Socialism in Pakistan

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The influences of socialism and socialist movements in Pakistan have taken many different forms as a counterpart to political conservatism, from the groups like Lal Salam which is the Pakistani section of the International Marxist Tendency, The Struggle, to the Stalinist group like Communist Party through to the reformist electoral project enshrined in the birth of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)

Socialism is a range of economic and social systems characterised by social ownership of the means of production and workers' self-management, as well as the political theories and movements associated with them. Social ownership can be public, collective or cooperative ownership, or citizen ownership of equity. There are many varieties of socialism and there is no single definition encapsulating all of them, with social ownership being the common element shared by its various forms.

Socialist Movement for Integration political party

The Socialist Movement for Integration is a social-democratic political party in Albania. The LSI was formed on 6 September 2004 when Ilir Meta, former Prime Minister of Albania, broke from the Socialist Party of Albania (PS). Through the use of the term "movement", LSI attempts to give the message that it is open and inclusive. The other reason for using this term is its intention to differentiate itself from the other parties. LSI employed the one member, one vote system in March 2005 to elect its leader, Ilir Meta.

Conservatism in Pakistan, generally relates to the traditional, social, and religious identities in the politics of Pakistan. American historian Stephen Cohen describes several political constants in Pakistan's conservatism: respect for tradition, the rule of law and the Islamic religion which is an integral in the idea of Pakistan.


While capitalism has always held its sway, the prevalence of the socialist ideology has nevertheless continued to be found in a number of instances in Pakistan's political past and prominent personalities. Much of the remaining socialism in Pakistan today accedes to the idea of Islamic left (socialism and communism), where the state would be run in a socialist set-up consistent with Islamic political principles, while other proponents demand pure socialism.

Capitalism is an economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production and their operation for profit. Characteristics central to capitalism include private property, capital accumulation, wage labor, voluntary exchange, a price system, and competitive markets. In a capitalist market economy, decision-making and investment are determined by every owner of wealth, property or production ability in financial and capital markets, whereas prices and the distribution of goods and services are mainly determined by competition in goods and services markets.

Islamic socialism is a term coined by various Muslim leaders to describe a more spiritual form of socialism. Muslim socialists believe that the teachings of the Quran and Muhammad—especially the zakat—are compatible with principles of economic and social equality. They draw inspiration from the early Medinan welfare state established by Muhammad. Muslim socialists found their roots in anti-imperialism. Muslim socialist leaders believe in the derivation of legitimacy from the public.


Political background

The socialist movements in British Indian Empire began with the Russian Revolution, and the subsequent Soviet people's immigration to North-Western areas into territory (now Pakistan) held by British Empire, in 1922-27. [1] The British authorities were terrified after revealing the attempted series of revolts against the British Empire, known as Peshawar Conspiracy Cases. [2]

Russian Revolution 20th-century revolution leading to the downfall of the Russian monarchy

The Russian Revolution was a pair of revolutions in Russia in 1917 which dismantled the Tsarist autocracy and led to the rise of the Soviet Union. The Russian Empire collapsed with the abdication of Emperor Nicholas II and the old regime was replaced by a provisional government during the first revolution of February 1917. Alongside it arose grassroots community assemblies which contended for authority. In the second revolution that October, the Provisional Government was toppled and all power was given to the Soviets.

British Empire States and dominions ruled by the United Kingdom

The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. It originated with the overseas possessions and trading posts established by England between the late 16th and early 18th centuries. At its height, it was the largest empire in history and, for over a century, was the foremost global power. By 1913, the British Empire held sway over 412 million people, 23% of the world population at the time, and by 1920, it covered 35,500,000 km2 (13,700,000 sq mi), 24% of the Earth's total land area. As a result, its political, legal, linguistic and cultural legacy is widespread. At the peak of its power, the phrase "the empire on which the sun never sets" was often used to describe the British Empire, because its expanse around the globe meant that the sun was always shining on at least one of its territories.

