Pakistan: The IMT and Manzoor Ahmed ‑ Against unprincipled careerism!

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The work of the Pakistani Marxists of The Struggle has been noted, both by our friends in the labour movement and also our enemies. The work has been extremely successful. Unfortunately, in the course of building a principled Marxist tendency, some comrades can fall victims of opportunist adaptation. This is the case of former IMT member and ex-member of the National Assembly, Manzoor Ahmed. In this Statement of the EC of The Struggle we set the record straight on what happened.

[Editor’s introductory note:

Our ex-comrade Manzoor Ahmed, after years of defending a genuine revolutionary policy, unfortunately eventually drifted in an opportunist direction and broke with the The Struggle and the IMT. He has adapted to the bourgeois leadership of the PPP and is now putting forward a position we cannot support in any manner whatsoever. It is necessary to set the record straight for all our readers and supporters, which we do by publishing the following statement of the leadership of The Struggle.]

For many years the Pakistani Marxists of The Struggle have been working in the PPP, a party that has a mass following among the workers and peasants, although its leading layer is composed mainly of bourgeois and feudal elements. It goes without saying that in Pakistan, as in all other countries, the aim of the Marxist tendency is to win over the workers and peasants. This requires an implacable and unceasing struggle against the corrupt bourgeois and feudal elements in the leadership.

There is always a danger in work in mass reformist organizations that comrades will come under the pressure of the bureaucracy and alien ideas. The history of the international labour movement is full of examples of honest militants who have been bought off by the bureaucracy, renouncing their principles in return for the “fruits of office”. There is nothing so damaging, nothing that so harms the cause of socialism and the working class, than the spectacle of former revolutionaries allowing themselves to be bought and absorbed into the bureaucratic apparatus. That is why it is necessary to apply strict measures of control.

There is no place in the ranks of the International Marxist Tendency for careerists and opportunists who seek to further their own positions. Any comrade who stands for public office or takes positions in the labour and trade union movement can only do so with the agreement of the tendency and under the strict control of its leading bodies. These are basic principles of our movement and are well known.

These measures are a thousand times more necessary in Pakistan, where politics are extremely corrupt. The overwhelming majority of political leaders see politics as a means of enriching themselves. It is well known that members of the same wealthy families stand as candidates for the PPP and the Muslim League in order to ensure that the family will keep control of a lucrative political position. Ministers use their office to enrich themselves through bribes and the sale of contracts, and give jobs to their friends and relatives.

When former comrade Manzoor Ahmed won the election in Kasur in 2002, this was a great victory for the Pakistan Marxists. The campaign was organized by The Struggle, and was run on clear revolutionary class lines. Against all the odds, Manzoor defeated the candidates of the right wing. At the time he said “this was not my victory, but a victory for the whole organization, for the whole International.” That was the truth.

In the days of Militant, when we had three MPs in the British parliament, the national centre was based in London and could maintain regular contact. The MPs had a full time staff composed of Marxist cadres nominated by the tendency. We had the position “a workers’ MP on a worker’s wage.” Even so, it was not always possible to exercise complete control.

The case of Pakistan was very different. The Struggle did not possess 200 full time workers, as the Militant had. The National Assembly is based in Islamabad, 200 miles from the national centre of The Struggle in Lahore. Also, given the starvation wages in Pakistan, it was unrealistic to pose strictly the question of “a workers’ MP on a worker’s wage.” Manzoor also followed the bad tradition of employing members of his family as his staff. Nevertheless, while he was in the National Assembly (NA), Manzoor generally followed the revolutionary line of the tendency and as a result got good results.

Marxists neither reject parliamentary work nor exaggerate its importance. It is just another area of revolutionary work that can be very useful as a platform. It must be borne in mind that at this time the PPP was in opposition, Benazir Bhutto (BB) was in exile, and the PPP bureaucracy was quite weak. This permitted the Marxists a fairly broad scope for agitation both inside and outside the NA. Needless to say, the latter was always far more important for us than the former.

The situation changed abruptly after the return of BB in October 2007. As we had predicted, she was greeted by millions of workers and peasants who came out onto the streets. Such a development took all the other Left groups completely by surprise. They were confused, isolated and impotent. By contrast, the Marxists of The Struggle were fighting shoulder to shoulder with the masses. We participated in the mass demonstrations, but shouting revolutionary class slogans and burning American flags (something completely contrary to the wishes of Benazir Bhutto and the other PPP leaders).

The Pakistan ruling class and the imperialists saw the danger. They were not at all afraid of BB, but they were terrified of the masses who were brought to their feet by the return of the PPP leader and were flocking to the banner of the PPP. This is what led to her assassination, which in turn provoked a mass uprising, which paralysed the country for days. The very scale of the movement made it impossible for a group of a couple of thousand to have any effect, and it degenerated into rioting (not without the aid of the agents of the Pakistan state).

Rigged elections

This was followed by elections, which were massively rigged. This time the Marxists had three candidates: Manzoor in Kasur, comrade Riaz Lund in Karachi and comrade Ali Wazir in Waziristan, the tribal area on the Afghan border, where war is raging. In the last-named region the result of the vote was never announced. In Karachi, comrade Riaz Lund received a record result – 46,080 votes but the authorities rigged the election, handing the seat to the fascist MQM.

In all cases, the candidates of The Struggle were asked to fight the election on the basis of the policies of revolutionary socialism. In two cases this was done, even in Waziristan, where comrade Ali Wazir risked his life and was forced to flee for a time to Peshawar to escape the death threats of the Taliban. In Karachi, too, comrade Riaz Lund received death threats from the MQM, who had attempted to kill him in the past. These comrades did not flinch from their revolutionary obligations.

In the case of Kasur, however, things were not so clear. Initially, MA agreed to stand on the programme of The Struggle, but as the campaign continued, it became increasingly clear that the comrade was making political concessions in order to win the election. MA wanted a “broad-based” campaign. He objected to the word socialism being used in any of his campaign material and, unlike the previous campaign, he did not refer to it in his speeches.

