Taimur Rahman Political Archive

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Archive for July, 2006

A tribute to Zahid and Sajjad

Posted by Taimur Rahman on July 31, 2006

Taimur Rahman

I recently had the opportunity of meeting two extremely inspiring individuals. Their courage, determination, and will power in the face of adverse circumstances leave me humbled.

Aqil Sajjad is currently working on a Phd at Harvard University in theoretical physics. When Aqil was in his Fsc, approximately 16 years of age, he lost his eyesight. Doctors call it a “retinal detachment” and believe that there may be genetic reasons for this condition. As difficult as losing one’s eyesight can be, Aqil thought he had also lost the one thing he loved the most: the opportunity to study physics. Although Aqil is from a relatively prosperous family, Pakistani colleges and universities simply don’t have the support system necessary to help people like Aqil. He dropped out of college.

But instead of falling into the world of despair, this young boy took it upon himself to relearn everything and plough his way back into life. Through brail and software designed for visually disabled people, he struggled against the darkness that had enveloped him. Through the world of the internet, he discovered a Professor of Physics in Oregon State University who was also blind. Under the able supervision of Professor John Gardner, Aqil became a straight A student and is now enrolled for a doctorate at Harvard University in theoretical physics. That is what I call determination.

When I met him a few weeks ago, Aqil opened my eyes to a world I had never seen before. We live in a country that destroys the spirit and sucks the life out of those who are completely healthy. What do the poor have but lives of humiliation, anguish, and desolation? Like rats on a treadmill, they must work day and night to justify their lives. And still they die in the millions from want and hunger. An impairment of any sort condemns them either to a life of begging or to a lonely despairing death. What can we offer such people in the way of healthcare, support, and love, when our entire system is based on greed, individualism, and avarice?

It was in a world enveloped by such poverty that Ranjha Zahid grew up. At an early age it was clear that he would gradually lose his vision because of a condition called “tunnel visioning”. His family was of the view that the boy should be given to a madrassa. But his mother believed in him. She herself was illiterate but she had heard somewhere of a degree called Masters in English. Despite the fact that she herself did not really know what such a degree entailed exactly, it nonetheless became her dream for her son. She would send him off to school every day and never let him feel sorry for himself. Slowly and surely, taking courage from his mother, Ranjha Zahid went through school, college, and finally university. During his journey through university life, he learnt of “the left” and interaction with these radical ideas led to his ideological transformation. To overcome his disability he researched and found software that could help visually disabled people. But he could not afford to pay for it so he got in touch with people who had hacked into the demo version of the software. For several years he worked with that demo version (which had to be reloaded after a certain number of uses) until he finally managed to obtain a hacked full version. Given his socialist leanings, he did not keep this secret to himself but immediately made the software available for all disabled people. Today Ranjha Zahid is married with children and works in an NGO writing reports for the organization. When I went to his house two weeks ago, I was greeted by a portrait of Faiz Ahmed Faiz and a discussion that had me riveted for hours. With him I delved deeper into the world of the disabled. He told me that according to some estimates, nearly 10 percent of people in Pakistan were, in one form or another, disabled. But the stigma attached to it, justified by religion, ensures that it remains hidden from view. According to the traditional maulvis, disability is a punishment for our sins, but he explained to me that the roots of disability also lie partly in our social system. It is because of the incidence of inner family and cousin marriages – a custom that is linked to the maintenance of property, especially landed property – that the gene pool is weakened, giving rise to a high incidence of disability. This information was shocking for me.

The semi-feudal, semi-capitalist system in which we live, not only destroys the freedom to love and marry as one wishes, it eats away at our very existence. Those who are born into privilege live as kings and those born into poverty are no better than slaves. Those born with disabilities will be lucky if they have a supportive family, or the means to overcome their condition. Those born in poverty will suffer silently without a glimmer of hope. In a society where healthcare and education serve the purpose of increasing the profit of the few, it is only the steely determination of people like Aqil Sajjad and Ranjha Zahid that can save one from a life of despair. All others are condemned before the so-called “invisible hand”, or should one call it “the invisible executioner”, of the market.

Come let us together find a way towards real freedom and emancipation for those who were called by Frantz Fanon the “Wretched of the Earth”. And if the day comes when our dreams for a world free of poverty and want are fulfilled, when the mighty fall and the meek inherit the Earth, then we might discover a new laughter, a new joy, only one that is shared by billions.

