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Founding Meeting Of The Socialist Movement
OVER 60 people attended the very successful founding meeting of the Socialist Movement on 17 April, 2004 in Lahore. The aim of this meeting was to set up a new independent, socialist and revolutionary organisation to fight against capitalism, the military, mass poverty and national oppression in Pakistan.
Kevin Simpson, CWI
The decision to form the Socialist Movement follows discussions between two organisations (the United Socialist Party - sympathising organisation of the Committee for a Workers' International - and the Marxist Workers' Tendency) in Pakistan to join forces in a single united movement.
While the main attendance was from Lahore, workers and youth also attended from cities such as Hyderabad (in Sindh), and Islamabad. Seven CWI members from Kashmir were also in attendance as fraternal observers.
The meeting opened with a discussion on the world situation, particularly the effects of US imperialism's war of occupation in Iraq but also dealing with the recent wave of workers' struggles in Europe and the move to 'neo-liberalism' by Social Democracy in Europe.
The social, political and economic situation in Pakistan was discussed in the second part of the meeting. Leading trade union activists such as Faisal Wahid, the national Secretary General of the Railway Workers Union (workshops), gave some graphic examples of the vicious attacks undertaken by the Musharraf regime on the most combative sections of the working class in Pakistan.
While there is enormous anger with the government, the isolation of the railway workers' struggles has led to a certain demoralisation in this sector.
Even the relatively limited protection workers in the private sector used to have has been completely removed by the regime.
However, in the discussion Azad Qadri, National Deputy Secretary General of the Pakistan Telecommunications Lions Unity Union explained that there are sectors of the workforce which are confident and willing to conduct a battle. This was shown in the telecommunications sector where united action had defeated two previous attempts by the government to privatise the industry.
The meeting concluded with a decision to name the new organisation the 'Socialist Movement'; its paper, the Socialist; and to elect a national Editorial Board and National Organising Committee until the founding congress is held early next year.
THE SOCIALIST Movement distributed a four page leaflet and attended May Day activities in nine different cities right across Pakistan, including Lahore, Rawalpindi, Hyderabad, Quetta, and Karachi.
They received an enthusiastic response from workers and young people in all the demonstrations they participated in. A leading national newspaper published an interview with Azad Qadri and another Socialist Movement member, Kabir Khan as part of its May Day coverage.
Rukshana Manzoor, a Socialist Movement member and also the National Secretary Education of the one million strong Muttahida Labour Federation, spoke on the May Day demonstration. The Socialist Movement mobilised over 60 women to take part in the demonstration.
Rukshana Manzoor also spoke at a women's seminar organised by the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education on 6 May in Lahore, putting a working class position on the women's question which was critical of the position of some speakers. For the rest of the seminar, all speakers were forced to respond to or refer to her points because of the appreciation her speech received from the majority of the audience.
In The Socialist 22 May 2004:
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