Manzoor wanted to win the election at all costs and was afraid of losing the support of the small businessmen, landlords and traders of Kasur. In his programme he included the demand for the setting up of a chamber of commerce in Kasur. This caused considerable discontent among the comrades in Kasur. Many decided to abandon work in this constituency in disgust. It is not clear that he would have won in any case, because the situation was not as favourable as last time. But it is clear that, with an opportunist policy, he lost the election in a constituency that he had won in 2002 when the campaign was organized by the IMT comrades on a revolutionary socialist programme.

The articles published on marxist.com regarding the election campaign made no mention of this at the time because it was never the IMT’s method to make public criticisms of comrades. At that time Manzoor was still part of the IMT and we hoped that we could convince him of his errors through comradely discussion. Also we did not realize to what extent he would go in his opportunism. After the election, comrade Alan Woods telephoned Manzoor from London to express his solidarity, and he reported to us that he thought that MA was “completely shattered” and expressed some concern about his morale. By contrast, the other two candidates were in good spirits. They understood that the elections were rigged and that being defeated in such an election was of no real importance.

Could we have foreseen Manzoor’s betrayal? It is always easy to see things clearly with the wisdom of hindsight. It is certainly true that there were signs of weakness on Manzoor’s part even before this. There were some complaints that his parliamentary residence in Islamabad was being improperly used by his friends and members of family. Some comrades complained of his arrogance and lack of consideration to other comrades. But at the time the faults some people detected seemed relatively minor.

Paradoxically, the person who made the most insistent accusations was precisely comrade Sajjad Mehdi, who is now Manzoor’s main agent and is organizing his campaign of disinformation internationally. So bad were relations between the two men that one year before the elections, they were not speaking to each other and Sajjad was threatening to leave the organization in protest at Manzoor’s behaviour. Only through the personal intervention of comrades Alan and Ana from London did we manage to heal the breach.

Mehdi accused Manzoor of an arrogant attitude and careerist aspirations. He said that he treated the rank and file comrades with contempt and was not prepared to listen to anybody or accept the discipline of the organization. We did not consider that such accusations were soundly based and attributed them to jealousy and other petty personal considerations. Even if they had some substance, such faults were far outweighed by the comrade’s good political work in the National Assembly. That is how we saw it at the time. Now Mehdi has changed his opinion of Manzoor completely. We would very much like to know the reason.

Zardari’s intrigues

As a result of the serious work of the Pakistani Marxists over many years, the Marxist Tendency was in a very strong position. This was known to the PPP leaders, who now had to form a government. After the assassination of BB, her husband, Zardari, took over the leadership. This man, now president of Pakistan, was sent to prison for corruption. He is commonly known in Pakistan as “Mr. Ten Percent” for the huge sums he got for “commission” under previous PPP governments. Zardari was well aware of the danger posed by The Struggle when the PPP right-wing leaders came to power. He therefore decided to try to get control of The Struggle and looked around for a weak link in its leadership. Unfortunately, he found it in Manzoor.

Having lost his parliamentary position, the latter was desperate to recover some kind of leading position. Partly this was dictated by considerations of personal prestige and injured pride, partly by economic considerations and family pressures. He used his previous authority as a Left to establish covert contacts with Zardari and became a part of the coterie surrounding the PPP leader. The plan was to use our organization to give a left cover to the right-wing, anti-working class policies the right-wing PPP regime was to embark upon at the behest of US imperialism.

Zardari was only too pleased to offer him such a position, which he accepted immediately. At no time did he consult the Tendency or request its permission to take this position. Let us be clear on this question. It is one thing for a Marxist to stand in a parliamentary election, with the agreement of the Tendency, and be elected democratically by the workers and peasants on the basis of an openly revolutionary class position. It is another thing altogether to accept behind closed doors an unelected position in a right-wing leadership behind the backs of the Tendency.

By taking such a step Manzoor perpetrated a grave breach of discipline and violated the most elementary positions of the IMT concerning the taking of positions. What was the reaction of the Pakistan Marxist tendency? They did not expel him or take any disciplinary action – which they were entitled to do. They attempted to convince him with patient argument that he had made a mistake. They begged him not to accept Zardari’s offer. But he was deaf to all these pleas. He had already made up his mind to put his personal interests and prestige before those of the Tendency.

After all the personal discussions and appeals proved to be fruitless, an internal debate on Manzoor’s position started in the Pakistan leadership (at this stage the International leadership was not involved). More and more comrades became concerned at the situation. Eventually, the International was informed, and recommended further discussions with him. At this stage there was no question of taking disciplinary measures. In order to save a comrade who had done good work in the past, we were prepared to accept a compromise: depending on the nature of the post, he could accept, on condition that his work came under the strict control of the leading bodies of the Tendency. We also asked him not to make any public statements that would be detrimental to the cause of Marxism.

In words Manzoor said he would accept this, but in practice he did not. He accepted a position in the People’s Secretariat in Islamabad, a place that is notoriously associated with the distribution of positions and contracts (that is, corruption). None of his work was discussed on the leading bodies. It was very difficult even to reach him by phone. He was always “too busy”.

Coalition (class collaboration) politics

The position in the country was disastrous: price hikes, unemployment, poverty, electricity, water and gas shortages, redundancies, privatizations and other factors have created a situation for the working masses that is unprecedented in the history of Pakistan. The PPP leaders, by basing themselves on bankrupt Pakistan capitalism, were compelled to start a series of attacks on the working class. To make matters worse, Zardari promised the Americans total submission that even Musharraf was incapable of providing. This regime has given all-out and blind support to the imperialist aggression that has killed thousands of people in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

What was the position of Manzoor? He not only shamelessly supported these policies but covered up for the massive corruption Zardari and his cronies were involved in. He has repeatedly praised Zardari in the press and television and uncritically supported his policies. The Zardari government carried out a right-wing, pro-capitalist and pro-imperialist policy from the very beginning. The PPP leaders entered a coalition government with the right-wing Muslim League, which we had also predicted in advance. We said that the PPP leaders would need such a coalition as a cover for carrying out unpopular policies.