The Peshawar Conspiracy Case refers to a set of five cases which took place between 1922 and 1927 in the erstwhile British Indian Empire.

1947–50s: early Marxism

Independence and class struggle

The communist parties played an influential role in staging the massive protests for the Bengali Language Movement which led the destruction of PML in East Pakistan, 1950s. 22 Feb 1952 DURoad.png
The communist parties played an influential role in staging the massive protests for the Bengali Language Movement which led the destruction of PML in East Pakistan, 1950s.

Immediately after the establishment of Pakistan on 14 August 1947 which was achieved by a political party, Muslim League led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the struggle for left-wing orientation began as a failure of the military campaign with the Republic of India. [3] After Jinnah's death in 1948, the clash ideologies and political disagreements began when Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan consolidated his position more densely. [3] The Pakistan Socialist Party (PSP) was the only socialist party of her time, and was active in both East Pakistan and West Pakistan. [3] The Socialist Party was generally a secular party which had first opposed the idea of the partition of India. [3] The Socialist Party found it difficult to compete with the conservatives and other right-wing groups. The PML was led by Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, who wanted to adopt what was called Islamic socialism. Another leftist group was the Socialist Party. The Pakistan Socialist Party was politically isolated with little mass. This was despite its strong appeal in rural areas. [3] It had around 1200 members and was a member of the Asian Socialist Conference. [4] The Socialist Party's liberal programs were met with harsh opposition which the conservatives labeled as Kafirs. [3] Dismayed with the results of the war, Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan survived a coup conspiracy hatched by the left-wing personalitie, including the armed forces personnel. [5] In response to the activist left-wing sphere, Prime Minister Ali Khan succeeded in authoring and drafting the Objectives Resolution, in 1950. [6] The house passed it on 12 March 1949, but met with harsh critic even from his Law Minister Jogendra Nath Mandal who argued against it. [7]

Pakistan federal parliamentary constitutional republic in South Asia

Pakistan, officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country in South Asia. It is the world’s sixth-most populous country with a population exceeding 212,742,631 people. In area, it is the 33rd-largest country, spanning 881,913 square kilometres. Pakistan has a 1,046-kilometre (650-mile) coastline along the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by India to the east, Afghanistan to the west, Iran to the southwest, and China in the far northeast. It is separated narrowly from Tajikistan by Afghanistan's Wakhan Corridor in the northwest, and also shares a maritime border with Oman.

All-India Muslim League political party within the Indian Empire

The All-India Muslim League was a political party established in 1906 in the British Indian Empire. Its strong advocacy for the establishment of a separate Muslim-majority nation-state, Pakistan, successfully led to the partition of British India in 1947 by the British Empire.

Muhammad Ali Jinnah Founder and 1st Governor General of Pakistan

Muhammad Ali Jinnah was a lawyer, politician and the founder of Pakistan. Jinnah served as the leader of the All-India Muslim League from 1913 until Pakistan's creation on 14 August 1947, and then as Pakistan's first Governor-General until his death. He is revered in Pakistan as Quaid-i-Azam and Baba-i-Qaum, "Father of the Nation"). His birthday is considered a national holiday in Pakistan.

In contrast, the Communist Party was more active, populist, and had support from the rural class due to its tough position taken on economic and social issues. [8] The Communist Party quickly grasped its popularity as it espoused the causes of Pakistan's farmers and labourers against the nexus of zamindars, princely class, and landed gentry. [8] During the 1954 general elections, the Communist Party swiftly gained the exclusive mandate in East-Pakistan and representation in West-Pakistan; earlier in 1950, the Communist Party played a major role in labour strikes for the support of language movement. [9] The Communist Party, with the support from Awami League, formed a democratic government in East-Pakistan. [9] The class struggle reached to its limit when members of PML and Communist Party culminated in a violent scuffle with East-Pakistani police in 1958. [9] The government responded with the dismissing the government of Communist Party in East and then arresting ~1,000 members of Communist Party in West, eventually banning the Communist Party in West as well. [10]

Communist Party of Pakistan

The Communist Party of Pakistan is a communist party in Pakistan.

