By Shujat Liaqat (Revolutionary Workers Organization (Pakistan), 6.6.2011
On 22nd May a mass demonstration in Karachi – the capital city of the Sindh province – was attacked by gunmen. At least 12 people were killed and 29 injured. The demonstration was a protest against the reactionary project of creating a Mohajir province by splitting the Sindh province and against police terror in the Lyari neighborhood.
It was organized by various progressive petty-bourgeois Sindhi nationalist parties mainly Awami Tehreek and the outlawed People’s Amn Committee (PAC). The PAC is active in Karachi – particularly in the Lyari neighborhood – and has its main basis amongst working class and urban poor Sindhis and Balochis.
The demonstration was taken out from Football House and moved towards the Cheel Chowk, the most sensitive area which the police despite brutal repression has failed to pacify during their week-long operation that claimed 40 lives last month.
Participants of the rally were holding placards and banners inscribed with comments against the division of Sindh province and also chanting slogans against the Mohajir province movement.
As soon as the rally reached near Ghas Mandi, close to Cheel Chowk, unidentified gunmen started firing on it and fled, leaving four demonstrators are injured.
Following the incident, participants of the rally staged a sit-in protest at Napier Road near Pan Mandi. However, armed men appeared again and resorted to indiscriminate fire at the protest.
Witnesses said the firings incidents brought a halt to commercial and non-commercial activities as shopkeepers were trapped inside their shops and localities.
The police remained during the shooting very passive and did not try to defend the demonstration.
Amongst the victims is Ghazala Siddiqui, a prominent woman of a well-known family of trade-unionists and progressive Sindhi nationalists. She was killed when she was defending the demonstration and tried to fire against the terrorists with a pistol snatched from a policeman.
Who is behind the murderous attack?
While nobody has officially claimed responsibility for the terrorist attack, all indications point into the direction of the reactionary semi-fascist Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). The MQM is unofficially supporting the demand for a Mohajir province. Everybody knows that propagation of such poisonous billboards and banners cannot take place without the consent and knowledge of MQM. It is also clear that this act of terrorism cannot happen without the armed thugs of the MQM.
The MQM base themselves mainly on deprived middle-class Mohajirs. A number of Mohajirs migrated from to India with the expectations that they can continue to play a leading, privileged positions as they did in British colonial India. Support for Pakistani chauvinism is strong amongst sectors of the Urdu-speaking Mohajirs. Initially they dominated business, universities and the bureaucracy in Karachi and other cities in Sindh province.
But under Bhutto a quota system was introduced in Sindh and this reduced their share. Many middle-class Mohajirs felt this is discrimination but it was only reduction of privileges. This quota system ensured that other ethnical/national groups also got better access to these positions. Since then the MQM launches a vicious battle against to retain specific privileges for Mohajirs. It is also a party which is very close to international capital. It is since its foundation a deadly enemy of trade unions.
MQM is creating the atmosphere, where they use the hatred in the working class and poor of different nationalities to destroy any struggle against the system and also exploited the Urdu speaking to win their vote in coming elections.
The Revolutionary Workers Organizations (RWO, Pakistani section of the RCIT) rejects the chauvinist call for the creation of a Mohajir province.
The national question
Pakistan in general and Karachi in particular is very multi-ethnic/national. The most important thing is to build international working class and poor unity which overcomes the national divisions. This is particularly urgent since the poverty created by barbaric imperialism and the greedy domestic ruling class is a fertile ground for nationalist agitation which tries to deflect the attention of the popular masses from the capitalists to other nationalities.
Karachi is the biggest city in Pakistan with at least 20 million people. It is very multi-ethnic/national but the people often live segregated from each other. There are two official national languages in Sindh province: Sindh and Urdu.
An important pre-condition for building such a cross-nationality unity amongst the workers and the poor is the consistent struggle against any form of national oppression and discrimination.
The RWO fights for complete equality between the ethnic/national groups and the abolition of any privileges. We demand the abolition of an official province language and the full equality of all languages in all public areas.
We call for a massive public employment and education program so that people from all ethnic groups must be present in all public and administration bodies. Such a public employment program should be financed by higher and effective taxes of the rich.
If the workers movement can be won to fight for such a program it could help to overcome the mistrust between the different ethnic/national groups since it would make clear that we deny any privileges for anyone!
At the same time the RWO demands the widest possible local self-government. Of course the basis for self-governed areas should not be a specific ethnic/national group but all people from different ethnic/national origin who are living in a specific area.
Such a revolutionary internationalist working class program could be a useful answer against the propaganda of the petty-bourgeois nationalist forces amongst the oppressed and discriminated ethnic groups and nationalities. The Pashtun and Balochi nationalists demand mainly jobs and education for their youth and the development of their slum areas (kchi abadi). They follow a community and not class orientated strategy.
We need a joint struggle of workers, peasants and poor of all ethnic groups for jobs, development programs and equality for all independent of their origin.
In the end the liberation from poverty and all forms of national oppression can only be achieved by socialist revolution which destroys inhuman capitalism.
The decisive pre-condition for a successful socialist revolution is the formation of a multi-national revolutionary working class party in Pakistan and international.