Our policy was quite clear: “Break the coalition! Carry out the founding programme of the PPP!” Nawaz Sharif, the leader of the right-wing Muslim League, was smart enough to realize that he would be better off in opposition, and he broke the coalition himself. What was the position of Manzoor? He urged the right wing to join the coalition with the PPP. He publicly appealed to the leaders of the Muslim League to “accept their responsibility” and rejoin the coalition! This was an opportunist betrayal and represented public support for the class collaborationist policies of Zardari and the other right-wing leaders of the PPP.

These positions were brought to the notice of the leadership of the IMT in a meeting in July 2008. The IS was already partly aware of the situation due to their visits to Pakistan and some of the press reports they had seen in Europe. Still we were hoping to retrieve something and save Manzoor for the Tendency. However, the situation was going from bad to worse.

The telecommunications strike

A turning point was the conduct of Manzoor in the telecommunications strike of 2008. In a shameful betrayal of the struggle of Pakistan Telecommunications (PTCL), who were fighting for temporary workers to be made full-time, he called on telecommunications workers to go back to work, claiming that a good deal had been struck, and that the government had signed an agreement with the unions. That was a lie. It effectively broke the strike, with some workers returning to work and others staying out.

As soon as the strikers began to go back to work, the government immediately stationed army units in the telecom depots, instituted a lock out, made wide scale arrests of striking workers, sacked over 30 leading telecom activists from their jobs, and ensured the temporary banning of trade unions within PTCL. It is rumoured that Zardari extracted a huge sum from the multinational to which this profitable institution was privatized. There is no way of proving this, but it would be entirely in line with the past history of Mr. Ten Percent.

Now Manzoor and his supporters argue that he was “not a member of the arbitration committee”. That is irrelevant. The fact is that Manzoor publicly supported the government’s line and deceived the telecommunications workers with false promises. Such is the hatred of these workers that Manzoor and his supporters cannot show their faces on the demonstrations of the telecommunications workers. The conduct of Manzoor in this dispute was now in the public domain. References to his behaviour were being made in the media and also on left websites. For us to have tolerated such actions or remained silent about them would have completely discredited our Tendency in the eyes of the workers of Pakistan and the entire world.

Manzoor did not attend the meeting of the IMT leadership in Europe, despite being phoned by Alan Woods and asked to come, alleging that he was “very busy with the telecommunications dispute” (!). The case therefore was discussed in his absence, and a resolution was passed unanimously calling upon him to resign from his positions. He was given some time to reflect, but a deadline was set for August 9, 2008, by which time he had to comply with the terms of the resolution. If he refused to resign from these posts by that date, the resolution empowered the Pakistani leading bodies to take action against him. We made it clear to him that as long as he abided by the democratically reached decisions of the Tendency, we would be prepared to listen to his case.

In practice, while in words he made us believe that he was prepared to accept the decision, in practice he did not resign from the positions he had taken up in the PPP leadership. In various telephone conversations with members of the International leadership, MA said that he was prepared to resign, “but not just yet”. However, this was just a game. On 10th August he refused to resign from his positions, or even to attend the EC meeting called to discuss his position. The EC decided temporarily to suspend him from membership and a special session of the CC was called on 22nd August at which he was invited to clarify his position.

At the CC meeting Manzoor continued to defend his position and rejected the IEC resolution. When the matter was put to the vote, the resolution adopted by the IMT leadership and the decision of the EC got overwhelming support. When he saw the hands raised in favour of the resolution, he walked out of the meeting, followed by four people (yes, only four!) and broke with the IMT.

It is said that we “expelled” Manzoor. In fact, we expelled no one from the organization but only requested him to follow the instructions included in the IMT resolution, which called on him to resign from his positions in the PPP leadership. When he refused to do this, and the Pakistan CC voted in favour of IMT resolution by a big majority Manzoor walked out of the CC meeting with his few hangers-on and decided to break from the International Marxist Tendency. All the discussions in the CC have been reported in the minutes of that meeting. After that very few comrades in the whole section went with him though he gave big lucrative offers to them for jobs and government contracts.

The involvement of the state

We do not think that the present furious attacks against the IMT are an accident at this particular time. Nor do we think it an accident that our enemies have singled out the Pakistan section for their particular attention. It is an extraordinary achievement that in a poor, backward Islamic state, the forces of Marxism have made such striking gains. This is known all over the world – both to our friends and our enemies.

The Pakistan section of the IMT has experienced significant growth in very difficult times. Our comrades are working in very hard and dangerous conditions. We face many enemies: the landlords and capitalists who oppress and murder worker activists, like our martyred comrade Arif Shah; the fundamentalists and Taliban who regard Marxists as their most deadly enemy and issue death threats against our comrades like Ali Wazir; the fascist MQM who murder PPP activists and who shot and wounded our comrade Riaz Lund in Karachi. These are very dangerous enemies. But there are others, still more dangerous.

Our comrades are also under attack from the state forces, who understand that we are the only serious revolutionary force in Pakistan. The right-wing PPP leaders are working closely with these same state forces and the US imperialists who see Pakistan as a necessary tool for waging their dirty war in Afghanistan. Zardari is only a tool of Washington. The real ruler of Pakistan is Hilary Clinton. The IMF runs the bankrupt Pakistan economy. At least for the time being, the imperialists need Zardari, who is their puppet. Therefore, they are interested in the elimination of the PPP Left in general, and the Marxists in particular.

Large amounts of money have been put at the disposal of this ‘group’. Zardari has put Manzoor in charge of the ‘People’s Secretariat’ in Islamabad. This is the notorious place where corrupt politicians trade in jobs, transfers, promotions, government contracts and other corrupt practices. This fact alone is sufficient to prove that these ex-Marxists have become completely absorbed in the corrupt and autocratic apparatus of the PPP.