Zamindar Indian hereditary aristocrat

A zamindar, zomindar, zomidar, or jomidar, in the Indian subcontinent was an aristocrat. The term means land owner in Persian. Typically hereditary, zamindars held enormous tracts of land and control over their peasants, from whom they reserved the right to collect tax on behalf of imperial courts or for military purposes. Their families carried titular suffixes of lordship. In the 19th and 20th centuries, with the advent of British imperialism, many wealthy and influential zamindars were bestowed with princely and royal titles such as Maharaja, Raja (King) and Nawab.

An exclusive mandate is a government's assertion of its legitimate authority over a certain territory, part of which another government controls with stable, de facto sovereignty. It is also known as a claim to sole representation or an exclusive authority claim. The concept was particularly important during the Cold War period when a number of states were divided on ideological grounds.

Uncomfortable with the workings of democratic system, unruliness in the East Pakistan parliamentary elections and the threat of Baloch separatism in West-Pakistan, Bengali President Iskandar Ali Mirza issued a proclamation that abolished all political parties in both West and East Pakistan, abrogated the two-year-old constitution, and imposed the first martial law in the country on 7 October 1958. [11] The Communist leader, Hassan Nasir, was repeatedly arrested by the police and died in prison in November 1960. [10]

The Constitution of 1956 was the fundamental law of Pakistan from March 1956 until the 1958 Pakistani coup d'état. It was the first constitution adopted by independent Pakistan. There were 234 articles 13 parts and 6 schedules.

Hassan Nasir was a Pakistani proletariat leader, Secretary General of the proscribed Communist Party of Pakistan (CPP) and Office Secretary in the National Awami Party. Hasan Nasir was born in Hyderabad (Deccan) and had fought, along with Makhdoom Mohiuddin and others, in the Telangana Peasants’ Revolt against the Nizam of Hyderabad and the fascist Jihadi Razakars.

1960s–70s: nation building

Power struggle and corporate industrialization

After the martial law in 1958, President Ayub Khan abandoned the parliamentary form in favour of presidential system– a system called "Basic Democracy." [12] The presidential regime of Ayub Khan is regarded as "Great Decade", in which, his presidential programs moved the country from agrarian into the roads of rapid industrialization in 1960s. [13] The left in Pakistan further faced complications after the Sino-Soviet split in 1960s, and the Communist Party had its own factions; one being the Pro-Beijing and other being Pro-Moscow. [14]

Despite the positive impact of rapid industrialization, the labour trade unions, labour-working class, peasants, and farmers were socially and economically subdued by the powerful industrial oligarch society who had strong ties with President Ayub Khan. [15] In fact, the industrial groups completely neglected the work conditions and failed to provide healthy environment to the workers class in the industries. [15] Situation became economically tense in 1965 when chief economist, dr. Mahbub-ul-Haq, published a statistics and tax report that pointed out that the "22 industrial family groups had come to dominate the economic and financial life-cycle of Pakistan and that they controlled about two-thirds of industrial assets, 80% of banking and 79% of insurance assets in the industrial domain." [15] The same year, President Ayub Khan's peaceful compromise with India to end the hostilities ended up with a large scale disapproval from the civil society. [13] The demonstration sparked all over the country against President Ayub Khan after dismissing his Foreign minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1966. [12] In early months of 1968, Ayub Khan celebrated what he called Decade of Development, outrage citizens erupted into agitations. Same year in November, a group of Rawalpindi student were heading back from Landi Kotal, they were stopped at Customs checkpoints near Attock - they were badly roughed up by the police guards of the Customs officials. On returning to Rawalpindi, they staged a protest against the mishandling of police soon their protest welled to a sizable agitation, police tried to quell the agitation and shots were fire. [16] Although it was started as student movement but later workers joined it and it transformed into 1968 movement in Pakistan which brought socialism on agenda. [17]