Posted in Pakistani Politics | Comments Off on A tribute to Zahid and Sajjad

A tribute to Ranjha Zahid and Aqil Sajjad

Posted by Taimur Rahman on July 28, 2006

I recently had the opportunity of meeting two extremely inspiring individuals.
Their courage, determination, and will-power in the face of adverse
circumstances leave me humbled.

Aqil Sajjad, a regular contributor to the CMKP list, is currently working on a
Phd at Harvard University in theoretical physics. Many on this list will
remember him as the individual who defends Musharraf, privatization, capitalism
vociferously. We might not, however, remember that he also has taken a firm
stand against Israeli aggression in Lebanon. And we certainly will not know
that when Aqil was in his Fsc, approximately 16 years of age, he lost his
eyesight.

Doctors call it a “retinal detachment” and believe that there may be genetic
reasons for this condition. As difficult as losing one’s eyesight can be, Aqil
thought he had also lost the one thing he loved the most; the opportunity to
study physics. Although Aqil is from a relatively prosperous family, Pakistani
colleges and universities simply don’t have the support system necessary to help
people like Aqil. He dropped out of college.

But instead of falling into the world of despair, this young boy took it upon
himself to relearn everything and plow his way back into life. Through brail
and software designed for visually disabled people he struggled against the
darkness that had enveloped him. Through the world of the internet, he
discovered a Professor of Physics in Oregon State University who was also blind.
Under the able supervision of Professor John Gardner, Aqil became a straight A’
student and is now enrolled for doctorate at Harvard University in theoretical
physics. That is what I call determination.

When I met him a few weeks ago, Aqil opened my eyes to a world I had never
seen before. We live in a country that destroys the spirit and sucks the life
out of those who are completely healthy. What do the poor have but lives of
humiliation, anguish, and desolation? Like rats on a tread mill they must work
day and night to justify their lives. And still they die in the millions from
want and hunger. An impairment of any sort condemns them either to a life of
begging or to a lonely despairing death. What can we offer such people in the
way of health care, support, and love, when our entire system is based on greed,
individualism, and avarice?

It was in a world enveloped by such poverty that Ranjha Zahid grew up. At an
early age it was clear that he would gradually lose his vision because of a
condition called “tunnel visioning”. His family was of the view that the boy
should be given to a madrassah. But his mother believed in him. She herself
was illiterate but she had heard somewhere of a degree called Masters in
English. Despite the fact that she herself did not really know what such a
degree entailed exactly, it nonetheless became her dream for her son. She would
send him off to school everyday and never let him feel sorry for himself.
Slowly and surely, taking courage from his mother, Ranjha Zahid went through
school, college, and finally university. During his journey through university
life, he learnt of “the left” and interaction with these radical ideas led to
his ideological transformation. To overcome his disability he researched and
found software that could help visually disabled people.
But he could not afford to pay for it so he got in touch with people who had
hacked into the demo version of the software. For several years he worked with
that demo version (which had to be reloaded after a certain number of uses)
until he finally managed to obtain a hacked full version. Given his socialist
leanings, he did not keep this secret to himself but immediately made the
software available for all disabled people. Today Ranjha Zahid is married with
children and works in an NGO writing reports for the organization. When I went
to his house two weeks ago, I was greeted by a portrait of Faiz Ahmed Faiz and a
discussion that had me riveted for hours. With him I delved deeper into the
world of the disabled. He told me that according to some estimates nearly 10%
of people in Pakistan were, in one form or another, disabled. But the stigma
attached to it, justified by religion, ensures that it remains hidden from view.
According to the traditional maulvis,
disability is a punishment for our sins but he explained to me that the roots
of disability also lie partly in our social system. It is because of the
incidence of inner family and cousin marriages—a custom that is linked to the
maintenance of property, especially landed property—that the gene pool is
weakened giving rise to a high incidence of disability. This information was
shocking for me.

The semi-feudal semi-capitalist system in which we live, not only destroys the
freedom to love and marry as one wishes, it eats away at our very existence.
Those who are born into privilege live as kings and those born into poverty are
no better than slaves. Those born with disabilities will be lucky if they have
a supportive family, or the means to overcome their condition. Those born in
poverty will suffer silently without a glimmer of hope. In society where health
care and education serve the purpose of increasing the profit of the few, it is
only steely determination of people like Aqil Sajjad and Ranjha Zahid that can
save one from a life of despair. All others are condemned before the so-called
“invisible hand”, or should one call it “the invisible executioner”, of the
market.