Ever since then these individuals have been trying their utmost to sabotage the Pakistan section of the IMT. This is the main task, for which they have been hired by the capitalists in the PPP and sections of the state. They have attempted to buy individual comrades, promising jobs for them or their children. In a poor country like Pakistan this is a very tempting prospect. But very few comrades were prepared to sell their principles and join them on that basis.

Their aim is to confuse, sabotage and destroy the Pakistan section. Part of this dirty work is to sow confusion internationally, playing on the fact that comrades in other countries do not have access to all the information. Some unscrupulous individuals have been playing on this to circulate what they call “information” (in reality, malicious disinformation).

The split-off group failed in all its efforts to damage the section through the above-mentioned methods, and are now resorting to other means. Comrade Lal Khan is now banned from appearing on TV programmes on several TV channels, evidently as the result of a directive from the Minister of Information. Even more serious, several worker comrades have been transferred to far off places by the state so that they cannot continue their jobs. Some have been sacked from their jobs or refused promotion, with serious consequences to their lives.

Having failed to corrupt the Tendency or to bring it under their control, they are now trying to encourage the PPP leadership to carry out a witch-hunt of the Marxists of the IMT in the PPP. Now they have resorted to physical violence against the comrades. On 22 June 2009 two of our full timers in Karachi were arrested by the Steel Mills police for distributing leaflets against the privatization of Pakistan Steel. They were locked up illegally and tortured by the police with the connivance of this group.

On 30 January 2009 two members of the Pakistan E.C., comrade Adam Pal and comrade Zuhaib Butt, were assaulted by the PPP goons at the PPP district convention in Kasur. The TV news was, ‘Manzoor gets Adam Pal and Zuhaib Butt severely beaten up for raising slogans of Socialist Revolution and then arrested.’ These comrades suffered severe injuries and in this condition they were taken to the police station, where they were threatened and tortured, instead of being hospitalized.

Manzoor and Privatization

The real role of these ex-Marxists is to act as a “left” cover for Zardari and the PPP right-wing leaders. The fact of the matter is that the so-called “labour” wing of the Party is continually attacking the working class. They are supporting all kinds of elements against genuine workers’ representatives, forming yellow pro-government unions in order to break the unity of workers and prevent any organized resistance to the onslaught of the government. Their aim is to sabotage the movement against privatization (or “public private partnership”).

Manzoor is attempting to sell the "great vision" of Zardari to the workers. He regularly appears on news channels as a spokesperson for Zardari and the PPP leadership. He is defending all the policies of the present government. In the referendum at the State Bank and in Karachi Electric Supply he supported the candidates of the MQM against the workers’ representatives. As the man in charge of the People’s Labour Bureau (the trade union wing of the PPP) he is continuously defending the policy of privatization, which they try to disguise under the name of “the Benazir Employees Stock Option Scheme or Public Private Partnership Programme”.

Under this new name they are selling off government-owned institutions to private companies. This policy was launched by the Ministry of Privatization. This scheme is being used by the PPP leadership to deceive the workers that they are being given shares of the department they are working in and this is “like the nationalization that was carried out by Z.A. Bhutto in the 1970s.” Actually it is the precise opposite: it is privatization with another name.

The PTUDC has strongly condemned this programme. To defend it in any way is a crime against the working class. Yet Manzoor and his friends are trying to induce the workers to accept the ownership of 12% of the shares in the privatized industries. Manzoor is present at almost all the official ceremonies in which the selling of shares is falsely presented as “nationalization”. He is using his position as leader of the People’s Labour Bureau to mislead the workers. Here is a recent press report on this campaign, published in Aaj TV Online - Pakistan Ki Awaz on Friday 4th December 2009:

“KARACHI: The federal government on Friday gave away 12 percent of its shares, over 5.239 million, valuing Rs 1.4 billion, in Pakistan State Oil (PSO) among some 1,968 permanent and contractual employees of the state-run oil company under Benazir Employees Stock Option Scheme (BESOS).

“Federal Minister for Privatisation, Petroleum and Natural Resources Naveed Qamar, at a certificates-distribution ceremony at PSO Terminal-C, Keamari, said that this was to give a sense of ownership to the workers.

“Some 27,148 units, each containing 193 shares, and each valuing in the Karachi Stock Exchange by around Rs 296, were distributed among those Karachi-based management, non-management, contract and CBA employees who had been on pay roll of the PSO till August 14, 2009, when Prime Minister Yuosaf Raza Gilani had announced the workers empowering scheme.

“The ceremony was attended, among others, by President of People's Labours Bureau (PLB) Chawdhry Manzoor, Managing Director of PSO Irfan Khalil Qureshi, CBA President Rashel Alam, President of PLB Sindh Rehmatullah Sarki, and a large number of PSO employees amid ear-splitting slogans of 'Long Live Bhutto'.” (Employees given 12 percent of PSO shares, our emphasis)”

Another report, dated 1st October 2009, describes a meeting in Islamabad, in which Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani announced the handover of stocks of PPL to the workers:

“Formally launching Benazir Employees Stock Option Scheme (BESOS) to create in them sense of ownership and empowerment. Under scheme 12% GoP share holding worth around Rs 100 billion will be transferred for 0.5 million workers of state owned enterprises. He said BESOS will enhance growth, ensure protection, security of assets as workers will have direct stakes in viability, profitability of entities in which they were also shareholders. `’I am glad to have fulfilled yet another dream of PPP which strongly believes in democratic principles. We believe people are real source of power, as they have right to determine their fate,’ Gilani said and vowed to do all to empower them.” (Our emphasis)

These words could have been pronounced by Margaret Thatcher thirty years ago. But now they are being presented as the last word in “socialism”. And who was standing at Giliani’s elbow at this ceremony? The report concludes:

