Posted by: daniellesabai | 2010/05/04

Pakistan: A Workers Election Campaign Against Feudal and Capitalists


On 1st may 2010, Over 5000 industrial workers participated in an election public meeting at Suddar in Faisalabad and they were full of revolutionary zeal. The class conscious was at its best. The high point of the rally was towards the end when a finance appeal by Mian Qayum, the candidate of Labour Party Pakistan in the bye election for a Punjab Assembly seat, and me raised 13000 Rupees (US$ 160). Workers came up with Rupees five, ten and fifty notes of Rupee. The appeal came after Mian Qayum said in his speech that parties of the rich are wondering about the financing of my elections because I am a worker. He said that they also doubt about my election campaign and are alleging that some intelligence agencies are funding my campaign. “I want to tell them that here are my agencies, sitting in front of me in thousands who are behind my campaign”. Here I got up and gave Rupees 500 for the campaign and appealed to every on to donate with a slogan that we will give note (rupees notes) and vote. Then, started a spontaneous response that was not witnessed by many for years.

Later, a workers commented to me that LPP reviving PPP seventies revolutionary traditions.

Earlier, renowned Punjabi poet Baba Najmi thrilled the crowd by his revolutionary poems. I spoke about the arguments of PPP candidate contesting against us. The PPP candidate is appealing to the voters that if he is elected, he will definitely be a provincial minister and then he is in a better position to solve the problems. I said that we know how much miseries these ministers have brought to the lives of peoples and we know it for sure that another minister means more problems for the workers.

I also took up the case of collaboration of PPP and PMLN and said that here is this constituency the ruling class is fighting each other to win this seat but at national level, they are united on privatization, new liberal agenda and imperialist attacks in tribal areas. Fortunately, here in this constituency only one candidate from working class, so vote for him.

I spoke about the rising price hike, unemployment and no wage increase. Very good response and slogans were raised again and again by the crowed. I spoke of the challenges to the working class and an opportunity to make a difference.

Mian Qayum said that he is poor and a worker but not a weak person. We know how to deal the gangsters. Workers are with us and our seven year struggle has brought positive results for the workers. We have formed unions and will do so in future as well. He said he is contesting election with an aim of workers mp on a workers wage.

Comrade Arif from Workers Party Pakistan gave a message of Abid Hassan Minto, president WPP who had announced in a May Day rally in Faisalabad earlier on the day that they will fully support LPP candidate from this constituency.

This was one of the memorable meetings that have brought a revolutionary spirit to many. The meeting place was jam packed all the time. This was also the largest election rally so far in this constituency.

Can we win the seat? It is very difficult to say despite the massive rally today. The parties of the rich will use all the state and private power to win the seat. It is bye election and also a matter of prestige for PPP and PMLN. But the rally has shown that were in the race and with a good numbers. It has shown that we are here to stay.

Industrial workers are on the road in a Faisalabad suburb Punjab Assembly constituency. They are using one car, over a dozen motor cycles, many on cycles and on foot to campaign for Mian Abdul Qayum. He is contesting for a seat in Punjab Assembly vacated by Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz. The PMLN candidate had used a fake degree to prove that he has cleared graduation, a condition to contest election in 2008 general elections. When challenged in Supreme Court of Pakistan last month about his degree, Ajmal Asif, member Punjab Assembly (MPA) opted to resign.

This fraudulent person is once again contesting election on the nomination of PMLN, a party who claimed to be championed of Jihad against corruption and for an independent judiciary.

Mian Abdul Qayum is a workers leader of power looms and textile workers in Faisalabad, the third largest city of Pakistan. A member of Federal Committee of Labour Party Pakistan, Mian Abdul Qayum is been nominated by LPP to contest this bye election.

Overall, 17 candidates are in the contest including Pakistan People’s Party, National Muslim League and several independent candidates. The total registered votes in the constituency are 119,439. During the general election of 2008, 61 percent went to the poles to cast their votes. The winning candidate was Mohammed Asif Ajmal of Pakistan Muslim League Q, (Musharaf supported). He got 29413 votes. He later shifted his affiliation to PMLN. Pakistan People’s Party candidate Rana Aftab lost the seat in a close contest by just 400 votes. He is currently president of PPP in Punjab and was elected three times form this constituency earlier. Rana Aftab is again contesting this time again.

