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'Deindustrialisation weakened resistance movement in Pakistan'.

Byline: Hasan Mansoor

KARACHI -- A planned 'deindustrialisation' in Pakistan has dealt a deadly blow to the resistance movement in the country and further weakened the already feeble voices for people's rights, said noted social scientist Dr Riaz Shaikh in a lecture on Sunday.

The lecture on 'Bhagat Singh: Revolutionary politics and ways of resistance' was organised by the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) at its office marking the 88th anniversary to Bhagat Singh's execution by the British Raj.

Dr Shaikh, dean of social sciences at Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology, said Baghat Singh was a young revolutionary who died while fighting for freedom of his motherland.

He said youth had a great role to play in revolutionary and reactionary movements alike.

'We have a model of young Bhagat Singh on the one hand and one the other we have models of a student of Bahawalpur who killed his teacher; and two youngsters of Ghotki who allegedly kidnapped and converted the religion of two Hindu girls.'

He said revolutionary thinking had always been present in every society and in every era.

'Mazdakism in Iran, movement of Gautama Buddha against Brahmans, dawn of Islam, birth of Sikh religion, thoughts of Martin Luther are different phases of revolutionary thinking in different societies.'

Dr Shaikh said the first organised period of revolutionary resistance movement was Renaissance in Europe; adding, John Milton was the first philosopher who defined political resistance. Later, it was elaborated by Immanuel Kant and his thoughts resulted in revolutions in France and America.

He said Hegel developed the theory of Kant and Karl Marx gave a scientific form to the theory of Hegel.

'It is not necessary that every society should have the same revolutionary process. The revolutionary and resistance politics depends on peculiar stages and forms of societies. In Europe it was clash between King and the church, but it benefited the feudal lords, and later another struggle turned against feudalism.'

He said Baghat Singh was a symbol of resistance in the Subcontinent.

'He was influenced by the Left ideologies. In India there is a long history of resistance of masses against injustices. Between 1720 and 1945, India witnessed at least 23 resistance movements of peasants. Comrade Haider Bux Jatoi raised voice for the farmers' rights in Sindh.'

Dr Shaikh said during the British rule in India, an educated class was formed and with the introduction of industry, a labour movement also got initiated.

He added that the struggle of Indian railway workers was an example of early labour movement in India. The establishment of Indian National Congress and later Muslim League raised demands for the rights of people, but the scope of their demands was limited.

He said those were basically elite class parties. However, later, Gandhi took measures to make Congress a popular party. He said after the Soviet Revolution Maulana Ubaidullah Sindhi and other leaders went to Kabul, Tashkent and Moscow and brought the influence of Soviet political thoughts in this region. Besides, All India Students Federation also played a crucial role in the spread of political awareness in India.

Dr Riaz Shaikh said at present there were no classical conditions for revolution in Pakistan.

'We have to see who our allies are and what form of political struggle suits our objectives. The shape of resistance movements is changing in the word.'

He cited the Yellow Vests Movement of France, USAS, the campus anti-sweatshop movement of American students; South Africa's Shack Dwellers Movement, and Delhi's Aam Admi Party. 'These are contemporary models of peoples' resistance and we should study and adopt such models in Pakistan.'

However, he said Pakistan had not witnessed any big labour movement since 1972; and fading Pakistani journalists' protest was another disappointing story.

He said the situation of workers' rights in Pakistan had now gone worse than the conditions in General Zia's era.

'During the last 40 years, industrialisation has systematically been targeted in Pakistan to pave way for a service economy that too is based on imports.'

He said deindustrialisation in Pakistan was a grave conspiracy against people that sadly turned successful.

'The main example of the success of deindustrialisation in Pakistan is closure of the largest industrial unit of Pakistan, the Pakistan Steels Mills in Karachi.'

He said besides deindustrialisation, the vested interests also divided political parties on ethnic, religious and sectarian lines.

At present, he added, political parties in Pakistan were middle class parties that were confined to drawing room politics.

'A cohort of jokers has been slapped on this country, which is least interested in the peoples' rights and welfare.'

Dr Riaz Shaikh said it was a great challenge for getting political space back for revolutionary politics. He added Baghat Singh was still relevant, because he also had adopted alternative political ways and means.

NTUF's deputy secretary general Nasir Mansoor said rulers were committed to throwing Pakistan to the slavery of the IMF and the World Bank.

Zahra Khan, general secretary of the Home-based Women Workers Federation, also spoke.
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Publication:Dawn (Karachi, Pakistan)
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Apr 2, 2019
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