“President Peoples Labour Bureau Ch. Manzoor Ahmed defended government's scheme of privatisation and said it was in interest of the nation.” (PPI, 1st October 2009,PM directs immediate steps to withdraw Removal from Service Ordinance 2000, Banking Companies Ordinance Section 27-B)

Maybe the journalist did not hear correctly? But here is another report of the same meeting published in the Pakistan Times:

“He (Manzoor) staunchly defended the government’s scheme of privatisation and said it was in the interest of the nation.” (PM to set-off scheme to empower employees of State Owned Enterprises)

No, there is no confusion here. These reports accurately convey MA’s words and truthfully express his position, which is no more no less than a defence of Zardari’s programme of privatization under the guise of “worker-shareholders”. And this man has the brazen effrontery to claim to represent the ideas of Ted Grant! He even tries to present his group as the “Left Opposition” of the IMT! To which one might reply: if this is the Left Opposition, we would like to see what the Right would look like! Evidently someone here does not lack a sense of humour.

Ted Grant’s position

It is ironic that these people claim to stand for the ideas of Ted Grant. Comrade Ted always defended work in the mass organizations, but he warned continually of the dangers of opportunist degeneration. While waging a constant struggle against sectarianism, Ted never turned a blind eye to the dangers of opportunism. If he could read what is now being written in his name he would be turning in his grave.

Ted mercilessly attacked the Healyites for their tactic of opportunist adaptation to the left reformists in the Labour Party in the early fifties. But these petty bourgeois careerists are a thousand times worse than the Healyites. Here we have a blatant opportunist adaptation, not to the left reformists, but to the extreme right wing of the PPP. These people have abandoned even the word “socialism”. When speaking on TV, they shamelessly defend Zardari and try to cover up his corruption and other crimes. To identify this blatant opportunism with the ideas and methods of Ted Grant is an insult to the founder of the IMT.

The Pakistan Marxists are facing attacks from the opportunists inside the PPP, but also from these “Lefts”, which, like the sects in other countries, are always trying to unite – and always fail. The Pakistan Marxist Tendency rejects the arguments of the so-called Lefts who oppose work in the PPP. The sects are well aware of our rapid growth and are consumed with jealousy and frustration. They always invite us to their “unity” meetings, because they know they can do nothing without us. But we never go to these meetings, which are a waste of time.

Contrary to the false and malicious reports being spread by the enemies of the IMT, we rejected the invitation to attend the conference being held to "unite" all left parties. As usual, the name of The Struggle was included in the invitation card without our permission. But not one of our comrades attended this meeting. Like all the other unfounded rumours that are being spread for dubious reasons, it is the product of either ignorance or malice – or, more likely, both.

The Pakistan Marxists are fighting against these right-wing policies and the theory of reconciliation. We have stood for a socialist programme both outside and inside the PPP. The rank and file inside the PPP is also reacting against these policies. The workers abhor people who try to defend the President, Prime Minister and their stooges. This situation entirely confirms our perspectives for the PPP. The workers and peasants of Pakistan turned massively to the PPP after the return of BB. They voted for the PPP in the hope of a change. But their hopes have been dashed. They had to pass through the school of Zardari in order to learn the real nature of the PPP leaders. And they are learning fast.

Cracks are opening up inside the PPP that will widen with time and experience. We have no intention of abandoning the PPP, but it would be fatal for us to be seen as defending the anti-working class policies of Zardari, which are alienating the masses and preparing the way for the return of reaction. Our position is that of Lenin: “patiently explain”. This will attract an ever increasing number of people towards our revolutionary ideology.

There have been many splits in the PPP in the past – both right-wing splits and left-wing splits, but they could not capture the tradition. For example, Murtaza Bhutto was killed because he was moving to the left and was to some extent under the influence of our ideas. In the next period there will be many crises and splits. There will be a tremendous ferment in the PPP, in which the Marxist wing can gain influence and strength. The policy of capitulation to Zardari would cut us off completely from the workers and the PPP rank and file. What is required is to build the forces of Marxism quantitatively qualitatively.

“Reconciliation”

In Karachi and other parts of Sind (the historical homeland of the PPP) there are the beginnings of a revolt of the Party rank and file. Recently the workers of the PPP in Lyari, which is a stronghold of the PPP in Karachi, came out in big numbers against this policy of reconciliation. They were chanting slogans against Zardari's coalition with the MQM, a fascist party which is killing PPP workers on a regular basis. The press report of this incident states:

“Press conference: Later, LPC chairman Shahid Rehman and LPC spokesperson Zafar Baloch held a press conference. Baloch said the target killings have nothing to do with Lyari. ‘It is war over the resources of the city and some forces are resorting to target killing to strengthen their grips on the local government system,’ he explained.

“His voice trembled with emotions when he said, ‘The bodies of the PPP workers of Lyari and weapons were being taken from one place to another via ambulances of a particular social welfare organisation and in the mobile vans of the city police.’ He demanded inquiry into these matters.

“Demands: Zafar Baloch demanded that an operation be launched in each and every street of Karachi including Nazimabad and Azizabad to eradicate terrorism from the city. He also labelled [Interior Minister] Rehman Malik as a member of the MQM and demanded President Asif Ali Zardari to sack him. He said it was the people of Karachi who shed their blood and supported the PPP in tough times." (Residents take to the streets following operation in Lyari: Pain of betrayal fuels rage)

A recent issue of The Struggle gives prominence to this protest and maintains a firm position against reconciliation with these fascist and right-wing parties. We took this edition of the paper to Lyari and got a huge response. People are openly abusing Zardari and his cronies for making a coalition with the killers of their brothers and sisters. But what is the position of Manzoor? He is continuously defending Zardari's policy of reconciliation, which means joining hands with all right-wing and reactionary parties including Islamic fundamentalists, Pushtoon Nationalists, Muslim League and the fascist MQM. The following news cutting is one small example

“Other main speakers of the seminar include Federal Minister for Privatization Senator Waqar Ahmed Khan, Senior Minister Punjab Raja Riaz Ahmed, Dr. Tanvir-ul-Islam, former MNA Chaudhry Manzoor Ahmed, General Secretary PPP Federal Council Khalid Ahmed Khan Kharal, MPAs Shaukat Basra, Nosher Langriyal, Munir Ahmed Khan, Shamim Shah and Wasif Nagi.

