By Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign (PTUDC)
Labour and students Leaders, social and Trade Union activists all over Pakistan condemned the arrest of Qamar Uz Zaman Khan, Central Secretary General Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign (PTUDC). Qamar-Uz-Zaman Khan, a veteran trade unionist was arrested on Saturday, June 22 for organizing a demonstration against the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Sadiqabad, a sub-district in central Pakistan. On 25 June he was granted bail but all the fake charges must be dropped and fake FIR must be withdrawn, demand workers and trade unionists.
The Labour leaders warned PTI government to drop fake charges against Qamar Uz Zaman otherwise protests and rallies would be organized across Pakistan.
Nazar Mangal, Central Chairman PTUDC and Chairman Baluchistan National Organization of Postal Employees, strongly condemned the arrest of Qamar Uz Zaman, General Secretary PTUDC and call for his immediate release. In his video message from Baluchistan, he said “The current federal budget is presented according to the dictations of IMF and World Bank and it safeguards the interests of IMF. This budget is adding insult to the injuries of the already deprived working class of Pakistan. In these eight months, the current regime multiple times raised the prices of basic goods, food items and petrol. Prices of medicines raised by 500 per cent. Carrying the agenda of IMF this regime would try to privatize the industries and state institution that consequently results in more unemployment. Considering this situation the working class and trade union leaders of Pakistan completely rejected this federal budget and organizing protests and rallies against it in different cities and towns of Pakistan.
In Sadiqabad, Central Secretary General PTUDC, Qamar Uz Zaman Khan was organizing a mass meeting against IMF and anti-workers budget. His house was raided by 5 persons in civil dress, they took him and he was missing for almost four hours. Later the masses, trade union activists and political workers surrounded the local police station. This pressure made those civil dressed officials to produce Qamar Uz Zaman at Sadiqabad Police Station. The SHO booked him under 16-MPO. However, he is under arrest in Police Station. Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign strongly condemns the brutal act. We demand the unconditional release of Comrade Qamar.”
Earlier on 23rd June, People Youth Organization (PYO) organized a massive motorbike rally in Lahore against IMF and price hikes. President PYO Central Punjab, Zohaib Butt denounced Qamar Uz Zaman’s arrest in strong words. He said if the FIR is not withdrawn we will launch full-fledged countrywide protest campaign for his release.
Ramzan Laghari, President Peoples Unity (CBA) PIA Employees Union, strongly condemned this coward act of current regime. In his video message, he said, “His (Qamar’s) only crime is that he rejected the anti-workers budget and call upon a protest against IMF and inflation. It is a democratic right of people to record peaceful protests against unjust and anti-workers policies of fascist and dictatorial regimes. We demand the immediate release of Qamar Uz Zaman Khan and if the fake FIR of 16-MPO is not withdrawn against him the workers and trade unions will strongly react on the situation with massive protests across Pakistan”
Veteran Labour leader and AWP Spokesman, Farooq Tariq, condemned this act of government officials. In his video message, he said, “Officials lodged fake FIR against Qamar by claiming that his acts would result in mass disruption, Protest call against IMF dictated budget and inflation would never cause mass disruption instead it was a message for the government that masses don’t accept this anti-people budget. But this government is following fascist trends, any opposition to government results in “missing person” or booked under fake charges. I demand Qamar Uz Zaman should be released immediately and fake charges must be withdrawn.”
Social Activist and Advocate supreme court Rabia Bajwa said that “Qamar Uz Zaman was arrest from his house on fake FIR, I strongly condemn this arrest. I think it is an attack on freedom of expression. Qamar had called upon a protest against IMF and according to the Law and Constitution of Pakistan, every citizen has the right of peaceful protest. According to Article 16 and 19 of Pakistan’s constitution, every individual has the right to protest. And it’s the prime responsibility of government and state to protect the freedom of expression of every individual. Moreover, Pakistan’s state is a signatory in most of the International Agreements including International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) that bounds the state to make sure the respect of every individual’s basic democratic, political and social rights. I demand that the government must release and withdraw all the fake charges against Qamar Uz Zaman and other trade union and political activists.”
