LAHORE: The idea that economic growth through attraction of foreign direct investment will help curb religious extremism is flawed. The country can be rid of extremism only by mobilising working people to guard their rights, academic and activist Taimur Rahman said on Saturday.
He was speaking at a seminar on the political thought and ideology of Faiz Ahmed Faiz and its relevance to religious extremism and class struggle in Pakistan. The seminar was held in connection with Faiz’s 104th birthday celebrations at Al-hamra on the Mall.
He said the link between economic growth and democracy was based on a widespread misconception about the emergence of democratic governments in Western Europe. He said the emergence of democratic governments in the region had owed more to the political activism of industrial workers than the economic activities of merchants.
Singer Jawad Ahmed said the middle classes needed to unite on a single political platform in order to strengthen the movement for the rights of working people. He said this unified front could then educate the people and mobilise them on issues pertaining to workers’ rights.
Women’s rights activist Nighat Saeed Khan reminded the audience about the importance of women’s participation in efforts aimed at expanding the rights of working people. She said one could refer to Faiz’s personal life to underscore the importance of women’s role in workers’ movement. “Alys Faiz was a source of constant support for Faiz,” she said.
Faiz’s grandson Ali Hashmi raised the issue of Faiz’s personal beliefs on religion. He referred to some of Faiz’s poetry and highlighted his association with religion. “It would be wrong to say that Faiz was not religious.
Awami Workers’ Party president Abid Hassan Minto, who was the chief guest, said Faiz’s personal beliefs were not relevant to his political work. He said organisations like ISIL, Al Qaeda and Boko Haram claimed to represent Islam but they had nothing in common with Faiz. “Religion is open to many interpretations. It is everyone’s personal business,” he said. Celebrations for Faiz’s birthday will continue tomorrow with a Faiz Aman Mela at the open air theatre in Lawerance Gardens.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 15th, 2015.
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