Former MNA Chaudhry Manzoor Ahmed said the entire life of Benazir Bhutto revolved around the struggle against usurpers. He said it was Shaheed Benazir who was always targeted by her rivals but whenever she assumed power, she adopted the policy of reconciliation.

“Chaudhry Manzoor said the politicians, demanding implementation of CoD (an agreement with the right-wing Nawaz Muslim League), should also know that the procedure regarding appointment of judges was also mentioned in the charter. He said rather than voicing some clauses, they must play their role for complete restoration of the charter.” (The News, 19 January 2010, Tribute paid to Benazir Bhutto, our emphasis)

From these lines alone it is sufficient to see that this man has completely broken with the most elementary principles of Marxism and has gone over, lock, stock and barrel, to the bourgeoisie and its agents in the labour movement.

Manzoor defends the right wing

The press and TV are full of examples of Manzoor’s role in defending the right wing, such as his intervention on a TV show defending the Prime Minister of Pakistan and admiring right-wing leader Javed Hashmi (Kal Tak – 29th September 2009).

In the Business Recorder (December 8, 2009), we read the following:

Chaudhry Manzoor likely to contest for PPP secretary general slot

“HAMID WALEED

“LAHORE (December 08, 2009): Chaudhry Manzoor Ahmed, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) stalwart from district Kasur, is likely to contest elections for the slot of party secretary general against Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan, said the party sources. Talking to Business Recorder, the party sources said Chaudhry Manzoor is one of the strong contenders of Aitzaz Ahsan for the elections, likely to take place early next year.

“Chaudhry Manzoor is commonly known as Comrade Manzoor in party circles and he has long association with PPP. Also, Manzoor has been playing very pivotal role in the party over the last one and a half year and he is considered to be close to the party leadership. (Chaudhry Manzoor likely to contest for PPP secretary general slot, our emphasis)” (Our emphasis)

In the Daily Times, Sunday, December 13, 2009, we read:

“Sunday, December 13, 2009

“PPP delegation leaves for Dubai today

“Staff Report

“LAHORE: A five-member delegation of the Pakistan People’s Party will leave for Dubai today (Sunday) to attend a two-day multi-party conference organized by the International Republican Institute, a US-based international forum, sources told Daily Times on Saturday.

“According to party sources, the delegation consists of NWFP minister Raheemdad Khan, Member of National Assembly Nafisa Raja, Member of Punjab Assembly Uzma Bukhari, former National Assembly member and in charge of the party’s Central Secretariat Chaudhry Manzoor Ahmad and PPP Election Cell in charge Kamran Habib. (PPP delegation leaves for Dubai today)” (Our emphasis)

On Tuesday, February 09, 2010 the Pakistan Observer (a widely read and trusted daily) published the following article:

“PPP works for peoples’ rights

“Lahore—The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) will make every possible sacrifice for political rights of people, stability of democracy and elimination of terrorism in the country.

“Peoples Labour Bureau head Ch Manzoor Ahmad, Peoples Labour Federation of Pakistan President, Farrukh Zahoor Butt, Punjab Peoples Labour Bureau President Malik Sher Ahmad Khan and PPP Punjab Information Secretary Muhammd Salim Mughal expressed these views while addressing a meeting of Peoples Labour Federation’s allied organizations on Monday.

Reposing their complete confidence in PPP Co-chairman and President Asif Ali Zardari, they said the nation and the party were united under his leadership. They said the PPP would overcome all political challenges in the light of the political philosophy of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto.

They said the PPP would do its best to create a consensus opinion among all political forces of the country, adding that baseless propaganda against the co-chairman of the party would not be tolerated and it would be opposed tooth and nail. The meeting, through a unanimous resolution, demanded recovery of written off loans.”—APP (PPP works for peoples’ rights) (Our emphasis).

Nobody who reads these reports can have the slightest doubt that MA has decisively broken with Marxism and become an opportunist of the worst kind. No amount of subterfuge, evasions and lies can alter this fact.

The Marxists and the PPP

There is no short cut to revolution. Before we can conquer power, we must first conquer the masses. In Pakistan we have made spectacular progress in this respect, as everyone is well aware. The comrades of the IMT are working in the PPP but always maintaining the position of revolutionary socialism. By contrast, Manzoor and his supporters have abandoned all pretence at defending Marxist ideas and socialist revolution. This group of opportunists is maintaining a position of defending Zardari at all cost and in turn getting personal benefits. They have become the stooges of Zardari and consistently defend his right-wing policies.

For them “work in the PPP” signifies working hard for positions and privileges, to get jobs and contracts. For us, work in the PPP signifies fighting to tear the masses away from the influence of the corrupt right-wing leaders. The Marxists and the genuine Lefts of the PPP are resisting the right-wing policies of the government. The activities of the student wing of the PPP (Peoples Students Federation) are a thorn in the side of these opportunists. Comrade Zuhaib Butt is currently Secretary General of PSF Punjab. MA is using all kinds of manoeuvres to replace him with his own stooge.

Comrade Zuhaib is not welcome in Governor House in Lahore and other state institutions because he has always maintained the irreconcilable position of revolutionary socialism. He has protested many times against the government policies and has raised his voice against unemployment, privatization, price increases and other issues. The PPP Punjab bureaucracy is afraid of these positions and is trying their best to prevent him from attending official meetings. But the students and workers of PSF in Punjab are in regular contact with comrade Zuhaib and he is in a position to call a meeting of Punjab PSF at any time.

