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Musharaf isolated after attack by Bhutto

The 10th Day in Underground Life

Sunday 18 November 2007, by Farooq Tariq

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Lahore police are very busy raiding the homes of several LPP activists during the last three days. The home of Afzal Soaraya, secretary Labour Party Punjab has been raided several times during the last three days. Maqsood Mujahid, member National Committee LPP, home in Lahore has also been the target of regular visits by the local police. They have also stopped the vehicle of Farooq Tariq several times while dropping his children to school.

Nisar Shah Advocate chairperson Labour Party Pakistan is been charged with Anti Terrorist Act and several others charges. He is at present in Adiala Jail Rawalpindi along with other political prisoners.

Yousaf Masti Khan senior vice president of National Workers Party and member central committee Awami Jamhoori Tehreek, the left wing alliance of seven political parties and groups, along with Hasil Bazinjo secretary National Party and several other trade union leaders are kept in Karachi jail. They are facing treason charges. They all were arrested from Karachi Press Club after a demonstration of left wing and trade union activists.

Asma Jahnghir chairperson Human Rights Commission of Pakistan is still under house detention at her Lahore residence. I got a message from her “ok will pass this on. Keep underground. No bail this time”. I had informed her about the arrest of Nisar Shah. She represented me as an advocate at Lahore Anti Terrorist Court on 28th September 2007 and got me released on bail. Now releasing on bail has become much more difficult.

It is estimated that over 5000 political activist and advocates are behind bar on 13th November, 10 days after the emergency was imposed. Lahore seems a deserted city and many ordinary people are totally against the actions of the military regime. I was told by some friends who were in the markets that there is very thin business activity and many shopkeepers were saying that it is time the Musharaf must die, “there is no other alternative to get rid of him” most were saying with most seriousness.

I visited yesterday on 12th November, my home town, Toba Tek Singh. I was told that you find no one in sympathy with the military regime. It seems that everyone is against the military action. Many told me that they have all the respect for judges who have not taken oath. I could not walk freely but I met some friends and family members.

LPP is planning that I contest elections for the national parliament from this town. I feel that it is useless activity to take part in elections under an emergency, which is in fact a martial law. The general elections have been announced by General Musharaf on 11th November to pacify the international criticism of his dictatorial measures. It is joke that general elections will take place while all the opposition’s parties are in underground or their activists in jail. It is joke to hold elections in the presence of the judges who have taken an oath in faithfulness of the military regime.

General Musharaf has asked his crony Election Commission to prepare for election before 8th of January 2008. They want to hold general elections at a time with utmost repression going on. The plan is very simple, “Opposition behind bar and government candidate with full freedom for election campaign”. This is mockery o whole democratic process.

Labour Party Pakistan has not yet taken a formal decision to boycott the proposed general elections but we are in consultation with other Left groups and parties to have a common position on the question. We are holding an emergency meeting of leading comrades in Lahore today on 13th November and in consultation with others on telephone before we take a formal decision.

General Musharaf seems more isolated after an all out attack by Benazir Bhutto while in Lahore yesterday. She is been put under house arrest as well in Lahore from yesterday. She went around the city to mobilize the party activists and was determined to take out a rally today on 13th November. But hundreds of police men have been deployed around her residence, telephone lines cut off and she refused to receive a detention order for eight days. The detention order is now been pasted at her homes wall. They want to show the world that they act according the procedures but what about thousands who have been arrested without showing any warrants or detention orders? There are still hundreds behind bars who have not yet been formally charged.

Benazir changing political position in favor of democratic forces is a welcome sign. I do not agree with Imran Khan President of Tehreek Insaaf (justice movement) who is still doubtful of Benazir intentions of opposing the military regime. He will ultimately come to the conclusion that the democratic forces have to unite on one platform to launch a more effective struggle against the military dictator.

Some trade union leaders have issued press releases opposing the emergency of General Musaraf. They include Khurshid Ahmad, president Pakistan Workers Confederation; Yousaf Baluch, chairman National Trade Union Federation, Choudry Gulzar Ahmad, secretary All Pakistan Trade Union Federation and so on. But workers from different sectors have not yet come out in demonstrations opposing the military regime. Although, there is great anger among the working class against the military regime in Pakistan .

I have learnt to some extent in underground. I have not made any blunder that could give a chance to the state oppressive machinery to arrest me. I am not staying more than a night at a friend’s house anymore. I am changing my positions now and then. I have taken a new name to speak to the comrades.

On 11th November night, I had a chance meeting with Lal Khan, the leader of the (late) Ted Grant and Alan Woods’ group in Pakistan. We had worked together in exile and started our Struggle Group together in Netherlands during my exile period from 1978 to 1986 in Netherlands. In 1991, we had departed our ways on the question of strategy of building a revolutionary party in Pakistan. His supporter was arguing to remain in Pakistan Peoples Party and do enterism to build the group. I was in minority and argued for a new independent political party to set up in Pakistan. It was an unpleasant split in our group that was very committed. But we had to face the realities. They are still part of PPP and we have started building Labour Party Pakistan.

I met him in person after 16 years. His hairs have grown grey and were not in his usual youthfulness. We had a good but brief chat on the present political situation. He was of the view that the regime is very shaky and anything can happen. He recited one of my favorite poems that we used to listen from him in exile period (Peshawar Qatloo Tum Sapahi Naheen) (Of you the soldiers, you are not professional soldiers but professional killers). He seemed happy to see me. And I was also, although, we have a lot of difference of opinion on several questions. We had no moment to regret on the evening. One of my close friends had invited me for this evening at a safe place to share ideas with some friends.

On 12th November, I wrote an article for our Weekly paper Mazdoor Jeddojuhd (Workers Struggle) and faxed them to the office. The paper is still been printed regularly and with our ideas and reports. It has been closed by every successive military regime since it started it printing in 1980 including the present Musharaf regime. The very young activists mainly women have taken the responsibility to prepare the paper in the regular office of the paper. Very brave actions by these young women activists.

After writing the article in early morning, I had to travel four hours from Lahore to go to my home town. It was my father second death anniversary and family was all together. I was not asked by my brothers and sisters to come but I decided to travel and saw all the family members. They are all supportive and helpful. I traveled back to Lahore last night to attend an important meeting today and share some ideas with some comrades. Staying in a small city is quit dangerous and many know me well personally in my home town, so decided to leave the city as soon as possible.