolutions, which were accepted unanimously.
Initially some local leaders tried to oppose this caravan but the reply of the masses was that whoever organises such protest activities would be the real heirs of the PPP. So the people rejected the appeals of the cowardly opportunists and joined the comrades in the revolutionary struggle to take revenge for the murder. A meeting of the Student Action Committee is being held today, 9th January, in which the next plans for protests will be discussed.
The forthcoming period
The elections have been delayed till 18th February. Our demand has been throughout the movement for no delay and for immediate elections, but the decision has been taken. Now the comrades are focusing on the general election campaign. Several Marxists candidates are standing on PPP tickets, for example in Kasur, Karachi and even in the tribal area of Waziristan, on the border of Afghanistan. It is of crucial importance that the Marxists win some seats, to give the downtrodden masses a revolutionary voice in the Pakistani parliament.
Lahore, 8th January, 2008
- Pakistan: Government covers up the crime - masses demand action against conspirators by Alan Woods (December 30, 2007)
- Leaflet of the Pakistani comrades by The Struggle (December 31, 2007)
- Pakistan: The assassination of Benazir Bhutto by Alan Woods (December 27, 2007)