At a meeting in Kasur where MA was on the platform, comrade Zuhaib was severely beaten by PPP goons. He held a press conference in the Lahore Press Club next day. In this press conference, the president of PSF Rawalpindi division was also present. This press conference got coverage in around 15 daily newspapers next day in which they recognized him as the Secretary General of PSF Punjab. The news of this incident was also reported on TV and radio channels, while the manufactured version of the story being spread by MA’s supporters is reported nowhere.

We are fighting in the PPP against the policies of Zardari and are condemning the policies of privatization in public meetings. The biggest attack on our comrades is coming from Manzoor on the behest of Zardari and his Minister for Information Qamar Zaman Kaira. Comrade Rauf Lund is Secretary General of PPP in Rajanpur District. Manzoor has tried all means to get comrade Rauf removed from this position, although he has not yet succeeded.

Manzoor is using the PPP bureaucratic structures and his accomplices in government to attack our comrades. Comrade Nazar Mengal who is also working in the Peoples Labour Bureau has been sacked from his position of Secretary General of Balochistan, because Comrade Nazar was taking revolutionary socialist positions, which was creating problems with the Chief Minister and President of PPP Balochistan. On their request, Manzoor sacked the comrade from his position.

Marxism versus opportunism

The opportunists cannot protest against privatization, unemployment or the policy of "reconciliation" of the Zardari clique because they are getting huge benefits, perks and lucrative jobs from this clique. They can only hire people to attack those who are working for the cause of socialism. This includes a small number of deluded or ill-intentioned people who claim to be related to the IMT, when in practice their sole aim is to wreck it. In Pakistan, the link between these elements and the state is self-evident. We warn those who are playing the same game outside Pakistan to think very carefully about whose company you are in and whose interests you are representing.

These people are making a lot of noise, sowing the maximum confusion, spreading all manner of lies and disinformation. To what purpose? Is this intended to “inform” people of the “real situation in Pakistan”? If they are so desperate to “inform”, why do they never bother to ask the opinion of the Pakistan Marxists? The answer is that their real intention is not to provide objective and impartial information, but only to spread as much dirt and confusion as possible. This is supposed to “help” people to understand! How nice! How pleasant!

This campaign of disinformation includes a maliciously fabricated report and photos of a so-called congress that has been ‘accidentally’ revealed to some comrades. This is yet another act of deliberate sabotage against the IMT to sow confusion and demoralization. We cannot recognize the names and faces of more than seven people shown in this “report”. Where did they all come from?

There are thousands of opportunists and bureaucrats in the trade unions and the PPP who are buzzing around the Peoples Secretariat and ministries in Islamabad like flies around a honey pot, hoping to get their issues solved and collect some crumbs from the orgy of corruption this regime is involved in. For a bureaucrat of the PPP (and that is what Manzoor is), it is a very simple matter to get a hall full of a few hundred people and make photos and show banners of Ted Grant and Leon Trotsky. It is not at all difficult. We do not know most of these people, but we do know that they were never members of the Pakistan section and almost certainly would not know the difference between Ted Grant and Mickey Mouse.

The sole aim of these activities is to cause the maximum disruption to the IMT and its Pakistan section. The sole beneficiaries of this activity are Zardari and the PPP right wing and the Pakistan state forces and imperialism. The individuals, who, for reasons best known to themselves, wish to sow confusion and demoralization, either do not know anything about the real situation in Pakistan – in which case they should keep silent. Or else they do know and are telling deliberate lies – in which case the intention is not to “inform” but to disorganize the IMT. What are the facts?

  1. Manzoor left the organization with only a few dozen supporters - mostly demoralized and inactive people or dissatisfied elements who had previously occupied leading positions but had been reduced to a secondary role because of inactivity or incompetence. To these people MA was in a position to offer jobs, money, contracts and all kinds of perks. In a country like Pakistan this was a great temptation.

  2. The only region where he temporarily got more than a handful was Pukhtoonhua (formerly the NWF Province) but within a couple of months, as soon as the comrades learned the facts, he lost everything except a handful of the old leaders.

  3. Acting on behalf of Zardari, MA then tried to organize a campaign of sabotage and disinformation, nationally and internationally. In Britain, his agent was Atif, who got nowhere and subsequently left the IMT. Now he is attempting to reactivate this campaign.

Did we gain or lose?

Since these people left the organization The Struggle has gained strength and respect among trade unions and among the rank and file of the PPP. There has never been any comparable case in Pakistan of a left organization that was prepared to take action against a man who was a leading figure in order to combat careerism and opportunism. This caused a great surge of admiration and solidarity. A number of ex-comrades who had left partly because of dissatisfaction with Manzoor, phoned to ask to rejoin the Tendency.

Now we have more members than we had when these people walked out. When Manzoor broke away from the international, not more than 40 people left with him. However, as a result of the appalling objective situation about a hundred comrades dropped out of politics. The membership in 2008 went down from around 2300 to 2150. Now we have a membership that is close to 2500. The membership now stands at 2,492 (of which, around 100 are women).

The advance of the Tendency can clearly be seen by the reports and photos of our 2010 Congress in Lahore. The Pakistani Marxists are steadily moving forward towards our goal in extremely difficult objective conditions. Despite all the attacks, the Pakistan Marxists are growing and we aim to reach the goal of 5,000 in the next period.

Our activities are being reported on our website, which clearly reflects our strength and influence. Our influence in the trade unions is growing, because of our campaign against privatization. Our influence in the trade unions is growing, because of the mass work conducted by the Unemployed Youth Movement (BNT) and the establishment of Youth for International Socialism (YFIS) in various educational institutions.

Our role, however, is not limited to Pakistan. Our successes have had a big impact in neighbouring countries. We have supporters in Afghanistan and recently published an article from a comrade in Afghanistan. In India there are many sympathisers and supporters, who look to our successful work in Pakistan and we will soon build the forces of the IMT in this important country also. In Bangladesh, too, there are several groups of sympathisers who would like to promote the IMT.