Dear Aqil and Ranjha Zahid, you are more than welcome on our list. Come let
us disagree, argue, discuss and debate. Together let us find a way towards real
freedom and emancipation for and together with those who were called by Frantz
Fanon the “Wretched of the Earth”. I extend my hand of friendship to you
comrades. And if the day comes when our dreams for a world free of poverty and
want are fulfilled, when the mighty fall and the meek inherit the Earth, then we
might discover a new laughter, a new joy; only one that is shared by billions.

Posted in Pakistani Politics | Comments Off on A tribute to Ranjha Zahid and Aqil Sajjad

Abdul Sattar Edhi

Posted by Taimur Rahman on July 27, 2006

“I wonder if Edhi would ever be recommended for the Nobel Peace Prize”

The Soviet Union awarded Abdul Sattar Edhi and his wife Bilquis Edhi the LENIN PEACE PRIZE in 1988 (The Lenin Peace Prize was the Soviet- equivalent of the Nobel Prize). In my opinion the Lenin Peace Prize is a greater award than the Nobel Prize, given the kinds of people who have recieved the latter award.

Posted in History, International Affairs | Comments Off on Abdul Sattar Edhi

Stalin By Picasso

Posted by Taimur Rahman on July 25, 2006

Pablo Picasso’s famous charcoal sketch of Stalin.

Posted in History | Comments Off on Stalin By Picasso

DIfference of Perspective

Posted by Taimur Rahman on July 19, 2006

What do you call it when very rich people exploit poor people?
– Greed and selfishness.

What do you call it when very rich countries exploit poor countries?
– Globalization.

———————————————————————

What do you call the form of government where a small elite exploits
and intimidates the citizens?
– A dictatorship.

What do you call the form of government where a small elite exploits
and intimidates the citizens, and the citizens can choose every few
years which part of the elite should occupy the government buildings?
– A democracy.

———————————————————————

What do you call it when a group of people take the law into their
own hands and kill people without a fair trial?
– A lynching.

What do you call it when the US takes the law into its own hands and
kills people without a fair trial?
– Operation Enduring Freedom.

———————————————————————

What do you call someone who steals from the rich and gives to the
poor?
– Robin Hood.

What do you call someone who steals from the poor and gives to the
rich?
– The US government.

———————————————————————

What do you call a weapon that can kill thousands of people?
– A weapon of mass destruction.

What do you call a weapon that has killed 1.5 million Iraqis,
including more than 500,000 children?
– Sanctions.

——————————————————————–

What do you call it when just over 3 thousand people were killed in
the September 11 attack on the US?
– An atrocity.

What do you call it when nearly 5 million people were killed in the
Vietnam war?
– A mistake.

———————————————————————

What do you call a foreign oppressor in the last century that
controlled the economical and social life of a country?
– A colonialist power.

What do you call a foreign oppressor in this century that controls
the economical and social life of a country?
– The International Monetary Fund.

———————————————————————

What do you call it when people are slaughtered?
– A massacre.

What do you call it when 100.000 to 200.000 Iraqi’s are slaughtered
by the US at a loss to American forces of 148 (46 of which were
killed by friendly fire)?
– The Gulf War.

———————————————————————

What do you call the extermination of a people?
– Genocide.

What do you call the extermination of native Americans in the US?
– A glorious episode in American history.

———————————————————————

What do you call a television station that broadcasts only the
government’s views?
– A propaganda station.

What do you call the BBC when the World News consists solely of half
an hour of a Pentagon briefing?
– Fair and impartial.

———————————————————————

What do you call the 2002 presidential election in Zimbabwe where
there are a few irregularities?
– A flawed election.

What do you call the presidential election in the US where there are
serious irregularities?
– A victory for democracy.

———————————————————————

What do you call someone who explodes a bomb and kills innocent
people?
– A terrorist.

What do you call someone who drops a bomb from a plane and kills
innocent people?
– A brave American pilot.

——————————————————-

What do you call it when a Palestinian uses violence against the
Jews who have illegally occupied his land?
– A terrorist attack.

What do you call it when an Israeli helicopter fires rockets at
Palestinian youths armed with stones?
– Self-defense.

———————————————————————

What do you call it when someone gives money to a government
official in return for favors?
– Bribery.

What do you call it when a large corporation gives money to a
government official in return for favors?
– A campaign contribution.

Posted in International Affairs | Comments Off on DIfference of Perspective

On Bonded Labourers in Pakistan: a small correction

Posted by Taimur Rahman on July 13, 2006

Just a small correction in this article. The name of the father of Shaukat Maseh (who was murdered) is not Naid but Inayat. The manner in which bhatta workers say Inayat can often sound close to nayt or nayd (especially to a foreign ear). Inayat is one of the leaders of the Bhatta Mazdoor Mahaz from the 1970s. CMKP-Lahore has been working closely with Baba Feroze and Shaukat’s brothers in order to win justice for the murder of Shaukat. It is good to see that this case is recieving international attention.