After a successful socialist conference in Lahore, Punjab, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) was founded by the attended socialists, communists, and left-wing philosophers of the country. [18] The PPP's manifesto called, titled "Islam is our Religion; Democracy is our Politics; Socialism is our Economy; Power Lies with the People", was written by Bengali communist J. A. Rahim, and first issued on 9 December 1967. [18] The manifesto identified the party's ultimate goal, main objective and raison d'etre as being the achievement of an egalitarian and "classless society", which was believed to be attainable only through socialism. It called for "true equality of citizen's fraternity under the rule of democracy", within "an order of social and economic justice. [19] Unlike the Socialist Party, the Peoples Party quickly gained the popularity all over the country with its electrified left-wing oriented slogan, "Land to the Landless", proved irresistible to the peasants and labour-force, as the party promised not only to abolish the fundamental feudalism that had plagued the country, but also to redistribute lands amongst the landless and the peasants. [20] The working class and labour movement quickly flocked to the party, believing it to be a party dedicated to the destruction of capitalism in the country. [20]

Eventually, the socialist-oriented catchphrase Roti, Kapra aur Makan (lit. "bread, clothes, and housing"), became a nationwide rallying-call for the party. [21] [22] By the 1970s, the Pakistan Peoples Party had become the largest and most influential leading socialist and democratic entity in the country. The party published its ideas in its newspapers, such as "Nusrat", "Fatah", and "Mussawat". [23] [24]

1970s–80s: reconstruction and restoration

Ethical and left nationalism

The PPP was in a direct competition with Awami League and Pakistan Muslim League (PML) during the 1970 general elections. [20] [25] A power struggle between two parties and subsequent military action in East-Pakistan led to a bitter war with India which led the separation of East Pakistan in 1971. [26]

After the war, the PPP espouses a great appeal for left-wing nationalism, called for national unity and economic prosperity was promised by the Peoples Party. [20] [27] Immediately, a nationalization process was initiated by the Peoples Party following a 1972 labour unrest. [28] The PPP'e left-wing policies eradicated the feudal system to a great extent; massive land reforms took place in limiting the amount of land that could be owned, with remaining land divisions being allotted to a large number of poor peasants, farmers, landless tenants who also find increased support in the new programme. [27] Labour rights were upgraded more than ever before; poverty experienced a sharp reduction. [27]

Fundamental rights of the citizen, such as access to adequate health and free education, were brought under a renewed focus. [27] Schools, colleges and universities were immediately nationalized. A large segment of the banking sector, industrial sector (including iron and steel mills), engineering firms, vehicle, food and chemical production industries were also nationalized. [28] The number and strength of trade unions experienced a rise. Rural residents, urban wage earners and landless peasants were to be given ‘material support’ as people of the state. [29] In responding to strong defence program, the PPP launched the clandestine atomic bomb project, promoting literary activism, industrial developments and scientific awareness in all over the country. [27]

Left-wings split off and decline

A Communist Party activist rallying in Karachi, 2008. CMKP-080430.jpg
A Communist Party activist rallying in Karachi, 2008.

Despite PPP's populism and support, the internal strife would cause a schism and split the left-wing sphere. Though, the PPP had won the support from people on the issues of social justice, but its economic policies stagflated the country's economy. [21] A number of critics, notably the conservatives and hard-line religious leaders, have however blamed Bhutto's socialist policies for slowing down Pakistan's economic progress, owing to poor productivity and high costs. [21]

The left-wing party, ANP, was in a direct competition with the PPP despite similar ideologies. The debate over the align with Afghanistan's communist party caused a major rift and problems with Afghanistan escalated over the Durand line. [27] The Communist Party was also opposing the PPP over its economic programs and its influence limited to Karachi. [27] Events led to left-wing parties joining the PNA alliance led by country's right-wing conservative parties and compete against PPP in general elections in 1977. [27]