Working against the capitalist system and imperialism in such a brutal state is not easy. The Pakistan Marxist are being attacked from all sides, from the opportunists inside the PPP to the so-called “left parties”, from the reactionary fundamentalists and nationalists to the fascist MQM and all the other forces of reaction. But we will not be deterred from our goal, nor will we water down our ideas, or give up our work in the working class and its organizations.

In the end it is the battle of ideas that will be decisive. We will not be intimidated by insults and lies. Those who think that in the present conditions it is acceptable to hide under Zardari's bed and send a flood of scurrilous e-mails directed against those who are bravely fighting for socialism under the most atrocious conditions, are very much mistaken. Such methods will not help them to sabotage a revolutionary organization that has been steeled in struggle and is used to fighting against far more serious enemies.

Comrades, in Pakistan we are fighting for revolutionary socialism in atrocious conditions. From Waziristan to Malakand, we are working in the heat of a ferocious war. The lives of our comrades are at stake. Recently one of our comrades was killed in this war of attrition in a bomb blast in Lower Dir. Our comrades are facing the Islamic fundamentalists, the US aggression, the reactionary nationalists, attacks from the PPP bureaucracy and an impotent crusade of the Stalinists and the sects. All these have failed to deter our resolve and growth of the forces of Marxism.

The Pakistani comrades of the IMT are carrying out revolutionary work in the middle of a brutal war between the Taliban and the Pakistan army; we are condemning both sides. We have not only condemned the black forces of reaction called the Taliban but also have openly condemned the army operation. This bloody operation is being carried out at the behest of US imperialism, and it has the complete support of Zardari and the PPP government. By the way, Zardari has also signed the agreement for imposing Sharia Law in Malakand.

To defend Zardari's policy of sending the Pakistan Army into these areas these opportunists and cowards inside the PPP harp on about a perspective of “black reaction” in Pakistan and put forward the idea that it is necessary to back Zardari to prevent the victory of reaction! By contrast, our comrades in the PPP in Malakand have openly spoken out against the Sharia Law agreement and condemned the army operations. It is nonsense to imagine that such measures can combat fundamentalist reaction. As a matter of fact, sections of the army are supporting and propping up the reactionary fundamentalist forces, and the cruelty of the Pakistan Army and its US allies are daily recruiting more youngsters to the Taliban.

The truth is that the people of these areas are against the fundamentalists and hate any kind of Islamic parties. This is why they voted for PPP which raised the slogan of Roti, Kapra aur Makan (Bread, Clothing and Shelter). But after the betrayal of the PPP leadership they are looking for an alternative which can stop the army operations and rid them of the Islamic fundamentalists. The courageous position taken by our comrades in these areas has given us a great response and we are winning recruits in big numbers precisely in these war zones.

Regular visits by comrades from the centre to these areas have boosted the morale of the regional leadership, and they are doing their best to fight for a socialist revolution amidst a civil war. Amidst all the carnage and constant danger of suicide bombings, the comrades held an inauguration ceremony for the book Pakistan's Other Story in Peshawar, and it was a big success. PPP workers, students and trade union activists participated in this meeting, despite the acute danger of terrorist activity. They showed their appreciation for our position of irreconcilable struggle for socialist revolution.

We have now opened a regional office in Peshawar in the Railways Colony – the heart of the railway proletariat, and the Peshawar Division of the Railway Labour Union has officially affiliated to the PTUDC. This is genuine revolutionary work, and it deserves the enthusiastic support of every genuine proletarian internationalist in the world. The attempt to stab us in our backs has failed to stop the march forward. With the support of the IMT which is our only ally on this planet we shall achieve a socialist victory that shall rapidly advance towards a Socialist Federation of the South Asian subcontinent and far beyond.

Lahore, 24th March, 2010.

Appendix I:

Disclaimer: The truth about the so-called Left Unity Conference

By Adam Pal (on behalf of the Central Secretariat of The Struggle)

On 25 December 2009 a so-called Left Unity Conference was held in Pakistan under the slogan “How to build a Party”. Some malicious reports that have been put in circulation by the enemies of The Struggle alleging that we participated in this meeting, indeed that we sponsored it! That is a lie.

There are innumerable left groups and “parties” in Pakistan, but they are miniscule and confused. They unite to break up into more sects that merge and then reunite again, without considering the ideological and theoretical basis or clear perspective and aims. They unite for “revolution” without agreeing upon even the basic character of the revolution.

These groups habitually send invitations to The Struggle to participate in their “unity conferences”. The reason is quite clear: The Struggle is the only Left organization in Pakistan with a serious base among the workers, peasants and youth. That fact was shown yet again in our recent national Congress, where over two thousand comrades participated from every part of the country.

These small groups are therefore constantly asking us to join a “united front”. What is our attitude to this? We never even reply to these invitations. We are not interested in a “united front” with sects, and still less “building a Party” with them. The only united front we are interested in is the united front with the masses, the workers, peasants and revolutionary youth, the rank and file of the trade unions and the PPP.

As usual on this occasion, we did not reply to the invitation to attend the 25 December meeting. Not a single member of The Struggle was present at it. We did not give permission for our name to be used in relation to it. Yet it appears that our name was put on the leaflet advertising it as though we were part of the organizers. This was a cynical manoeuvre by the organizers intended to create a false idea of the support that they have in the labour movement – which is zero.

It is not our custom to comment on the antics of these small groups, who represent nothing at all in Pakistan. The only reason we do so now is because the aforementioned ill-intentioned individuals have been circulating these false and malicious reports internationally. People outside Pakistan may believe such contemptible rubbish. Here it passes completely unnoticed.

We appeal to our friends in Europe and other parts of the world not to pay any attention to this disgusting campaign aimed to blacken the good name of the Pakistan Marxists, who are fighting for socialism under very difficult and dangerous conditions. Remember the words of Comrade Trotsky: “The locomotive of History is truth not lies.”

Lahore, 27th March, 2010