Posted in Pakistani Politics | Comments Off on On Bonded Labourers in Pakistan: a small correction

Revolutionary Socialist Intelligentsia

Posted by Taimur Rahman on July 13, 2006

(An Excerpt from “What is to be Done” by Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. Consider it a response to Paulo Friere)

“We have said that there could not have been [communist] consciousness among the workers. It would have to be brought to them from without. The history of all countries shows that the working class, exclusively by its own effort, is able to develop only trade union consciousness, i.e., the conviction that it is necessary to combine in unions, fight the employers, and strive to compel the government to pass necessary labour legislation, etc.[2] The theory of socialism, however, grew out of the philosophic, historical, and economic theories elaborated by educated representatives of the propertied classes, by intellectuals. By their social status the
founders of modern scientific socialism, Marx and Engels, themselves belonged to the bourgeois intelligentsia. In the very same way, in Russia, the theoretical doctrine of [communism]arose altogether independently of the spontaneous growth of the working-class movement; it arose as a natural and inevitable outcome of the development of thought among the revolutionary socialist intelligentsia.

Hence, we had both the spontaneous awakening of the working masses, their awakening to conscious life and conscious struggle, and a revolutionary youth, armed with [communist] theory and straining towards the workers.”

Posted in Politics | Comments Off on Revolutionary Socialist Intelligentsia

War of Independence, 1857

Posted by Taimur Rahman on July 10, 2006

Aamir Riaz from Awami Jamhoori Forum wrote: “1857 is neither a revolt nor was an example of struggle. it was congress who reinterpret this event.”

However, one can clearly see that long before the All India Congress existed, scholars, especially those opposed to colonialism, supported the 1857 “war if independence” or “Indian Revolt”. Arguably the greatest mind of our times, Karl Marx wrote 32 articles and 12 letters in support of the “Indian Revolt”. One can find them, as well as some of his other writings on India, at http://marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1857/india/index.htm

On the other hand, the arguments that the 1857 Revolt was “niether a struggle nor a revolt” is strangely reminicient of the views of the British colonialists who were never ready to acknowledge this event as a “War of Independence” and continue to call it a “mutiny” to this
day.

It seems to me that on nearly every question of concern to the emancipation of the workers and peasants, the representatives of the Awami Jamhoori Forum (especially Aamir Riaz) increasingly take a reactionary position. Take for example, the support for neo-liberal privatization. It would be difficult for me at this point to even put the Awami Jamhoori Forum in the category of “democratic” forces. A sad state of affairs for people who, if I am not mistaken, at one time considered themselves pro-Chinese revolutionaries.

Posted in History, Pakistani Politics | Comments Off on War of Independence, 1857

Mazdoor Action Committee Demonstration: Over 1,000 Attend

Posted by Taimur Rahman on July 8, 2006

The demonstration of the Mazdoor Action Committee held yesterday was an incredible success. Over a thousand people attended the rally organized against the extention of the working day to 12 hours and all the newspapers of Pakistan have carried pictures and/or articles about our demonstration.

It was an incredibly hot and humid day yesterday and the July sun was unsparing. Despite the heat workers came with red banners flying in high spirits. Tons of buses came in from all industrial areas of Lahore and each bus was not only brimming with workers inside, workers an equal number of workers sat and stood on the roof of each bus to attend this rally. Other workers from Gulberg industrial area, Kot Lakhpat and Railway workshops came on motorcycles, cycles, and by foot.

The first workers to get to the location assembled in the small green area next to the press club unfurling their banners and raising their flags waiting for their comrades. Spirits were so high that even before the full force of the demonstration had arrived, workers began to raise slogans, read poetry and make speaches against the government. Bashir Zafar (leader of the APTUF–Kot Lakhpat) and President APTUF General Secretary Railway Workers Union Fazl-e-Wahid addressed the audience and argued that workers should ensure that party of the government (PML(Q)) should not be able to campaign in their areas. They argued that if this party, responsible for extending the working day to 12 hours, enters a workers district
workers should get a hold of them and blacken their faces before sending them packing back.

Later as bus after bus of workers arrived the demonstration swelled to an enormous size and the diminutive green area was insufficient. The demonstration moved to a small adjoining intersection area. The tempo of slogans on continued to build throughout this period
especially when slogans were led by the leaders of the Working Women’s Organization.

