Abid Hassan Minto was elected interim president of the newly formed Awami Workers Party (AWP) on Sunday and pledged to “build a new programme of socialism for 21st century Pakistan”.
Minto was speaking at the conclusion of the founding convention of the AWP formed after the merger of the Labour Party Pakistan (LPP), Workers Party Pakistan (WPP) and Awami Party Pakistan (APP) at Aiwan-i-Iqbal. Over five hundred party delegates and several observers, including noted economist Akbar Zaidi, attended.
Delegates also approved the draft manifesto of the party and an interim leadership for the next six months. Fanoos Gujjar was elected chairman and Farooq Tariq general secretary for six months, after which the party’s first congress will be held.
Minto said debate amongst party members would be critical to coming up with a new programme.
AWP leader Aasim Sajjad Akthar said the three left parties closest in ideas to each other had come together to form a united front. He said the progressive forces in the country had come together to present an alternate agenda to the oppressed peoples of Pakistan.
He said the party manifesto would address four issues in Pakistan: class oppression, imperialism, religious extremism and the rights of ethnic groups. He said a socialism for the 21st century had to step outside the traditional bounds set by Leninism, Maoism and Trotskyism.
AWP leader Jamil Omar said that the formation of the party had met a promise he had made on the day of the WPP’s formation. “The WPP’s formation in 2009 and the formation of the APP in 2011 all led up to this concluding step to make the AWP,” he said.
He said the party would provide an alternative to mainstream political parties and would aim at transforming existing political, economic and social structures.
AWP leader Farzana Bari said the party would also address gender oppression in the country in the name of honour, culture, religion and on an economic basis.
According to a press release issued by the AWP, the party constitution envisions a federal structure in which five “national committees” – Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, KPK and Seraiki Wasaib – function autonomously but under agreed organisational principles.
The party would also aim to redress the state’s hostility towards neighbouring countries, which was used by the military establishment to justify its economic and political power, said the press release.
It said it would recognise the multiethnic essence of Pakistan and work for the establishment of a genuine federal system based on the right of self-determination for all. It would also aim to break the diktat of multinational capital and imperialism in all its forms.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 12th, 2012.