There are 42 villages and 10 union councils in this PP 63 constituency of Punjab Assembly. Around 14000 industrial workers are believed to be working in different textile and power looms factories in this constituency. Labour Qaumi Movement, a labour organization started work in this area in 2007 and has led many struggles of the workers for decent wage, conditions, social security cards and an end of bonded labour successfully. Mian Abdul Qayum is chairman of this LQM and a leading member of LPP.

The LPP candidate is contesting on a revolutionary programme. The main campaign is around two issues, the price hike and load shedding of electricity. The campaign is centered on a class appeal of workers fighting the feudal lords, gangsters and capitalists. There is long history of enmity of two different tribes in this constituency. The PMLN candidate represents one tribe and the candidate of National Muslim League, who is also a former Member of Parliament represent the other group. They both have killed dozens of persons in the ongoing feud between the two groups.

Women workers are in the lead of this campaign to get one worker elected to a parliament dominated by feudal lords, capitalists and their representatives. A group of 10 women are working round the clock to knock every door to present a leaflet and a poster of Mian Abdul Qayum. The leaflet contains the programme and demands a minimum wage of 15000, a minimum 8000 rupees unemployment benefit for all adult unemployed, no to imperialist aggression and bombing in tribal areas of Pakistan, social security cards for every industrial worker, end of discrimination against women workers and for a united fight of workers and peasants against the PMLN and PPP leaders.

During the first 10 days of the campaign, 10 public meetings, 35 corner meetings and a door to door campaign of all 42 villages of the constituency has been organized. In contrast to rich parties’ leaders, LPP candidate is moving around in the company of one car and scores of motorbikes and cycles. The PPP and PMLN candidates are normally with over 70 big cars and vans protected by a large number of policemen and with their own armed security guards.

Despite all this, two public meetings on 25th April in the village Daroran showed the contrast. One was organized by PMLN and the other by LPP. There were more villagers in LPP public meeting and most of them were the poor of the village.  In another public meeting at Chaenchal Singh Wale village on the same day late at night, several hundred people refused to go away despite the rain and listened the plea of Mian Abdul Qayum to take a revolutionary step by electing him.

The campaign of PPP candidate Rana Aftab Ahmed is centered on the cast system and he is appealing to Rana Baradari to elect him. He is also promising to provide gas in each village. The campaign of PMLN candidate is fully supported by Punjab government with official transport, police and other functionaries. Both ruling parties have brought ministers in the campaign.

The LPP campaign is without any resources and transport. After working 12 hours in the factories, workers come to campaign for Mian Abdul Qayum till 12 in the night. It is a hell lot of sacrifice by the workers for a workers leader.

We need your support. Our initial finance appeal has brought some results. We need to go on. We need much more. We want you to do more. We need to build a Socialist alternative free of the influence of the capitalist class.

The normal comments about our campaign are that we are in the fight. Some says that we are in the third position after PMLN and PPP candidates. But we have decided that workers votes will not be spoiled by voting to an enemy class. It does not matter how many votes we get, it does matter that we are standing and hopefully, we will have reasonable votes for the first time in LPP history. Over 10,000 workers in the last 10 days have attended our public and corner meetings.

PPP candidate says if I lose, it will be because of LPP, the PMLN candidate says the same. We dam care about what they say. We are clear if any one of them gets elected, workers will lose. We are contacting Left wing parties, groups, social organizations and radical individuals and youth to support us. We hope that they will support us.

We need your support. Please come forward in whatever way you could support. Above all, we need your money, for a cause that unites us nationally and internationally. It is workers fight in Pakistan to unite the workers internationally.

Help us to Put Forward a Credible Alternative to the Politics of the Rich – An Appeal to all Friends in Social and Political Circles


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