LAHORE: “The Left does not have the capacity or financial resources to effectively mobilise a movement,” Zahid Islam, a Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) trustee, said on Saturday.
He was delivering a lecture on the development of Leftist and liberal politics in Pakistan, at the Awami Workers’ Party’s McLeod Road office.
Islam said the Left had always lacked a clear strategy. “They need to see who their allies are and who they are fighting against.” He said the movement had always enjoyed popular support. “Influence of the Left might have waned over the years… but it has not become extinct.”
He said left-wing political parties had helped textile, Karachi Ship Yard, railways and mines workers to stand for their rights.
“Those were big movements,” Islam said. He said there had always been confusion regarding the type of revolution the left-wing political parties wanted to bring about in Pakistan.
He said two approaches had been debated in the subcontinent; one that favoured “dictatorship of the proletariat” and the other which talked about working for the establishment of an anti-imperialist democratic system.
Islam said the Cultural Revolution in China under Mao Zedong had an impact on the debate on the Left in Pakistan. “Anti-imperialism based in a democratic system became the prominent ideology often called a ‘people’s democracy,’” he said.
He said the idea was accepted by leftists throughout the country, “even those who were closer to Moscow in their approach agreed to this”.
He said leftist parties had produced some political workers of national stature. “Raja Anwar, Pervaiz Rashid and Raza Rabbani all come from student movements of the Left, mostly the National Students’ Federation,” he said.
Islam blamed the lack of students’ movements at the college and university level for a lack of leadership. “The youth lack information and inspiration to work towards solution of their problems. There is a stalemate in politics today which requires a lot resolve to be broken,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 30th, 2015.