The 1977 general elections resulted in first parliamentary victory of Peoples Party. Opposition parties claimed that the election was heavily rigged by the PPP. [30] Tensions mounted and despite an agreement reached between the opposition and PPP, martial law was imposed in the country by Chief of Army Staff General Zia-ul-Haq in 1977. [31] In April 1979, Bhutto was hanged in 1977 after a controversial trial, in which he was found guilty of murdering a political opponent. [32] In 1982, his daughter Benazir Bhutto was elected as Peoples Party's chairwomanship. [32] The Peoples Party struggled hard against General Zia-ul-Haq, who was supported by the United States. [32]

The left-wing parties and socialism in the country met with harsh political opposition from the conservative Pakistan Muslim League and the hard-line religious bloc Clergy Coalition. The Soviet Union's intervention in Afghanistan further declined the popular support of socialism in the country. The ultra-conservative President Zia-ul-Haq dealt with socialists, communists and the Marxist mass with harsh political oppression. [33]

1980s–present: emergence of Marxism in Pakistan

The Struggle

International Marxist Tendency emblem International Marxist Tendency emblem.png
International Marxist Tendency emblem

The seeds of the genuine Marxist politics was planted in 1980 in Netherlands, when a number of leftist Pakistani activists who had fled Pakistan to escape Zia's repression found themselves in Amsterdam in the cold November 1980. [34] The country was ruled by the notorious General Zia. [35] These leftist Pakistani activists were Farooq Tariq, Tanvir Gondal (now better known as Lal Khan), Muhammed Amjad and Ayub Gorya who Brainstormed ideas and strategies to oppose Zia while in exile and came up with the concept for a progressive organisation they dubbed the Struggle Group which would keep the flame of protest alive, even in exile. [36]

Farooq Tariq Farooq Tariq.jpg
Farooq Tariq
Lal Khan addressing The Struggle's annual Congress in Lahore in 2008 Lal Khan.jpg
Lal Khan addressing The Struggle's annual Congress in Lahore in 2008

In November 1980, the Struggle group decided to start a monthly Urdu magazine called Jidd-o-jehed جدوجہد or The Struggle. [34] The Struggle magazine soon developed a cult status among the Pakistani diaspora, and poets like Habib Jalib, Ahmad Faraz and Faiz Ahmed Faiz started contributing to the magazine by writing revolutionary and anti-dictatorship Urdu poems for the magazine. [34] In December 1984, the magazine published a poem [34] "Main Baaghi Hoon" میں باغی ہوں, written by Khalid Javaid Jan. [37] The poem became a staple in popular culture due to its revolutionary tone and was used in underground protests as a weapon against Dictator Zia. [38]

The Struggle group continued their activism in exile against military dictatorship in Pakistan and went on to organise a mass funeral for Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in front of the Pakistani embassy in Holland with nearly 500 participants. The charged environment also saw participants throw stones at the embassy's windows and Farooq was briefly arrested by Dutch police. [34] Arrests, activism and attempts by Pakistani authorities to get them arrested made them popular with leftist and progressive movements in Europe. They campaigned on worker issues, against racism, immigrant issues and anti-nuclearisation with local left parties. [34]

The group was also in contact with the Committee for a Workers International (CWI), a Trotskyist international. In 1986, the Struggle group started working from Pakistani soil when Farooq Tariq and Lal Khan returned to Pakistan. [36] The Struggle followed a strategy known as Entryism, a theory that small militant groups should join mainstream workers' parties in order to pull them to the left. [39] The strategy is employed in an attempt to expand influence and was advocated by Trotsky. [40] The Struggle at this stage was the official section of CWI in Pakistan and thus worked within PPP. [36]