Professor Ammar Ali Jan from Haqooq e Kahlq Movement wrote;
“Qamar Zaman, a trade unionist, was arrested merely for protesting against the price hike. Seems like protesting against economic policies of the government is now part of the items no longer permitted in Naya Pakistan. I think it is time that the government (or whoever is running it) announces a comprehensive list of topics that it deems taboo. Repression with rules is much better than authoritarianism built on the kind of arbitrary power we are witnessing today.”
Central Vice President Railway Labour Union and Central Organizer Rail Mazdoor Ithaad, Raja Imran said, “We reject the current anti-workers budget. This budget would result in price hikes and an increase in unemployment. And we demand the immediate release of PTUDC Secretary General Qamar Uz Zaman Khan, who was rewarded with prison for raising the voice of masses against IMF. All the fake charges against him must be withdrawn. Otherwise, every worker of Pakistan will stand firm with Qamar in every city, towns, street and factory against this budget and injustice.”
President Peoples Labour Bureau District Attock, Siraj Gul Khatak said that ” I strongly condemn the arrest of PTUDC Secretary General Qamar Uz Zaman Khan. He was arrest on fake allegations. The current, selected government who is being run by some hidden hands must avoid anti-workers policies. We firmly reject this cruel budget of the federal government. Rana Qamar must be release immediately otherwise we, all labour organizations, will protest. I, as President Peoples Labour Bureau District Attock, demand from the government to drop all fake charges including 16-MPO against Rana Qamar Uz Zaman Khan and release him immediately.”
Joint Secretary PTUDC, Dr Changez Malik issued a statement that “PTUDC is a representative organization of workers who always tried to provide a common platform to the workers of Pakistan to fight against the economic and social attacks. From the last 25 years, PTUDC fought against every anti-workers government and its budgets. PTUDC General Secretary Qamar Uz Zaman rejected this IMF dictated budget and called upon a protest against it. For this crime he is now behind the bars, we denounce all allegations against Qamar Uz Zaman and demand his immediate release”
Hanif Imam, the central leader of the Unemployed Youth Movement (Be-Rozgar Naujawan Tehreek-BNT) said “Comrade Qamar Uz Zaman, Secretary General of PTUDC, has been arrested from his house. His only crime is that he called upon a protest against IMF dictated budget. To sabotage this protest and suppress his voice fake FIR has been lodged against him. We demand the withdrawal of this bogus FIR and his immediate release. We believe that the present government has imposed heavy taxes on the masses with this budget and they are depriving the masses of their basic democratic right to protest against these policies. The regime is suppressing the voices with force and state violence. We strongly condemn this act and demand all fake charges against Qamar Uz Zaman must be dropped and he must be released at once.”
Haider Ali Butt of Progressive Students Collective and Haqooq e Khalq Movement exposed the IMF dictated budget in his solidarity video message and condemned the arrest Qamar Uz Zaman for calling upon a peaceful protest against it.
Chairman of the Committee for Human Rights, Bilawal Bhutto has taken notice of Qamar-Uz-Zaman’s arrest and DPO Rahimyar Khan has been summoned on 27th June. The press release issued by PPP media cell on 24 June reads in the attempt of protest against the IMF, Qamar Uz Zaman Khan, a veteran labour leader from Sadiqabad was arrested earlier on 22 June, his arrest is being emerged at the national level.
Moreover, Pakistan Peoples Party’s Senator and Bilawal Bhutto’s spokesman, Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, reacted to the incident, saying that the arrests of political workers and rights activists are dictatorial methods. Under which law it is crime to protest against the inflation and IMF budget? Imran Khan is hiding behind ’16 MPO’ and suppressing sane voices like dictatorships. In a bid to silence dissent voices, leaders of major political parties have been arrested.
Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar added that now people are being arrested in every corner of the country. Due to this situation, twenty million people are tightening their bellies but soon they will be on the streets. The police stations, the jails and the castles will not be enough for all these, how many this government can arrest? the people won’t stop protesting against economic cruelty. Instead of curbing public, the Government should take measures to address the public grievance. If the budget does not address public concerns, then nobody can save the rulers from the anger of the people.