The organizers tied a small speaker to the back of a bus and climbed to the roof of the bus to address the demonstration. Gulzar Chaudhry (General Secretary of the APTUF) kicked off the
demonstration with a rip roaring militant speech against the decision of the government to extend the working day to 12 hours. He emphasized how the workers needed greater clarity, discipline and organization in order to overcome the forces capitalism in Pakistan. He thanked the workers for their support and stated that the movement is willing to make any sacrifice against this criminal legislation.

By the time Rubina Jamil’s turn came to speak, a small contingent of Jamaat e Islami party faithful also assembled at the rear end of our demonstration to address the press in a separate demonstration. The relative size of our demonstrations was a sight worth seeing. Their
demonstration scarcely had between 30-50 people. Ours was standing at over a thousand but the well-funded Jamaat had two enormous speakers booming out towards our demonstrators.

Rubina Jamil of Working Women’s Organization rose to the occasion and addressed the political program of the religious right. She asked “Whose Islam do these people want to bring and for whose benefit?” She boldly stated that only a growing working class movement could address the exploitation and oppression of the people and especially women. She concluded her speech by saying that this demonstration was merely a preview of things to come. The workers movement would grow and not only send the army packing back to the barracks, it would overthrow the capitalist, imperialist and feudal system and establish a workers republic.

Mohammed Shabir of the Anjuman Mazareen Punjab said that the landless tenants’ movement was united with the workers of the city against such reactionary labour laws. He narrated how the establishment had raised houses to the ground in order to widen the road in Dipalpur. Expressing solidarity with the demonstrators he stated that next time he would also bring 10 buses of mazareen from Dipalpur to support the movement.

Taimur Rahman of the Communist Workers and Peasants Party explained that although there was a 33% increase in the minimum wage, the simultaneous 50% increase in working hours meant that the real value of one hour of labour had fallen by 11%. Combined with the impact
of inflation, which according to the state back of Pakistan stood at nearly 12%, the overall impact of these laws on workers earnings was to destroy nearly a quarter of their real wage. He said that five working class organizations had united under the banner of the Mazdoor Action Committee in order to fight the capitalists, feudal lords and the civil military bureaucracy and that the struggle would continue till this exploitative system was overthrown and a socialist workers republic established.

Next Friday the Mazdoor Action Committee will observe Yum e Siyah (Black Day) against the increase in working hours to 12 hours a day. We appeal to all our comrades and friends to join the campaign for the 8 hour day.

Next Friday (13th July) we appeal to every to:

1) Wear black arm bands to work
2) Try and put up a black flag on our office, industry, gate,
or building where we work.
3) Help the Mazdoor Action Committee distribute leaflets
against the extension of the working day

Workers of the World, UNITE !!!

Posted in Pakistani Politics | Comments Off on Mazdoor Action Committee Demonstration: Over 1,000 Attend

Mazdoor Action Committee (Lahore) Protest Against 12 Hours Day

Posted by Taimur Rahman on July 7, 2006

Mazdoor Action Committee
Eight Hours Work, Eight Hours Recreation, Eight Hours Rest

The Mazdoor Action Committee is holding a big protest today against the extention of the working day to 12 hours. The protest will begin at Simla Pehari (Lahore Press Club) at 5 pm. The Mazdoor Action Committee demands that the law pertaining to the extention of the working day to 12 hours be immediately repealed.

The Mazdoor Action Committee has chalked out a weekly program of protests against this reactionary legislation. Next week (12 July) the Mazdoor Action Committee will observe Yum e Siyah (black day) in all industrial areas. The week after that (19th July) the Mazdoor Action Committee will observe a hunger strike. The weekly organ of the Mazdoor Action Committee called “Mazdoor” (Worker) has been coming out regularly. This weeks edition contains an article on the implications of the extention of the working day to 12 hours, an article on the Bhatta Mazdoors, another one on the CMKP Martyrs’ day rally in Hashtnagar, and clippings of all the press coverage we got for our last press conference (last friday). The paper will be available at the rally.

Please join us today against the 12 hour day

Time : 5 pm sharp
Location : Lahore Press Club (Simla Pehari)

The Mazdoor Action Committee includes:

Working Women’s Organization
All Pakistan Trade Union Federation
Anjuman Mazarin Punjab
Bhatta Mazdoor Ittehad
Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party

Posted in Pakistani Politics | Comments Off on Mazdoor Action Committee (Lahore) Protest Against 12 Hours Day