In early 1990s, the Committee for a Workers International (CWI) split in two over the question of Entryism. Peter Taaffe, a prominent member of English section of the CWI advocated an "Open Turn," implying the building of an independent organization and an end to "Entryism". [40] Whereas, another faction led by Ted Grant wanted to maintain its "entrist" strategy. [40] The Struggle also suffered the split and Farooq Tariq, along with perhaps one dozen Struggle members, followed Peter Taaffe's lead and went on to build an independent political party for workers in Pakistan. [36] The other faction, led by Lal Khan, continued with its "entryism" inside the Pakistan People's Party (PPP). They promoted the idea that PPP is a party that has a mass following among the workers and peasants, although its leading layer is composed mainly of bourgeois and feudal elements. The Struggle argues that in Pakistan, as in all other countries, the aim of their Marxist tendency is to win over the workers and peasants. [41]

In November 2012, Farooq Tariq's Labour Party Pakistan, the Awami Party, and Workers Party merged to form the Awami Workers Party (AWP) in an unprecedented effort to build a genuine Left alternative to mainstream political forces in Pakistan. The AWP promotes the Left unity and includes members from all Communist tendencies: Trotskyism, Stalinism, and Maoism.

Alan Woods, Lal Khan and Jam Saqi in annual IMT congress held in Lahore in 2008 Alan Woods, Lal Khan and Jam Saqi.jpg
Alan Woods, Lal Khan and Jam Saqi in annual IMT congress held in Lahore in 2008

The Struggle طبقاتی جدوجہد continued their struggle for a Socialist revolution in Pakistan as an official section of the Marxist "International" led by Ted Grant. Grant had formed Committee for a Marxist International in various countries, particularly Spain, after splitting with CWI in 1992. At the world congress of Committee for a Marxist International in 2006, the organization was renamed International Marxist Tendency (IMT). Lal Khan continues to be the editor of the Struggle magazine and leader of the Struggle طبقاتی جدوجہد group. He also writes articles regularly for the Daily Times. [42] and Dunya [43] The Struggle group has their own publication agency and has published numerous books and leaflets on topics including Marxist ideology, history of Marxist struggle in Pakistan, and various books covering history of Bolshevik revolution. Some of the books are: Partition – Can it be undone?, [44] Pakistan's Other Story – The Revolution of 1968–69, [45] and Kashmir: A Revolutionary Way Out. [46] Books in Urdu language include چین کدھر, مذہبی بنیاد پرستی اور انقلابی مارکسزم, [47] whereas translated publications from other language into Urdu include ریاست اور انقلاب از لینن، عورت اور خاندان از ٹراٹسکی، کمیونسٹ مینی فیسٹو از مارکس و اینگلز. [48] The Struggle's trade union front is known as Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign (PTUDC), and multiple other fronts working among Youth, including Unemployed Youth Movement. In 2015, youth and students fronts of the Struggle started a campaign to bring together prominent left-wing students and youth organizations from across the country on a single platform. [49] In December 2015, Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) [50] was launched in Lahore.

Split within The Struggle

In the first quarter of 2016, The Struggle suffered a split, [51] with the majority leaving the IMT retaining their name as The Struggle, while the minority reorganized as Lal Salam لال سلام. Lal Salam is the official Pakistani section of the IMT. [52]

Awami Workers Party

Following the split of Committee for a Workers International (CWI), a Trotskyist international, The Struggle, also suffered a split and Farooq Tariq, along with perhaps one dozen Struggle members, and went on to build an independent workers party in Pakistan. [36] [53] Farooq Tariq and his comrades announced the formation of Labour Party Pakistan in 1997.

In November 2012, Farooq Tariq's Labour Party Pakistan, the Awami Party, and Workers Party merged to form the Awami Workers Party (AWP) in an unprecedented effort to build a genuine Left alternative to mainstream political forces in Pakistan. [54] The AWP promotes the Left unity and includes members from all Communist tendencies: Trotskyism, Stalinism, and Maoism.

1980s–90s: moderation and competition

Consolidation and populism

A huge number of left-wing politicians and intellectuals were thrown in jail to face a trial, Jam Saqi Trial, in 1980s. Under Zia regime, the socialism itself began to struggle to survive in the country in an intense anti-Soviet atmosphere. In responding the Zia's oppression, the left-wing parties united in a massive platform known as, Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) which was led by the PPP. The ANP had found support from the Soviet Union as early as in 1983. [55] During the period of 1977-91, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) started its covert political activities through the Awami National Party, many of its senior leadership served Soviets intermediary and advisers. [55] President Zia's interior secretary, Roedad Khan, later wrote that the MRD regime was able to manipulate this perception to their advantage and prevent the MRD from gaining greater appeal on a nationwide level. [56]

Despite its consolidation, the MRD suffered many set backs because of its Pro-Leninist stance which was not the "line" [57] of Kremlin at that time. [57]

The events that led the collapse of the Soviet Union shattered Pakistan's left. [57] It almost disappeared, until Benazir Bhutto succeeded to unite the scattered leftists mass, which integrated into the PPP, and turned the radical and pro-Soviet leftists into more Social democracy with the principles of democratic socialism. [57]

The New Left and social democracy

The MRD alliance could not sustained itself in late 1988 and quickly collapse after the death of President Zia-ul-Haq in 1988 which marked its way for peaceful general elections, outlined the return of Pakistan Peoples Party in national power. [56]

Furthermore, the events led to a dissolution of USSR in 1991 also shattered the left in Pakistan. The break-up of the USSR in 1991 also generated hopelessness and desperation in among the communist parties. [58] The left-wing parties almost disappeared until, when Benazir Bhutto came to its protection. In opposition against the conservatives, Benazir Bhutto succeeded to unite the scattered leftists mass, which integrated into the PPP, and turned the radical and pro-Soviet leftists into more Social democracy with the principles of democratic socialism. [18]

In 1990s, the left-wing groups, now united under PPP, found their self in a fierce competition with Pakistan Muslim League (PML(N)), a centre-right conservative party led by Nawaz Sharif. [18] The PPP and left was in period of counter-revolutionary consciousness in Pakistan, giving birth to the rise of fundamentalism. [58] The political competition with the conservatives, aligning with the PML(N), gave a new life to the left-wing parties to gather around their movement in support for the PPP in 1992. The controversial privatization of the Pakistan Muslim League (N) government in 1992 had collapsed the support for the conservatives.

As a result of general elections held in 1993, the PPP and the Left came in power again, but only to re-engage in competition with the like-minds and the Pakistan Muslim League (N). The power struggle between left and right wing parties damages the economy but, on the other hand, consolidated its position in the country. The left-wing sphere almost split in 1990s after a paramilitary military took place in Karachi to remove another leftist party, MQM; the operation was halt in 1995. [59] The PPP and the leftists put forwarded a program of vintage industrial nationalization, computer literacy, strong emphasis on the scientific education, awareness women suffrage and rights, and promotion of the principles of social democracy and left-wing nationalism. [18] In response, the Pakistan Muslim League and conservatives introduced the privatization, with liberalization, right-wing nationalism, and a strong emphasis on religion and scientific education. [60] By the end of 1996, the controversial death of populist left-wing leader, Murtaza Bhutto, turned out to be a final event that led the dismissal of the left-oriented government of PPP by its own leftist president Farooq Leghari (he was soon ousted from the presidency by the conservatives of PML(N) in 1997).

In 1997, the Left, sitting in parliamentary opposition, further gained power in effectively paralysed the right-wing parties attempts to pass the more conservative bills to be part of the Constitution. [61] The left successfully pressured the PML(N) to move with a proposal of conducting the country's first nuclear tests in response to India's nuclear tests in 1998. [60] Disturbance in civil-military relations in 1999 led to the dismissal of centre-right conservative, PML government. The popular support for the PML(N) and PPP declined, with the fall of socialism and conservatism at once in 2000. President Pervez Musharraf called for a Third Way which led to an establishment of centrist PML(Q) in 2002 whereas the pro- social democratic and centre-left party, the PTI, also emerged in the arena led by famed sportsman Imran Khan.

2000s–2010s:Contemporary history

Re-defining position of the New Left

The IMT conference in Lahore, 2011. IMT congress.jpg
The IMT conference in Lahore, 2011.

As an aftermath of 9/11 attacks in the United States and the followup of US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the roots of conservatism and socialism began to take their place in the country. The general elections in 2002 saw the liberals coming in national power for the first time in the history of the country. Despite Musharraf's attempts to provide the better civil administration, the support for President Musharraf lessened and the idea of Third Way, with the Enlightened Moderation, began to see resistance from the conservative and leftist parties. [62]

In 2002, the Pakistan Social Democratic Party was found but it was short lived. After few months, the party was disbanded in favour of PPP. In 2003, the PPP staged a large opposition rally against the Iraq war and the United States. [63] In 2004, the Left projected its power in Peshawar after a communist party staged a massive demonstration against Pervez Musharraf and the United States. [64] The PPP effectively paralysed Pervez Musharraf over the issue of LFO and the Left subsequently maligned Musharraf's image over the nuclear proliferation issue in the country. [63] Historians of leftist activism noted the fact that the atomic proliferation debriefings had enraged and outraged the leftists and conservatives alike of their "national hero", dr. Qadeer Khan. [62] After this scandal in 2005–07, the U.S. opposition from the leftist-liberal parties was extremely fierce much more than the conservative parties, effectively sabotaging any U.S. efforts for their economic involvement and maligning the image in the country which contributed in the sharp and recorded rise of the anti-American emotions in the hearts of the Pakistanis. [62]

The Left in Pakistan lost its steer after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in 2007, and the armed right-wing insurgency in the country further limited the Left. [65] The populist, Lawyer's movement, was also influenced by the leftist ideas and prominent leftist leaders, such as Aitzaz Ahsan, Ali Ahmad Kurd, and Raza Rabbani, were the front personalities to lead the movement to restore the Judiciary and to ouster Pervez Musharraf from the government. In spite of right-wing pressure and accusations of corruption, the Left demonstrated its united stand during the general elections held in 2013 under new left-wing leaders Raza Rabbani and Aitzaz Ahsan [66]

Though a number of steps were taken in this regard by the government led by Asif Ali Zardari which included but are not limited to, Employees Stock option scheme under which public sector employees were made share holders in their respective departments, free of cost housing scheme was initiated in Sindh under the name of Benazir Bhen Basti, more than 56,000 acres of land was distributed within the peasants, A comprehensive plan for the eradication of poverty was started under the name of Benazir Income Support Program which is now one of the largest social safety program in Asia. In addition to that a program named as waseela-e-haq was initiated under which 0.3 million rps. each were distributed in between thousands of deserving families so that they can start their own earning. Schemes such as Benazir life insurance scheme was also initiated. Thousands of contractual employees were not only regularized but thousand of other employees were also reinstated. As a result of these steps then President of Pakistan Mr. Asif Ali Zardari was elected as the Vice-President of the Socialist International. As of current, the Left and the PTI and PPP is currently sitting in opposition in the parliament against the PML(N) and right-wing parties' government. [67]

The left orientation has greatly influence the literature, scientific activities, arts, and popular culture. The literary work of Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Anwar Maqsood, Habib Jalib, Aitzaz Ahsan, and Tina Sani, has been instrumental in projecting the left-wing ideas in the country. The Laal (lit. Red) gained much appraisal and popularity for singing socialist political song, which played a crucial role in mobilizing the people in support to the reinstatement of the Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry in 2007.

In 2012, the scientific work of theorist, Munir Ahmad Khan, was publicly recognized by the Government after posthumously awarding Munir Khan the Nishan-e-Imtiaz for his contribution to science as a gesture of political rehabilitation. The literary work of Tariq Ali has been adopted in playwrights and theatre and films. His playwright, The Leopard and The Fox, was premiered in New York in October 2007 and later on Karachi Arts Council in 2010.

Social democratic/socialist/Communist political parties/tendencies/groups



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